December 05, 2009

Antisemitism at the Jewish Chronicle

Ok, essentialising Jews is an aspect of antisemitism and the JC has been doing that for years but that's not what I have in mind here. Someone has written to the Just Peace UK list to say how they are now convinced that antisemitism is being exaggerated, especially in the Jewish Chronicle:
I am beginning to think those people are right who say the amount of antisemitism in Britain is exaggerated. I always used to suspect them of downplaying a serious issue, but lately I have been reading the Jewish Chronicle and seeing how hard pressed it is for news.

I could understand editor Stephen Pollard getting upset because some passing bloke on a bike shouted "dirty Jew" at him as he came out of shul, but whereas in my childhood years such incidents were not out of the ordinary,and might have been dealt with by shoving the bloke off his bike, Mr.Pollard thought it was news, and what's more, required searching for an explanation. He figured the cyclist must have been reading some criticisms of Israel, (by Jewish writers), in the London Review of Books. There's a deduction for you.

This week I see the JC headlined an "attack" on a Hapoel Tel Aviv supporter in Glasgow for the Celtic match. I was relieved to then read that police said a man was arrested for brandishing a weapon during a confrontation between two groups of men in a Glasgow pub, and said no one had been hurt. All the same, I am sure violence and threats are exceedingly rare in Glasgow pubs, and rival football fans normally embrace in friendship and sing each other's songs, so perhaps this was an antisemitic incident, and may, as the JC seems to suggest, have had something to do with people waving Palestinian flags at the game.

The JC quotes outraged Celtic fans, who of course have never waved flags at football matches before. Still, it is reassuring to know this was the nearest thing the JC could find to a serious incident.

Worse, perhaps, was the evidence the JC was able to report of antisemitism at a pro-Palestinian carol concert. I thought they must have heard a speech or interpreted the words of the alternative carols carefully, but no, it seems that another anonymous person in the street (did he arrive on a bike?), confronted by those charming people from the Zionist Federation outside, made some anti-Jewish remarks.

You may say that is an obvious news story, but it takes a keen ear and journalistic instinct or skills to spot things like that. I mean, how many times have you heard people coming out of a Zionist event or Israel property fair giving you their opinion on Palestinians and Arabs, and what should be done to them, or tell you that "you should have died in Auschwitz"? OK, you may have told your friends about it, but I bet you didn't rush to write it up as a news story, let alone manage to get it on the JC front-page.

I once stood on a picket across the road from an Ilford shul where an obnoxious Israeli general was speaking for Jerusalem Day. An Asian woman in shalwar and khemis crossed the road, nothing to do with our demonstration, and one of the shul security people jeered "She must be one of your lot!", as though this was the most insulting wit he could think of. I remarked about his ignorance, but it never occurred to me to write up the incident as showing what sort of people were at the shul event (though the general had spoken of Palestinians as "cockroaches").

It takes aptitude, training, and knowing the policy of your paper. If some of us had been sent to get a story about the mayor attending a gay party we'd probably have come back to the Standard office saying we could not get his comments because he was pissed and insulted us and the paper. A skilled man got the insults on tape, and the story ran and ran.

The voice of Anglo-Jewry is almost as good. Not that Stephen Pollard is taken in by false allegations of antisemitism. When a Polish right-wing politician says there's no need to apologise for a massacre of Jews because Jews did not apologise for Bolshevism, others tried to make something of this, but Stephen Pollard rejected the accusations, pointing out that Mr.Kaminski was not only leader of the Conservative group at Brussels, but a declared friend of Israel.

So short of shouting insults at Mr.Pollard as he goes past on a bike, he is certified kosher. All hail Stephen Pollard, he know's what what and what's not!
Hear! Hear!

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