Preview of official survey on European antisemitism

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at The CST

Next week, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Krystallnacht, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the European Union will publish the results of its keenly awaited survey, “Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism”. It is the largest survey of its type, covering countries in which 90% of European Jews live – Britain, France, Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Latvia.

The survey does not ask what level of antisemitism ought to somehow be expected, or tolerated. Its questions include asking  Jews what they perceive to be antisemitic, what they experience, and how it impacts upon their sense of belonging and future. It does not seek to tell Jews what is or is not antisemitic. It does not define a particular level of antisemitism as “good” or “bad” or “normal”. Instead, all of that is quite correctly decided by the respondents. 

So, this is an exceptional opportunity for Jewish communities, European politicians, and researchers, to understand both Jewish experiences of antisemitism and Jewish perceptions of antisemitism. The hope and intention is that this gives an urgently needed kick-start for improved protection of European Jews. 

The FRA collects data on human rights and racism for EU policy makers. CST has worked very closely with both it and European Jewish partners for many years. This survey arose from our shared concern that Europe’s politicians and lawmakers needed to understand, and act upon, a situation that has worsened considerably since the year 2000.

Crucially, our concern was shared by the European Commission, which actually ordered the survey be undertaken. They needed it, because most countries (Britain being an exception) held insufficient data on antisemitism. Furthermore, individual countries could be better held to account for their efforts.

Opposing antisemitism in post-Holocaust Europe should be the most basic of human rights issues. Disgracefully, it is not. Jewish concerns and motives are misrepresented, treated with suspicion, or simply lied about, by all too many supposed anti-racists: including sections of the media, trade unions and churches, where urges to attack Israel and so-called Zionists overwhelm other considerations. That some Jews embrace this corrupt enterprise merely deepens their comrades’ contempt for mainstream Jewish (therefore so-called Zionist) concerns. 

Regardless of the FRA survey, the reality and impact of European antisemitism has been plainly visible in France, with Jews having been murdered in cold blood, and thousands of French Jews having moved overseas. Hungary is also very worrying, but the problem there is far right nationalists who blame Jews for socioeconomic difficulties: what you might call “the old antisemitism”.

Then, there is Malmo in Sweden, widely regarded as the worst example of a local community living in fear, due to high levels of antisemitism from some Muslim residents and a lack of concern, or worse, from local authorities. For the pessimists, Malmo is what the future holds for European Jewry. (See here, for a short impactful article on wearing a kippah in Malmo.) 

In Britain, we are relatively fortunate. CST and the Police have had excellent relations since the 1990s; and over the last decade our politicians have taken antisemitism increasingly seriously, with the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism helping to lead the way.

The survey itself was rigorously conducted by London’s highly respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Ipsos MORI. It posed dozens of questions and each was to be answered by every country. The very few statistics that have already been revealed (mainly by the EU delegation to the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism) contain much food for thought. They include:

  • 7% of the 5,847 respondents experienced some form of antisemitic physical attack or threats in the last five years.
  • 26% of respondents experienced antisemitic harassment at least once in the year before the survey. This rose to 34% over the past five years.
  • 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment, 64% of victims of physical attack or threats, and 52% of victims of vandalism did not report the incident to the police, nor to any other organisation. 
  • 22% of respondents sometimes avoid “Jewish events or sites” because of safety concerns.

These figures are overall European totals. The specific UK totals are likely to be generally less alarming, but it remains to be seen if they will be substantially different.

The most striking figures released thus far concern Belgium, France and Hungary, where between 40% and 50% of respondents said that they had considered emigrating because they do not feel safe. This statistic goes to the heart of how the present and past experience of antisemitism impacts upon Jewish feelings of safety and future, and upon Europe itself. 

The few figures released thus far more than justify why the survey was commissioned. The perpetrators and triggers of antisemitism may differ across the continent, but there is an urgent need for local politicians to develop effective counter-strategies against it.

  •  The Jewish Chronicle carries a slightly shorter version of the above article. 

Abu Qatada: a lesson for British Jews

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Finally, Abu Qatada is back in Jordan, facing questioning about terrorism. The extradition has been a lengthy legal saga, summarised by headlines such as “hate preacher” and “send him back”.

The Guardian Comment is Free website has two articles on Britain’s handling of Abu Qatada. The first of these, by Victoria Brittain, is simply a blanket defence of him. The second, by Simon Jenkins, is far more ambiguous. Neither article details Abu Qatada’s actual UK activities in the 1990s and early 2000s, such as his links to British Muslims who later became terrorists, or his links and financing with overseas “mujahideen”: despite these facts being well-known and having appeared in Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) judgements.

The SIAC evidence is extensive. The 2007 judgement reads like a 1990′s and early 2000′s who’s who of the global jihad movement. Section 84 is one of its more succinct paragraphs:

In short, his views are to be found linked to many terrorist groups and their actions, providing the religious cover they seek; he propagates radicalising views, and his fund-raising is aimed at advancing the Islamist extremist cause.

The SIAC judgements also reference Abu Qatada’s incitement for the murdering of British Jews (from 2007, section 28):

…even in December 1996, the Appellant was already proclaiming that it was acceptable to fight Jews within the UK.

Similarly, section 31, but now with Jewish children clarified as legitimate targets. Britons and Americans are also added (presumably this also includes British and American children):

In October 1999, the Appellant made a speech at the Four Feathers mosque [in Marylebone, London] in which he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.  He told the congregation that Americans should be attacked wherever they were, that in his view they were no better than Jews and that there was no difference between English, Jews and Americans.

The Guardian coverage is important because it shows how some liberal-left opinion makers and activists are blinding themselves (and others) to the realities of extremism. British Jews have long despaired at the failure of such people to acknowledge antisemitism when it comes from Arab or Muslim sources, but this coverage of Abu Qatada shows that selective blindness to antisemitism is only part of a wider failing.

For British Jews, the lesson is obvious. If these people are even soft on Abu Qatada, then we should expect absolutely nothing from them regarding any overseas hatred or incitement: whether that is Hizbollah terrorism against Diaspora Jews, Hamas terrorism against Israel, the appalling overall levels of antisemitic attitudes and hate speech, or visits by overseas preachers to the UK.

To return specifically to these two Guardian articles, Victoria Brittain’s is by far the more obviously ridiculous. It’s title is a classic of the genre:

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist

Usually, it is the Guardian sub-editors who choose how to entitle articles, based upon their reading of them. So, Victoria Brittain may not have actually called it this. Her article lauds Abu Qatada as “a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while in prison”. He phones his kids from prison to encourage their homework etc, but Brittain does not explicitly say that Abu Qatada is no terrorist. Instead, it is Qatada’s family that is “innocent” and:

No one suggests Othman [ie Qatada] is physically dangerous himself.

Which may even be true, but it completely ducks the central allegation that he encourages many others whom we might describe as “physically dangerous”. 

Brittain also says, “no one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s”. Perhaps Brittain does not regard the 1999 example of incitement to killing Jews (including their children and Britons and Americans) as controversial. She also says that the security services should have followed her lead:

If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar…I believe that, rather than being scapegaoted, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth.

