February 05, 2009

Rallies for carnage might encourage antisemitism!

For a change I’d recommend folks to read the comments under a CIF piece. I think the story is there. The piece isn’t exceptional; it’s by Jonathan Freedland blaming the ‘liberal left’ for not being attentive enough to antisemitism during the Gaza invasion, something that has lead to an upsurge in antisemitism. He contrasted this to the ‘liberal left’ warning against islamophobia in the wake of 9/11 and 7/7

The upsurge is real enough – CST documented 250 incidents in the three weeks. (And yes, I know one can’t trust CST, but one trusts that they exaggerate consistently about these things, which indicates a genuine jump in incidents.) What the commentators didn’t accept is Freedland’s attempt to blame opponents of Gaza for this upsurge. This is surprising, usually there’s a kneejerk response to accusations of antisemitism. Instead comment after comment was saying things along the line of the following:

Sorcey 04 Feb 09, 10:52am
• There is very little or no anti-semitism in the news. After 9/11 and 7/7, there was a call for all Muslims to face a loyalty test, or worse, to be deported. Islamophobia was rife - you couldn't avoid it. Only a little while ago The Sun was caught out distorting news in order to foster Islamophobia. This was still happening years after 7/7.
Has anyone distorted news to foster anti-semitism? If so it should be condemned. But if not, then a key cornerstone of this article has no foundation.
Furthermore, there is no one in the Muslim community that has equated criticism of any or all Muslim states with Islamophobia. However we are constantly reminded by a large and vocal group that any criticism of Israel is anti-semitism, always and without exception.
"Progressive voices insisted that Muslims were not to be branded as guilty by association, just because the killers of 9/11 and 7/7 had been Muslims and had claimed to act in the name of all Muslims."
This is a hard one, as British Muslims and especially their community leaders went out of their way to say that these were atrocities and were not committed in their name. There were no rallies in support of the bombers or calling for more. However, some British Jews did hold rallies in support of Israel during it's three week long carnage. I've never seen a rally for such carnage before.

Brian Klug in his response also made the point that people wouldn’t equate Israel with the Jews if the Board of Deputies also didn’t do so.

A fair few comments were saying that it was incumbent on Jews, like Muslims after 9/11, to show their opposition to the crimes committed in their name. Like Freedland, I’d be queasy about that demand – it’s a not very heavily disguised loyalty demand.

However, it struck me that the intelligent folks in the Jewish establishment must realise by now that whatever about criticising Israel, rallies to support it make very little sense any more. One of the main reasons for such rallies is that supporting Israel supports diaspora Jews. Ok, readers of this site might know this to be baloney, but it was genuinely felt.

It would be hard now, given the unprecedented negative reactions to such support both among Jews and in the ambient society, to believe that such rallies are anything but counterproductive for British Jewry and their position in it.

So here’s my prediction. There will be more wars (not a hard prediction, that one), but the rally on January 11th will be the last mass rally called by the Board of Deputies in support of these wars. You read it here first.

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