Thursday, July 12, 2007

The War on Britain's Jews?

It's with a bit of trepidation that I present here Channel 4's documentary by Richard Littlejohn titled "The War on Britain's Jews?", a title in which the question mark (as do all punctuation marks) plays an important part...

So why the trepidation? Well, there are various reasons. Firstly, there seems to exist across part of the population on the other side of the pond this impression that Britain has become a land of Pogroms and that Britain's Jews are practically being rounded up, thirties-style. Nothing could be further removed from the truth of course. Britain's probably never seen more of its Jewish population in high flying positions of public life, in the arts and sciences, Government and other walks of life, so much so that it leads to an older and more risible form of anti-Semitism: the Joooooooish World Conspiracy Theory (cough!)...

Secondly, although by and large I agree with Richard Littlejohn's analysis on British anti-Semitism, the program does suffer from a minor number of pecadillos, which tends to give it a slightly "shockdoc" quality.

Right from the off, Richard posits that numerous people told him they didn't know he was Jewish, which Richard then interprets as a mild form of anti-Semitism in itself. But if you ask a hundred British Jews and a hundred British non-Jews whether they have any interest in the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, then by default you're going to get different answers: it's entirely natural for those who suffer from persecution to be more interested in this than those who don't suffer from it.

Elsewhere Richard posits in a rather Manichean way that Britain's interest in all things Israel is disproportionate to its size and population and that we should all collectively take more interest in the Sudan than Israel (the Sudan argument has really become very much a la mode). The truth is of course that Europeans (or rather the relatively few that actually do take an interest) will always feel that historically they have a stake in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and that size really doesn't come into it. The conflict does in any case affect at least a respectable ten million people, not exactly a small problem...

Lastly, Richard's assertion that anti-Semitism, once a prerogative of the Far Right, has now started to find its way into Leftist circles is a little contentious. Richard uses the "we are all Hezbollah" argument but forgets that that essentially ridiculous stance was inspired more by abhorrence of Israel's excessive and ineffective air campaign, which failed to achieve its targets, caused very considerable civilian loss of life and made Israel look like a bumbling giant. He also conveniently changes the time-line of Lebanon II, making it sound like Hezbollah's soldiers abductions and rocket barrages happened simultaneously. They did not and the war, as most wars, escalated quickly following sequential transgressions from both sides.

Having said that, anti-Semitism in Britain does exist and does seem to be on the rise, especially on the more radical side of British Muslims. And so, here it is (part 1):

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6


At 12:15 AM, Blogger Mad Zionist said...

Let's take a slightly different approach: Is Britain anti-Zionist? I think most would agree the answer is yes, so that begs the larger question: Is anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism? While most anti-Zionists bristle at the suggestion they are even marginally anti-Semitic, I submit absolutely yes it is an anti-Semitic position, even if the anti-Zionist himself doesn't doesn't see it that way. Many Brits undoubtedly fall into this category, perhaps you yourself, Gert. I certainly don't think that by itself makes one a Nazi or a jihadi, but it does mean you have at least some bias against the Jews.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Mad Zionist:

You're rationalising away: coming from someone who considers the PM of Israel to be an anti-Semite it should be expected that you would class anybody, except for the most ardent supporters of Israel, as an anti-Semite, or at least suspect them of it.

Britain anti-Zionist? Dear me, our Government has supported Israel almost unconditionally... The same is true of most other European Governments and the EU...

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Gabriele Marranci said...

I agree with you that Littlejohn's documentary has oversimplified the issue.
I think that we need to pay more attention to a dynamic affecting not only Britain but also the rest of Europe: general intolerance.

I have written a post on the argument here
you are welcome to leave comments



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