Is this right?

J.P. Stern

How poignant newspaper headlines can be! Like this one: ‘Rabbi Julia Neuberger shares a feeling of permanent exile with the refugee poet’ (Observer, 11 March). And yet I find this a strange bit of information, because last time I saw the Rabbi on the box, laying down the law on some matter of profound moral concern – well, frankly, it wasn’t a permanent feeling of exile she conveyed to me, but a permanent feeling of having a jolly good time, and of being so much at home in the TV studio, you could hardly tell where the Rabbi ended and the studio began. ‘As German unification becomes a certainty, there is a growing disquiet among Jews,’ the Rabbi’s article begins; and it goes on: ‘Perhaps most strongly affected are those who are refugees, such as my mother, and children of refugees, who have seen the problems of rootlessness and question their own “identity” as a result of early memories.’ Well I’m sure that’s true of many people, but Rabbi Neuberger’s mother’s daughter doesn’t seem to me to suffer from ‘problems of rootlessness’, and if she questions her own ‘identity’, I daresay she will take good care to do it at peak viewing time. Could it be that, like many professional agonisers, Rabbi Neuberger is a bit of a humbug?

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[*] ‘ “Uniqueness” of the Victims: Gypsies, Jews and the Holocaust’, in Without Prejudice: International Review of Racial Discrimination, Vol. I, No 1 (1988).