Anti-semitic attacks in Britain in 2009 reached their highest level since they were first recorded in 1984. Reported and verified attacks (physical, verbal abuse, bullying of schoolchildren, desecration of graves, etc) on Jewish people, properties and symbols because they were Jewish, numbered 924 – a 55 per cent increase on the previous peak of 598 attacks in 2006.
This dramatic increase in racist violence and abuse, recorded by the Community Security Trust (a Jewish organisation: how long before the usual suspects start questioning its bona fides ?), has passed with little mention in the media. To its credit the Morning Star (Feb 6-7) carried the story, noting that “almost a quarter of the incidents included references to the invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces in January 2009.”
Tellingly, however, the Star (paper of the British Communist Party and still quite inflential within the Britsh trade union movement) quotes one Paul Collins from the (stridently anti-Zionist) Jewish Socialist Group who, after a perfunctory standard-issue condemnation of anti-semitism, then goes on at much greater length about the crimes of Israel and those (like Gordon Brown) who support it.
Come to think of it, the Star article’s headline, “Israel’s Gaza attack leads to hate crime rise” almost suggests that Israel is responsible for anti-semitism, not the anti-semites themselves.
Anti-semitism is unique amongst good liberal/leftish folk in being the only form of racism not to be denounced out of hand – the only racism where context is considered relevant and condemnation is softened with a degree of understanding. Sometimes this can be as crude as ‘they’ve brought it on themselves’ – meaning ‘by their support for Israel.’
Barbara Ellen, writing in the Observer makes a further point:
“…it’s almost as if some people are unaware of how easy it is to slip into antisemitic stereotypes. There’s just this jumble of alleged Israel/Jewish paranoia (“They’re constantly harping on about being victimised”), as well as the spurious feeling that: “They can look after themselves – aren’t they all rich and powerful and best mates with Stephen Spielberg?”
Then there were the comments on the Chilcott inquiry by former British ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles in the Independent on Sunday (22 November):
“(not much attention) has been paid to the curious appointment of two historians (which seems a lot, out of a total of five), both strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war…Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism.” This classic example of conpiracy theorising was – predictably – backed up by veteran public school anti-semite Richard Ingrams in the Independent of 28 November in an article entitled “Will Zionists’ links to Iraq invasion be brushed aside?”
Incidentally, I draw your attention to Miles’ use of “Jews” and “Zionism” as virtually interchangeable terms; Ingrams has made it clear before now that he takes the same approach, though like most modern-day anti-semites he usually restricts his remarks to “Zionists.”
In this atmosphere, the wise words of Marxist academic Moishe Postone, interviewed by Martin Thomas in the present issue of the AWL’s paper ‘Solidarity’ are timely, to say the least:
“…More generally that ideology (percieved control by the “Jewish / Israel Lobby” of US foreign policy, etc – JD) represents what I call a fetishised form of anti-capitalism. That is, the mysterious power of capital, which is intangible, global, and which churns up nations and areas and people’s lives. The abstract domination of capitalism is personified by Jews. This approach might also explain the spread of anti-semitism in the Middle East in the past two decades. I don’t think it is a sufficient explanation only to point to the suffering of the Palestinians. Economically, the Middle East has declined precipitously in the past three decades. Only sub-Sharan Africa has fared worse. And this has occured at a time when other countries and regions , thought of as part of the Third World fifty years ago, are developing rapidly. I think anti-semitism in the Middle East today is an expression not only of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but also of a hightened general sense of helplessness in the light of these global developments.
“On the German right a century ago, the global domination of capital used to be considered that of the Jews and Britain. Now the left sees it as the domination of Israel and the United States. The thought pattern is the same.
“We now have a form of anti-semitism that seems to be progressive and ‘anti-imperialist;’ which is a real danger for the left.
“Racism is rarely a danger for the left. The left has to be careful not to be racist, but it isn’t an ongoing danger because racism doesn’t have the apparent emancipationary dimension of anti-semitism.”
Read the rest here.