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Multiculturalism promotes segregation, stifles free speech and threatens liberal democracy, Britain’s top Jewish official warned in extracts from his book published Saturday.
Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi, defined multiculturalism as an attempt to affirm Britain’s diverse communities and make ethnic and religious minorities more appreciated and respected. But in his book, The Home We Build Together: Recreating Society, he said the movement had run its course.
“Multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation,” Sacks wrote in his book, an extract of which was published in the Times of London.
“Liberal democracy is in danger,” Sacks said, adding later: “The politics of freedom risks descending into the politics of fear.”
Sacks said Britain’s politics had been poisoned by the rise of identity politics, as minorities and aggrieved groups jockeyed first for rights, then for special treatment.
The process, he said, began with Jews, before being taken up by blacks, women and gays. He said the effect had been “inexorably divisive.”
“A culture of victimhood sets group against group, each claiming that its pain, injury, oppression, humiliation is greater than that of others,” he said.
On the defensive, he’s been forced to back down on his plan insisting that only Jews can attend a Jewish school.
The Jewish Free School (JFS) in London has removed from its admissions criteria a clause favoring ethnically Jewish children after the school was accused of breaking state anti-discrimination laws, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the top Jewish state school was accused of discrimination after it denied a place to a child who did not meet the definition of Jewish set by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
The mother of the child in question, who heads the school’s English department, had converted to Judaism under supervision of Israel’s chief rabbi.
Sacks, who is the school’s religious authority, had stipulated that applicants must have an ethnically Jewish mother in order to be accepted into the school. Following the accusation, chief schools arbitrator Philip Hunter ruled that the JFS had not violated race relation laws as it was following religious, rather than racial, criteria.