An appeal to Owen Jones: don’t associate with anti-Semites

This is cross posted from the blog of The CST, and was originally titled ‘Opposing antisemitism: an appeal to put words into action’.

owen jones

Owen Jones

The past two months have seen the number of antisemitic incidents in Britain approach record levels Much of this has been due to extreme reactions to the conflict between Israel and Gaza that reached its latest ceasefire yesterday. This problem, and its link to extreme manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment, has been covered extensively in the British media.

Some pro-Palestinian activists have recognised this problem and spoken out against it. 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has said that antisemitism has no place in its activities, and Owen Jones wrote a column for the Guardian in which he warned of the need to take antisemitism seriously. In particular, he wrote:

Antisemitic themes are depressingly constant: of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence. Sometimes this hatred is overt, other times more subtle and pernicious.

We welcome these statements from supporters of the Palestinian cause, just as we previously welcomed PSC’s rejection of the equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. And because we consider these statements to be important and necessary, we hope and expect that the people who made them will live up to their words and the sentiments behind them.

It is for this reason that we appeal to PSC and to Owen Jones to reconsider the inclusion of Tim Llewellyn as a speaker at a PSC meeting tomorrow evening, 28th August, on “Gaza: let down by the BBC and mainstream media?” We appeal to PSC as the organiser of the meeting and to Jones as one of the other speakers.

Our objection is not to the meeting itself. We do not oppose your right to hold public meetings in support of the Palestinians, or to criticise Israel, or to critique media coverage of the conflict between the two.

Our objection is specifically to the inclusion of Llewellyn as a guest speaker on this topic because he has a record of statements that illustrate exactly what Jones warns against: themes “of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence.”

For example, last year at a meeting in London that was also about media coverage of Israel, Llewellyn claimed that the BBC is intimidated by the “Jewish lobby”. When he was challenged on this by the chair of the meeting, he resisted criticism of his choice of phrase. The full exchange ran as follows and can be viewed here on the CST Blog:

Llewellyn: “Is it because… I can see it in the BBC. They’re frighten’, these people are quite aggressive, right. The Jewish Lobby is not much fun. They come at you from every direction.”

Off camera, another speaker says “no”, then, “its the pro-Israel lobby”. It is not exactly clear who says what after this, but it includes the chair Mark McDonald talking over Llewellyn, stating:

“I mean that’s a very important thing to say, that it’s not a Jewish lobby. Can I interrupt a second. It’s not a Jewish lobby. It might be a Zionist lobby. It may be a pro-Israel lobby.”

Llewellyn replies: “Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.”

This statement by Llewellyn was not a one-off. It fitted a long record of statements and writings that mix “Jewish” with “Zionist” while alleging that both hold undue and nefarious influence in British public life. For example, in 2006, Llewellyn wrote the following in the Foreword to a new edition of Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up by Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew:

No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

Llewellyn mixes “Zionist” with “Jewish”, describing both as “alien” to Britain; and alleges undue and negative influence and manipulation of the media, politics and “the banking sector”. These allegations all have clear antecedents in antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Another example: in 2004, Llewellyn was quoted in the Jewish Chronicle as describing former US ambassador Dennis Ross in these terms:

He also denounced broadcasters who invited the “insidious” former US ambassador to the Middle East Denis Ross, without fully identifying him.

Mr Llewellyn said: “What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Denis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist, a long-time Zionist… and now directs an Israeli-funded think tank in Washington. He is a Zionist propagandist.”

The suggestion that broadcasters should identify an interviewee as “a Jew”, lest their viewers be fooled by an “Anglo-Saxon name”, is scurrilous and prejudiced.

In 2012, Llewellyn wrote of

massive media distortion, and … Zionist penetration and manipulation of our institutions – the media, universities, local education, political parties…

He went on to describe as Britain’s

real enemies… the ambitious and greedy British politicians and insidious political influence, in this case spawned by an alien state and strengthened by its friends in our midst, people who put Israel’s interests above that of their own nation.

(From The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe: Changing Perceptions of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, eds. Daud Abdullah & Ibrahim Hewitt, not online). Again, this echoes the classical antisemitic allegation of ‘dual loyalty’, whereby British Jews are accused of lacking loyalty to the country of their birth.

If the important and welcome statements by PSC, Owen Jones and others about their opposition to antisemitism and determination to exclude it from pro-Palestinian activism have real meaning, then there should be no place for Tim Llewellyn at a PSC meeting. This is not an abstract argument: the sharp increase in antisemitism in Britain in recent weeks demonstrates that fact. Words lead to actions, good and bad. We now invite PSC and Owen Jones to put their valuable and worthy statements and principles into practice. A discussion of media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict must not give room to those who believe that there is a Zionist conspiracy to control, manipulate or influence the British media, politics, banking and education, as Tim Llewellyn has suggested. Nor should pro-Palestinian activism be a home for those who believe that Jews are an alien presence, disloyal to Britain, who change their names to disguise their true loyalties.