British Jews should be deeply thankful that Muslim youth are no longer exposed to Abu Qatada’s “moral standards”. Besides, the security services did, repeatedly, speak to Abu Qatada. SIAC states (2007, section 29) that he:

…warned his congregation to be wary of MI5’s approaches and provided them with physical descriptions and names of MI5 officers approaching Muslims.

So much for Victoria Brittain, but is such a person really someone whom British Jews (and others) should take seriously? Sadly, almost unbelievably, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Brittain was associate foreign editor of the Guardian, is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and offered £10,000 surety money for Sheikh Ra’ed Salah.

CST believed Sheikh Salah had preached a sermon in Jerusalem that included a blood libel, alleging that Jews need the blood of non-Jews for “holy bread”. CST supported the Home Secretary’s ban on him. The ban was condemned by the Guardian, which also misrepresented Jewish and Home Office concerns and actions. Salah eventually won his appeal, despite being found to have made the blood libel speech (see ruling pdf here, section 59). The Guardian’s defence of him never relented and they never did acknowledge the blood libel ruling (see CST pdf here, p.18-22).

If Brittain defends Abu Qatada, then is it any wonder she defended the far less clear-cut case of Salah? Ditto the comments pages of the Guardian.

The Guardian’s other comment piece on Abu Qatada is by one of its senior regular writers, Simon Jenkins. Chairman of the National Trust, former editor of the Times and Evening Standard, he is somewhat more establishment than Victoria Brittain.

Jenkins’ article differs markedly from Brittain’s piece, but is another important marker in how Qatada is viewed, and what we can therefore expect regarding all those other cases that are far less clear-cut. His position starts out promisingly enough:

The state is entitled to deport people it considers a threat…I have no problem in sending home people in the category of Abu Qatada, who arrived on false documents, became an ally and counsellor to terrorists and then cited fear of torture as a reason for not being deported…

However, it then turns very lazy:

That said, Abu Qatada by all accounts does not fall into the ranting cleric category of his contemporary, Abu Hamza. He is closer to the vagrant revolutionary tradition to which London has offered refuge throughout history. The city should be big enough to encompass him, even if his activities merited watching…

Jenkins knows enough to realise that the charges against Abu Qatada are extensive, but ultimately he seems to be simply failing to take Abu Qatada seriously. Whatever the cause of this ambivalence, it is yet another reason why British Jews can have no confidence in such circles to safeguard their wellbeing; and the rest of society ought to feel exactly the same.

Finally, for light relief, compare Victoria Brittain’s “He’s no terrorist” schtick with this brief Simpson’s excerpt below.

David Ward’s Bulldozer

The following was written by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

David Ward

David Ward

Old friends and (new) foes have advised David Ward MP that he is in a hole and really should stop digging. (For background, see here and here.) Unfortunately, whoever runs his website disagrees, and has posted an article that renders Ward unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament for so long as it remains there.

With this new article, Ward has swapped his spade for a bulldozer.

The article is entitled, “Guardian continues the hounding of David Ward”. It exemplifies the type of loose – and therefore dangerous and highly offensive – language about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust that got Ward exactly where he is today.

Having posted this, it is clear that David Ward and his constituency team neither understand the power of words, nor the importance of precision of language. They most certainly underestimate its importance in the context of dealing with Jews and in relation to racism. So it is fitting, and somewhat sad, that the article is itself a counterattack on a recent Guardian interview with Ward, headlined “David Ward: ‘The solid ground I stand on is that I am not a racist’ ”.

The interview, by Aida Edemariam, criticises Ward for not understanding why he caused offence with his Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians linkage, but it does seem to afford him every opportunity to state his case and quotes him at length. It is well worth reading, but outraged John Hilley who wrote about it on his (ill-termed) Zenpolitics website. This is the article that is now on Ward’s website, where it resides under Ward’s name and the logo of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Hilley begins by reminding us what Ward originally said about “the Jews” having suffered in the Holocaust and then “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”. He acknowledges that Ward’s wording was poor, but states that the outrage about it is somehow artificial: 

whatever lack of qualification or carelessness in his words, were we really to believe that Ward meant or implied that all Jews were/are responsible for Israel’s repressions and occupation?

To which the answer, for most of us, would be a resounding “yes”. When someone says “the Jews”, we take that to mean “the Jews”. Indeed, isn’t that the standard defence of every anti-Zionist who has ever been accused of antisemitism? “Errr…I didn’t say ‘the Jews’, I was clearly only talking about Ariel Sharon / the IDF / Israelis / Zionists / George Bush / the Board of Deputies of British Jews…”.

Building from this self-serving deceit, the article vilifies those who have taken issue with Ward’s Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians construct. It includes these misrepresentations of complaints:

the expected criticism from outraged Zionists…

Edemariam like all Ward’s detractors, really knows what he meant…

his [Ward’s] meaning is likely to have been well understood…

Ward’s real ‘mistake’, as far as the Zionist lobby and many liberal commentariat are concerned – and as his Liberal colleague Jenny Tongue also found out to her cost – was to criticise Israel at all…

Those, like David Ward, who courageously speak in any kind of similar vein – despite his subsequent corrections – are, as usual, pilloried for being anti-Semitic and hounded by liberal media types for not subscribing to the template Zionist narrative…

There is a small mercy in that the article’s insistence that Ward did not mean “the Jews”, helps inoculate it against similar charges. Hilley clearly does not mean all “the Jews”, but this article still leaves the reader believing that any complainant is part of a conspiracy to silence all dissent on Israel, Zionism, or prevailing Holocaust narratives.

As Ward has previously put it and as positively cited again in this article:

Ward’s point about the “huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism” also applies to this kind of liberal baiting.

(“Liberal baiting” is a reference to the Guardian interviewer, Aida Edemariam. The news that the Guardian is also somehow in on this alleged conspiracy to silence Ward, Tonge and their ilk, may surprise those who have followed debates about ‘the new antisemitism’ in recent decades.)

Despite all this, the article’s primary thrust tries to reinforce Ward’s post-facto rationalisation of his behaviour in the controversy thus far: the notion that he is bravely trying to kick-start an urgent debate on how the Holocaust impacted upon the subsequent actions of Israel and/or Zionists (but not “the Jews” – or at least not those Jews who kept out of it all).

Now we are no longer talking about the offence caused by stupid routine accusations about all criticism of Israel being falsely jumped on as antisemitism; or the even sillier (and far more original) idea that the Guardian is now in on the act. Instead, we are back to talking about the Holocaust. We are back to the original cause of the outrage against Ward.  You might, therefore, expect the language to now, at long last, be careful and precise, empathetic even towards those who were so upset. Sadly, this is not the case:

Nor was Ward linking the Holocaust and the Occupation by comparing or equating them as “categories”. He was linking them in the obvious sense that the Holocaust was used as a part of the Zionist agenda for occupying another people’s land…

Indeed, how dare Zionists not ignore the near genocide of European Jewry, but to move on, Ward’s insistence that he was not equating “the Holocaust and the Occupation…as ‘categories’” has been central to his defence since day one of this squalid controversy. Bizarrrely, having just stated the above, Hilley then bulldozes under both his and Ward’s position, writing:

And if Edemariam really does believe after sixty years of ethnic cleansing, mass IDF murder, settler takeovers, apartheid transfer policies and the continued prison camp siege of Gaza that Israel “is not setting out to annihilate [the Palestinian] people”, perhaps she is the one who should be more carefully considering her incendiary language.

