November 30, 2012

Timely exposé of bogus allegations of antisemitism

Here's a good long post from Antony Lerman titled Another faulty, pseudo-academic antisemitism initiative:

It was inevitable. Another Gaza offensive by Israel begins, ostensibly to stop Hamas from firing rockets into southern Israel, and within a couple of days accusations of antisemitism were flying around.
Two particularly caught my attention. The first was the claim that Steve Bell, in his Guardiancartoon of 15 November, was ‘get[ting] away with using antisemitic imagery and tropes‘ because it showed Tony Blair and William Hague as puppets of Bibi Netanyahu.
The second was in a tweet about a letter to the Guardian from emeritus professor Leslie Baruch Brent who condemned the ‘disporportionate response of the Israeli government to the Hamas rocket attacks’ and concluded ‘Has the world learned nothing since Guernica?’ The text of the tweet read: ‘Hard to take @guardian opposition to #antisemitism seriously when they publish letter comparing #Israel to Nazis.’
I was especially interested in these accusations because the first was by Mark Gardner, the communications director of the Community Security Trust (CST), the private charity that acts as the defence organization of the UK Jewish community, and the second by Dave Rich, his deputy.
One of the things that is most worrying about what I believe were these false imputations of antisemitism (and I will explain my reasoning for this conclusion in my next blogpost) is that they come not simply from individuals expressing their own views, but from officials of a very influential, major registered charity, writing in their capacity as officials of that organization. The view of the Community Security Trust is seen as, and is intended to be seen as, the view of the organized UK Jewish community. And yet that wider community has no means of calling the CST to account and therefore has to suffer the consequences of its officials’ doubtful and often damaging politically-motivated interventions in public debate.
The whole thing is worth a read and is particularly timely given that yesterday (29/11/2012) saw the publication of the Community Security Trust's "Antisemitic Discourse Report 2011".  I don't know why it took so long to produce a report relating to 2011 and I might not bother reading it yet but a flavour is given by Ha'aretz:

Explicit anti-Semitism is rare in British public life, Britain's Community Security Trust said in a report on anti-Semitic discourse in Britain in 2011.
The 35-page report issued Thursday also reported that anti-Semitic themes alleging Jewish conspiracy, power and hostility to others can resonate within mainstream discourse about Israel and about so-called "Zionists."
Explicit anti-Semitism tends to occur within circles that are also racist or hateful toward other groups, according to the report.
In addition, fears that economic troubles in 2011 would spark anti-Semitism in Britain proved largely unfounded, but the trend to blame "Zionism" for anti-Muslim hatred intensified. This manifested itself, for example, in allegations that Zionism inspired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.
The British daily newspaper The Guardian reinforced its reputation as being the most subjective and contentious mainstream newspaper on issues of anti-Semitism in the context of Israel and Zionism, according to the report, despite the paper also warning against anti-Semitism in editorials.

The report also found that fears and concerns about anti-Semitism expressed by mainstream Jewish communities and bodies are routinely ignored, or even maliciously misrepresented, within what are known as progressive circles, including some media, trade unions and churches. Few other minority representative groups, if any, are treated with such reflexive suspicion and ill will, according to the report.
Ah, I think I see why it took so long. It's hard to find genuine instances of antisemitism so a little added breadth to the definition is required and then you can accuse "new antisemitism" sceptics of antisemitism too. Very clever.

UPDATE: See Antony Lerman's note at the foot of his post as follows:
This post was amended on Friday at 13:51 to make it clear that the Tweet by Dave Rich of the CST referred to in the 5th paragraph was wrongly described as being sent expressing the official view of the CST. It was from Dave Rich’s private Twitter account, which makes clear that his tweets are his personal views only. Apologies to Dave for this error.

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