Put your words into action, and remove Tim Llewellyn from your platform.

Brussels Jewish Museum shooting suspect – lessons for Europe

 Cross posted from the blog of the CST

image

Miriam and Emanuel Riva, two of the Brussels victims.

On Friday 30 May, customs officials in Marseilles, southern France, arrested 29-year-old French national Mehdi Nemmouche on suspicion of having perpetrated the previous Saturday’s terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium. If this is the terrorist, then there are some blatant lessons to be learned about modern Jihadism and the security implications for Jews and non-Jews in Western Europe.

The truth is that by now, after over a decade of terror attacks and plots, from Madrid to Manchester, these lessons ought merely to be confirmed: but many people are still reluctant to accept them.

The Brussels attack occurred on Saturday 24 May and was carried out by a gunman using a pistol and an AK 47 assault rifle. CCTV images showed an unidentified man walking into the unguarded building, before he opened the museum door and shot inside, leaving three dead and another on the brink of death. The gunman then walked away. News of Nemmouche’s arrest was supplemented by statements from Belgian prosecutors and French authorities.

These were initial responses and came before Nemmouche’s initial questioning had concluded, never mind any actual trial and confirmation of guilt. Nevertheless, a summary of the current information is extremely worthwhile:

  • Nemmouche was radicalised whilst in French prison. He was jailed for robbery and spent five stints in prison. Of Muslim origin, he went from having little or no interest in Islam, to becoming a would be Jihadist radical.
  • He joined Jihadists in Syria. He left for Syria on December 31, 2012, three weeks after being released from prison.
  • In Syria, he fought with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the most radical of the Syrian Jihadist groups: more so even than Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusrah, from which it split (and to which it is now hostile). ISIS is the most popular destination for western Jihadists traveling to Syria.
  • Nemmouche returned to Europe in March 2014. (Having spent over one year in Syria.)
  • He was known to the French authorities. How closely they were monitoring him before, during or after the Brussels attack remains to be seen. He was arrested in what is described as a customs search of the coach on which he was traveling from Brussels to Marseilles. (It had originated in Amsterdam.)
  • In his luggage was found the same weapons as apparently used in the Brussels attack; a baseball hat similar to that worn by the shooter; and news cuttings about the attack.
  • The weapons were found with a white cloth bearing in Arabic the name of ISIS and “G-d is great”.
  • Nemmouche also had a Go Pro camera similar to that used by Mohamed Merah when he filmed his murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah primary school in Toulouse, France in April 2012. Nemmouche has apparently admitted that the camera was strapped to his bag so it would film the attack, but it failed to do so. In his possession, Nemmouche had a 40 second film of the weaponry, which includes someone (seemingly him, but not definitely) saying they carried out the attack.

For now, the most important lessons appear to be very obvious:

  • Europeans (including hundreds of Britons) who travel overseas to fight Jihad pose a potentially deadly terrorist threat upon their return here.
  • The lack of internal European border controls makes it easy for radicals and weaponry to travel throughout the continent.
  • Comparisons of European Jihadists with International Brigade fighters of the Spanish Civil War are misguided, dangerous nonsense.
  • Those who rushed to claim that these killings were somehow not what they appeared (such as supposed brilliant intellectual Tariq Ramadan) should have kept their biases to themselves.
  • Even if some west European commentators and politicians want to keep hiding from the ramifications of each successive Jihadist terrorist attack and plot, their local Jewish communities can have no such luxury.
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Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday’s] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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David Ward MP – Jews, money and power

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Jews, money and power is a well-worn antisemitic trinity.

So, what possessed David Ward MP to send this tweet on 15th November?

That Roma are marginalised is not in question. If David Ward MP wishes they had a better reputation, or better representation, then let him say so: but this tweet appears to say far more about the Board of Deputies than it does about marginalised Roma.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is the representative body of British Jews. It does its job as best it can, and has done so since 1760. It is, in mundane reality, neither awash with money, nor all-powerful. Ward is an MP for Bradford. There are very few Jews in Bradford, but very many Muslims. Taken at face value, the Board would basically be an irrelevancy for both David Ward and his constituents.

Nevertheless, this kind of thinking, the well-worn drawing together of Jews, money and power, betrays Jews, Muslims and Ward’s own Liberal Democrat Party. It also betrays Ward, but only in the sense of revealing how he thinks, or what he may think appeals to his Muslim constituents.

