View from Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 11th February 2015

Returning to last week’s topic; one of the problems as Melanie Phillips saw it, and I believe she is absolutely right, is the breakdown of respect for religion, especially in the United Kingdom. In former times the Church of England, broad and tolerant though it be, and possible to be almost all things to all men, was the glue that held the fabric of society together. The influence of the church has waned, especially in the second half of the 20th century, and the net result has been a vacuum which has been filled by a secularism which has no particular moral compass.

The church appears to have been affected by the same deep fear of Muslim extremism as the rest of society. Christians in Islamic countries are being persecuted on a level that has never happened before. In Nigeria and other African countries, in the Moslem countries of the Middle East, Christians live in fear of their lives. Churches have been burnt down with their congregations inside them. Fear stalks their congregations. The silence of the church is both amazing and disgraceful.

The reluctance to criticise the Muslim world, and to stand up for their Christian brethren, is a dishonour upon the behaviour of the church. What is it of which they are afraid?

There is a way of resisting Muslim extremism, and that is by force. Expensive though it may be, it is still cheaper in terms of human freedom than sleepwalking into allowing the creation of Muslim republics throughout Europe. Standing up to Islam is regarded as strength; silence is interpreted as weakness.

The recent statements by leading politicians in both Britain and France, attempting to reassure the Jewish communities of their safety and of their place in the society of the host countries, may be too late. Are we, as Sharansky said recently, witnessing the beginning of the end of European Jewry?