Emotional, Tired Or Racist?

This is cross-posted from Modernity Blog.

There’s plenty of denial in Western societies concerning anti-Jewish racism.

When it does occur in the open, naked and is undeniable then various excuses are often forthcoming.

Readers will remember how Baroness Tonge’s erratic behaviour, conspiracy theories and capitulation to anti-Jewish racism was explained away by her colleagues.

Lord Wallace, a Lib Dem peer, even went so far as to say that she was “…over-emotional, mistaken.”

We’ve heard it before with Oliver Stone and his cretinous remarks concerning Adolf Hitler.

Remember Madeleine Kirk?

So should we be surprised when an ex-SWP activist, Clare Solomon, starts spouting racism, against Jews?

““There is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion, but not a Jewish people per se.

“The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians. To paint the picture that all Jews have always had to flee persecution is just plainly inaccurate.”

Now her defence is that:

“This badly-worded comment was something that I wrote in haste on Facebook at a very busy period. I’m sorry for any misunderstandings caused by what I wrote.”

Thus, the excuses have been over emotional, tired or too busy to think, whatever next?

More is the pity that such people can’t admit that racism affects their underlying thinking and these gaffs are just an unguarded moment when their racism slips out into the open.

15 Responses to “Emotional, Tired Or Racist?”

  1. modernityblog Says:

    I should have added, what does it tell us about the political heritage that Clare Solomon come from?

    She had basically argued that Jews do not exist as a ethnic grouping, and that the persecution of Jews throughout history is fabricated.

    Are her views just an individual aberration?

    Or do they represent some wider thinking that she’s impugned from her political education whilst in the SWP?

    If so, then that would go a long way to explain why the SWP and its allies often were so ignorant to the manifestations of anti-Jewish racism (Aztmon, etc etc).

    It might also explain why the SWP and allies are so keen to boycott Israelis, as they can’t see anything remotely racist in boycotting Israelis/Jews, etc etc.

  2. Brian Robinson Says:

    The Sunday Telegraph had an interesting piece about her 27-11-2010
    http://bit.ly/eMNfy7

  3. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    see also my comment on this attached to the report below, based on the Mail on Sunday report of her comments.

  4. zkharya Says:

    She did at least apologise. You have to give her credit for that. And she saw through the reactionaries of the SWP.

  5. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Z., please see my comment below. Her apology is, at best, half-hearted and less than fulsome. It is the apology of the small child caught with their hand in the cookie jar: “Oh, is that my hand? I can’t _imagine_ how it got there! Sorry, mummy.” (teeth catch lower lip in attempted winsome visual apology).

    If she didn’t mean the original comments, then the apology would be much fuller and she would be somewhat (at least) embarrassed about her comments. I think the acid test is to replace the identifier “Jew/Jews/Jewish” with appropriate words representing other discriminated against (and, yes, despised) ethnic out-groups. Would she have said/written these things? Hardly.

  6. Shmuel Says:

    “She did at least apologise. ”

    It’s a non-apology apology. (“I’m sorry if I was misunderstood/offended others” etc.)

    “There is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion, but not a Jewish people per se.”

    This is the mirror image of what anti-Muslim bigots say. “I can’t be racist because Islam is not a race.”

  7. Absolute Observer Says:

    I found this bit of her comment interesting,
    “Identity politics is a very fashionable argument at the moment. It questions the samenesses that group people together.”

    A couple of things. First, “identity politics” is not “a very fashionable argument at the moment”. On the contrary, it has been on the wane for ages. The irony is that when I.P. were fashionable, it was “the Jews” who were given pride of place as the victims par excellence. This has led to a backlash against antisemitism and Jews. This backlash manifests itself in the racist ideas that Jews “fabricate” antisemitism (past and present) and “manipulate” the Holocaust as well as the idea that far from being the most vulnerable, they are now the most powerful. (Interestingly, most, if not all memorials/museums, etc. to Jewish victims of the Holocaust reject such heirarchies and speak of the uniqueness of the Holocaust and not its “exclusivity”).

    Secondly, is the idea that fighting antisemitism and challenging the more outlandish claims of the antizionists and antisemites (not always the same thing) is the expression of “idenitity politics”; as if challenging antisemitism is not part of a broader anti-racist platform but the (illegitimate) act of Jews only fighting and strugging for their own narrow interests (in this case, Israel).

