The renowned British Jewish writer and columnist Howard Jacobson, famous for coining the term “as-a-Jew” or “ASHamed Jews”, was interviewed by the BBC’s Chris Cook on the subject of the intersection of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Jacobson was very hard-hitting and did not spare his views or his words.
European opposition to the right of Jewish people to live in Israel amounts to “chutzpah with blood in it,” an award-winning British journalist and novelist declared in a recent BBC interview.
When I hear people in European cultures attacking Zionism, I think, ‘What a nerve.’ We [Europe] kick you out, we say, ‘Go to hell and we don’t care where you go.’ And you’re lucky if you’re kicked out. You’re lucky if you get out. And then we [Jews] go somewhere. We go to what for a long time was considered home and what in the Jewish imagination has been home for a few thousands years. And this begs many questions I accept about the indigenous population [in Israel]. I accept all that. But the idea that we [Europe] would then say to the Jews, ‘Get the hell out of here,’ and now we’re going to tell you where you can go? I mean there’s a Jewish word for that. That’s chutzpah. That’s chutzpah with blood in it.
Jacobson patiently explained the history of Zionism and what anti-Zionism means and feels like for Jews, particularly European Jews.
“The reason why Jews get so upset when they hear Zionism denounced is because for a Jew, for most Jews, it still is a liberation movement and not only in the mind,” he stated. Reflecting on 1930s Europe, Jacobson said, “Where were Jews going to go? They were being kicked out everywhere… ‘Go to your own country,’ they were told. Okay. And now they’re in their own country and now get out of that. And now Naz Shah says, ‘Get out of your own country and go to America.’ Not only do we remember Zionism for the liberation movement it was, it’s a liberation movement still.”
Unfortunately the video, although 18 minutes long, consists of clips and sound-bites which, Cook explained, are intended for use in film on the subject, hence the slightly disjointed conversation. Nevertheless it is riveting, and Jacobson explains so clearly and cogently exactly what is wrong with anti-Zionism, how it is almost always simply a cover for antisemitism, and accuses the anti-Zionists of an obsession with Israel. He also gives clear recommendations to politicians who have been “caught out” by antisemitic quotes how they can make good towards the Jewish community.
Sadly, some of the Facebook comments below the video simply confirm Jacobson’s point of view.
Watch the video: