In February 2009, Labour Peer Lord Nazir Ahmed was sentenced to prison. He had been texting and driving shortly before being involved in a car accident in which somebody died.
In March 2009, the court of appeal released him and suspended his sentence, saying that keeping him in prison would hinder his work “building bridges between the Muslim world and others.”
Last year Lord Ahmed gave an interview in Urdu in Pakistan in which he claimed that a secret conspiracy of Jews in the media, the judiciary and in government had had him imprisoned, ostensibly for texting while driving, but actually because of “his support for Palestinians in Gaza”.
Today, The Times newspaper published an English translation of Ahmed’s comments. Later in the day, the Labour Party suspended Lord Ahmed’s membership saying that it “deplores and does not tolerate any sort of anti-semitism.”
Daniel Finkelstein is the Executive Editor and a leader writer of the Times.
Michael White is Assistant Editor at the Guardian.
Here, courtesey of Cifwatch is the exchange between the two on Twitter:
Later, White tweets the following, in order to make himself clearer: “@GuidoFawkes Ah, but the problem here is ” why did saintly DF go after the BBC over Ahmed (surely legal?) delay. What was his sub-text?”
White’s point is that when a newspaper exposes a clear example of anti-Jewish racism, or asks why the BBC has not run with the story, then it is right to look for a sub-text, a hidden reason underlying the exposé. Finkelstein is described as “saintly” – IE “not saintly” – not innocent, but really its opposite.
Why? What is suspicious about a newspaper exposing clear and serious racist sentiment articulated by a Labour Peer?
Well, White seems to think that the story should be contextualized, or balanced by, or mitigated by, or explained by, the bad behaviour of those Jews who organise or who defend or who facilitate settlements in the West Bank.
Or perhaps it is a tu quoque point. Perhaps he is saying that YOU also behave badly, YOU also have double standards.
YOU being Finkelstein, The Times, acting for the Israel Lobby, or for the pro-settlement lobby, or for “The Jews”, as Lord Ahmed would put it.
Senior figures at The Guardian increasingly act as though antisemitism in public life is no longer a story in itself.
Michael White is a man who seems to think that anybody who raises the issue of antisemitism has to be inspected for subtexts or for prior motives or for cunning plans.
Antisemitism is no longer just, simply, and on its own, to be condemned, exposed, explained and opposed. Now we have to ask whether the Jew crying antisemitism was wearing a short skirt at the time, or had had a drink, or had been nagging the antisemite. What did the Jews do to deserve this antisemitic treatment?
It happens very often, that a person who raises the issue of antisemitism is accused of doing so in bad faith, dishonestly, as part of a secret ‘sub-text’ of trying to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. See The Livingstone Formulation.