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Hatred for ethnic loathing

RELATED STORIES

I'm Jewish only for anti-Semites
Jonathan Miller Theatre director
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I had a sister and she’s died… she was injured in a car accident. She wasn’t really...

[Q] Was she older than you?

No, she was younger than I, she was about two years younger than I was. And she worked for the BBC as a secretary to, I think to the Music and Arts Department, and she worked there for quite a long time, about 20 or 25 years.

[Q] Oh right.

We had disagreements, she and I, because I was less interested than she was in being Jewish. I think my mother was totally uninterested in it, and I think in some respects fell out with my father over her reluctance to identify with ‘her people’, as people might’ve said. My father was much more… he was 20 years older than my mother and I think was still rather preoccupied, partly as a result of what had happened during the Second World War, he felt that some sort of conscious relationship to one's ethnic group was required of one, and she wasn’t interested at all.

In fact one of her novels is about marrying someone who turned out to have been much more interested in being Jewish than she was, it was a novel called Farewell Leicester Square, which has been recently republished. But… and I felt the same way, but my sister, I think, was much more, I think, affiliated with my father in that respect and felt that I was disloyal - what some people have always called a self-hating Jew.  And I’m not. I’m neither a self-hating Jew nor a particularly enthusiastic Jew. I don’t know what it means, really, since I have no interest in the religion and not much interest in the Jewish culture. I think of myself, if anything, as just simply a sort of reluctant Englishman. I mean, I’m Jewish for anti-Semites and that’s all.

Initially studying medicine at Cambridge, Sir Jonathan Miller came to prominence with the production of the British comedy revue, Beyond the Fringe. Following on from this success he embarked on a career in the theatre, directing a 1970 West End production of “The Merchant of Venice” starring Laurence Olivier. He also started directing opera, famously producing a modern, Mafia-themed version of “Rigoletto”.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: BBC, Farewell Leicester Square, Betty Miller

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: July 2008

Date story went live: 23 December 2008