David Ward has, in under a year, gone from relative obscurity to becoming a one man wrecking ball for the reputation of his party. (For brief example, see here; and see here for his attending a meeting on November 4th that disgraced Parliament.)

The Liberal Democrats must have thought that Jenny Tonge’s much awaited exit had put all of this aggravation and nonsense behind them. Unfortunately, Ward has swiftly occupied the space vacated by Tonge’s departure; and, once again, the Jewish community is left dismayed by the antisemitic resonance of statements made by a Liberal Democrat MP.

The last time we got here with Ward, the party leadership suspended him, and failed in attempts to educate him on the subject of antisemitism and Jewish sensitivities. Then, at the recent Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow, Ward attended an open meeting of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group, entitled,

Crossing the line: Israel, Palestine, language and anti-Semitism

Before it, he had tweeted:

looking forward to LDFI event tonight on use of sensitive language

On behalf of CST, I spoke at the meeting, as did Alistair Carmichael MP, Maajid Nawaz and Lesley Klaff.

David Ward and a colleague sat near the front. Ward appeared to be paying very close attention, his face a scowl of concentration as he scribbled furiously throughout. I tried to direct my explanation of contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism straight at him, including:

If I think that someone’s made an antisemitic remark, or that the accusations they make against Israel or Zionists sound just like an update of older antisemitism, with the word Zionist used where the word Jew used to be, then I’m not saying that that person hates every single Jew in the world…I’m just saying that they’ve made an antisemitic remark. The context surrounding that remark, and how they react to my perception of what they’ve said, how other people react in accordance with all of that – now that’s important to me.

Because that’s the basics of how racism works. Its a form of political violence. It feeds off loose language and stereotypes. If the media or the politicians or activist groups run anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim or anti-black scare stories, then attacks on those people increase. You know that, we all know that and its no different with Jews. If you don’t care about the anti-Jewish aspect of racism, or about the feelings of Jews as victims, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a dyed in the wool antisemite, but it certainly makes you part of the problem.

At the very least, David Ward MP is certainly part of the problem.

FRA survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States

Cross posted by The CST

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) today published its ground breaking survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism in the EU.

The survey covers the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy Hungary, and Latvia: around 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the EU. It will enable European politicians to understand Jewish concerns and to better respond to them.

CST wrote a preview of the survey, with some of its pre-released findings, on the CST Blog last week. The full survey has been published today and is available here, with a summary here (pdf). The full data of the survey can be explored here. It is highly detailed, with dozens of questions answered for each country.

Due to the wealth of information revealed, any summary will inevitably be limited. Some of the key findings are summarised below, in which figures are averaged out for Europe as a whole. Next week, CST Blog will analyse the UK statistics and other details.

Key findings – Europe general and UK:

Across Europe, 66% of respondents consider antisemitism to be a “very big” or “fairly big” problem in their countries. The UK is lowest, at 48%, and France is highest, at 85%.

Across Europe, 76% say the situation has worsened in the last five years. In the UK this figure is 66%; France is again the highest, at 88%.

Antisemitism is considered the fourth most-pressing social or political issue across the countries surveyed.

Across Europe, in the 12 months before the survey, 26% of respondents experienced one or more incident of antisemitic harassment, which includes verbal abuse or other threatening behaviour in the street, hate mail and antisemitism on social media. The figure for the UK was 21%. Across Europe, 4% of survey respondents had suffered antisemitic physical attack or a threat of violence during the previous year (3% for UK). 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment did not report the most serious incident to the police or any other organisation. (71% in the UK).

Perpetrators of the most serious incidents of antisemitic harassment were described by respondents. Across Europe, 27% of perpetrators were perceived as someone with “Muslim extremist views”; 22% were perceived as “left-wing political views”; and 19% as “right-wing views”. The survey report does not give individual country analysis.

Close to half of all respondents (46%) worry about being verbally insulted or harassed in a public place. One third (33%) worry about being physically attacked because of being Jewish. The UK has the lowest levels of fear, with 28% worrying about verbal abuse and 17% worrying about physical attack. Highest is France, at 70% and 60% respectively.

Across Europe, 19% experienced discrimination due to their religion  in the past 12 months. For the UK this figure was the second-lowest at 16%, but the UK showed the highest rate of reporting such discrimination, at 24%.

Across Europe, 27% at least occasionally avoid local places because they do not feel safe there because they are Jewish. Belgium (42%), Hungary (41%) and France (35%) are the worst places for this. 23% at least occasionally avoid Jewish events or sites for the same reason. 68% of respondents at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish. The figure for the UK is 59%; the highest figures were in Sweden (79%) and France (75%).

