How antisemitism entered the zeitgeist

Writes David Baddiel. On the Daily Telegraph blog. It’s a bad state of affairs when the Daily Telegraph becomes a purveyor of fine thinking about a form of hatred the left forgot.

“The truth is complex. One way into it is to ask: how is anti-Semitism different from other types of racial hatred? The answer, I think, can be found in the language. To return to the high priest of drunken Jew-hatred, Mel G (I know this makes him sound like a Spice Girl: it’s intentional). Mel said, in his rant of 2008: “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” This is key: Jews are the only race whose negative image as projected by racists is high-status. It’s the same with Julian Assange’s (alleged) notion that a cabal of powerful Jewish journalists are behind the smearing of WikiLeaks; it’s even somewhere in Charlie Sheen’s renaming of the producer of his former sitcom Chuck Lorre as “Chaim Levine”, carrying with it as it does two suggestions: one, that Jews are the controlling forces behind the US media, and two, that they have disguised this fact about themselves and need to be outed.

Although they can also be called dirty, or cheating, or all the other unlovely adjectives that racists also apply to black people or Asians, it is only Jews who get this extra, subtle spin, that they are secretly in charge, secretly pulling the strings (of course it is only Jews who are not immediately recognisable as different, either – which is how we manage, I presume, to crawl under the wire and get weaving with all this secret stuff).”

And then there’s The Y Word.

Read it all.

5 Responses to “How antisemitism entered the zeitgeist”

  1. Isca Stieglitz Says:

    Short, ‘sweet’ and to the nub! Kofi Annan would agree,

  2. boxthejack Says:

    That’s quite thought-provoking, as I have tended to assume that the use of ‘anti-Semitism’ is ideological rather than based in a substantially different phenomenon from racism as a whole.

    But wouldn’t you say that anti-American sentiment is framed in similar terms, likewise historic hostility toward Syriac Christians in South East Turkey? Or even, to be honest, the fear of Freemasons or bankers or whatever?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “…I have tended to assume that the use of ‘anti-Semitism’ is ideological rather than based in a substantially different phenomenon from racism as a whole.”

      What causes you to believe that racism as a whole _isn’t_ also ideological in origin, along with antisemitism?

      That’s intended as a real question, not an attack of any sort; I’m genuinely puzzled.

  3. Maurice Says:

    What puzzles me is why all national/ethnic groups get capital letters apart from the “blacks” (sic).

  4. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Possibly, Maurice, because national/ethnic groups are generally defined (if that’s not too dignified a word for the process) with reference to a presumed national and/or geographical origin. If you note that “black” Americans are increasingly, at least in formal terms, referred to as African-Americans, to put them alongside Italian-Americans (or Afro-Caribbean in the UK), the puzzle may well disappear.

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