Paxman allows antisemite Ahmadinejad to set the Newsnight agenda

David T on HP.

Two on the Z-Word

David Hare begins his latest monologue on reasons for Israel to take down its security barrier (only he calls it a wall) with an appeal to “be serious” and “think about this”. Not a moment too soon, David. He progresses through an interesting and worthwhile piece with occasional appeals for coolness, while relieving himself of a number of superfluous observations within which are buried some atrocious little sentences. Jews should have learned from 2000 years of suffering (that shameful, derelict point about persecution-as-education). Tel Aviv looks like Florida (what could be worse). And “you wouldn’t be very nice if you lived under permanent siege” – this is provoking, but we have to be cool, he says, so since we’re called upon to put ourselves in Hamas’ shoes, it occurs to me to wonder whether I would have got myself into the predicament of a siege. While Hare is probably right, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have been violent and hateful for a long time and fearful Israelis deserve more empathy from people like Hare.

Eamonn responds on Z-Word blog.

Also on Z-Word blog, Jonathan Hoffman reviews the BBC’s finding that its Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen failed to meet guidelines on impartiality and accuracy. Considering it’s well understood that Israeli military operations are the occasion for spikes in antisemitic activity in Britain, accuracy and impartiality are important in BBC reports. David T comments on Jeremy Bowen’s defenders in The Independent.

“Seven Jewish Children” on NY radio

Read David Adler.

Seven Muslim Children

Letter in the Irish Times:

Madam, – I’m going to write a short play, and the title will be “Seven Muslim Children”. It’s going to be a “10-minute history of Islam” and will consist of a series of short dialogues in which Muslim parents, teachers and clerics teach their children to hate. They teach them to hate the West, to hate Jews, to hate globalisation, to hate democracy, to hate everything except Islam. No entrance fee will be charged, but viewers should make a donation to a charity for children orphaned by 9/11.

I wonder if the Abbey would be interested in staging it. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Radio 4 and Seven Jewish Children – David Hirsh

Howard Jacobson describes Seven Jewish Children as an antisemitic work:

“Caryl Churchill will argue that her play is about Israelis not Jews, but once you venture on to “chosen people” territory – feeding all the ancient prejudice against that miscomprehended phrase – once you repeat in another form the medieval blood-libel of Jews rejoicing in the murder of little children, you have crossed over. This is the old stuff. Jew-hating pure and simple – Jew-hating which the haters don’t even recognise in themselves, so acculturated is it – the Jew-hating which many of us have always suspected was the only explanation for the disgust that contorts and disfigures faces when the mere word Israel crops up in conversation. So for that we are grateful. At last that mystery is solved and that lie finally nailed. No, you don’t have to be an anti-Semite to criticise Israel. It just so happens that you are.”

He re-states this view when Jacqueline Rose and Churchill herself defend the play. If Jacobson is right then it follows that the play has no artistic or political value.

BBC Radio 4 has decided not to stage the play. Radio 4′s drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe, rejected the play, writing in an email:

“It is a no, I am afraid. Both Mark [Damazer, Radio 4 controller] and I think it is a brilliant piece, but after discussing it with editorial policy we have decided we cannot run with it on the grounds of impartiality – I think it would be nearly impossible to run a drama that counters Caryl Churchill’s view. Having debated long and hard we have decided we can’t do Seven Jewish Children.”

They have made the wrong decision. If it is a “brilliant piece” of course it should be broadcast. If it is a “brilliant piece” how could it be “countered”? Brilliant theatre does not require something else to be broadcast another night in order to balance it.

Why would Radio 4 not broadcast a “brilliant piece”? The official BBC statement says that “we felt it would not work for our audience.” Why not?

The implication, of course, is that The Jews will not allow the BBC to broadcast this “brilliant piece”.

Tell them its antisemitic. Tell them its unbalanced. Tell them the BBC is biased.

If the piece is antisemitic then its crap. And it shouldn’t be broadcast.

If the piece is “brilliant” then it should be broadcast, and the BBC should stand up to the full wrath of “Israel Lobby” – or as the Independent would say, the “Jewish Lobby“.

David Hirsh

Atzmon’s antisemitism is acceptable in mainstream media

“Provocatively anti-Jewish rhetoric”

“Can you imagine a journalist for a liberal newspaper referring in neutral, even vaguely congratulatory terms to an artist’s “provocatively anti-gay rhetoric,” or “provocatively anti-black rhetoric,” or “provocatively anti-Arab rhetoric”?”