Across Europe, 11% have either moved or considered moving out of their neighbourhood in the past five years due to concerns for their safety as Jews. 29% have, at some time or other, considered emigration: this rises to 48% for Hungary, 46% for France and 40% for Belgium. In the UK, 18% have considered emigration.

Across Europe, 94% of all respondents consider somebody who says “The Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated” to be antisemitic. 81% consider somebody who says “Israelis behave ‘like Nazis’ towards the Palestinians” to be antisemitic. 72% consider somebody who supports boycotts of Israeli goods or products to be antisemitic. 34%  consider somebody who criticises Israel to be antisemitic. In the UK, the figures are 96%, 76%, 65% and 32% respectively.

Across Europe, 75% of respondents considered antisemitism on the internet to be a problem, and 73% thought it had increased over the past 5 years. In the UK, these figures were 63% and 64% respectively.

Across Europe, 68% of respondents said that the Arab-Israeli conflict impacts how safe they feel as a Jewish person in their country. This falls to 57% for the UK, but rises to 90% for France and 93% for Belgium.

The survey also showed significant differences between countries. For example, in the UK, 9% of respondents said they had often heard the statement “Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis”, while this figure rose to 59% for Hungary.

CST public statement

In response to media enquiries, CST’s public statement regarding the survey is:

The details change from place to place, but this official survey shows that many European Jews are increasingly affected by antisemitism and related trends. In some countries, including Britain, politicians and police are trying to deal with the problem, but these efforts are sorely needed everywhere. Jews also require basic anti-racist solidarity in all of this: solidarity that has been partial, or deliberately denied, far too often since the year 2000.

——————

Survey methods

FRA designed this survey to collect, for the first time, comparable data on antisemitic violence, harassment and hate speech to help tackle antisemitism today. The findings in the survey report compile the results from eight survey countries, which account for some 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the European Union. The results are based on the responses from 5,847 self-identified Jewish respondents (aged 16 or over) living in one of eight EU Member States – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Due to the sample size, the country results for Romania, one of the countries where the survey was carried out, are not included in the analysis of the survey results. However, the results from Romania are summarised in the report’s annex.

FRA designed the survey. The survey was carried out online from September to October 2012 – under contract to FRA following an open call for tender – by Ipsos MORI in partnership with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) in the UK. It was available in the languages of the survey countries, as well as Hebew and Russian. CST has long-standing relationships with both FRA and JPR and senior CST staff played an advisory role in the project.

The survey asked respondents for their opinions and perceptions on antisemitic trends and antisemitism as a problem in everyday. The respondents were also asked to describe their personal experiences of antisemitic incidents, witnessing antisemitic incidents and worrying about being a victim of an antisemitic attack (affecting their personal safety, safety of children, or other family members and friends). The survey also provides data on whether the occurrence of antisemitic acts against the Jewish community, such as vandalism of Jewish sites or antisemitic messages in the broadcast media or in the internet, is considered to be a problem in their countries by the Jewish respondents. In addition, the survey collected socio-demographic data, such as respondents’ gender and age, educational background, employment status, and income.

More data and analysis from the survey will be published on the CST Blog next week.

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. 

CST secures amendments on the ‘Comment is Free’ website.

Readers may remember that back in February of this year, CiF Watch ran a cross post from the blog of the Community Security Trust regarding an article by Rachel Shabi posted on the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ website, the title of which suggested that “Israel’s rightwing defenders” make false accusations of antisemitism

The Guardian has now amended that headline but, as the CST blog observes:

“So, after contact from CST, this particular false accusation has been removed. It is very little and it is very late.

The damage is done: to Guardian readers’ perceptions of antisemitism and to many Jews’ perceptions of the Guardian (yet again).”

The full CST blog post on the subject can be read here.

More recently, also on the ‘Comment is Free’ website, the Guardian ran an article by Raed Salah in which he claimed to be the victim of a “smear campaign” run by “Israel’s cheerleaders in Britain” and that a poem written by him “had been doctored”. 

No reference was made in the article itself to the CST, but in a comment posted under the article in Raed Salah’s name, it was falsely suggested that the “doctored” version of the poem had been provided to the British Home Secretary by the Community Security Trust. 

That comment has now been removed from the website. Details can be read on the CST blog here

Economist blog accuses Israelis of fearing Iran due to “Auschwitz Complex”

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

According to an article by “M.S.” on the Economist blog, Israel and its Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fear Iran because they suffer from “Auschwitz complex”. Furthermore, this “Auschwitz complex” supposedly links with the Jewish festivals of Purim and Passover. At its end, we are told that Netanyahu’s fears over Iran, reveal his “ghetto mentality”.    

