Thanks to the invention of “On Demand” television, one can literally afford to miss the first screening of a much-anticipated TV programme. So, it is a week later that I finally got to watch BBC’s Panorama: Is Labour Anti-Semitic? (available in the UK only, I am afraid, but portions are being uploaded on YouTube). I was already aware of the conversations around it on social media. Not so many in my newsfeed as there would have been a few years ago, as most of my social media friends who are passionate about Israel, Jewish communities and individuals around the world and Palestine have blocked me and are now my former social media friends. But, I digress.
When I finally got to watch the documentary, I found myself agreeing with those who moaned that it was “biased.” But, not in the way that they have said it is biased! There was a dimension to anti-Semitism in Britain that was fastidiously overlooked.
I could not help noticing that the documentary carefully avoided confronting the anti-Semitism that is expressed by people from Britain’s ethnic minority (or BAME- Black And Minority Ethnic) groups. If you relied on the documentary alone for your information, and you did not follow the utterances or social media posts of public figures from BAME communities, you could be forgiven for thinking that British Anti-Semitism is confined to White Working Class people. This is not the first time that this demographic has had the finger of blame pointed at it by the mainstream media. When the British National Party emerged from the fringes in the first decade of the 21st century, it was common to characterise its membership as comprising uneducated, inarticulate (and possibly intellectually feeble) White men from council estates and former industrial towns, until a leaked membership list revealed addresses in more upmarket parts of London and the affluent surrounding counties. Ever since the media put a muzzle on itself against criticising, let alone libeling and slandering BAME communities (except Jews, of course!!), it seems that male White Working Class have been considered fair game.
Anti-Semitic British Muslims
Given the active presence of British Muslims, particularly of Pakistani heritage, in the Labour Party, particularly in local councils, their absence in a documentary about anti-Semitism is like a hole in a wall. In Middlesbrough, where I live, they are prominent in the Solidarity (with Palestine) Movement. Pakistan, where many of them come from, does not admit holders of Israeli passports or holders of passports with Israeli visa stamps in them. It is safe to assume that anyone from that country would have been exposed to anti-Semitic sentiments in the education system, in entertainment and popular culture, etc. And I can say with a degree of confidence that the anti-Semitism is not consistently virulent across countries with significant Muslim populations, or their communities in the United Kingdom. For example, all Gambians I have discussed the issue with expressed surprise that there are people who hate Israelis and Jewish people as a whole.
A lady called Zakia Belkhiri, became famous when she took a selfie in front of anti-Muslim rally in Belgium, a stunt she described not “not a protest at all, this was just to share joy and peace.” However, it wasn’t long before her disturbing social media posts came to the same global attention. In 2012, she tweeted, “Hitler didn’t kill all the Jews, he left some. So we know why he was killing them.” In this video, taken from a documentary on racism by the late broadcaster Darcus Howe, young men of Pakistani background in Birmingham complain about being profiled and stereotyped, then go on to express Anti-Semitic views.
It is not possible that none at all in the BBC is aware of widespread anti-Semitism in British Muslim communities. I recall one episode of the soap “Eastenders” from 2006 (when I last followed the soaps!) Janine Butcher mentions to Zainab, matriarch of the Pakistani-British Masoud family, that she is Jewish and walks away. Zainab looks shocked, and fumes after her. So, at least the writer, the script editor, director, producer and cast understood what that scene was saying.
Anti-Semitism in Black communities.
Perhaps not so visible is the hatred of Jews by British people of African and Caribbean background, but all the more dangerous because it is espoused and articulated by eminent and influential members of various communities.
Most British Blacks are Christian, and tend to hold the view that Jews are God’s Chosen People, who should not be harmed or slandered. In fact, it is automatically assumed by debating opponents that the only reason a Black person could possibly be a Zionist is because they are Christian.
There are fringe religious Black groups who teach a variation of the Christian Identity Movement, which asserts Black people are the real, physical descendants of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Where the first “Hebrew Israelite” movements from up to as as recently as the 1960s taught that Jewish people with a European morphology were kindred to be embraced, these new groups hold that Jews are impostors from the Khazarian Empire (Revelation 2:9, and also 3:9). Some teach that only Black people whose ancestors came to the western world as slaves are Israelites; Africans are cursed Hamites to be hated too.
One doesn’t encounter so many Black British “Hebrew Israelites in the physical world.” However, they are very vocal on social media and spread antisemitic content to an audience who would otherwise not become exposed to it.
The more dangerous category of Black Anti-Semites, in my view, are the political demagogues. They have distorted the Middle-East conflict to a story of European settlers colonising and ill-treating a non-White native population. Hostility towards Israel and Jews has been given the same moral high ground as the struggle against colonial rule in Africa and racial segregation in western countries. A casual look at the social media profile of many such Black Anti-Semites in Britain reveals an affiliation with the Labour Party.
I am not oblivious to the zeitgeist of where I live and work. Criticising BAME communities, especially their leaders, can be construed and decried as racism. Few crimes are as career-ending for a journalist as the smear of racism. However, burying our heads in the sand in the name of a misguided sense of Political Correctness will not make the problem go away. Not while many Black British children are now being taught that the real reason they are not getting ahead in life is because, thousands of years ago, a group of Whites stole their identity and their blessings and are now working to prevent them from ever realising their true heritage and destiny. Not while Muslim children are being taught that Jews finance the western Crusader nations in their bombing of Muslim lands.
To those that would interpret criticising (or at least investigating) Anti-Semitism in BAME communities as racist, I would hasten to point out there are only certain elements in each community who need to be confronted. It is these elements who are fostering the hate. Surely, if the BBC can so boldly paint British Anti-Semitism as the exclusive preserve of the White Working Class, it shouldn’t be hard to identify the sectors of BAME communities that merit censure? But then, again, we all look the same to them, don’t we?