In the space of two small paragraphs, Hilley has gone from saying that the Holocaust is obviously not the same as “occupying another people’s land” to outrage that Ward’s interviewer has denied Israel “is not setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people”.

To be precise, “setting out to annihilate” is not the same as perpetrating an annihilation / Holocaust, but to the man on the Clapham (or Bradford East) omnibus, there will be little difference. Then, there is the seriousness of what Hilley’s angry denial of Edemariam’s words implies – that Israel is actually setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people, as the Nazis set out to annihilate the Jews.

If this is to be Ward’s chosen category comparison / equation, then he has no place continuing as an MP.   

Hilley’s article is not yet done. It has “a rather basic set of sequential things to restate”. Bullet points follow, beginning with an accurate description and full condemnation of the Holocaust against “the Jews”. Nevertheless, the centrality of antisemitism and the Holocaust to Nazi ideology is undersold by the next point:

  • “It was part of a systematic purge on any community, Jews, Gypsies, Communists, deemed inferior or/and a threat to Nazi ideology and power.”

The article continues:

  • Anyone who seeks to deny or misconstrue these basic facts is either peddling lies, misinformed  or uninterested in the truth”

More “basic facts” follow and again we are told that if you do not agree with them then you are either a liar or a fool. They include:

  • “The Holocaust formed a central ideological, political and militarist agenda in the Zionist formulation and creation of a Jewish state.”

If anything, this goes even further than the earlier mention of the Holocaust and “the Zionist agenda”. Notwithstanding the first of Hilley’s points, it is as if the Holocaust has now been stripped of all meaning for Jews and reduced to some kind of deeper, more elemental truth about it being a Zionist tool. The bullet points continue, including:

  • “We cannot reasonably learn or understand anything about Palestinian suffering without referencing the Holocaust and the ways in which Zionism has used it to legitimise the Occupation.”

So, whilst the basic reasons as to how and why the Holocaust might feed into Jewish support for Zionism are dehumanised, the opposite must apply for Palestinian suffering. For now, let us just say that this is a striking double standard.

Then, Hilley cites Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein “whose own Jewish family were murdered in extermination camps…this has been turned into ideological propaganda through the Holocaust Industry”.

All of which feeds to the article’s conclusion about Ward’s “careless discrepancy” being maliciously used “to keep other journalists in a state of  cautious apprehension about discussing the Holocaust in relation to the Occupation…[this] personalised hatchet-job does exactly what the Zionist lobby and self-protecting editors want in keeping all that prudently off-limits”.

Let us be clear, an article such as Hilley’s is not exceptional within proper anti-Zionist and anti-Israel circles. Its weird claim that “Jews” really means “Zionists” or “Israelis” repeats what we have previously heard from Caryl Churchill and Paul Foot, two wordsmiths beside whom Hilley and Ward pale into insignificance. Its claim that outrage over Ward’s spitting on Holocaust memory is proof that any and all criticism of Israel is falsely accused of antisemitism is merely routine; as is the coterminous accusation that such claims succeed in shutting up all criticism.

Even the idea that Israel wants to repeat what the Nazis did is not that unusual, with Holocaust Memorial Day fast become a lightning rod for this sickening, perverse claim. 

However, for all of this rubbish to be brought together in a single article on an MP’s website brings shame upon the Liberal Democrat Party, and upon Ward’s many decent colleagues who keep getting spattered with mud from these issues. So long as this article remains on David Ward MP’s website, he is unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament.

London Evening Standard journalist: ‘I’m prejudiced against Jews’

Cross posted by our friend, Richard Millett

Twitter is a good way of seeing what our elected politicians are up to. One in particular is a voluminous anti-Israel tweeter. Labour MP Richard Burden, for it is he, is also an enthusiastic retweeter of Ben White:

 

and

 

In my opinion, for an elected politician to promote Ben White, considering White’s views, is highly offensive.

It is Ben White who, in his article for Counterpunch in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism?, wrote:

“…I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

More recently White tweeted:

 

and this was the picture he linked to:

 

Joseph W. at Harry’s Place argued:

“Ben White appears to be linking Howard Jacobson – an English Jew – and Israeli Jewish Habima actors, by aesthetics and looks. If you are aware of the history of antisemitism, you will know that a great deal of attention was given to the physical appearance of Jews, who were portrayed as people whom one could legitimately hate based on how they look.”

The Warped Mirror neatly recounts what happened.

As I was concerned that Richard Burden MP was promoting someone such as White with such contemptuous views, I tweeted Burden about it. However, it was Mira Bar-Hillel, who writes for the London Evening Standard newspaper, who responded. Here’s Bar-Hillel’s Twitter profile first:

 

In response to my tweet to Burden pointing out White’s view that he can “understand” why some people are anti-Semitic Bar-Hillel stated that she “can understand it too”:

 

When challenged as to whether she could also “understand” people who were Islamophobic she, somewhat ambiguously, responded:

“I understand hatred for anyone one who feels wronged – or unjustly treated – by. Racism I abhor.”

Good to know Bar-Hillel abhors racism. But then how would one explain the following quote apparently attributed to her in Anshel Pfeffer’s article in Haaretz in June which discussed the set exam question “Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?” (Haaretz might be behind a pay-wall for some so I have copied and pasted the full article below for context purposes):

“The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.” (Emphasis added)

So Bar Hillel abhors racism, but is “prejudiced against Jews”. Work that one out.

Meanwhile, I continued to question Richard Burden MP as to whether he found White’s view offensive. Sadly, instead of agreeing that it was he refused to give a straightforward answer:

 

It is very concerning that a British MP, who does denounce anti-Semitism, still goes on to promote someone like White with such views and doesn’t see anything wrong in that. Or maybe, as Burden suggested, I should just “grow up”.

Anshel Pfeffer’s Haaretz article in full:

Anti-Semitism in 100 words or less
In rhyme, in sorrow and in a single word, readers took my challenge. Which one gets the bottle of wine?

By Anshel Pfeffer | Jun.22, 2012 | 2:42 AM | 2

Nine years ago, I found myself hanging out with a group of Pakistani journalists I met at a seminar abroad. At the time, we were all hearing about secret and not-so-secret dealings between Israel and Pakistan, and one of them showed me his passport. On the bottom of every page was written, “For travel to every nation in the world except Israel.” “It’s just politics” he explained to me. “There is no anti-Semitism in Pakistan; there are no Jews.”

Technically, that may be true, as the small Jewish communities of Karachi and Peshawar dispersed decades ago. But it is interesting that he felt the need to create a distinction between a hatred of Israel and the shunning of Jews.