The Holocaust, Jewish history and religion are crucial to the Israeli national psyche and the decisions of its leaders: but this is not a serious article on that multifaceted subject. Instead, this article’s lack of accuracy and sensitivity make it little more than an abuse of the Holocaust and Jewish religion in order to stick two fingers up at Netanyahu. (The Economist is perfectly entitled to criticise Netanyahu: but to do so on the premise of supposed Jewish psychological, religious and historical traits takes us into altogether different territory.)      

To begin, the article’s title, “Auschwitz complex”, belongs more on the websites of Gilad Atzmon (eg “Swindler’s List”) and David Irving (eg “Auschwitz: the End of the Line”) than it does on that of the Economist. It is a cold joke, poking fun at the Holocaust to evoke a wry grin and not a little coldness in the heart of the reader.

The article opens with an attack upon Netanyahu for telling President Obama (in the context of Iran’s nuclear ambitions) that Israel seeks to remain “master of its fate”. The author ridicules the notion that any individual country, especially one in conflict with its neighbours, can be master of its own fate in an inter-dependent world. This is a facile straw man argument that sets the tone for what follows.

Next, Israel and Netanyahu are blamed for every failure of the Oslo Peace Accords and for the ongoing conflict situation. There is nothing unusual about such condemnation, but in this context it is required by the author to justify the notion of an “Auschwitz complex”, whereby Israel’s and Netanyahu’s actions are presented as a mix of premeditated ideological malice and unwarranted paranoia. (It is possible that the title, “Auschwitz complex” was written by the Economist, not the author. Nevertheless, the article is woeful; and if the Economist chose the headline, then that is, in a sense, even more depressing.)

Having built the platform, we get the crux of the article:

Having trapped themselves in a death struggle with Palestinians that they cannot acknowledge or untangle, Israelis have psychologically displaced the source of their anxiety onto a more distant target: Iran…the notion that it represents a new Holocaust is overstated…But Iran makes an appealing enemy for Israelis because, unlike the Palestinians, it can be fitted into a familiar ideological trope from the Jewish national playbook: the eliminationist anti-Semite.

Where to begin with this? For the sake of brevity, two points:

Firstly, it is plain wrong to say that Palestinians cannot be “fitted into a familiar ideological trope from the Jewish playbook: the eliminationist anti-Semite”. Palestinian and Arab threats to destroy Israel have consistently formed an “ideological trope” in the Israeli psyche, just like today’s Iranian threat. Prior to the state’s creation, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was (and still is) reviled in this manner, just as Egypt’s President Nasser was in the 1950 and 60s. Then, Menachem Begin’s leadership of Israel (1977-1983) was marked by his characterisation of Yasser Arafat and the PLO as Nazi inheritors. Similarly, the Hamas charter bears comparison with any“eliminationist” text. 

Secondly, as the ever-excellent Professor Alan Johnson points outlet us note that far from the concept of eliminationist antisemitism – being part of some ‘Jewish national playbook,’ it was the absence of such an orientating concept among the Jews of Europe that made the nature of the Nazi assault so difficult to understand and respond to.”

The author, “M.S.”, then draws upon Netanyahu’s presentation to Obama of the Book of Esther, which tells how a Persian king was persuaded by (the Jewish) Queen Esther to prevent the massacre of his country’s Jews. The story is read at the festival of Purim, which coincided with the Netanyahu-Obama meeting. We are then told how Passover includes the “Ve-hi she-amdah” prayer, “Because in every generation they rise up to destroy us, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us from their hands”.

The article says that Netanyahu “seems to be wooing Mr Obama and the American public just as effectively” and that this “resembles” a “doomed marriage” in which

the more stubborn and unstable partner drags the other into increasingly delusional and dangerous projects whose disastrous results seem only to legitimate their paranoid outlook.

No consideration is given to Iran’s past and present actions. No mention is made of its nuclear programme, its goal of regional domination, its leader’s apocalyptic outbursts, its denial of the Holocaust, its terrorism against Jews and Israelis. It is simply all down to Israeli delusions, which rest upon paranoid Jewish religious and Holocaust foundations. This is superior to Gilad Atzmon’s work, such as “Trauma Queen [Esther]…Pre-Traumatic Gas SyndromeFrom Purim to AIPAC”, but it is still reminiscent of it. Surely the Economist ought to have far higher standards than the dross psychology and selective facts that comprise and compromise this article.

Finally, the author signs off with a couple more digs at Netanyahu, claiming his concerns over Iran (and Palestinians), and his Book of Esther gift to Obama reveal the failure to fulfil “the Zionist mission…to give the Jewish people control over its destiny”, and his being “still in” “the ‘Ghetto mentality’”.

