Toxic mix: The Guardian, British actress Miriam Margolyes and antisemitism

On Oct. 28th the Guardian published an article focusing on British actress Miriam Margolyes and her views on antisemitism and the recent war in Gaza. (Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes: Israel lets people vent antisemitism)

headlineThe Guardian quotes Margolyes from a recent interview on Radio Times thusly:

Actor Miriam Margolyes has criticised Israel for “allowing people” to vent prejudice against Jews, who she claimed: “I don’t think people like”.

The Harry Potter star, 73, who is Jewish, said there had been a “troubling backlash” against Jews following the recent, 50-day Gaza conflict.

She told the new issue of Radio Times: “I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behaviour is not acceptable. There’s been a troubling backlash.”

The actress said: “I don’t think people like Jews. They never have. English literature, my great love, is full of greasy and treacherous Jews.

“I’m lucky they like me, and one always needs a Jewish accountant. Antisemitism is horrible and can’t be defended, but Israel is stupid for allowing people to vent it.”

While Margolyes predictably blames Israel for causing antisemitism, a brief look at the actress suggests a troubling blind spot about her own contribution to legitimizing such Jew hatred.

In addition to the fact that Margolyes supports the cultural boycott of Israel (and signed a letter, published in the Guardian in 2012, protesting the decision by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London to invite Israel’s National Theatre, Habima to perform The Merchant of Venice), she opposes the continued existence of a Jewish state and has participated in a reading of Seven Jewish Children, a play which vilifies Jews and Judaism.

As Anthony Julius observed:

In this play, Jews confess to lying to their own children and killing Palestinian children. They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself.

Additionally, Margolyes has suggested that Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza was sub-human and morally comparable to the Nazi treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

Margolyes also delivered a recorded speech to an extremist-affiliated anti-Israel rally in London in 2007, a gathering which included a speech by Ismail Haniyeh – political leader of Hamas, the antisemitic movement Margolyes claimed to “loathe”. 

In short, when you evoke Israel-Nazi analogies, participate in a play which vilifies Jews and Judaism and are willing to share a stage with the leader of an extremist movement that explicitly calls for the murder of Jews, you forfeit the assumption of good intentions when condemning the rise of antisemitism.

The chosen blog? Guardian gives a shout out to “pressure group” called CiF Watch

Though the Guardian has implicitly alluded to our presence on one or two occasions, they seem to have an unwritten policy of never explicitly referring to us by name. Indeed, even the most benign references to ‘CiF Watch’ in the comment section of ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’) are still routinely deleted by their moderators, and, in 2012, this writer had his commenting privileges below the line at ‘CiF’ permanently suspended for some still unknown violation of their ‘community standards’. 

So, we were a bit surprised – to put it mildly – when a column written by the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in the print and online editions of the paper (The many pitfalls when covering Israel/Palestine issues, Oct. 27th) devoted some space to addressing one of our recent complaints concerning a truly reprehensible column in the Guardian by discredited anti-Zionist historian Shlomo Sand titled ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew.

Specifically, we objected to Sand’s use of the term ‘chosen people’ to suggest that Jews treat Palestinians poorly due to a belief in their own racial superiority, and noted that Elliott himself had previously acknowledged (in upholding a CiF Watch complaint in 2011 against an article by Deborah Orr) that such pejorative references to the “chosen people” – widely understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold high standards of moral behavior – are typically used by antisemites as code for ‘Jewish supremacism‘.

Here’s the passage from Sand:

By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.

Elliott’s reply can be found in the highlighted section of his article below (Click Image to Enlarge):

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Guardian’s photo choice again illustrates their obsession with Israel

Even by the standards of the Guardian Left, George Monbiot represents an extreme example of those commentators who go beyond mere hostility to Israel and the United States, but, more broadly, seem to wake up in the morning convinced that reactionary jihadists are actually victims of the democratic (“imperialist”) West. 

Though his Oct. 21st op-ed in the Guardian is about the ‘duhumanising rhetoric’ used by political leaders to demonize and exploit vulnerable minority groups, he naturally avoids citing the most egregiously racist and violent Islamist extremist movements, instead citing – as examples of those who use dehumanising rhetoric to render people expendable – Israel, the UK and the United States.

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Guardian claims Israeli officials dismiss European critics as “Nazi-hugging antisemites”

Do Israeli officials or those closest to Binyamin Netanyahu dismiss European critics of Israel as “Nazi-hugging antisemites”?  

The Guardian makes such a claim in an analysis (MPs’ vote on Palestine state recognition is part of growing international trend, Oct. 13) co-written by their Middle East editor Ian Black and Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont.

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Shlomo Sand’s sickening Guardian article slams both Israel and Judaism.

sand

By Richard Millett.

There are times when something is so obviously wrong that it shouldn’t even need pointing out. That the Guardian thinks there is no problem promoting someone who wants to “resign” from Judaism shows how little respect its editors have for Judaism.

Last Saturday the Guardian allowed Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv university professor, to write a lengthy piece in its pages about how he has had enough of being Jewish (see above).

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Does Guardian journo Nicholas Watt believe Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital?