There is anti-Jewish rhetoric in the local media in Pakistan. Many would argue that in a nation without a history of local anti-Semitism, this is actually a manifestation of anti-Western sentiments, along with the country’s intense hostility with neighboring India, which is increasingly becoming a strategic ally of Israel. It doesn’t seem as though Pakistan has a homegrown tradition of Jew-hatred.

On Wednesday, a British woman of Pakistani origin, Shasta Khan, was charged in a Manchester court for planning, along with her husband Mohammed Sajid, what could have been the worst anti-Semitic attack on British soil in living memory. Born and raised in the Manchester region, she would have seen and recognized Jews from the large Orthodox community in the city. The couple is alleged to have scouted out targets in the Prestwich neighborhood, where thousands of Jews live and work.

A different duo of young British-Pakistanis, Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, became radicalized after traveling to study in Damascus, where they were recruited by Hamas and carried out a suicide attack at a Tel-Aviv pub, killing three people, in 2003. In contrast, Khan and Sajid are accused of embarking on their Jihad after surfing radical websites. They allegedly learned how to build homemade bombs from Al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine, and instead of travelling to the Middle East to strike at the Zionist enemy, they decided to avenge the Palestinians by murdering fellow Britons, members of a neighboring religious community.

But that is how anti-Semitism has evolved: Defying reason and ideology, overcoming geographic and social divides, it adapts to new environments and conditions. Anti-Semitism is the most flexible and versatile of hatreds. That is my main conclusion from the many answers I received over the last two weeks, following the question I posed to readers: “Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?” But that was not the only conclusion.

A brief reminder: I decided to open up the column to readers following the hysterical reactions of some politicians and community leaders in Britain when this question was posed to high school students in a national exam. Financial blogger Henry Blodget was inundated with angry responses when he asked the same question with sincerity and seriousness. I had hoped that this column’s readers would prove both more intelligent and display a greater sense of equipoise than those who expressed outrage over the exam question. The reader responses exceeded my expectations.

There were a handful of responses such as the commenter who wrote [the following]:

“Anti-Semitism should be condemned not explained – full stop.” But most readers who answered believe, like I do, that no subject should be beyond discussion, even if some of the responses do not make for easy reading. Of course, there were a few nasties, such as the writer who tried to convince me that the world doesn’t have anything against Jews in particular, but rather just against Israelis. After all, he wrote,”the Internet has shown the world what kind of people you are.”

Others were also critical but from a place of sorrow. Mira Bar-Hillel wrote [the following]:

“The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.” [emphasis added]

Honorable mentions

I know that some would label Mira with the despicable title of “self-hating Jew,” and while I don’t necessarily agree with all she writes, I think she expresses genuine concerns and should be heard. Mira’s answer is one of my two honorable mentions.

The other honorable mention goes to Richard Asbeck, who managed in verse to convey the uneasy feeling of many Jews and non-Jews at the separateness, perhaps aloofness, that Jews have conveyed over the millennia.

“How could I by virtue of reciprocity,

blessed by the honor of having been treated as a friend,

remembering the humanity of a shared meal,

remembering the hachnasat orchim (hospitality ), how could I, in the attempt of responding in kind, avoid the self-allegation of impurity and ‘unchosenness’ clearly marked by the catered dinner on a stranger’s plate, or worse: the foil-wrapped carton board plate?”

Although I allowed up to 100 words, some readers made do with just one or two words: Envy; jealousy; religion; Zionism; ignorance; Jesus Christ. All are indeed reasons why people are prejudiced against Jews, and there are of course many more, often conflicting, and never justified reasons. And that is why I said that anti-Semitism is the most flexible of hatreds and why I chose Mark Gardner’s entry as the winner. My only hesitation is that the writer is a professional in the field, who serves as director of communications of the Community Security Trust (CST ), of British Jewry. My choice of Mark as winner is not an endorsement of the CST; indeed I criticized the organization in a column on an unrelated matter two months ago. But unlike others who monitor anti-Semitism, I think that his entry proves he can address the issue in a balanced manner. So he gets the (kosher ) bottle of wine.

Here is his answer to why some people are prejudiced against Jews.

“If prejudice is hating someone more than is necessary, then you must consider the anti-Semites’ charge sheet. So, let us be brief: Allied with the Devil to kill the son of God; lost God’s covenant; fought God’s last prophet; visible rejecters of God; kill children and drink their blood; conspiratorial; money hoarding; greedy; corrupting; mean-spirited; physically grotesque; contemptible; ferocious; ingratiating yet always alien and never authentic; devious, evil, corrupting geniuses; unchanging and unassimilable; racially distinct, self-superior hypocrites; financiers of war; harbingers of revolution; pornographers; hucksters and fraudsters; whiners and liars; imperialists and colonizers; thieves, racists, war-mongering destroyers. More briefly: scapegoat.

“Bad taste” & “Wrong on so many levels” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Few things are guaranteed to upset the Guardian like a US Republican presidential candidate’s visit to Jerusalem: on a fund-raiser no less! 

If bookies took bets on such things, you could put your house on the paper writing a poorly worded article that risks sounding like a modern version of old antisemitic conspiracy myths. Remember this Guardian editorial from 2008?

“When a presumptive US presidential candidate arrives in Jerusalem, he willingly dons a jacket designed by Israeli tailors.”

And that was for Barack Obama, a black Democrat! 

Indeed, right on cue, here comes Comment is Free with an article by Juan Cole concerning Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, entitled:

‘Ten reasons Mitt Romney’s Israel visit is in bad taste’

The “bad taste” begins in the article’s sub-title:

Did you catch that? “Presidential hopeful…fundraiser…playing war enabler in Israel”.

The article is reasonably straightforward, consisting of 10 points against Romney’s visit.

Unlike many other articles on this risk-strewn subject, it at least stresses (in its very 1st point) that Romney is reaching out to Christian Zionists “and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican”. So, this is no crass antisemitic slur, but it still risks hitting those nerves, particularly with its 7th point, which states:

7. Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy. As Nancy Reagan said of drugs, so US politicians must say to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf: “Just say no.” Instead, Romney is playing war enabler, and that abroad.

Of the 10 points in the article, this was the “war enabler” one that made the sub-title, obviously having caught the attention of the Comment is Free sub-editor.

Consider, however, exactly what this 7th point actually states. It says “Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran”. Nothing more and nothing less. A war that could make Iraq look like a picnic, promised by a Presidential candidate to “his donors in Jerusalem”

If the Guardian has proof of such a conspiracy and such a dangerous promise, then surely it should be on the front page, not buried on the CiF website with all the other dross. If the Guardian has no such proof, then this allegation should be removed immediately. The author does, however, provide a link. It is here and goes to an Associated Press report that shows differing nuanced statements made by Romney and on his behalf concerning whether or not America would back an Israeli strike upon Iran. It ends with:

“He [Romney] later clarified his comments in a written statement, saying that the candidate “believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

This hardly meets the burden of proof that “promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran” should require from the Guardian: even upon its journalistically subnormal CiF site.

But there’s worse than this. Double it, in fact, because the promised Iran war is immediately followed by:

“When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed…cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives…US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf.”

