Antisemitism update: the good, the bad and the ugly

06428-anti2bzionism2bis2banti-semitismAntisemitism is the illness that never goes away and like a virus, it mutates and morphs with the times into whatever is the acceptable “hatred of the day”. Once upon a time it was purely religious, later it was “scientific” or racist. Today it is nationalist; in other words it focuses on the Jewish aspect of Israel as the homeland of the Jews, and thus its current iteration is often, though not solely, in the form of anti-Zionism.

A good description of the current atmosphere appears in a letter written by the British Jewish group Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into antisemitism:

We talk so much about immigration into Europe that sometimes we forget to look at who is leaving, and Jews are leaving. [ … ]. Since 2000, 6% of the Jewish population of Europe has emigrated to Israel. In 2014 the rate of Jewish emigration doubled to its highest ever level and rose again in 2015. Leaving your home is not a snap decision, and for it to have sped up so dramatically shows that it has momentum. […] And in addition to that 6%, there are more Jews still, perhaps another 6%, who are leaving mainland Europe and coming to Britain, or the United States.

We do not believe that there is a hierarchy of hate, but antisemitism is different from other types of racist hatred. It is no mere prejudice; it endures because it is an ideology. It presents itself as a form of justice. Whereas other forms of racism slur their victims to diminish them, antisemitism does the opposite. Jews are presented as conniving, corrupting, parasites who wield immense power to the detriment of society. Antisemites present themselves as agents of justice, freeing mankind from Jewish dominance.

Like all ideologies, antisemitism has its own antibodies. Every Jewish contribution to society is cast as a bid for power. Every person who does not adopt antisemitism is dismissed as weak and blind. Every opponent of antisemitism is discredited as being part of a Jewish conspiracy or in the pay of Jews. Call an antisemite antisemitic and they will insist that you are smearing them to stop them exposing Jewish power. This has been accelerated by social media, which has enabled antisemitic ideology to become ‘open source’, allowing it to mutate faster than ever before, combining the strains of far-right antisemitism, far-left antisemitism and Islamist antisemitism into one super-resistant antisemitic ideology that is almost invulnerable to the usual social immune defences of reason and opprobrium.

It is due to these traits that antisemitism spreads faster than other prejudices, and for that reason we simply cannot wait for the slow progress that the criminal justice system is making in tackling hate crime as a whole. Antisemitism needs forceful, immediate and specific action.

Another illustration of the “new” antisemitism was provided by in this tweet by David Collier, intrepid documenter of British antisemitism at his blog The Great Divide.

As readers of this blog will know, antisemitism has become a major problem for the Labour Party in Britain, and for the Left in general. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for an investigation into his party’s antisemitism and received a whitewash of a report from Shami Chakrabarti who was duly rewarded with a peerage in the House of Lords.

The “good” part of my headline is therefore that it is gratifying to learn that, as mentioned above, Parliament appointed a Home Affairs Select Committee to properly investigate the rise of antisemitism in Britain. Their report was much more balanced, even though the results were of course rather alarming. The CAA reports:

The Select Committee’s rigorous report is uncompromising on the rise in antisemitism and the danger it presents. It directly accuses the enablers of growing antisemitism, including social networks, those on the far-left who allow vile Jew hatred to masquerade as political discourse, and the student leaders who have abandoned Jewish students.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and chairman of the whitewash inquiry into antisemitism and racism, Shami Chakrabarti

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and chairman of the whitewash inquiry into antisemitism and racism, Shami Chakrabarti

The inquiry called Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone, among others, to give evidence. Campaign Against Antisemitism’s evidence included a letter,research and information on our recommendations.

The report makes the following key recommendations, which endorse our own:

  • The international definition of antisemitism used by the College of Policing, the European Parliament, the US Department of State and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance “should be formally adopted by the UK Goverment, law enforcement agencies and all political parties”. We have called for this since we launched our five point plan in 2015 and our manifesto for fighting antisemitism in political parties last month, and we repeated this in submissions to the Select Committee.
  • Use of “the word ‘Zionist’ (or worse, ‘Zio’) as a term of abuse has no place in a civilised society…[and] this should be communicated by the Government and political parties”.
  • Police forces should improve the consistency and accuracy with which antisemitic crime is recorded and investigated, noting that “we question why police forces operating in counties in which thousands of Jewish people live, have recorded few or no antisemitic crimes”. This echoes the findings of our National Antisemitic Crime Audit, released earlier this year.
  • “The Government, police and prosecuting authorities must…pursue a robust, zero-tolerance approach to this problem”. We are very pleased by this recommendation, which has been at the core of our message since Campaign Against Antisemitism was formed in 2014.
  • Social networks are acting as a “deplorable…inert host for vast swathes of antisemitic hate speech and abuse” and must “significantly expand its enforcement remit to include proactive identification of abusive users”. We have called for this privately in meetings with social networks, and publicly when they failed to cooperate.
  • Police forces should appoint a “dedicated hate crime officer” so that “individuals reporting hate crime…have a single point of contact”.  We called for this in our National Antisemitic Crime Audit, released earlier this year.
  • The National Union of Students and its President should reverse their damaging antisemitic comments and the removal of Jewish students’ rights to choose their own representative. We have called for this repeatedly, along with others.