    Calling the struggle against antisemitism “identity politics” (or a “Jewish matter”) is, in effect if not in intent, excluding Jews from the “sameness” that, as Solomons rightly points out, unites people regardless of who they are. Its effect, if not its intent, is a mirror of one of the key aims of antisemitism itself – to isolate Jews and depict them as somehow different from all others.

    One can only hope that as Solomons matures politically, she will not full victim to such unthinking comments again, but live up to the role the Telegraph has elevated her to in terms of the fight against the current coalition. (But, of course, papers like the ST do like to personalise what is, in the case of students, almost a universal and spontaneous discontent accompanied by a willingness to do something about it.

  8. Paul Miller Says:

    Solomon apologised? She did no such thing. What she did was make perfect use of the example set by EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who vented some classic anti-Semitism to a Flemish radio station and then, when (a small amount of) uproar ensued (from Jewish groups only, pretty much), followed with this: “I regret that the comments that I made have been interpreted in a sense I did not intend.”

    It appears that this is set to become a pattern, as it clearly works. De Gucht’s open anti-Semitism has not seemed to be of any detriment to his standing or career, and it’s pretty certain that Solomon will not suffer any negative consequences either.

    • perplexedbelgian Says:

      As somebody (here I think) commented, De Gucht was misquoted … verbatim. Would it be that there is an epidemic going of people who are misquoted verbatim?

    • Gil Says:

      Of course their careers won’t suffer and neither will their physical safety. Jews are an easy target. This was proved to be so on the 1930s. No fatwas, no attempts to stab, maim or behead anyone that writes antisemitic articles or cartoons or deny the holocaust (while wishing a new one).

      And if, heaven forfend, any Jew did take it upon himself to do something violent like that…Well, the consequences don’t bear thinking about. And that’s just the far Left’s hypocrisy for starters.

  9. Brian Robinson Says:

    If she’s quoted accurately, she seems to be confused as to the meanings of ‘a race’ and ‘a people’. There might be a case for arguing that “there’s no Jewish race”, since it is now widely recognised that the term ‘race’ has no useful meaning (certainly no biological significance, at most presumably a social construct of increasingly dubious validity). No human being belongs to any race, except perhaps rhetorically to the human race.

    She’s on no ground whatever of course when she speaks of the ‘fabrication’ of the persecution of Jews. I wont spend any more time on that here.

    But what is ‘a people’? I would guess that she might have taken her cue from Shlomo Sand’s controversial book — eg pages 27 on for his discussion of the terms ‘people and ‘ethnos’.

    For a non specialist like myself, that first chapter was heavy going, and Sand himself (in a lecture at NY University available on You Tube http://bit.ly/ffglfW ) advised new readers to skip it until they’d read the rest of the book.

    But Sand was talking in that chapter about nations and their making, and a nation isn’t the same as a people. One of the weakest moments in that Sand lecture was when he tried to turn accusations of antisemitism made against him into a joke (I’m quoting from memory): “How I can be against something that doesn’t exist?”

    Well it got him out of a jam at the time, but it really misses the point. But I seem to recall things have sometimes gone the other way. I once heard Abba Eban uttering in a radio interview the phrase, in reference to the Palestinians, “pretending to all the injured majest of a sovereign people”. But he wasn’t denying peoplehood, merely pointing to the historical absence of sovereignty.

    However, compare and contrast the notorious Zuheir Mohsen’s “The Palestinian people does not exist …”
    see eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuheir_Mohsen.

    I’ve tried a few online social science dictionaries but they haven’t helped me with ‘a people’. Any help on this gratefully received – thanks in advance.
    Brian R

  10. Emotional, Tired Or Racist? | ModernityBlog Says:

    […] 1: I am not really here, but on the Engage thread they are ably pulling apart Solomon’s racism and her […]

  11. Bialik Says:

    Re peoples and nationalism, did anyone watch the episode on Yesterday in their series about Nazi collaborators? It was a piece of revisionist history in which Arab nationalism under the British became Palestinian nationalism (but not the kind where Jews in Palestine wanted to live without British rule). Peculiar. How to explain Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank after 1948, then?


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