“Well, have a look at John Lewis’s profile of Gilad Atzmon for the Guardian, in which we read about the saxophonist’s “provocatively anti-Jewish rhetoric,” his “firebrand political outbursts,” his “furious attacks on Israel,” his “blunt anti-Zionism.” Sounds like laudable stuff, a challenge to the status quo, hooray!”

Read the rest by David Adler on Z Word.

Mainstreaming of antisemitism: blood libel and conspiracy theory in the Daily Mirror

Daily MirrorColumnist Brian Reade was published in the Daily Mirror as follows (5 March):

I want to thank International Development minister Douglas Alexander for visiting the Gaza Strip, and pledging aid. Because it typifies our cowardly subservience to the all-powerful pro-Israel lobby in America.

We looked away as Israel bombed the crap out of Gaza. When the 1,314 dead Palestinians temporarily sated Tel Aviv’s bloodlust, we sent a third-rate politician to pledge millions to replace all the buildings flattened by Israel’s military machine.

Thus putting up more targets for them to destroy the next time they feel the need to convince their people they are hard-liners who won’t be threatened by Arab infidels. At which point we’ll look away again. How proud our foreign policy makes me.

Open letter to the editor of the Guardian from Workers’ Liberty

workers libertyDear Alan Rusbridger,

The Guardian is the “house organ” of most of the non-Muslim people who took part in the two big demonstrations during the Gaza war. A vigorous campaign by the Guardian against anti-semitism on the “left” might do much good.

On Saturday 7 February, the Guardian carried an editorial, “Language and History”, denouncing anti-semitism and specifically the “anti-Zionist” anti-semitism that is now commonplace, remarking on the growth of anti-semitic incidents in Britain (now on average, one per day, and increasing).

Unfortunately, the editorial seriously misdefined the realities of what it discussed, and pussyfooted around the issue….

Read the rest here, on the Workers’ Liberty website.

Guardian Editorial, 7 February, 2009

guardianThis an editorial in The Guardian, 7 Feb, 09

Distinguishing between anti-Zionism and antisemitism has become a growth industry for every university department of cultural criticism. It is time the debate came out into the open, away from the classrooms and the academic journals. On average, there is an antisemitic attack of some kind every single day in the UK: graffiti, vandalism, arson and occasionally actual physical assault. Jewish schools have been granted extra protection. The Community Security Trust, which monitors incidents, issues frequent advice and warnings. According to the Trust the number of such incidents has risen again since Christmas, and the assault on Gaza. The government acknowledges that there is a growing problem. Responding to a two-year investigation by an all-party committee, it was decided that from this April, every police force will be required to keep a record of antisemitic offences.

This is not because – as some extremists on the right and possibly the left might claim – the government is in the pocket of a “Jewish lobby”. There is no “Jewish lobby” in the conspiratorial sense that the slur implies, and to assert that there is can only be the result of the kind of racism that has scarred Europe from tsarist Russia to the fascists and Stalinists of the 1930s through to the jihadists now. To present all Jewish people as conterminous with Israel and its supporters is a mistake with potentially terrible consequences. It aligns ethnicity with a political perspective, and it is simply racist.

The government has also recognised that there are “specific indications that, unlike other forms of racism, antisemitism is being accepted within parts of society instead of being condemned.” The left fought a long and honourable battle for racial equality, but some within its ranks now risk sloppily allowing their horror of Israeli actions to blind them to antisemitism. There is an ill-considered tendency to reach for the language of Nazism in order to excoriate Israel, regardless of its impact on the climate of tolerance. Last month, a rally in defence of the people of Gaza that included verbal attacks on the so-called “Nazi tendencies” of Israel was followed by actual attacks on Jewish targets in north London. That is not, of course, to say we should not criticise Israel and judge it by the same criteria as any other state.

It is chilling to see “kill Arabs” graffitied on homes in Gaza. But the style in which that is condemned must not create the climate that allows scrawling “kill Jews” on synagogues in Manchester. For that is what is at stake: what might merely be insensitivity can, cumulatively, erode the conditions that foster racial tolerance. For they depend not only on the laws, but on a respect for all people’s sensitivities.


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