Antisemitism, not the accusation of antisemitism, is the dirty trick – David Hirsh

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from Jewish News.d

Today’s anti-semitism is difficult to pin down. It doesn’t come in a Nazi uniform. The most threatening anti-Semitism in Britain today is carried by people who believe they are opponents of all racism.

Today’s anti-Semitism thinks Israel is a key evil on the planet and Israelis need to be excluded from the global community. It thinks Israel murders Palestinian children out of evil and that Israel is a false nation, founded to steal and occupy other people’s land. Today’s anti-Semitism thinks Israel is powerful and controls opinion and governments around the world.

These opinions constitute part of the natural “common sense” of people who believe themselves to be good and progressive in today’s Britain.

Many believe that those who do hate Jews, who march in London with anti-Semitic banners or who shoot Jews in Paris supermarkets or in Brussels museums are simply over-reacting to Israeli provocation.

But there is something else. Today’s anti-Semitism comes with in-built protection against accusations of anti-Semitism.

When good people today hear an accusation of it, they have learnt to recognise the accusation, not the anti-Semitism, as the dirty trick; an attack made by right-wingers and “Zionists”, to smear and silence people who criticise Israel.

Today’s anti-Semitism incorporates the notion that those who complain about anti-Semitism are the racists. Opponents of anti-Semitism, not anti-Semites, it says, are the cynical ones; opponents of anti-Semitism, not anti-Semites, it says, are the powerful ones.

People who hold anti-Semitic views may not be aware they hold them, and so there is nothing to exclude Jews from feeling part of this community of the good and the progressive. In fact, a small minority of Jews play an important role in legitimising, for example, the campaign to boycott Israel, as being not anti-Semitic. There is nothing to prevent Jews from participating in contemporary anti-Semitism.

Some Jews have lost their nose for antiSemitism and they are eager to denounce fellow Jews who are still able to sniff it.

Jeremy Corbyn thinks of himself as an opponent of anti-Semitism and he seems to have no personal dislike of Jews. But he warmly supports Hamas and Hezbollah, organisations set up to kill Jews as a strategy to prevent a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine; Corbyn leaps to the defence of anti-Semites, blood libellers and conspiracists, saying they aren’t anti-Semitic and they aren’t dangerous. He heads the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is dedicated to the boycott of Israel. Corbyn has presented a show on the Iranian propaganda channel, Press TV.

Jack Mendel (Jewish News Online, 24 August) wrote as though those Jews who raise questions about Corbyn’s political anti-Semitism are playing a game. He wrote as though what the anti-Semites say is true; that Jews are engaged in a conspiracy to pretend to be worried about anti-Semitism when really they are concerned with mobilising its victim power for their own benefit. He described it all as a game. “We” have not picked our battles well. “We’ve relied on character assassination”. Mendel said we’re like a community which has cried “Wolf!” so many times when there wasn’t really a wolf that when there is one, we’ll be eaten alive.

If Mendel knew anything about what it is like to fight anti-Semitism, he wouldn’t write this belittling stuff. If he remembered how Jews in Czechoslovakia were found guilty of ‘bourgeois Jewish nationalism’ for opposing state anti-Semitism; if he remembered campaigning for Soviet Jewry with the Stalinists denouncing him as a fifth columnist; if he remembered how feminists of the Spare Rib collective were confronted with demands to denounce their Israeli sisters; if he remembered opposing the banning of university Jewish societies; if he experienced fighting anti-Semitism in the University and College Union only to be told by a judge he was crying wolf; if he had warned the government and the Church of England about the danger of Raed Salah and Stephen Sizer, only to see Corbyn leap to their defence, then he would not write like this.

It isn’t Jews who are responsible for the fact that Corbyn can win in the Labour Party in spite of his record of overlooking anti-Semitic politics.

It isn’t Jews who are responsible for the fact the three other candidates feel raising the issue of anti-Semitism will make them look vulgar.

It isn’t Jews who are responsible for the fact that allegations of anti-Semitism do Corbyn no harm.

These things happen because of anti-Semitism, not because of the Jews who oppose it.

David Hirsh

Goldsmiths, University of London

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from Jewish News.