So, the Iraq war was all Israel’s fault. Well, not exactly…it was the fault of President Bush’s “pro-Israel supporters” to whom he had “promised…a war on Iraq”. No link is provided for this colossal claim, nor for the even bigger succeeding one, that American wars for Israel is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps the author feels that no proof is required, perhaps this is what simply passes for received wisdom at the Guardian these days. It certainly feels that way: an impression that is not helped by senior figure, Brian Whitaker, recommending the article under the title “best blogs and analysis from the Middle East”.   

Guardian’s false accusation of “false accusations of antisemitism”

This essay is cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

The Jewish community has probably had more run-ins with the Guardian than every other British newspaper combined. This matters on two levels: emotionally, because the Guardian exemplifies the kind of liberalism that many Jews instinctively feel; and, politically, because of the moral tone that the Guardian sets within British life.

In recent years, Jewish upset has been exacerbated by the Guardian’s Comment is Free (CiF) website, which carries many more articles than the print edition; and is fundamental to the paper’s future.

CiF’s initial growth was tarnished by failures to adequately moderate readers’ comments underneath the actual articles. After much effort, this was largely remedied. Nevertheless, from a Jewish perspective at least, problems persist with the actual CiF articles themselves.

It was refreshing to see CiF recently feature a particularly spiky anti-antisemitism piece by Tanya Gold, but last week it reverted to type with a particularly poor and offensive article by Rachel Shabi. Its title claimed to reveal how “Israel’s rightwing defenders” make false accusations of antisemitism.

Shabi is welcome to her opinion, but after all the grief between the Jewish community and the Guardian, you might hope that they would hesitate before publishing such a shabby piece of work. Its extremely ugly headline and sub-headline (see below) are plain insensible; it has utterly inadequate levels of proof; it has utterly partial summaries of the sources that it links to; and it refuses to acknowledge that opposition to the phrase “Israel firsters” might be something other than an evil deception to defend Israel.

Shabi’s article can be read here. The title and subtitle:

False accusations of antisemitism desensitise us to the real thing.

Attacks on the New York Times’s new Jerusalem correspondent undermine the credibility of Israel’s rightwing defenders.

So, surely the article is about how the NY Time’s new Jerusalem correspondent has been falsely accused of antisemitism by “Israel’s rightwing defenders”?

Well, no actually. The article’s first three paragraphs deal with the new correspondent, Jodi Rudoren. Shabi claims Rudoren has been called an “anti-Zionist”, but there is no mention here by Shabi of antisemitism, none whatsoever. The word doesn’t feature, nor in any of the three articles linked to by Shabi’s article (here and here and here). It isn’t even hinted at in any of them. The headline and sub-headline are simply wrong and insensible. This, despite their being so provocative and insulting.

Less importantly, the word “anti-Zionist” appears in quotation marks, as if this is what Rudoren has been called. No source is given for this claim. Click on the links provided by Shabi’s article, and you still won’t find it: you’ll find criticism of Rudoren, strong criticism of whom she has tweeted with, people saying she gives the impression of being partial, but you won’t find the simple “anti-Zionist” accusation –  and, I repeat, far less anything mentioning antisemitism.

The closest you’ll find to a plain “anti-Zionist” accusation is this quote taken from Tablet online magazine: but Tablet is a centre-left US Jewish publication, so what does it have to do with the “rightwing defenders” of Shabi’s article? (And, again, nothing here remotely connected with ”false accusations of antisemitism“.)

Next, Shabi moves from Rudoren to an argument in America over the use of the phrase “Israel firsters”. This is a phrase that denotes those who put Israel’s interests above those of their own country. (Former American Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, is an especially notorious user of the term.)

Given the centrality of the ‘dual loyalty’ motif and attendant Jewish conspiracy and treason charges to antisemitism through the centuries, the antisemitic resonance and potential of “Israel firsters” is starkly obvious: as is the right of Jews (and others) to complain about its use. Not here, according to Shabi. Her take on it, as published by Guardian CiF:

“Witness the recent storm over the phrase “Israel firsters”: used to accuse people of putting policy on Israel above US interests, it sparked a row among liberal commentators on whether it carries connotations of dual loyalty that feed into antisemitic tropes. This was just another attempt to smear liberal American critics of Israel, and fed into the frustration over such blockading – best expressed in the title of one recent post: “Dear Israel lobby, we give up – please give us an acceptable way of insulting you.”

Yet the real danger in all this is that the rush to throw charges of antisemitism at people who criticise Israel will desensitise vigilance over the real thing. Such tactics are meant to intimidate and paralyse, choke and divert the discussion over Israel’s occupation and policies in the Middle East.”

And there you have it, CiF is happy to publish that concerns raised about the expression “Israel firsters” were “just another attempt to smear…intimidate and paralyse, choke and divert” liberal criticism and discussion of Israel. No question about it and seemingly no requirement from CiF that Shabi should explicitly explain the rationale behind her “smear” claims, which derive from this at Salon.com, linked to via Shabi’s above link at “liberal commentators“. Incredibly, the former AIPAC spokesman quoted in it didn’t even directly call anyone an antisemite, he merely says of US Democrats using the expression “Israel firsters”: “these are the words of anti-Semites, not Democratic political players.

And that is the false accusations of antisemitism as stated in the title.

All of this, brought to you by Guardian Comment is Free: which is why it matters.

Postscript

When the AIPAC spokesman was asked to explain himself by Salon.com, he gave the following answer – and it is as strikingly appropriate for the Guardian, as it is for the Democratic Party (especially the final sentence):

Those who accuse pro-Israel advocates and American Jews of having “dual loyalties” and being “Israel Firsters” are engaged in anti-Semetic hate speech. Period. These are age-old canards and anti-Semetic smears that go back centuries, suggesting that Jews are disloyal, alien and cannot be trusted. This kind of rhetoric has no place in civil dialogue and anyone’s politics, but especially among progressives.

The organizations who pay the salaries of those using such hate speech, (see below for specific examples), and who have clearly had it brought to their attention, must either confront it and end it, or take full responsibility for it. In this case, that choice belongs to both CAP and Media Matters. This is a free country and people can say what they want, but the question for those organizations is whether they are an appropriate home for such discourse.

At the Guardian’s online bookshop, antisemitism is shipped within 24 hours!

Earlier in the month, after a mild rebuke of Gilad Atzmon in a CiF essay for engaging in antisemitism which hurt the Palestinian cause, the Guardian provided Atzmon a platform to respond.

As we noted at the time, it is no exaggeration to state that Atzmon’s antisemitism is no less virulent or odious than what can be found on the website of David Duke.

Briefly, Atzmon believes that Jews control the world, has given credibility to Holocaust denial, and indicated that modern-day antisemitism should be seen as a justifiable reaction to Jewish villainy. 

A review of Atzmon’s latest book, “The wandering who?” – which rehashes many of the same antisemitic narratives advanced in his blog – by the CST’s Mark Gardner, can be read here.  

