Open antisemitism doesn’t harm your reputation

Petronella Wyatt writes in the Daily Mail (11 June 2011) [via cst and hp]:

“…It is, chillingly, not such a different sentiment than the one expressed to me not long ago by a life peer.”

“As we basked in the sunshine on the House of Lords’ terrace, he said: ‘The Jews have been asking for it, and because of the atrocious way Israel behaves, we can finally say what we think.'”

“This remark is not one I ever expected to hear in this country.”

(also her spectator piece)

Remember what Eve Garrard heard from an academic at a formal academic dinner (13 June 2010)?

Bloody Jews,’ he said. ‘Bloody Jews, bugger the Jews, I’ve no sympathy for them.’

I gazed at him, aghast. Where had this suddenly come from?

The encounter I’m here describing took place very recently, in the course of a large academic dinner at a University in another city, not my own one. It was a pleasant occasion, and the people at my table were innocuously and comfortably talking about sociological issues connected with the economic crisis, all completely harmless and (relatively) uncontentious. And then I heard the academic on my right hand side say to the person opposite him, ‘Bloody Jews.’

When he saw my appalled stare, he said impatiently, ‘Oh well, I’m sorry, but really…!’

‘I’m glad you’re sorry,’ I replied politely, collecting myself together for a fight. But then he asked, ‘Are you Jewish?’ When I nodded, this academic – whom I’d met for the first time that day – put his arm around me and said, ‘I’m sorry, but really Israel is terrible, the massacres, Plan Dalet, the ethnic cleansing, they’re like the Nazis, they’re the same as the Nazis…’

Remember Rowan Laxton, UK diplomat (9 Feb 2009)?

Rowan Laxton, 47, an expert on the Middle East, allegedly shouted “fucking Israelis” “fucking Jews” while watching television reports of the Israeli attack on Gaza in the gym.

He is also alleged to have said Israeli soldiers should be “wiped off the face of the earth” during the rant, which was overheard by staff and gym members.

Martin Linton MP (March 2010):

“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends.  … You must consider over the next few weeks, when you make decisions about how you vote and how you advise constituents to vote, you must make them aware of the attempt by Israelis and by pro-Israelis to influence the election.”

Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (March 2010):

“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns most of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the rest,” he said.

 Karel De Gucht, the European commissioner for trade (3 Sep 2010):

“Don’t underestimate the opinion … of the average Jew outside Israel…. There is indeed a belief – it’s difficult to describe it otherwise – among most Jews that they are right. And a belief is something that’s difficult to counter with rational arguments. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.”

 Frank Johansson, the Chair of Amnesty International in Finland, (August 2010):

“On the basis of my own visit, which occurred during the 1970s and 1990s for the final time, I agree [that “Israel is a scum state”].

Baroness Jenny Tonge, (19 Sep 2006):

“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.”

Daniel Bernard, French Ambassador to Britain, (20 Dec 2001):

 ” … that  shitty little country Israel…”

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, 2006):

Finegold: How did tonight go?

Livingstone: Have you thought of having treatment?

Finegold: Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?

Mr Livingstone: What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?

Finegold: No, I’m Jewish, I wasn’t a German war criminal and I’m actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?

Mr Livingstone: Arr right, well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?

Finegold: Great, I have you on record for that. So, how was tonight?

Mr Livingstone: It’s nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.

Finegold: I’m a journalist and I’m doing my job. I’m only asking for a comment.

Mr Livingstone: Well, work for a paper that doesn’t have a record of supporting fascism.  [Ironic for a man who was once an editor of Labour Herald]

‘For far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been.’

Is antisemitism an elite phenomenon?

17 Responses to “Open antisemitism doesn’t harm your reputation”

  1. NIMN Says:

    Antisemitism in Britain has always been an “elite phenomenon”. Nothing new there. What is new, of course, is that it is “criticism of Israel” that is being used as the licence to say what 10 or 15 years ago could not be said in polite (and even impolite) company.

  2. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Historically, anti-semitism has often been driven by the “elite”, whether it be the Spanish Inquisition, the Tsars of Russia,
    Sir Oswald Mosley or the SS. So if it is an elite phenomenon, it is nothing new.

  3. Stefan Says:

    Quite clearly there is absolutely no need for the Yale Initiative for the Study of Antisemitism.

    • Absolute Observer Says:

      British elite antisemitism is not new . It is also more or less common knowledge.
      What is interesting about it are the questions,
      1. Why it should surface now?
      2. Why a British peer expresses similar sentiments i(Jews to Israel) as many sections of the European “left” (Israel to Jews))?

  4. Lev Bronstein Says:

    Let’s not forget what Ken Livingstone said to Oliver Finegold either. There was quite a fuss in the media about that but Livingstone refused to apologise and ultimately got away with it.

    Jews are a soft target for politicians because firstly their vote doesn’t count for much in the uk, and as the evidence here shows you can get away with offending the Jewish community, especially if you hide behind Anti-Zionism.

  5. Benjamin Says:

    I suppose if someone happens to mention Israel in their antisemitic slights, one can be ‘excused’ for their prejudice.

  6. naomi Says:

    but who is it?

    i would have thought jenny tonge would be a prime candidate, but she’s excluded by virtue of being a woman.

    i can cope with celebrity blind items, but when it comes to politician-with-legislative-power antisemitism blind items, i think they should be named and shamed

    • Bill Says:

      I get really annoyed when we hear whispers about who said what but never who. If someone said it, say who. If they didn’t really say it it’s an unacceptable whispering campaign. If they did and people who oppose antisemtism are giving them coverage out of some false sense of collegiality, it helps perpetuates the myth that you can have antisemitism without antisemites. Just name them for kerist sakes.

      • James Mendelsohn Says:

        “I get really annoyed when we hear whispers about who said what but never who.”

        Perhaps whoever said it has taken out a super-injunction!

  7. Ber Borochov Says:

    Also worth noting Thilo Sarrazin’s remarks in Germany about the “Jewish Gene”.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Given the evidence of a common origin in the Middle East some 2000+ years ago for the world’s Jews, it’s not what he says but the way that he says it!

  8. Bialik Says:

    I still don’t think the Livingstone dialogue was antisemitic.
    Anyway, we’ve heard a lot about British antisemitism of late, with new books etc. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has linked it with the new European and old-style East European and Arab varieties. Does the growth in one area affect another? Or are there too few people, outside of the Hungary and the Middle East, for example, to be influenced by Arab or Hungarian media?

    Come to think of it, are student organisations and trade unions the catalyst for the spread of antisemitic tropes from one country to another and their legitimisation?

  9. James Mendelsohn Says:

    Someone else who remains in his post despite his comments

  10. Blogs in June 2011. « ModernityBlog Says:

    […] has an abundance of posts which should be read, just a small selection: Open antisemitism doesn’t harm your reputation, Sally Hunt pretends not to understand the term “institutional racism” and Richard Kuper on the […]

  11. The tipping point for UCU -David Hirsh « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    […] Congress shrunk back to its usual size, the hard core activists reasserted their control and the mood to single out Israelis for punishment gained ground on the British left more […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s