By comparison, the Jerusalem Post (traditionally a somewhat more pro-Israel publication than the Economist), noted that against American advice, Israel had very successfuly declared independence (1948), launched the Six Day War (1967) and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear programme (1981). The editorial also had this to say about Netanyahu, the Book of Esther, Zionism and Iran:

That message from the Megila [Book of Esther] that encourages Jews to proactively take their fate into their own hands is also the story of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. Refusing any longer to reconcile themselves to traditional passivity vis-à-vis the creation of a sovereign state, Jews who adhered to Zionism called to take hold of their own destiny.

…Unfortunately, they failed to achieve their goal before the Holocaust, which proved beyond a doubt Zionism’s premise that the Jewish people could not rely on the compassion of others.

…The message of the Megila is not one of militarism.

The lesson that Netanyahu wanted to impart to Obama was not that Israel must launch an attack against Iran to stop its mullahs from developing nuclear weapons.

However, the Megila does value Jewish action over Jewish passivity and recognizes that whether through ingenuity, good luck, divine intervention or a combination of them all the Jewish people, when given the chance, have managed to foil the plans of their many enemies. Let’s hope we have the same success in facing the Iranian challenge.

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.

Guardian letter and an unbecoming headline

This is cross posted by the blog of The CST

The Guardian (24 February 2011) carries a lengthy letter jointly signed by CST, Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students. The paper was under no obligation to carry the letter, especially given its length, but regrettably it has been framed on the letters page in a disconcerting manner.

Put simply, the letter was riskily headlined and lumped in with a wholly unrelated letter from the Israeli Embassy. (The entire letter and the Israeli Embassy letter are in full at the foot of this post.)

The CST / BoD / UJS letter was prompted by the Guardian having carried a pathetic quote from an unnamed source relating to Jewish concerns about campus extremism. Our letter began:

Your coverage of the report by Universities UK (Universities must engage and debate with extremists, report says, 19 February) quotes an unnamed“source familiar with the report” as saying: “If someone is saying all Jews should perish, that’s inciting hatred; if someone is fundamentally opposed to Israeli foreign policy, that’s a view.” This seriously misrepresents Jewish concerns. Most cases occur in the huge space that lies between genocidal calls against Jews and opposition to Israeli policy.

Our letter then went on to give recent examples from “the huge space that lies between genocidal calls against Jews and opposition to Israeli policy”.

Nevertheless, the Guardian headlined the letter as:

The space where anti-Zionism becomes anti-Semitism

The Guardian could easily have headlined it as “The space between anti-Zionism and antisemitism”. This would have been more consistent with the letter and no problem whatsoever (although it still would not have validated inclusion with the separate Israeli Embassy letter). However, they chose not to do so, opting for“becomes” rather than “between”.

The alteration is not huge, but it carries an unnecessary risk of misleading Guardian readers into thinking that this carefuly worded letter from us was a case of ill-motivated Jews playing the antisemitism card: which it explicitly is not. Indeed, the whole point of the letter is to show the complexity, porous nature and elasticity of the problem: all of which risks being lost when the letter is headlined in this way.

In this, there is another nagging concern, which is namely that the alteration is not simply accidental (or semantic, or pedantic, or however else you would put it) but that it also indicates institutional attitudes at the newspaper.

The question is made yet more appropriate by reference to an article three days previously, by Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott on the subject of “Misleading pullquotes”. (i.e. those juicy bits from larger articles that are plucked out from the body of the text to indicate the article’s content and entice the reader.) Chris Elliott explained that the Guardian had run a pullquote from senior Israeli politician, Tzipi Livni, “seemingly proving the case against Israel”, when actually the full quote (run in the Guardian) “is very different from that implied”. He concluded

To suggest that the pullquote represented an example of some institutional animosity towards Israel on the Guardian’s part is nonsense, but in this case it’s a pity that we gave, so unnecessarily, an opportunity for such views to be expressed once again. A salutary lesson for writers of both pullquotes and clarifications.

There will, of course, be those who take this “becomes…between” case as further proof of “institutional animosity” at the Guardian. In the opposite direction, there will be those who take it as further proof that the Guardian’s critics are both paranoid and impossible to ever satisfy. Personally, I feel that this particular instance is firmly in that Scottish legal no-mans land known as “unproven”: but I am struck by the fact that Chris Elliott and I have both used the expression “unnecessary” in describing how easy it would have been for the Guardian to avoid risking offence.

What, however, of the Israeli Embassy letter, that was carried under the CST / BoD / UJS letter, sharing its headline and sharing the same text box on the letters page? (Other batches of letters sharing text boxes on the letters page included those under general headlines such as “We need an election on the cuts” and “Cameron’s message of war and peace”.)

