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The Journal of Holocaust Research

Yuval Boker / Hiding Shylock - Jewish Activity to Change the Jewish Image in Britain after 1945

The paper examines a pert of the long-term activity designed to transform traditional and entrenched notions about Jews and anti-Semitism. In the wake of the Holocaust, the Jewish community in Britain devoted great communal efforts to uproot widely-held attitudes and images concerning Jews from Britain culture. The Board of Deputies of British Jews was well aware of the fact that anti-Jewish imagery was still rife, a constant presence in the cultural milieu. This awareness was the driving force behind the Sisyphean efforts aimed at minimizing a potential source for the re-emergence of anti-Semitism. The struggle to change the Jewish image was carried out systematically on a number of fronts. Among them were textbooks and the media, church teachings and  religious imagery, literature and dictionary definitions. Jewish activity was not "in defense of an image". It was aimed at amending the ways in which the Jew was commonly portrayed.

Dealing with images relating to the Holocaust presented a different challenge. The Holocaust showed Jewish vulnerability, and thus provided the justification for the struggle to change deep-rooted imagery. Apart from that, increasingly became a central theme of Jewish identity. Although the image of the victimized, hounded Jew was not a novel one, the Jewish community sought to turn the Holocaust into the symbol of Jewish victimization. Jewish action in this sphere was aimed at heightening awareness of Jewish sensitivities emanating from the Jewish fate in the war. Finally, the Jewish initiatives are discussed in terms of cultural change and a dynamic interpretive approach to the relationships between minority and society.

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