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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Anti-Semitic Turn in Britain
Maimon Schwarzschild

Melanie Phillips gives a chilling, detailed, and all too convincing report on the spread of anti-semitism in Britain.  Overt anti-semitism is rife in Britain's large Muslim community.  But it's not only among Muslims by any means:

[A]nti-Semitism has also become respectable in mainstream British society. “Anti-Jewish themes and remarks are gaining acceptability in some quarters in public and private discourse in Britain and there is a danger that this trend will become more and more mainstream,” reported a Parliamentary inquiry last year. “It is this phenomenon that has contributed to an atmosphere where Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to abuse and attack than at any other time for a generation or longer.”

At the heart of this ugly development is a new variety of anti-Semitism, aimed primarily not at the Jewish religion, and not at a purported Jewish race, but at the Jewish state. Zionism is now a dirty word in Britain, and opposition to Israel has become a fig leaf for a resurgence of the oldest hatred.

In Britain and elsewhere, anti-Semitism has mutated again [as it has in the past], its target shifting from culture to creed to race to nation. What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people. First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear. For the presentation of Israel in British public discourse does not consist of mere criticism. It has become a torrent of libels, distortions, and obsessional vilification, representing Israel not as a country under exterminatory attack by the Arabs for the 60 years of its existence but as a regional bully persecuting innocent Palestinians who want only a homeland.

Language straight out of the lexicon of medieval and Nazi Jew-hatred has become commonplace in acceptable British discourse, particularly in the media. Indeed, the most striking evidence that hatred of Israel is the latest mutation of anti-Semitism is that it resurrects the libel of the world Jewish conspiracy, a defining anti-Semitic motif that went underground after the Holocaust.

Read the whole thing.

During the Lebanon war in the summer of 2006, David Pryce-Jones noted the BBC's poisonously anti-Israel coverage:

BBC reporters have given up on news, preferring to editorialise... blaming the horrors of Lebanon exclusively on Israel. The appeasement of Hezbollah, and the concomitant Jew-hating, is evidence of moral collapse, and it is going to take the whole of Europe a long time to get out of it – if it ever can.

If you spend time in Britain, you will be shocked by the daily, relentless media vilification of the Jewish state.  Predictably, with this much media conditioning, overt anti-semitism is increasingly respectable, even routine, in private conversation in many circles in Britain as well.  Melanie Philips is not exaggerating when she writes of Britain's anti-semitic turn.

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Maimon Schwarzschild


Please don't suppose that Jews are the only people to get it in the neck from the BBC. When I am King for a Day I'll sell off that noxious institution, having first publically hanged a few score of their worst offenders. But cheer up: I have never heard from any Brits the sort of anti-Semitic remark that FDR used to indulge in, in private. And Richard Nixon, apparently.

Posted by: dearieme | Nov 7, 2007 2:24:35 PM

Tacitus--It is human nature to hate those we have injured.
Maugham--Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort, and advantage.

Posted by: James wilson | Nov 8, 2007 11:10:16 AM

My suspicion is that this is all a bit overstated. In the aftermath of the Crown Heights riots, there were plenty of people convinced that American Blacks were the vanguard of a dangerous new anti-Semitism that was ready to sweep the nation. As it turned out, Crown Heights and other brazen manifestations of Black anti-Semitism were fed as much by indulgent, patronizing liberal pandering to Black extremism as by underlying attitudes in the Black community. When the former gradually dried up over the course of the 1990s, the latter largely receded from view, and today Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, Cynthia McKinney and their ilk are an irrelevant sideshow in American politics and culture.

Something similar appears to be happening in Europe, and to a lesser extent in America, today: leftist indulgence provides cover for Muslim extremists, giving them leeway to be far more aggressive--and even violent--than they would otherwise dare. But eventually, public outrage will render that indulgence untenable. At that point, most of the ugly manifestations of Islamist extremism--including, in all likelihood, anti-Semitism--will no longer be given a pass by leftist enablers, as they are currently, and will promptly slink back into the shadows where they belong.

To use another analogy, much of what Phillips now writes about British tolerance of anti-Semitism could have been written about European tolerance of Marxist terrorism during the late 1970s and early 1980s. But public outrage against the terrorists inevitably grew fierce enough to force the mainstream left into abandoning its previously indulgent, even protective attitude. Deprived of that oxygen, the terrorist movements quickly collapsed. I predict that radical Islam's various obscenely coddled outrages--including obsessive anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism--will before long meet the same fate throughout both Europe and America.

Posted by: Dan Simon | Nov 8, 2007 10:00:01 PM