But, who needs to rely on reviews of “The wandering who?” written by Jews who, Atzmon would no doubt argue, are immutably crippled by obtuse ethnic loyalties when you can read the book yourself and reach your own conclusions.  

In fact, you don’t even have to go to Atzmon’s website to purchase his book, as the Guardian decided that Atzmon’s musings on Jewish villainy is something their discerning readers need to know:

Per the Guardian’s online bookshop:

Note the editor’s synopsis of Atzmon’s book:

“An explosive unique crucial book tackling the issues of Jewish identity Politics and ideology and their global influence.

To be clear, here’s how the Guardian describes the aim of their online bookshop:

“The aim of this site is to present you with a tailored selection of handpicked books that reflect the Guardian and Observer’s well-respected literary coverage and reviews.

So among the “tailored selection of handpicked books which reflect the Guardian and Observers well-respected literary coverage and reviews” is an expose on world Jewry’s injurious “global influence”.

And, how helpful of “the world’s leading liberal voice”: the extremist Judeophobia of Gilad Atzmon is ready to ship in just one business day – and 20% off the cover price!

The Guardian: Your one-stop, hassle-free, 24/7 purveyor of antisemitism. 

Guardian responds to CiF Watch complaint, amends article charging US of “slavish” support for Israel

Following an essay by John Whitbeck published at CiF on Dec. 29, 2010, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to object to Whitbeck’s accusation that the USA is “slavishly subservient” to Israel.

Wrote Gardner:

“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?…I do not mean this as a joke, although it does read like a sick joke when it appears upon the website of a publication such as yours.”

In response, the Guardian removed the word “slavish” from the sentence, “slavish subservience to Israel”.

The revised essay at CiF carried this at the end:

“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”

However, on Sept. 16th, 2011 the Guardian published a report by Chris McGreal, “Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise, (See our post on the essay, here), which included the following passage:

“Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.” [emphasis mine]

We then contacted the Guardian to ask – as the word and context was quite similar to Whitbeck’s original language (which they eventually amended) – that they similarly revise the language McGreal used suggesting that a U.S. President behaved in a slave-like manner to Israel.

Recently, the Guardian notified us that they had decided to indeed revise the language. The passage now reads:

“Obama followed that up by telling American Jewish leaders that he would put some “daylight” between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush consistently refusing to pressure the Jewish state.” [emphasis mine]

In the Guardian’s “Corrections and Clarifications” section, the change was noted thusly:

Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian ‘promise’ was amended to clarify the intended political meaning of this sentence: “Obama [told] American Jewish leaders that he would put some ‘daylight’ between the US and Israel after eight years of George Bush slavishly refusing to pressure the Jewish state to move toward ending the occupation.” [emphasis mine]

Note that revision of John Whitbeck’s piece in January acknowledged the the term “slavish” was inconsistent with “Guardian editorial policy”, while the current revision merely characterizes the change as motivated by a desire to ”clarify the intended political meaning of the sentence”.

But, of course, the most important question is not whether the Guardian decides to revise, or not to revise, offensive text in a particular CiF commentary or Guardian report after the fact.

Rather,  the overriding issue is a Guardian political culture where reporters like Chris McGreal see nothing wrong with characterizing US support for Israel as “slave like” – an ugly trope which, as the CST’s Mark Gardner observed, hauntingly resembles, ”in its rationale”, “the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians…”.

Such narratives of Jewish control are not merely uncontroversial at the Guardian, but, rather, appear to be something approaching the accepted truth.

Related articles

American Nazi “Prophecy”, Raed Salah, and Dr Daud Abdullah: Deja Vu?

This is cross posted from the blog of the CST, by Mark Gardner

Allegations of antisemitism are mounting against Sheikh Raed Salah of the Islamic Movement, as legal squabbles continue over Britain’s attempts to deport him back to Israel.

Salah’s public relations defence is being led by MEMO (Middle East Monitor), a UK Islamist lobby / media group under the directorship of Dr Daud Abdullah, a senior operator in the UK Islamist scene.

MEMO describe Salah as “the Gandhi of Palestine, but they will now need to overcome a new allegation: that he – Salah, not Gandhi – wrote an article citing an antisemitic American Nazi hoax, the “Franklin document”. (More commonly known as the “Franklin prophecy”.)

As we shall see below, this is not the first time that Dr Daud Abdullah has found himself in the company of this particular American Nazi hoax.

First, a brief recap -

Last week, CST blog ran what claims to be a transcript of a speech by Salah repeating the Christian medieval ‘Blood Libel’: the filthy lie that Jews use the blood of children for making Matzos.

Then, on the Daily Telegraph blog, Michael Weiss ran what claims to be a scan (see here and here) of an Arabic language article by Salah, stating that “4,000 Jews…4,000 Jewish clerks” were warned to avoid work in the Twin Towers on 9/11. This supposedly appeared in the 5th October 2001 edition of Sawt al-Haq w’al-Huriyya (Voice of Justice and Freedom: the journal of Salah’s Islamic Movement in Israel, Northern Branch). It has been translated by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.  According to MEMRI, Salah’s article includes this:

Considering these endless mysteries, [we may conclude that] the unique mover had no problem adding yet another unprecedented mystery to American history, which is [has always been] riddled with ambiguities and with 1,001 questions, from the [Benjamin] Franklin document until today.

MEMRI claim that the next paragraph contains the antisemitic 9/11 hoax:

…to warn the 4,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center, so that they did not come to work on September 11, 2001, which is what actually happened. Was it a coincidence that 4,000 Jewish employees were absent from work, or what? On the other hand, this warning did not reach the 2,000 Muslims who worked at the World Trade Center. Consequently, there were hundreds of Muslim victims.

So, what is this “Franklin document” that MEMRI claim was cited by Salah immediately preceding the 9/11 hoax?

The “Franklin document / prophecy” is a foul little antisemitic hoax, written in the mid 1930s by an American Nazi, William Dudley Pelley. It falsely claims to be a contemporary account from 1789, of a speech by Benjamin Franklin warning against Jewish immigration to the USA “because they are vampires”. In 1942, Pelley was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for Nazi sedition. 

This is not an antisemitic hoax that is especially well-known. It is not, for example, on a par with the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion; nor with the aforementioned Blood Libel, or even the thoroughly modern 9/11 lie. It is one for aficionados.  

Of course, time will tell if the allegations against Salah in regard to the “Prophecy”are true, or if he himself has also fallen victim to a vicious forgery (and elaborate mistranslation). Nevertheless, it is not the first time we have seen the Franklin hoax here in Britain in a pro-Palestinian (rather than Nazi) context.

One version of it, entitled “Prophecy of Benjamin Franklin in regard of the Jewish race”, caused a minor outrage when it was distributed as a flyer by pro-Palestinian students to those queueing to enter a student debate at Manchester University in February 2002. The flyers bore the name General Union of Palestine Students. The debate motion was to boycott Israeli goods. It failed, but the preamble stated “Anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism” and Jewish students suffered antisemitic attacks in the days after it. (See para 203 of Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitsim pdf, here.)

