Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Canadian Jews, Dual/divided Loyalties, and the Tebbit "Cricket" Test

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Canadian Jews, Dual/divided Loyalties, and the Tebbit "Cricket" Test

Article excerpt


This article explores the issue of dual or divided Ioyalties for Canadian Jews, with reference to ties to Canada on the one hand, and Israel and the Jewish community on the other. The article contextualizes this issue within two academic literatures, which in recent years have had very little interconnection. The first is the general literature dealing with diasporic studies and transnationalism. The second is the literature dealing with modern Jewish studies. This second literature comprises the social scientific study of contemporary Jewry, and intellectual debates on Zionism and Jewish peoplehood. It is claimed these debates have relevance for many Canadian diasporic groups today, and more so in the post-9/11 period. A concluding section Iooks at how Jewish communal leaders in Canada wrestle with a version of the "cricket" test, coined by British parliamentarian Norman Tebbit, when asked which team they would support in a soccer final match, Israel or Canada. The pattern of responses confirms an ongoing discomfort and indeed ambivalence in making such choices linking identity and Ioyalty, for Jews and likely for other groups as well.


Cet article porte sur la problematique de la double loyaute, soit celle, divisee, des liens des Juifs canadiens avec, d'une part, le Canada et, d'autre part, Israel et la communaute juive. Nous abordons ici cette question dans le contexte de deux types d'ecrits universitaires qui, dans les dernieres annees, ont rarement ete interrelies. Le premier des deux est dans le domaine de la recherche generale qui traite des etudes sur la diaspora ainsi que du transnationalisme, le deuxieme dans celui des publications se rapportant aux etudes juives modernes. Celui-ci comprend l'etude socioscientifique de la communaute juive contemporaine ainsi que les debats intellectuels sur le sionisme et la notion de peuple juif. D'aucuns alleguent que ces derniers sont pertinents pour plusieurs groupes canadiens de la diaspora, specialement depuis les attentats du 11 septembre 2001. Nous concluons cet article en examinant comment les representants de la communaute juive au Canada composent avec une variante du 'Test du cricket', expression forgee par le parlementaire britannique Norman Tebbit, alors qu'on leur demandait quelle equipe ils soutiendraient dans un match de soccer final entre Israel et le Canada. L'ensemble des reponses temoigne d'un malaise continu, et, de fait, d'une certaine ambivalence Iorsqu'il s'agit de faire de tels choix qui mettent en jeu a la fois l'identite et la loyaute, que ce soit pour des Juifs, ou, aussi bien, pour tout autre groupe.


This paper will explore the controversial issue of dual or competing/conflicting loyalty, with reference to minorities in general, to Jews, and to the Canadian Jewish case in particular. To illustrate some of the themes explored, the last section will examine how a small sample of Canadian Jewish leaders wrestles with a Canadian version of the "Tebbit cricket test." (This test wondered whom immigrant minorities in England would support in a cricket match between their current country and ancestral homeland.) This study will analyze the loyalty issue within the broader frame of the relevance--or irrelevance--of the Jewish case in the broad field of diasporic or transnational studies.

Sheffer distinguishes between dual and divided loyalties (2003, 225-26). The former, inevitable among immigrant or ethno-religious minorities, are relatively benign. In some cases, they can lead to difficult choices between competing cultural or social obligations. In others, they can offer an enriching set of cultural and communal options, including creative hybrid cultural contexts. But they ought not to be confused with the possibilities of divided loyalties, with their potential national security implications. In general the evidence suggests that interest by Canadian immigrants and minorities in a homeland's welfare or policies does not impede political integration or participation (Black 2011; Black and Leithner 1988; Wong 2007/08). …

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