Responses to Howard Jacobson’s piece in the Independent

There are a number of responses in today’s paper to Howard Jacobson’s piece on contemporary antisemitism published yesterday.

Gillian Bargery berates him for being the too-clever-by-half Jew:

“His “argument” is predicated on his tedious belief that he is, by definition, cleverer, more intellectually discerning and more morally subtle than anyone who disagrees with him.”

Kim James tells us that it is the bad behaviour of Jews which is responsible for antisemitism:

“It is the success of Zionist propaganda which accounts for the renewal of anti-Semitism.”

Graham Griffiths cries “Israel!” in response to Jacobson’s piece about antisemtism in Britain and conflates antisemitic demonization with “criticism”:

“…is Mr Jacobson really surprised that people will protest”

Stan Brenan wants to explain antisemitism in Britain by reference to the psychological traumas suffered by Jews during the Holocaust and he regrets the failure of Jews to live up to their reputation as “dialectical” and “self-reflective” thinkers:

“It is a pity he so quickly dismisses the psychological possibility that “Jews (may be) visiting upon others the traumas suffered by themselves”. In my experience these are offered not as “sophistical nastiness” but in a genuine attempt to evoke self-reflection among Israelis and the wider diaspora once universally so admired for such dialectical qualities.”

Pete Parkins conflates antisemitism in Britain with legitimate criticism of Israeli policy:

“Howard Jacobson invokes the tired old anti-Semitism arguments to explain the almost universal criticism of the Israeli state for its actions in recent times.”

Nu’man El-Bakri accuses Jacobson of dishonestly attempting to use antisemitism and the Holocaust in order to delegitimize criticism of Israel.  This is not a claim that Jacobson is just mistaken but a claim that Jacobson knows he is wrong but uses this form of argument because he is part of a conspiracy to close off free speech about Israel:

“I think what riles Jacobson is that the Holocaust, “anti-Semitism”, and “vilification of Israel” are not the trump cards they once were. Even Jewish critics are fed up with this tired chant every time the Israeli army decides to indulge in a massacre.”

Andrew T Barnes also employs the Livingstone Formulation:

“Howard Jacobson’s …  extrapolates from a few carefully chosen examples to disgrace all opposition to Israel’s actions in Palestine, and by labelling all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism he shuts down the debate in exactly the same way as those who use words like “massacre” to describe the fighting in Gaza.”

Read the whole letters here.

Yesterday the Independent appeared to be taking antisemitism seriously.  Today it constructs opposition to antisemitism as one side of a legitimate debate.

On which side is the Independent?