Explaining it to Michael Rosen

“tell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.”

Here’s an exchange between Michael and John Meredith on Lenin’s Tomb:

I know Jews (perhaps you do too) who a) think of themselves as part of ‘a’ or ‘the’ ‘chosen people’. I know Jews who believe that there is a plot of land that belongs to them because a) they are the chosen people (ie they are fulfilling the word of God and no one else is) and b)their covenant with God entitles them to that land – and this is written down in sacred texts.

Following from this thesis, such Jews (not all Jews – I’ll return to that), believed they were entitled to expel or terrorise the inhabitants who lived on that land. Ever since this tragedy (do you think it’s a tragedy, John?), there has of course been conflict. Some Jews have nothing better to offer this situation than – tough shit, the ‘arabs’ can go and live in Jordan, they aren’t a ‘people’ like us, the land isn’t theirs, etc etc. Every single conflict since then has been about this issue and indeed about the further taking of land that the people living there thought was theirs.

The Jews who created this nation state and the many Jews all over the world who support those who created the state and those who defend that state take part in the myth of the ‘chosen people’. They may or may not sign up to every clause in the deal, but it’s part of what coheres this ideology.

I have not a scintilla of a problem with a playwright who takes the combination of ideas that I’ve expressed above and turn it into something that someone says in a play.
Michael Rosen | Homepage | 19 May, 17:02 | #

“The Jews who created this nation state and the many Jews all over the world who support those who created the state and those who defend that state take part in the myth of the ‘chosen people’.”

No, they don’t. I don’t know a single Jew whose support for Israel depends on the concept of a ‘chosen people’, except in the sense of ‘chosen by others for persecution’. I also have never met a Jew, pro or anti-Zionist, who believes that ‘chosen people’ means ‘exempt from moral laws when dealing with other people’ as Caryl Churchill seems to think. In fact, I have only heard ‘chosen people’ used ironically by Jews and unironically by skinheads.

“They may or may not sign up to every clause in the deal, but it’s part of what coheres this ideology.”

I don’t know what this means, but if you think that support for the right of Israel to exist need depend in any part on some concept of ‘chosen people’, you are flatly wrong.”…

John Meredith | 19 May, 17:16 | #

Here is an analogy that I hope Michael Rosen will find helpful, in deciding whether he supports or opposes racism.

In my neighbourhood, there are a number of women working as prostitutes, on the street. I don’t have a profound problem with people selling or buying sex, but streetwalking is a little anti-social. Therefore, I attend a local meeting at which a campaign to end street prostitution is being set up.

When I arrive at the meeting, I discover that the central committee of the Neighbourhood Watch have produced an anti-prostitution poster. The poster shows a prostitute being assaulted by her pimp. The pimp is black. The slogan reads:

Irony: This Descendant of Slaves is Now Sexually Enslaving White Women

We debate the poster. Most of my black neighbours are horrified, and argue that the poster uses racist stereotypes about black people, and employs the legacy of  slavery as a weapon against black people.

However, there are two black people in the meeting who approve of the campaign. As one of them explains it:

“But there ARE black men who ARE pimps and who DO rape white women and turn them into their slaves and it is both important that we tell the truth about that, and are not silenced by spurious complaints of racism.”

A number of white people at the meeting are initally uncomfortable about the juxtaposition of accusations of rape, slavery, and ethnicity. However they are reassured that these sentiments are not racist by the arguments of their two black neighbours. After all, they think, we’re not saying that ALL black people are rapists and pimps. It is just that there are SOME black people who seem to be taking their revenge for slavery by turning our women into their own chattels. Thank heavens that somebody has had the courage to say it.

The campaign takes off. It has nation-wide resonance. All over the country, people express relief that it is now acceptable to talk about sexual violence, the sex industry, and race.

One of my neighbours is a celebrated playwright. She is a National Council member of Liberty and a Patron of Refuge, the charity for women escaping violence. She is best known for having written a play which draws a direct link been  Thatcher’s “swamping” speech, and a racist attack on a young Asian student. She is a member of the liberal Great and Good.

The play is called Seven Black Boys. A collection for rape victims is held after each performance.

The playwright is accused of racism. It is pointed out that most rapes of white women are not committed by black men, that most men in the sex industry are not violent black pimps.

Nonsense, say the play’s defenders. Black people DO rape white women, and there is nothing wrong with pointing this out. Or are you in favour of rape? In any case (a) the play stars Derek Laud and (b) it is a fantastic work of art and should be judged on that basis.

The Guardian’s theatre critic describes the play as a ‘bold exposure of the way that black boys are bred to rut’.

The playwright defends herself. She explains that the ‘Race Relations Industry’ is using bogus complaints of racism to distract attention from the epidemic of black rapists who even now are violating the purest of white virgins.

So, this is where we are. It is now generally agreed, among people who describe themselves as feminists and anti-racists, that central to the problem of sexual violence, and the exploitation of women, is the need of sexually incontinent black men to turn white women into their playthings. Any black man who disagrees, is openly accused of harbouring a desire to rape, while using false claims of racism to allow him and his bretheren to continue raping.

This would, of course, never happen. That is because there is a taboo on the Left against deploying racist imagery against black people.

However when it comes to Jews, who Michael Rosen’s section of the Left imagines to be supernaturally powerful, the gloves are off.

hat tip: zkharya