Is it just really straightforward: that the two letters basically belong together, because they are about Jewish and Israeli things – and that’s all there is to it? Nothing more, nothing less. Or, ought more, i.e. something deep and negative, be read into it? Again, it strikes me that both attitudes could easily be taken, but I wish that the question did not even arise; and that it had just been avoided by not sticking the letters together in the first place.

It is impossible in this not to actually cite the Israeli Embassy letter, which criticised a Guardian editorial (ironically from 21 February, the same day as the above “pullquotes” article) on Middle East turmoil that had included the claim

the cockpit of the crisis is Palestine

The Israeli letter replied (in part)

It [crisis in Palestine] is certainly the cockpit for those in Israel, but to extend this flight of fancy acros the world is simply pie in the sky…problems in Libya will certainly not be solved in Jerusalem

Perhaps at a stretch, an extremely long stretch, you could argue that the Guardian headline writer perceived the Israeli Embassy letter to be a diplomatically coded claim that the Guardian’s editorial had been so anti-Zionist as to be antisemitic. (i.e. “Enough already with the Ziocentrism, please stop placing Zion at the centre of your universe, its gone so far as to now be antisemitic.”) But really, the Israeli letter says no such thing. It is careful and precise in its use of language, just as the CST / BoD / UJS letter was: and just as we intend to continue being.

The sooner that the Guardian’s headline and pullquote staff follow suit, the better for all concerned.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned headline and letters, in full:

The space where anti-Zionism becomes antisemitism

Your coverage of the report by Universities UK (Universities must engage and debate with extremists, report says, 19 February) quotes an unnamed “source familiar with the report” as saying: “If someone is saying all Jews should perish, that’s inciting hatred; if someone is fundamentally opposed to Israeli foreign policy, that’s a view.” This seriously misrepresents Jewish concerns. Most cases occur in the huge space that lies between genocidal calls against Jews and opposition to Israeli policy.

For example, a recent speaker was advertised as talking about the “Zionist lobby” in the US, but repeatedly referred to “the Jewish lobby”, affording it conspiratorial power and reach. Week after week, students are subjected to tirades from resident and visiting academics who equate Zionism with racism, apartheid and sometimes even Nazi Germany – this, when most Jewish students are indeed Zionists, in the only real sense of the word, believing in the Jewish right to a state. Sometimes, visiting speakers are permitted to advocate or excuse terrorism, including suicide bombings, so long as Israel and Israeli civilians are to be the target, doubtless leaving their audiences to contemplate as and when such terrorism might be permitted in Britain also.

Universities UK claim that this is about freedom of speech, but this is at best disingenuous. Put simply, if a speaker is in line with prevailing political orthodoxy, then they will be afforded the benefit of doubt and be permitted to speak. If a speaker contradicts that orthodoxy, then they will often be run off the campus. Ultimately, it is mob rule, as the Universities UK report itself demonstrates with its final sentence, “permission [for meetings] may be withdrawn if adequate arrangements cannot be made to ensure that good order is maintained”. It is to the credit of the National Union of Students that it deals with these issues respectfully and consistently. If only their elders could do likewise, then campus would be a more inviting place for all students, including those who have the courage to speak out against anti-semitism and anti-Zionism.

Jonathan Arkush Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mark Gardner Community Security Trust, Carly McKenzie Union of Jewish Students

• Nations containing 187 million people, who have been under autocratic rule for 177 years combined, angrily take to the streets in areas thousands of miles from Tel Aviv. Yet apparently, “the cockpit of the crisis is Palestine” (Editorial, 21 February). It is certainly the cockpit for those in Israel, but to extend this flight of fancy across the world is simply pie in the sky. The situation with our Palestinian neighbours can only be solved at the negotiating table – not on the streets of Tunisia, while the problems in Libya will certainly not be solved in Jerusalem.

Amir Ofek

Embassy of Israel

The Guardian and America’s “slavish subservience” to Israel

This is cross posted from the blog of the CST.

The myth of Jewish power dominates antisemitism.

The myth finds its strongest mainstream resonance in grotesquely overblown claims about Zionists, or Israel, controlling America.

For example, the Guardian Comment is Free website saw fit to run an article on 29 December 2010 that stated America has

slavish subservience to Israel

Indeed, the article was sub-headed (presumably by Comment is Free staff, taking this as the salient part of the article)

Nations covering 80-90% of the world’s population recognise Palestine as a state. The US, subservient to Israel, stands out

The purpose of American enslavement to Israel?

Israeli-American global domination.

The shape of things to come?

One might hope that the United States could still pull back from the abyss and recover its own independence, but all signs are pointing in the opposite direction. It is a sad ending for a once admirable country.

I emailed the Guardian Readers Editor on 30 December to ask how they could publish such garbage about Israel controlling America. My email said

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.