The report also finds that Jeremy Corbyn has shown a “lack of consistent leadership” has created a “‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people” in the Labour Party. The Select Committee was evidently disgusted by Ken Livingstone’s claims that Adolf Hitler “supported Zionism” as well as Shami Chakrabarti’s whitewash report into antisemitism in the Labour Party. The Select Committee additionally criticises the handling of antisemitism in the Liberal Democrat Party and National Union of Students.

Sarah Brown at Harry’s Place also has a report on the inquiry and remarks:

…this comment on his [Jeremy Corbyn’s] leadership:

Clearly, the Labour Leader is not directly responsible for abuse committed in his name, but we believe that his lack of consistent leadership on this issue, and his reluctance to separate antisemitism from other forms of racism, has created what some have referred to as a ‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people.

I particularly like that cooption of the term ’safe space’.

And returning to my earlier description of the mutation of the antisemitism virus:

… here it describes how Zionism is used as a a way of signifying something nebulous but sinister rather than a certain view (or spectrum of views) about Israel:

The report of the 2006 All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism argues that “criticism of Zionism is not in itself antisemitic”, but that an “antisemitic discourse” has developed in some quarters that “views Zionism itself as a global force of unlimited power and malevolence throughout history”.

Doubling down on the fight against antisemitism, the president of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) told the bigoted president of the National Union of Students (NUS), Malia Bouattia, to either step up in the fight against antisemitism, or step down:

Writing in The Times, the President of the Union of Jewish Students, Josh Seitler, has called on the President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, to fight antisemitism head on, or step down. In a scathing article, Seitler told Bouattia: “you have failed to act and so I am forced to say that the time for action is fast running out; it’s time to act now or it might be time for you to step down.”

Malia Bouattia, president of the NUS

Malia Bouattia, president of the NUS

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee’s report into the rise of antisemitism in the UK released two weeks ago said that Bouattia “does not appear to take sufficiently seriously the issue of antisemitism on campus, and has responded to Jewish students’ concerns about her previous language with defensiveness and an apparent unwillingness to listen to their concerns…Referring to Birmingham University as a ‘Zionist outpost’ (and similar comments) smacks of outright racism.” In response, members of the National Union of Students’ Executive Committee joined an open letter claiming that the Home Affairs Committee was on a mission to “delegitimise NUS, and discredit Malia Bouattia”.

Bouattia continues to refute both criticism and attempts at dialogue, including from Campaign Against Antisemitism.

To be honest it doesn’t appear as if she will do either.

But let’s not be led into thinking that antisemitism is purely a British problem. Halevai! If only!

The “bad” in my headline is illustrated by Johanna Markind, writing in the Algemeiner, who plaintively asks why the US State Department won’t investigate antisemitism:

Despite the Obama administration’s touting itself as the most transparent in history, its Justice Department has stonewalled requests for information about its efforts to combat antisemitism; this stands in stark contrast to its very public talk about fighting anti-Muslim crime.

Readers may remember Rick Santorum telling the audience at a 2015 presidential debate, “There’s [sic] four times as many acts of violence against Jews than there are against Muslims, [but] I never hear the president talk about that.” The statistic is roughly accurate, according to a comparison of the raw numbers of reported hate crimes targeting each community in 2014. …

If we accept these numbers, Jews are also significantly more likely to be targeted: there are roughly 10.05 hate crimes per 100,000 Jews, as compared to about 5.37 hate crimes per 100,000 Muslims in the United States, based on Pew Research Center population estimates.

The Federal government has publicly reached out to the Muslim community and made a priority of protecting it from hate crime.

While considering these efforts commendable, I wondered if the Federal government had similarly reached out to the Jewish community or expended effort to prevent hate crimes targeting Jews.

Markind’s requests for information went unanswered.

Why won’t the government provide information about its efforts to prevent hate crimes against Jews and Muslims, or about its outreach efforts to both communities? Is it possible the federal government has done little or nothing to prevent the targeting of Jews, especially compared to its efforts on behalf of the Muslim community, and is embarrassed to admit it? If so, we need to know about it.

As for the “ugly”, Gary C. Gambill provides an exceedingly depressing and frightening overview of modern, left-wing or “social justice” antisemitism, described as The Third Rail of Antisemitism:

[Conference of European Rabbis president ]Rabbi Goldschmidt’s analogy aptly summates why European Jews feel sufficiently threatened to be emigrating in record numbers. The vast majority of rampant anti-Jewish violence on the continent is committed by Muslims, and most of the rest is perpetrated by individuals (and sometimes groups) that can be broadly characterized as right-wing. Anti-Jewish violence in the United States, which “rose dramatically last year” according to the Anti-Defamation League, displays a similar breakdown.

But there is third train on an adjoining rail, advancing more slowly. This one isn’t producing physical assaults on Jews, or even (in most cases) explicit expressions of antipathy to Jews. However, it is fueling a different kind of Jewish emigration, made all the more disturbing by the fact that it elicits far less public attention and outrage.

