Although I do not have any official figures, it is common knowledge that the divorce rate in the Chassidic community is relatively low but rising slowly as individuals living in this country are exposed to more and more of the local colour and culture. A young Chassidic woman today is quite comfortable complaining to her Rav that her man does not give her enough attention or spend quality time with her and the family.
Twenty years ago she would have been laughed out of the Rabbi’s office. With an admonition on the way out, to stop reading the goyish literature that is introducing such notions, to one whose proudest achievement should be a row of smiling babies and crusty, golden-brown Challas every Friday.
Today she is more likely to be directed to one of the semi-official counsellors who will have had some rudimentary training in a sort of marriage guidance counselling, with an emphasis on avoiding divorce at all cost. I must admit to usually being quite dismissive of these do-gooders, generally proofs of the adage that a little learning is a dangerous thing, precisely because I don’t believe relationship counsellors should have their own agenda.
The overwhelming, pious drive to avoid divorce at all cost, sometimes leads to counsellors actively assisting the stronger partner in cowing the weaker one. It is easy to fall into the trap of putting pressure on the party most likely to bend, rather than the one who has the most changing to do.
In a fair society the stronger protect the weak. To sacrifice the weak for the smooth running of the machine, is too horrible a notion to entertain, although we all know it happens.
Of course our Universities and College Union, the UCU, voted overwhelmingly in favour of seeking “a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli institutions”. They represent the students, the loony left, the ones who are going to right the world's wrongs – with, of course, special focus on those perpetrated by societies or groups perceived to be more consistently successful than their own.
What really bugs me is the muted reaction by everybody else. Is it just because we don’t blow up trains that nobody cares very much that blatant anti-Semitism has become the hallmark of the British left? Is it just because nobody is scared of us that nobody minds that British academia has been turned into a hostile environment for anyone Jewish? Not for being Jewish, of course. But, because as Jews, they represent the State of Israel.
In an ironic twist of fate the wandering people now carry a state as their cross as they traverse Europe.
I am a British Jew and I am not prepared to carry the torch for anyone. But neither am I prepared to use a different yardstick for my people than for anybody else. I therefore never ask brown people for their views on Africa, slant-eyed ones about Tiananmen Square or short, fat, white ones with loud shirts their position on the war in Iraq. I likewise do not wish to express my views on the occupation except to declare, that if I were to feel under siege, unwelcome and unwanted in the UK, I could hardly be blamed if I recalled the justifications for fighting occupation, I heard on the BBC.