An October 14th report by Guardian chief political correspondent Nicholas Watt (Alan Duncan to condemn Israeli settlements in blistering speech) included this passage:

In one of the strongest attacks on the government of Binyamin Netanyahu by a frontline UK politician, Duncan will criticise Tel Aviv for its “reprehensible” behaviour in encouraging and supporting the creation of “illegal colonies”.

It is unclear who in Tel Aviv Duncan will be criticising, as Jerusalem is of course the Israeli capital. 

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Guardian fails to report antisemitic comment by Tory MP

Last night in London, British lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution recommending that the “Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”  

While the most morally obtuse comment during the debate belongs to Sir Richard Ottaway, who said that Israel’s “annexation” [sic] of 950 acres of the West Bank outraged him “more than anything else” in his political life – suggesting that terror attacks by Islamists on Western civilians, mass slaughter and systemic repression of human rights in the Mid-East come are less outrageous than the ‘horror’ of potential Israeli homes on a small stretch of land near the green line – another MP’s comments represented an altogether different level of political pathos.

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“Neo-Nazi” talks at Max Blumenthal’s anti-Israel event in Parliament: Clip Update.

Cross-posted by Richard Millett.

Last week I posted about David Thring, considered a “neo-Nazi”, who spoke at a Max Blumenthal event in the British Parliament about Israel. The event was sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Thring’s past behaviour probably needed more of an explanation so here is a clip of some of his past activities. In the beginning is audio of one of the organisers of the event warmly inviting Thring up to the stage to speak.

Pertinent questions that the clip asks is why was a “neo-Nazi” invited by the organisers to speak at an anti-Israel event in Parliament and when will opposition to the Jewish state be seen for what it really is.

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Rev. Stephen Sizer speaks at antisemitic conference in Iran

Cross posted from the blog of The CST

The Rev Stephen Sizer is a Church of England vicar with a long record of anti-Israel activity. In 2012 the Board of Deputies made a formal complaint to the Church of England about allegations that Sizer had used his website to link to antisemitic material from other websites. This complaint was resolved through mediation and a Conciliation Agreement was accepted by both parties, which included Sizer accepting that “on occasions his use of language has caused offence to some and agrees that he should have reflected on his choice of words more carefully.” Sizer also stated:

I care passionately about the safety of the Jewish people and the right of Israel to exist within internationally agreed borders. I have always opposed racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as well as Islamophobia and the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination and will continue to do so.

Sizer’s presence at an antisemitic conference in Iran this week brings into question whether he is honouring the spirit of this Conciliation Agreement in good faith.

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Why does the Guardian portray Hamas as a victim of Israeli aggression?

“Our narrative has gained the upper hand in the media” – Hamas deputy political leader Ismail Haniyeh

As Jews in the UK and across the world were welcoming in the new year on Wednesday evening, the Guardian Group published yet another official editorial reminding readers which party was to blame for the 50 day war between Israel and Hamas.

Whilst nobody familiar with the political leanings of the media group would be surprised that they judged the Jewish state guilty, their September 24th polemic (The Guardian view on the human, economic and political costs of the Gaza war) is noteworthy as a reminder that their top editors in London believe that even the most extreme elements within Palestinian society aren’t responsible for their actions.

The Guardian editorial parrots Hamas talking points in claiming that the movement was strengthened by the war; sows doubt over Hamas culpability for the murder of three Israeli teens, despite a claim of responsibility from one of their leaders as well as an admission by the cell’s ringleader that Hamasniks in Gaza funded the “operation”; falsely characterizes Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities as a “response” to Israeli aggression; and challenges “Israel’s reasons for going to war“, completely erasing the history of the conflict.

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Guardian silent about Labour candidate’s suspension for racist tweets

British Labor Party Parliamentary candidate Vicki Kirby was suspended on Saturday by Party leaders after it emerged that she was responsible for a series of hateful Tweets about Israel.

One tweet read:

“We invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher.”

Another claimed:

“Hitler might be the “Zionist God”

And, one pledged:

“I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!”

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Slow news days in Israel? Guardian plays ‘Catch the Jew”

Based on research collected while posing as a German investigative reporter during a tour through Palestinian areas, Israeli born playwright and writer Tuvia Tenenbom spent time with pro-Palestinian “activists” and NGO researchers in the West Bank and asked about the plight of the Palestinians. He turned the results into a book cheekily titled, ‘Catch the Jew, words meant to capture the surreal anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda continually fed by such activists to a compliant media.

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Former Editor of The Indepedent: Israeli ‘expansionism’ radicalises Muslims

Simon Kelner was Editor of The Independent between 1998 and 2011, and currently writes a column for the Indy’s i100 page. You may recall that Kelner defended his paper’s decision to publish that infamous cartoon by Dave Brown’s in 2003 showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ‘devouring the flesh of a Palestinian baby’, claiming that it was not antisemitic.

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Let’s play: Are you an anti-Semite?

This graphic/flowchart on antisemitism, created by A.B. Landis, is being circulated on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Imgur, and we thought it was definitely worth sharing. (Click graphic below to go to the original image at Imgur, and then click again to enlarge.)

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Jewish, proudly British and increasingly concerned about rising antisemitism

Daniel Finkelstein, associate editor at Times of London, provided an extremely lucid, measured and penetrating look into antisemitism in the UK, in a column published in August.  It’s behind a pay wall, and we thought it was valuable enough to provide excerpts.

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