Sunday, February 03, 2013

British anti-Semitism

The Times newspaper of London, a supposedly staunch conservative newspaper, published a disgusting anti-Semitic cartoon last week on International Holocaust Memorial Day.  It showed PM Netanyahu building a wall with Palestinian bodies and blood.  The cartoonist was Gerald Scarfe, a well-known generally abrasive cartoonist.  There was a lot of criticism of the cartoon and the Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a strong condemnation.  
In response to the criticism, Rupert Murdoch the publisher of The Times issued an apology and so did Gerald Scarfe.  But, interestingly his apology concentrated on the timing, that he said he did not know about, and not the anti-Semitic message.  Of course, both Scarfe and The Times denied that they are anti-Semitic.  This is the most worrying thing, Scarfe draws a clearly anti-Semitic cartoon, showing a leading Jew (PM Netanyahu) with a hooked nose, using the blood of "poor,. innocent" non-Jews (Palestinians), equivalent to the most obnoxious cartoons of  the Nazi newspaper Die Sturmer and the anti-Semitic cartoons found daily in newspapers in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world, and The Times, after due editorial consideration prints it on Holocaust Memorial Day, and they proclaim that they are innocent, they are not anti-Semitic!  What self-delusion.
I put it to you that they are clearly anti-Semitic, but they don't realize what being anti-Semitic is, because for them it is normal, second-nature, it is part and parcel of their psychological make-up, of their culture, so how can it be wrong and racist?  Scarfe did not apologize for the cartoon itself, nor the blood libel it implies, even though it is overt and clear-cut.  He needs to get sensitivity counselling, as in fact do most of the population of Great Britain.  If he issued a cartoon showing Black people as stupid and lazy, he would be accused of racism and would apologize for that.  But, Jews are fair game as long as you wrap the anti-Semitism up in the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian rhetoric that is common and popular in the UK, as a stupid, ill-informed and prejudiced attitude only towards Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. 
Recently the author Martin Amis published a widely quoted statement saying that Britain has become a "mildly anti-Semitic country."  Many would disagree with his use of the word "mildly," because it is now dangerous for Jews to travel in the UK identified as Jews (with a Magen David or a yarmulke).  Most Brits, including the large Muslim (mainly Pakistani) population of the UK, regard this as enough to provoke a physical attack, and this is in fact true throughout most of Europe.  Yet they will tell you that they are not anti-Semitic, or only mildly so.
Many Jews and others are surprised at this level of anti-Semitism in Britain, but I am not.  As I described in my autobiographical novel "Amanuensis," I experienced many incidents of anti-Semitism during my growing up in England.  I found anti-Semitism even after WWII to be ubiquitous and widespread.  That is one main reason why I left the UK in 1964 and never lived there again and that is why I eventually moved to Israel.  The UK is an anti-Semitic country, where Jews are tolerated as long as they don't act like Jews and as long as they criticize Israel.  For example, the Board of Deputies have joined with the British charity Oxfam to carry out a program, and it is well known that Oxfam is left-wing and notoriously anti-Israel.  Ed Milliband is the Jewish leader of the Labor Party opposition, but he can remain so only as long as he shows his anti-Israel bona fides. 
As an example, the British Trade Union movement is a national left-wing organization that is also "mildly" anti-Semitic, using the cover of anti-Israelism.  It has become so bad that many Jews have left the Union movement, where they were once the backbone of the organization.  The Head of the Academic Friends of Israel has sued the Academic Union, University College Union (UCU), for making an atmosphere hostile to Jews.  Suppose they had made an atmosphere hostile to Blacks, they would be closed down!  But, against Jews it is acceptable.  Now there is a movement for Jews to rejoin the Unions and fight back.  But, it is a hard battle since the Unions are now one of the main organized, entrenched, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic forces within the UK.


Post a Comment

<< Home