Militant anti-Zionism has become centered around the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose singular purpose is introducing defamatory anti-Israel language into the bylaws and resolutions of NGOs, political parties, student groups and other institutions advancing unrelated, mostly leftist or progressive, agendas.

Social Justice becomes antisemitism: Clockwise from left: A 2003 anti-war rally in San Francisco; a 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City; a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest in Cleveland, Ohio.

Social Justice becomes antisemitism: Clockwise from left: A 2003 anti-war rally in San Francisco; a 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City; a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest in Cleveland, Ohio.

These hijackings invariably drive large numbers of Jewish activists (and others outraged by antisemitism) out of the host movements, contributing to their decline.

Of course, sabotaging progressive causes doesn’t exactly advance the movement’s declared aims. On the contrary, it weakens the very currents in Western society most sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. And while the movement claims it seeks to “pressure Israel” to end its “oppression of Palestinians,” its liberal use of Holocaust inversion (claiming Israelis are as bad as Nazis) and tactics glaringly reminiscent of inter-war antisemitism in the West (boycotts, blacklists, etc.) underscore that it isn’t really aiming to persuade any Israelis.

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the departure of Jews from organized progressive causes is less a byproduct of militant anti-Zionist activism today than its overriding purpose.

Jewish erasure is perhaps most evident on college campuses. In an October 2 New York Times op-ed, the president of the Brown Coalition for Syria, Benjamin Gladstone, recounts efforts by BDS activists to cut him out of planning for a student demonstration calling for admittance of Syrian refugees because of his high-profile involvement in campus Jewish organizations.

Make no mistake – we will all suffer if progressivism becomes Judenrein, for it will serve to normalize the social exclusion of Jews elsewhere. Surely we have learned by now where that can lead.

Gambill’s article goes a long way in explaining how, just like “social justice” activists really only want to promote equality and social justice for “approved” groups, which will never include whites, Westerners or Jews, so too “pro-Palestinian” activists are not actually pro-Palestinian at all. They are simply anti-Israel. Or in old-fashioned terms, they are anti-Jewish. Antisemites one and all.

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7 Responses to Antisemitism update: the good, the bad and the ugly

  1. Pingback: Antisemitism update: the good, the bad and the ugly – 24/6 Magazine

  2. pintohaus says:

       Do you ever say anything new?

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    “pintohaus” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) is, sadly, representative of so many people around the world. Why should we say anything new when antisemitism threatens our very existence? And is at least 2000 years old.

    Select Committees are interesting beasts in the House of Commons. They are separate from government, so cannot be directed as to what they examine (given the very broad remit they receive). Generally, they are expected to oversee the area of activity implied in their title: thus, the Home Affairs Select Committee will take under consideration the various areas that fall to the UK Home Office (elsewhere, the Ministry of the Interior) to oversee. Most importantly, they are independent of government and set their own agendas. Their membership is determined by the balance of parties in the House of Commons and they elect their own Chairs, who may come from any of the parties represented therein.

    They are not to be confused with All-Party Committees on whatever topic MPs can get enough support. They are statutory and independent. And they are often influential on government policy.

    Thus, the Home Affairs Select Committee decided on its own to examine the topic of antisemitism in the UK, without direction from elsewhere. They can summon whoever they choose (although I don’t know whether they have the power to demand attendance) and ask whatever questions they want. In this case, they asked Ken Livingstone 133 of the 567 questions (that’s nearly a quarter of the total: 23.5%, if you want to be picky). I haven’t yet read that part of the Report so I don’t know how much they pushed him. But it would take a brave person to refuse to appear, at least if they live in the UK. Even “Sir” Philip Green (he may yet lose his knighthood), resident in the South of France, appeared when summoned.

    With respect to the Labour Party, it is all rather reminiscent of the aphorism coined by August Bebel (19th Century German Social Democrat) that “antisemitism is the socialism of fools”.

    And I say that as socialist.

    • anneinpt says:

      Brian, thank you for the detailed explanation about the Select Committees. I had no idea. Am I right in thinking that the concept is unique to England? I certainly can’t think of any equivalent in Israel. It’s certainly an idea which should be adopted here, and in every democracy really.

      In any case, the fact that the Select Committee chose to examine antisemitism speaks very highly of Britain’s MPs.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        Actually, the US Congress has specialist committees on a large range of subjects (except that their Chairs are the longest serving member of the majority party) and they are more influential than the UK equivalent. But give the model time: UK Select Committees are a platform for the “not likely to be Ministers again” group of MPs. Indeed, the Home Affairs Select Committee turned down Chukka Umana (a Labour MP) as Chair, on the grounds that he might use it as stepping stone for a later run for the Leadership of the Party. But the Committee did elect Yvette Cooper, also a Labour MP, as Chair, probably on the basis that she needs no extra platform, as she has been a cabinet minister.

        Conservative members also mentioned that Keith Vaz, before his fall from grace, had been an excellent Chair, making sure that everyone had their say and that, where possible, reports were a consensus.

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