A Bad Case Of Double Standards

If there’s one thing I always advocate it is sticking up for one’s principles. I’ve often preached about the importance of respecting oneself and one’s own beliefs, lest others won’t respect you either. People readily identify those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

To be sure, we are all somewhat guilty of subtle hypocrisy. I might talk about how gossiping is wrong and still occasionally engage in a little tittle-tattle. That’s not a justification, just a reflection of the reality of human frailty. What I would never do however, and what people find difficult to accept, let alone respect, is judge and criticise someone else for something that I might be equally guilty of. That’s blatant two-facedness. It’s one thing to not always practise what I preach. It’s an altogether different matter when I dare condemn someone else for what is essentially my own violation.

Laura Janner-Klausner, referred to in today’s London Times as a leader in reform Judaism UK, made it abundantly clear to the paper that she would not be attending the funeral of Baroness Thatcher. The Times quotes her as saying that she cannot be a religious leader and attend the funeral of someone whose views she disagrees with fundamentally.

Ms. Janner-Klausner is entitled to her views on the Iron Lady but one cannot help cringing at the hypocrisy of her statement. Flash back sixteen years when Lord Sacks explained why he wouldn’t be attending the funeral of the late Hugo Gryn. He was prepared to attend a memorial service because, as he put it, he was paying tribute to a holocaust survivor. He was not, however, prepared to attend the funeral because…well, “he could not attend the funeral of someone whose views he disagrees with fundamentally.” At the time there was public outcry and many within the reform leadership were clamouring for the Chief Rabbi’s resignation.

As chaplain to the Mayor in the London Borough of Barnet, I was in attendance at the monthly council meeting last night tributes were paid to Maggie, whose constituency as an MP was in the Borough. I was particularly impressed that representatives all parties paid tribute to her, even as some may have fundamentally disagreed with her. The Labour representative counsellor said, “I will have disagreed with her policies but I pay tribute to a remarkable woman.” That’s taking the moral high-ground akin to what Lord Sacks did all those years ago.

It’s a shame Laura Janner-Klausner didn’t assume the same moral high-ground regarding Baroness Thatcher. Instead she took a very public position in direct contradistinction to the one assumed by many reform leaders, herself no doubt included, during the Gryn Affair. That’s not subtle hypocrisy. It is unacceptable double standards, for which she discredits herself.

Someone once said, “There are few things in this world that deserve no mercy. One of them is hypocrisy.” Will other reform leaders be quick to condemn Janner-Klausner as they did Lord Sacks? Whether they do so or not will prove if their protestations were a moral outcry or really just ulterior motif. I think I already know the answer to that.