Some years ago, at the height of one of Israel’s bombing raids on Gaza, I visited a cousin who, unlike me, rarely has anything to say on political issues. We share a Jewish ancestry (we are both eligible for Israeli citizenship) but we are not religious (neither Jewish – nor Christian nor Muslim).

So I was astonished to be greeted at her door by: “John – aren’t you ashamed at times to be Jewish?” She, unlike me, through her Jewish ancestry, felt an identification with the state of Israel that I did not. Thinking about this later, I realised that my lifetime of opposition to actions of successive British governments (such as the illegal invasion of Iraq) had freed me from feeling any guilt about what they did. Any “shame” I ever felt has been about our failure to prevent their aggressions.

Although my cousin felt “shame” about the actions of the Israeli government and did identify Israel with her Jewish ancestry, I don’t believe she was expressing anti-semitism by her concern about the bombing of Gaza in this manner. But, the way the news is slanted today, the charge of “anti-semitism” seems to be levelled against anyone voicing concern at the actions of the Israeli government.

It is becoming reminiscent of the McCarthy years. For a more balanced appraisal I commend this statement today from the Jewish Socialists’ Group.