There is, however, a slightly more extreme variant of the “prophecy”. This is entitled“The Jewish Threat on the American society”. (Both versions appear to be carried on, for example, the notorious American neo-Nazi website, Stormfront.) It warns of Jews:

…they are Vampires and Vampires do not live on Vampires. They cannot live only amongst themselves

…I warn you gentlemen if you do not exclude Jews for all time, your children will curse you in your graves.

This is the version that appeared, in its entirety and without further comment, in issue 2 (Oct-Nov 2000 / Rajab-Sha’ban 1421H) of the English-language Muslim Association of Britain magazine, “The New Dawn”

Two scans of this appear below. The first shows the article close up. It is short, so you should read it in full.

The second scan shows the article in context, comprising the bottom quarter of page 6 (the “Opinion” page). The only other thing on the opinion page is a continuation of the front page article. This is by Dr Daud Abdullah, one of two people then on the editorial board of The New Dawn, in addition to the General Editor. 

This was before Dr Abdullah’s stint at the Muslim Council of Britain, and well before his current role as Director of Middle East Monitor.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

And here, in context:

CLICK TO ENLARGE

2010 Report on Anti-Semitism: London – you have a problem.

The Community Security Trust (CST) has once again produced sterling work in its recently released ‘’Antisemitic Incidents Report 2010.

The 639 reported incidents in 2010 are the second highest annual total since records began in 1984 and despite the 30% decrease in incidents when compared to 2009, the long-term trend of rising levels of antisemitic incidents in the UK over the past decade continues.

Of course the CST’s report represents the tip of the iceberg, as the organisation itself points out:

 

“Not all antisemitic incidents will be reported to CST and therefore the true figures will be higher than those recorded.”

The entire report makes for very disturbing reading, but some particularly worrying trends include the damage to property of private individuals – attacks on private homes, the number of incidents involving Jewish schools, schoolchildren and teachers, the prominence of attacks in the Greater Manchester area and the rise of violent anti-Semitic assaults as a proportion of the total incidents.

The then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the previous CST report, released in February 2010 and monitoring the incidents of 2009, as “deeply troubling”. The question many of us will be asking is how he and other members of the British establishment intend to deal with this disturbing and, thanks to the CST, well-documented trend of rising antisemitism in their country.  No less troubling perhaps is the fact that the British government leaves the recording of antisemitic hate crime to the Jewish community itself.

In a country which prides itself in being a liberal and multicultural democracy, one might expect a newspaper which describes itself as ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ to place antisemitic hate crimes pretty much at the top of its ‘to do’ list. Unfortunately, we have yet to see this issue being taken up seriously by the Guardian.

In fact, other CST reports have cited the Guardian as a major purveyor of anti-Semitic discourse.   Those of us who monitor the content of ‘Comment is Free’ have little reason to believe that the next CST report on the subject of antisemitic discourse in Britain will show significant changes on that front.

As pointed out in this latest report, the first week in June 2010 – immediately following the incident aboard the ‘Mavi Marmara’ –  showed a spike in incidents of hate crimes against British Jews. At the time, CiF Watch recorded the publication of 37 opinion pieces, editorials and cartoons relating to the incident (excluding actual news items) between the dates 31/05/2010 and 11/06/2010.

76% of those articles were hostile towards Israel. Overall, the CiF coverage of this event cast Israel in the role of the aggressor and transgressor of international law, while severely downplaying–and often completely ignoring–the actions of the IHH in this incident and its links to terrorist organizations. ‘Just Journalism’ reported on the downplaying of the video evidence of events aboard the ship by the Guardian and other British media during the week after the incident.

“The findings raise serious questions about the willingness on the parts of The Guardian and The Independent to deal appropriately with evidence which supports Israel’s side of a contested story. Given the high-profile given by these same publications to stories involving serious allegations of wrongdoing by Israel, this is particularly noteworthy.”

Equally noteworthy is the Guardian’s subsequent under-reporting of the outcome of the Turkel Commission, the findings of which warranted a mere half article from the Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.  In contrast, the UNHRC report into the same incident – which has been severely criticized both for the definition of its mission and its methodology – was more extensively covered on CiF, including one article with the sensationalist headline “UN report condemns Israeli ‘brutality’”.

The CST’s meticulous recording of antisemitic attacks and their decade-long rising trend is obviously extremely important, as of course is their other extensive work in advancing the security of the British Jewish community. However, in any normally functioning society the recording of, and fight against, hate crimes perpetrated against a minority cannot be left to the victims themselves.  One would expect to see much broader interest in the subject from those supposedly committed to anti-racism and the creation of an inclusive society and one might conclude that the Left-leaning liberal media should be expected to be at the forefront of that cause.

The trustees and board of directors of the Scott Trust need to urgently ask themselves whether their aspiration is to be part of the solution or to continue being part of the exacerbation of the problem.

The Guardian’s safe space for bigotry

The CiF commenter who uses the moniker Berchmans is one of the many Guardian readers who seem to spend their days hovering over the CiF site, just waiting to pounce on any post which is even tangentially related to Israel or the Israel/Jewish lobby.  Indeed, his vitriol often crosses the line (even for CiF moderators), and many of his posts get deleted.

Sure enough, Berchmans responded to John Whitbeck’s recent anti-Semitic diatribe in CiF titled,On Palestine, the US is a rogue state” (see CW posts, here & here).

Whitbeck – who has openly called for a world without Zionism, characterizing Israel as a “racial supremacist, colonial settler project” – evoked, in his CiF column, the ugly specter of the most powerful nation on earth being “slavishly subservient” to the Jewish state.

As we noted more recently, the Guardian, responding to criticism from Mark Gardner of the CST, deleted the word “slavish” and the phrase “Israeli-American global domination”, noting that such language was “inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy.”

However, not only did Berchmans not find Whitbeck’s screed offensive, he characterized it as follows:

Note that Berchmans’ endorsement received 180 “recommends” – fellow CiF readers who found Whitbeck’s screed on the dangers of organized Jewry spot-on.

While you may have observed that we, on occasion, respond to CiF columnists or commenters who possess a palpable hostility towards Israel and Jews with sarcasm, the gallows humor we occasionally succumb to merely represents a veiled expression of our quite sober understanding of the very real danger posed by the Guardian’s continued legitimization of this antipathy.

Let it be clear: There is nothing even remotely funny about such viciousness, such malice.

The Guardian admits error, but still remains clueless about the danger of Judeophobic invectives

H/T Harry’s Place

As we noted (here, & here), and as CST also commented on, the Dec. 29 CiF piece by John Whitbeck was not only another egregious example of hateful Israel bashing at the world’s leading liberal voice.  It crossed that line by leaps and bounds by advancing the classic anti-Semitic narrative of a dangerously powerful American Jewish community controlling the reigns of government.

In his CiF column, Whitbeck, a 9/11 truther, and someone who’s been quite explicit in his desire to see Israel’s destruction – referring to Zionism as a “racial supremacist settle colonial experiment” which is inconsistent with “human decency” – actually characterized the U.S. as submitting to a slave-like (“slavish”) subservience” to Israel. (He also referred to “Israel-American Global Domination”.)