10 Responses to “Antisemitism, not the accusation of antisemitism, is the dirty trick – David Hirsh”

  1. Larry Ray Says:

    It’s worse than this. If there was the slightest hint of an association of any politician with right wing racism it would be the end of their career. But Corbyn’s association with antisemitism is regarded as a joke – many supporters have been forwarding this link

  2. Porky Scratchings (@ibngibril) Says:

    The reality is those Jews on the left who have participated in trying to appear on-trend and eager to criticise Israel have played the role of “helpful fools” in feeding the Moslem inspired agenda of antisemitism.

    Who are the ethnic cleansers in the Middle East? We might start with the expulsion of 850k Jews from Arab lands post 1948 or the decimation of Arab Christians from towns like Bethlehem and Ramallah. Moslems have consistently ethnically cleansed.

    Who are the imperialists and colonialists? Article 1 of the Palestinian Proto Constitution denies the reality of Palestine and Palestinian nationalism to nothing more than a staging post for a caliphatic United Moslem Arabia…that seems fairly expansionist and imperialistic to me.

    Who are the infringers of human rights etc..need I go on?

    Those on the left who wish to attack Israel, without providing comparative data vs Israel’s neighbours pander to antisemites everywhere. But put Israel in a context of regional and international behaviour and on all metrics, the only grounds left for singling out Israel for criticism above any other country is antisemitism.

    So why has no one produced the stats?

    • Absolute observer Says:

      Gosh, who’d have thought it! Fortunately, living in Europe, we’ve no antisemitic tradition of our own to tap into. Or should I say Christian Europe since so many people these days reduce everything and everyone to their religion. A bit like the antisemites really.

      • Absolute observer Says:

        And what is the difference between ‘criticise’ and ‘attack’? I only ask since the two words appear interchangeable in scratching’s comments.

  3. josephinebacon Says:

    I don’t know who Porky Scratchings is but looks like he is a relative! He certainly knows his history. I wish someone would conduct a vox pop among those who hold up banners saying “We are all Hamas” and find out what they know of the history of the Middle East and the part played in it by Muslims in general and the Palestinians in particular, past and present.

  4. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Now, following the election of Corbyn as the Labour Party Leader, we have the unpalatable prospect of ever more of Nick Cohen’s “progressives” (see his “What’s Left”, passim) finding positions high up in the Labour Party Parliamentary hierarchy. And as the poll figures fall, there will come the call that this is because the electorate haven’t had the new policies explained to them yet. And then, when these figures fall even further, or stabilise at a level far below what would be necessary for a parliamentary majority, the call will come that it’s because the electorate don’t understand the new, ever-farther, policies, so they must be ever more stridently explained.

    And when the resultant election failure pushes labour down close to the position they were in in 1935 (154 out of 494 total), only then will it occur to the Party that “perhaps” they got it wrong in 2015.

    But they will still be in the wilderness for at least 15 years until they find a more centrist leader.

    Look what happened the last time that happened. And the price paid because of the Labour Party’s lack of thought about what they were doing is almost too horrendous to contemplate. The only consolation I have is that if I live that long, I’ll be 86 and probably won’t give a damn for myself – except for the fate of my children and grandchildren.

    What are you youngsters out there going to do about it? Anyone for a coup against the new Labour Party leadership?

  5. josephinebacon Says:

    David Hirsch seems to have forgotten that antisemitism came just as much in a Red Army uniform as in a Nazi uniform. Stalin was almost as much of a Jew-hater as Hitler with his show trials (just like the McCarthyites in the USA). It goes to show that antisemitism cannot be linked to one particular ideology but to extremism in general. As for it being a form of racism, as Julie Burchill has so shrewdly pointed out, it is very different from other forms of racism. Antisemitism does not involve contempt as do the other forms of racism again people who are perceived by the racists to be inferior but from pure envy and an innate fear that Jews might – just might – be superior to them.

  6. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “David Hirsch seems to have forgotten that antisemitism came just as much in a Red Army uniform as in a Nazi uniform. ” The articles and writers on this website have never sought to deny this, and have, in its decade+ history, frequently pointed to antisemitism from the left, as witnessed by the numerous articles on BDS in general, Stop The War, PSC and many other similar organisations.

    Further, if you are going to attack someone, at least pay them the courtesy of spelling their surname correctly, before trying to turn their stance on its head.

  7. New Leader of UK Labour Party Alarms Jews | Ameinu Says:

    […] but at bottom, he makes a serious critique of Corbyn’s views.  The following (from “Antisemitism, not the accusation of antisemitism, is the dirty trick“) sums it […]

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