Last week I emailed my first blog post to one of my few remaining Gentile friends– someone I have known for over 20 years. He praised it to the skies, and then blithely proceeded to spew out a rash of anti-Semitic tropes. He compared Israel to Nazi Germany and evoked Holocaust inversion, and I got the impression that he was gleefully unaware that he was spouting the kind of poison that is in fact proscribed by our anti-Semitism laws. Late that night I wrote to a friend that each time this happens– and it has happened countless times — I feel like my soul had been forcibly extracted from my body, punched hard in its tender face, and then shoved roughly back into my bleeding heart. I can cope with hatred from my enemies, but– as I said last week– it is intolerable when it comes from my friends.
Many people argue that education has got to be the way forward, and that it is the only way to challenge racism and to bring about change. They are probably right. And yet, how often do facts and figures actually change the mind of a bigot? Isn’t bigotry all about having a fixed opinion, and choosing to believe only the evidence that supports your already established world view? And worst of all, since the bigotry in the UK is predominantly coming from people who declare that they abhor racism, how do you effectively argue with an anti-Semitic racist who is convinced he is above racism? And by the way, Mr. Cameron, I am deeply grateful for all your support (and there has been a lot), but anti-Semitism isn’t ‘like’ racism. It IS racism.
I don’t want to insult all the brave and decent UK Leftists who deplore anti-Semitism and who are fighting so honourably to eliminate it from our political discourses, but most of the Jewish community, divided though we are, really are hurt and angry with the turn that the Left has taken. There are many decent people in the Labour party– John Mann, for example, who delighted us by launching a blistering verbal attack on the odious Ken Livingstone, and also the highly decent Michael Dugher and many others– but most of the racism coming at me personally, in my own circles, is from friends who support Labour or the Green Party. When I ask how they can vote for parties which are so openly anti-Semitic, they say that of course anti-Semitism is objectionable, but they like the other causes that the Left espouses, and so are prepared to overlook the racism. Overlook racism. Just think about that for a minute. What can be so important that it excuses racism?
When our friends and political representatives are not fulminating against the ‘Zios’, they are often meeting our distress with silence. Who among the Jewish community has not quoted Pastor Niemöller to their friends on facebook:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
And did you get any responses? How many of you have posted Martin Luther King, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’, only to be met with– silence? Many of us have posted about the terrible takeover of Kristallnacht and Shoah commemorations in Europe, when what should be moments of quiet contemplation are turned into horrendous hate-fests driven by vicious anti-Semites who use these events to vilify us– and when we look to our friends for support, our friends are either hostile or indifferent. The silence is deafening.
We are hearing almost daily revelations about anti-Semitic posts on social media from officials and activists who denigrate Zionists, Jews, or Jews who support Zionism (i.e. our right to self-determination in our ancestral home). These revelations are having an effect on even the staunchest of Jewish Labour supporters. On 4 May the Jewish Chronicle reported that only 8.5% of Jews would now vote Labour, down from 18% before the election last year. That is down again from the election of 2010, when the Chronicle reported that Jewish support for Labour was at 31%. The papers provide daily examples of the vilification we receive from public officials, but I would like to share what it feels like on a personal level; what it feels like to be a Jew with Leftist friends and colleagues.
Imagine this. Imagine that all your friends have read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, together with all the stories of medieval blood libel, and they believe every word. You can protest– but they read it on the internet, The Guardian and the Electronic Intifada, so it must be true! If you try to explain that we do NOT run the banks and the media, nor were we behind 9/11, nor do we control ISIS, nor murder children (or steal their organs, or use their blood to bake Welshcakes), you are told that of course you would like to believe this about your own treacherous people, but your friend knows best– and what is more, you are trying to Stifle Free Speech.
Then you are treated to a discussion about how your friend must, in good conscience, stand up and boldly speak out against the murder of children and all the other evils that the Protocols (old and new) accuse your people of committing, because murdering children is wrong, and genocide is wrong, and apartheid is wrong, and attempting world domination is also to be deplored. There is absolutely nothing you can say to convince them that we are not actually doing all these terrible things. Then these virtuous anti-Semites portray themselves as standing up to evil and ‘speaking truth to power’, because they are brave and ethical and you– you Jew– are manipulative and duplicitous, and playing the ‘race card’ or the ‘anti-Semitism card’ or ‘the Holocaust card’ in order to wheedle your way into undeserved sympathy or political power.
Because Jews are powerful, aren’t we? All that control over the Guardian and the BBC and the Electronic Intifada. All that control over what? Just one tiny, multi-ethnic, multi-faith country about the size of Wales.