I have to admit to a reflex reaction against just about anything to do with religion. But today’s interview with chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks in The Guardian contains a lot that I agree with, and several important points.
“I regard the current situation [in the Middle East] as nothing less than tragic, because it is forcing Israel into postures that are incompatible in the long- run with our deepest ideals,” he says. From many observers, even from liberal Jews like me, this is unremarkable. But from an establishment figure like Sacks, this clear criticism of the current Israeli position — however gently expressed –is an important break.
But Sacks’ remarks on Israel are in the context of his broad campaign to get people to respect and celebrate difference. We inhabit a world where “everything affects everything else”, whether it’s terror or economics. So now we need “a doctrine strong enough to allow different groups to live together without an overarching political structure”. For him, that doctrine is difference. As The Guardian explains: “To view difference not as a difficulty to be overcome, but as the very essence of life. He’s looked at the latest thinking in biology, which confirms how similar we all are — all life made up of the same four basic characters of genetic code — but also how essential difference is, with every ecosystem dependent on biodiversity.”
Encouraging reading to start the day.