The look in the Jewish woman's eyes disturbed me. The penny dropped the next day. The woman had been using her fingers to to alert her male companions to my presence. She kept glancing at them nervously but they were engrossed in their smartphones. It seems so obvious now that I don't know why I never thought about it before. Yes, I know it is rude to stare but why was she so scared? I can only assume that she must have thought that I was a Muslim. If my recent experiences are anything to go by brown skin equals being a Muslim in the Western world.
Only a few days earlier my new boss had asked me if I was observing Ramadan. I don't. I am an Anglican, a CoE regular attendee. Recently, people whom I meet for the first time have started asking me whether I am Muslim. This has never happened before. Nobody assumes that I am Christian. Quite strangely, nobody makes an assumption that I am a Hindu either. The latter would qualify as being quite an educated guess with a high chance of being correct. Many in my family are Hindus. No Muslims though. What all this demonstrates is the creep of religion into the domain of race.
The whole strange episode has got me thinking about other things. The blowback of Israel's policy against Palestinians seems to be a feeling of individual and personal insecurity within their own people. Jewish friends who live in North London tell me how they have to be extra careful over their personal safety whenever Israel launches an attack on Gaza etc. If a woman sitting in a London station could fear a brown skinned woman dressed in a business suit then their individual fears multiplied across their population globally must amount to some sort of breach of their own liberty. If you cannot live in peace even when you are not physically caught up in the conflict zone then surely it is time to question what good the policy is and for whose benefit?