Sometime after Whitbeck’s vitriol was published, the CST’s Mark Gardner wrote to the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, and said the following:

“Can you please explain to me how this notion that the USA is subservient / slavishly subservient to Israel is any different in its rationale to the old antisemitic myth about Jews running the world through domination of politicians, finance and media?…I do not mean this as a joke, although it does read like a sick joke when it appears upon the website of a publication such as yours.”

In response to Gardner’s exchange with the Guardian, the word “slavish” has been removed from “slavish subservience to Israel”; and the phrase “Israeli-American global domination” has been entirely removed. The new piece is here and carries this at its end:

“This article was amended on 17 January 2011. Language that is inconsistent with the Guardian’s editorial policy has been removed.”

We commend our friends at CST for their persistence, and are glad to see the above acknowledgment.

However, it is still appalling that the editors at the Guardian don’t understand that it wasn’t merely the language which was offensive but, rather, the IDEA which the language served to convey.  Language is merely a conduit – a means to achieve ideological ends.  One could even say that the language in any CiF column is inextricably subservient to the political agenda of the author.

Guardian editors made a decision to publish an essay by a known conspiracy theorist; a man who accepts and propagates dangerous tropes about the injurious effects of Jewish power; and someone who views Zionism – the very notion of Jewish national sovereignty – as something which (justice demands) should perish from the earth.

That they chose, weeks after the fact, to delete words which made explicit anti-Semitic narratives typically advanced only implicitly doesn’t in any way absolve them of their broader decision to provide a platform for such historically lethal and odious ideas.

The Berchmans Drubbing

Oh dear it seems Berchmans (who comments here as Heres to Davy and Abandon Hope) got a bit of a drubbing on the Lerman thread from Mark Gardner, Communications Director of the CST.

Here’s the pertinent part of Mark Gardner’s response:

I remember Berchmans comment, the one you said “was something like…

‘Scotland in all it’s history never had a single recorded anti semitic incident until the 2006 Israel/Hezbollah war when a Jewish child was attacked’ “.

I remember it because I nearly fell off my chair when I read it. Not at all wishing to sound like someone who obsesses about his childhood, (because I really, really don’t, and my memories are overhwelmingly positive) but Berchmans obviously wasn’t there when my Jewish primary school cap used to get thrown into the traffic by kids from other schools, along with the antisemitic abuse.

Glad to hear he wasn’t hiding in the secondary school toilets when the other kids made disparaging remarks about my mis-shapen shmeckl; and obviously he wasn’t acting as a mere bystander when the local NF kid tried to beat me up in the corridor; nor was he in the park on the numerous occasions when I was subject to antisemitic abuse and threats of violence; nor in the Chinese takeaway when the same thing happened etc etc etc

I didn’t report any of the above to police, teachers etc, because I just thought it was normal. At school, there were casual antisemitic remarks on as many days as there weren’t. (I went to a pretty bad state secondary school.)

I repeat, I am not, to the best of my knowledge, psychologically scarred by it, or at all bothered by it, and this is the first time I’ve thought about it all for many years: because at the time it felt just like being called ‘specky’ or ‘plooky’ (trans: ‘spotty’) or whatever.

But the notion that there has been (and is) no antisemitism in Scotland is very very stupid indeed: and is far stupider than even Tony Lerman’s part-hidden underlying suggestion that those who express concern are merely some kind of Zionist frauds.

Funny how Berchmans went conspicuously silent and turned up in the thread a day later right at the end only to ignore Gardner’s comment.

Lerman Mocking People’s Fears of Antisemitism

Theobald Jew, Tony Lerman, caused quite a stir yesterday with his article minimalizing antisemitism in Scotland.

It triggered a scathing response from Mark Gardner, Communications Director of the CST, which I’m reproducing in full here:

There are a number of problems with this article, some of which derive from the author being over-reliant on sketchy newspaper reports, some of which derive from the author only knowing one part of a fairly complex story, and some of which derive from the author’s own motivation in turning this into a political argument: whilst accusing others of doing precisely that.

To begin, Tony Lerman fails to mention his own relations with GJEF. Given how much innuendo the article contains, and his commitment to truth seeking, this is odd.

The part of my speech that Tony Lerman quotes from (and then builds insinuations from) was given in reply to a question asking how Scotland compared with the rest of the UK re antisemitism.

I said that last year’s statistics showed a three fold increase in incidents and said that whether you thought it was a big deal or not, it was still obviously a considerable percentage increase – and that if you or your children were one of the very small number of people who had suffered then you might believe it to be something of importance.

I said that statistically the incidents were little different per head of population to other parts of the UK, but pointed out that Scotland had relatively few people who were visibly Jewish. (And who suffer a disproportionate number of antisemitic attacks as a consequence.)

I praised the efforts of the SNP to build an inclusive nationalism and stressed the sincerity that they had shown in all of the dealings that I have had with them. I noted the positivity of Scotland’s self-image as being a tolerant country, but said that since moving from Glasgow to London I had come to appreciate that there is a very real difference between multiculturalism and tolerance, which implies a willingness to put up with something.

I stressed that the vast majority of Glasgow’s Jews are not visibly Jewish, and lead a comfy enough existence in largely white middle class neighbourhoods where street thuggery, street crime, gangs, racism and antisemitism were very rare. I noted that many of them would drive to work in their cars and did not have to use public transport.

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Nothing to see here…move along

For the last three years my daughter has worked in the same country pub in a small English town in order to support herself whilst at university. By now, of course, she is very well known among the regular clients but also still something of a novelty in the local landscape due to her part North African heritage which has graced her with dark hair and eyes and the fact that her English, whilst good enough to both earn her a British degree and cope with the enigmas of the Yorkshire dialect, still has an Israeli accent. On Mondays she finishes work quite late and I always wait up for her to come home. This week she came in well after midnight and I could immediately tell that something had upset her. Over a hot drink she told me how her evening had been ruined.

A customer had come to the bar and as my daughter handed him his change after he had bought a drink he asked her “Are you sure you’ve given me the right change?”. She replied that she was sure, and asked if there was a problem. The customer then turned to the other clients at the bar and said in a loud voice, obviously designed to attract attention, “You can’t be too careful with these Jews, you know”.

This is far from the first antisemitic jibe my daughter has suffered whilst at work. Usually the offensive remarks are to do with Jews and money, but sometimes the subject matter differs. Once, a customer made a remark about her ‘kike nose’. Having grown up in Israel my daughter was not familiar with the word and had to ask me what it meant when she came home, but from the tone of the remark, she knew that it was meant to hurt and insult. What is significant in our view is that in none of the cases in which she has endured public abuse has any other customer ever stepped in to tell the abuser that such behaviour is unacceptable. Readers may wonder if we live in some BNP stronghold but no; this town is actually quite bohemian and is populated by well educated, reasonably affluent, middle class people with a definite majority lean to the liberal Left, including a high proportion of academics, artists, writers, musicians and actors. A reputation for progressiveness and tolerance has prompted the establishment of a large and thriving gay community in the town, and yet a young Jewish woman can be racially abused in public and no-one sees fit to object.

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