Posters appeared on campus yesterday advertising an event at the Cornerstone Methodist Cafe at 7pm on Wednesday 15 November, titled ‘Balfour, May and the ‘Wrong Kind of Jews”. subtext’s first impressions were not positive. First, because many in our community will have been alarmed to see a poster which brashly promises to discuss ‘the prospect of Jewish opposition to Zionism today’ and mentions dismissively, almost in passing, that ‘most Jewish communities around the world will be celebrating the anniversary’ of the Balfour declaration. Yes, they will – according to an Ipsos MORI survey for Yachad in 2015, 93% of British Jews feel that Israel is important to their identity. One gets the impression that those who view the Balfour declaration as, on the whole, probably a good thing, are unlikely to feel welcome. Second, because faced with a subject matter which cries out for authority and reassurance, the designer has opted to typeset it in Comic Sans. Oh lordy. Not that we at subtext can talk, given our choice of font.
Further investigation reduces our concerns. The speaker is Robert Cohen, a writer of note on modern Jewish identity, who explains his provocative choice of talk title in a recent Patheos article (http://tinyurl.com/yc9dswxh). The organisers include the Lancaster Methodist Church and the Catholic Diocese of Lancaster’s Faith & Justice Commission, although there don’t seem to be any local Jewish bodies involved (were they invited, we wonder?). Nevertheless, this could be a thoughtful contribution to the debate on Balfour, and subtext hopes to send an observer.