It started with an article by John Wight, the press officer of the Edinburgh Stop the War Coalition in the Morning Star. A discussion of that article on Engage was punctuated by some comments from John Wight in which he:
– linked to a Holocaust Denial site; and
– muttered about something called “International Jewry”
Michael Rosen commented on that phrase:
International Jewry has meant and still means to those who usually use it (which is actually how meaning is defined) the fact that Jews as a whole and in co-operation with each other operate internationally for the benefit of Jews. As a phrase it doesn’t hold for any exceptions. All Jews are implicated.
Is there a question emerging here in the ‘I’m not antisemitic’ debate about whether Ian, Phil, John and others feel that there is actually a problem with all Jews in the world today? In other words, it’s not just there is an Israel lobby, not that International Jewry is having its own way with the world (ie running the show its own way) but really the problem is with Jews. If so, is this genetic? Habit? Have they all just got very good at running things while everyone else has been lulled and gulled into taking up secondary roles behind the Jews? How did that happen? And when?
And then there is the big one. If all these comments and analyses about ‘International Jewry’, the Israel lobby controlling US foreign policy, Jewish power running the world etc etc are true then clearly something must be done. But what? And how? How should action be taken against ‘International Jewry’? How should these Jews be targeted? All of them? Some of them? And what will we be replacing these people with? Or will the revolution just ensure that they melt away?
That comment took place in the context of an article which I hope Andy Newman from the RESPECT-Renewal supporting Socialist Unity blog will forgive me for reprinting in full.
It bears reading.
As regular readers of this blog will know we have taken a strong line against anti-Semitism, and particularly have sought to expose the anti-Judaic bigotry of Gilad Atzmon.
There is a divergence of opinion of how significant anti-Semitism is as a political influence in British society today. My own view is that it is marginal but showing worrying growth. The danger is it can become socially acceptable.
In September 2006, a parliamentary enquiry heard of a sharp increase of attacks on Jews since the war in Lebanon had started. The Times reported Mark Gardener of the Community Security Trust saying: “In July, when the conflict in Lebanon began, we received reports of 92 incidents, which was the third-worst month since records began in 1984.” In 2000 the monthly average was between 10 and 30 incidents. … The July incidents “were more dispersed than usual … It is usually a small number responsible for a large number of attacks, but these were very widespread across the country and included graffiti attacks on synagogues in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The attackers, when visible, are from across society, he said. “When it’s verbal abuse, it’s just ordinary people in the street, from middle-class women to working-class men. All colours and backgrounds. We hardly ever see incidents involving the classic neo-Nazi skinhead. Muslims are over-represented.” In hate-mail to senior Jewish figures, ordinary Jewish people were being blamed for the deaths of Lebanese civilians. “There are also references to the Holocaust, saying that Hitler should have wiped out the Jews.”
The huge success of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ” reveals the large audience for the traditional Christian interpretation of the Gospels, that the Jews killed Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate “took water, and washed his hands before the [Jewish] multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” This may be a deeply unfashionable interpretation for trendy Anglicans, but it is believed by millions of Christians around the world.
Over the last few years, as an activist campaigning against the Iraq and Afghan wars, I have several times been offered the explanation that the wars have been orchestrated by Jews, along with “revelations” that various members of the British government are Jewish.
For example, this Tuesday in the pub after our local Stop the War Coalition meeting there was a discussion about the US presidential elections, and one well respected socialist activist expressed the opinion that Israel decided who the US president would be, and a member of the Green Party agreed that Jews still controlled most of the world’s money. Of course other people, including myself, challenged these views.
The individuals concerned would be horrified to be called anti-Semitic. Indeed I am sure they are not prejudiced at all against individual Jews, but they have bought into anti-Semitic narratives. The worrying thing is that so much of the left seems to ignore this problem.
Andy Newman is right.
It is ironic, I think, that his comrades in RESPECT Renewal include a number of those on the Islamist Far Right who subscribe to and openly rehearse precisely the analysis which Andy finds shocking. Moreover, it is his party which has done so much to bring these views from the pariah-fringes into the socialist mainstream.
I’m not going to open comments on this thread, because where there’s a discussion in full flow at a good blog, I think it is wrong to divert posts to another forum. However, I’m also well aware that there are some Harry’s Place posters who take pleasure in trolling and filibustering. I had to delete over 60 facile posts this morning, which had wrecked the civil and informed discussion that might otherwise have taken place.
The conversation at Socialist Unity is excellent. If Andy permits you to, post there: but if you screw him around, you’re not welcome here either.