I received an automated reply, saying that the Readers Editor would return to work on 4 January 2011. I have received no further response. Instead, the original article and its sub-header remain under the Guardian banner.

Antisemitism reveals the mythical Jew of the antisemitic imagination, not actual Jews. Yes, you can point at real Jews to try and defend your claims, but that doesn’t prove a conspiracy theory. For example, Jewish Communists didn’t make Communism a Jewish conspiracy any more than Jewish bankers made capitalism a Jewish conspiracy. Today, the USA is the country (barring Israel) with the highest numbers of politically and economically active Jews; and today, the USA is the primary target for the acceptable modern variations of the old, nasty, Jewish conspiracy theory.

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Guardian Slammed in the CST’s Report on Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009

 

This graphic appeared on Islamist anti-Israel and antisemitic websites at the time of the Channel 4 Dispatches film "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby" (November 2009). It is a modern version of the same Jewish money power accusation shown in the 1962 British Nazi flyer, "Free Britain from Jewish Control." The 2009 graphic combines both anti-Israel and antisemitic imagery and shows an Israeli hand paying money to Parliament, which is held in the palm of a Jewish hand. The face of Conservative leader (and now Prime Minister) David Cameron MP smiles approvingly and the Israeli flag can also be seen.

 

The CST Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009 Report is premised on the understanding that antisemitic discourse influences and reflects hostile attitudes to Jews.  It can fuel antisemitic incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions,and may leave Jews feeling isolated, vulnerable and hurt.  The purpose of the report is to help reduce antisemitism, by enabling readers to better understand antisemitic discourse, and its negative impacts against Jews and society as a whole.

Some of the key findings from the Executive Summary:

  • Rhetoric against “Zionism”, “Zionists”or “pro-Israelis” is fostering hostility against British Jews and their representative bodies.
  • In 2009, the Gaza conflict caused Israel to be compared to Nazi Germany and its supporters to be compared to Nazis. Previously a fringe phenomenon, the Nazi comparisons are now widespread and also appears in mainstream media. This causes significant upset to Jews and is antisemitic abuse of the memory of the Holocaust.
  • The play “Seven Jewish Children”typified the emerging trend to depict Israel and Zionism as a mass Jewish psychological reaction to the trauma of the Holocaust.
  • The ugliest medieval accusation,the Blood Libel, claiming that Jews steal children in order to use their blood, was strikingly revived in 2009.This feature of medieval village antisemitism now returned as a shocking example of antisemitic rumours in today’s global village.
  • Two senior journalists at The Independent newspaper wrote separately about the supposed power of America’s “Jewish” lobby. It is quite common for The Independent and Guardian newspapers, in particular, to depict a dominant US “Zionist”lobby in America: which risks reflecting and encouraging antisemitic Jewish conspiracy allegations.
  • The term “criticism of Israel” continued to be used as a catch-all defense against the raising of Jewish concerns about antisemitic manifestations, public speakers, groups, websites, agitprop and other phenomena.

More specifically, the report singled out the Guardian as one of the standard bearers of antisemitic discourse along with The Independent and Press TV together with individuals such as Guardian contributors, John Pilger and George Galloway. Examples of antisemitic discourse in the Guardian referenced in the report included:

  • The Guardian’s online production of the antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children” by Caryl Churchill.
  • The favorable review of “Seven Jewish Children” by the Guardian’s theatre critic, Michael  Billington.
  • The Guardian’s promotion of Peter Oborne’s antisemitic documentary”Dispatches – Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” positing the existence of a Jewish conspiracy (which even included CiF Watch among the list of conspirators!)
  • The Guardian’s allegations that a Zionist or pro-Israel lobby dominates American foreign policy and American media as exemplified by a Comment is Free article “Israel barks, the US media wags its tail”  by none other than Peter Preston, former editor of the Guardian from 1975 to 1995.

In a revealing glimpse into media bias at play, the CST report recounted how in a Comment is Free article, David Henshaw, Executive Producer of the Oborne documentary, attempted to deflect complaints of antisemitism by quoting Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor, as saying “it would be astonishing if newspaper articles critical of Israel led directly to racist attacks. Where was the evidence?” Yet according to the report, Henshaw contacted the CST asking for the “CST’s analysis that criticism of Israel in the media leads to anti-Semitic hate crimes” and despite the CST’s reply explaining the relationship between the two issues, Henshaw made no mention of it leaving “Rusbridger’s claim to stand without balance”.

As the CST pointed out in their report

“Racist or political violence is influenced by extremist discourse; particularly the manner in which perpetrators of such violence may be emboldened by support (real or imagined) from opinion leaders and society for their actions”.

Should we be surprised therefore that antisemitic incidents during the first six months of 2009 were higher than in any entire year previously on record?

Read the full report here.