Howard Jacobson on anti-Zionism: “It’s chutzpah with blood on it”

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.

From the Algemeiner’s report (via Mosaic) on the video:

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.

Jacobson said:

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:


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8 Responses to Howard Jacobson on anti-Zionism: “It’s chutzpah with blood on it”

  1. Ursula Right says:

    Like Jacobson, growing up, I too thought those around me saw antisemitism (“AS”) everywhere somewhat exaggeratedly (understandably, as he says) but now I have come to see that there was indeed AS but I just refused to believe it was possible given the mantras of ‘never again’ to which I assumed all subscribed. That is, I was so committed to ‘never again’ and to the idea that this generation was different, that I was blind to the similarities and only began to see them after the shift announced at Durban world conference. Once my eyes were opened by the racist activism which ensued that conference (perversely a conference against racism), I began also to see that it had always existed & that it was my will to progress which made me think it’d disappeared & that this generation was somehow different. My failure to see it was a form of coping mechanism, to create the fiction of a future without a repetition of the horrors of the past.

    • anneinpt says:

      It was a shock to all of us who grew up in the tolerant West in the 60s-80s or so, to suddenly discover that there was this antisemitism just lurking in the dark corners, waiting for an opportunity to spring out.

      I grew up in England and never experienced overt antisemitism and thought it was a thing of the past at least there if not in Europe. As you say, we were sadly mistaken.

      At least it is now in the open and no one can deny it. Admitting that the problem exists is the first step towards eradicating it, though I have my strong doubts whether Europe or the Brits are capable or willing to do this.

  2. Reality says:

    He spoke very well. I wonder how many people he can get his point across to.

    • anneinpt says:

      This was on the BBC so I reckon it got out to millions of viewers. Plus Jacobson himself is so well-known and admired that he has no trouble getting his message across.

      Really he is the best person for this kind of message precisely because he is of the Left.

  3. marymtf says:

    I’ve been thinking lately that Jews, priveledged old white men and mothers in law are exempt from political correctness. I’ve had to cut Brits out off that list (they used to be derided as Poms) . No doubt, the White men will fade away and the mothers in law will remember they are women too. That leaves the wandering Jew sitting in the corner, wondering where to go next. Unless of course he decides that he’s had enough of being the only religion referred to as a Semite.

    • anneinpt says:

      I wouldn’t worry about the wandering Jew. He need wander no more, nor need he suffer in silence, or even loudly. There is now a safe haven for the Jews and has been for nearly 70 years. It’s called Israel, and it welcomes all Jews from wherever they are, and in whatever situation they are in, rich or poor, oppressed or free, with joy and open arms.

      • marymtf says:

        70 years ago your neighbors threatened to shove you all into the sea. Given the state of today ‘s world wide anti-semitism, it’s become more of a promise than a threat. That threat is close to being fulfilled as long as you allow the politically correct world to separate anti-semitism from racism.
        Israel is a tiny oasis of civilisation in a barbarous world. You’ve paid a high price to keep it. Time to take notice of what’s going on outside your safe haven.

        • anneinpt says:

          It’s not only 70 years ago that our neighbours threatened to push us into the sea. It’s an ongoing threat that has never gone away, and this is in tandem with the growing worldwide antisemitism.

          However it is not because we “allow” the PC world to separate antisemitism from racism. We – Israeli and Jewish leaders – protest this all the time. I’m not sure what else we can do given our small numbers. Israel has passed laws outlawing boycotts and barring boycotters and antisemites from entering, and has encouraged similar laws elsewhere. The Israeli missions in the UN and its institutions never rest, and never rest on their laurels even when we win a small victory. Though with the numbers automatically stacked against us in the UN, there is little we can do without the help of the US and the West.

          We also have many supporters, from Evangelical Christians to Zionist Muslims to right wing and even left-wing politicians, and everything in between, and yet the voices of the antisemitic racists are louder.

          I don’t know why you think we are NOT taking notice of what’s going on outside our safe haven. Israel is always ready to welcome Jews fleeing antisemitism and has several times carried out rescue missions. e.g. airlifting 14,000 Ethiopian Jews in a single day, or opening its doors to a million Russians in the 1990s, urging French Jews to come (and they did), and now Venezuelan Jews.

          I don’t understand why you think we live in a bubble. Seriously.

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