Thursday, 16 October 2008

A Jewish argument for monarchy

[...] The Whig statesmen who framed the Act of Settlement did not object to the presence of Roman Catholics, and if they scoffed at Catholic beliefs (which they did), in practice they tolerated those who followed the Catholic religion. But that religion was and had for centuries been associated with tyrannical and absolute government throughout Europe. Moreover, Catholics owed their ultimate allegiance on this earth to the Bishop of Rome, and to his laws, not those enacted at Westminster.

You may say that the concept of dual nationality is now well understood. So it is. But the papacy has never been the friend of the Jews. We British Jews had our liberties secured in this country by a Protestant establishment, not a Catholic one.

On the back of the latest proposals, the celebrated constitutional lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC is now to be found at the head of those who are arguing for a reform even more radical. Damning the exclusion of Catholics from the throne and the rule of male primogeniture as "blatant contraventions" of the Sex Discrimination and Human Rights Acts - as if these measures possessed some divine right of precedence (so to speak) - Mr Robertson has nailed his colours to the mast: "The next stage", he has declared, is "for the government to challenge the notion of a head of state who achieved the position through inheritance" - in other words, the abolition of the hereditary monarchy and its replacement by an elected presidency.

A gender-neutral monarchy is one thing. But a politicised headship of state is quite another. The strength of the hereditary monarchy is precisely that its succession is not open to political shenanigans. In this way, it gives immeasurable political stability where none might otherwise exist. And if history shows anything, it is that political instability is never good for us diaspora Jews.

British Jewry has prospered under the umbrella of a hereditary monarchy that owes allegiance neither to a domestic politics nor to any foreign potentate. Long may that continue. Read more
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