We know anti-Semitism when we see it

The storm erupting in the Labour Party has caught the attention of many of us on the other side of the pond. UK watchers know that this is something that has been brewing for a long time. Just google George Galloway if you doubt it.

There is something notable in the response by Labour supporters who are annoyed by all this attention to these outrageous expressions of anti-Semitism. (These supporters do not, of course, consider them either outrageous or anti-Semitic.) They try to turn the tables and blame Jews, Israel, and their compatriots.

David Hirsch has compiled a list of these accusations. They all follow a prescribed script. These false accusations of anti-Semitic are a tactic Jews use to draw attention away from Israel and its wrongs

This is a tried and true tactic that has been prevalent ever since it became unfashionable to be an anti-Semite. (It’s an appropriate thing to remember on Yom HaShoah that prior to the Holocaust there was nothing particularly outrageous about being an anti-Semite.) Over the past decade, if not more, we have seen those who have expressed overly anti-Semitic views – be they politicians, writers, journalists or university professors – accuse their accusers of falsely labeling them as having engaged in anti-Semitism. It happens far too often to be happenstance. In short, they depict themselves as the innocent victims.

As Jonathan Freedland recently observed in The Guardian those on the left rarely challenge racial minorities when they say something is racist. Nor do they tell women that they have wrongly perceived something as sexist. However, they have no compunctions about telling Jews that they are imagining anti-Semitism.

Years ago an American Supreme Court justice said of pornography, “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.” When we comes to anti-Semitism, we can define it and we know it when we see it. And this week we have seen it.

About the Author
Deborah Lipstadt is a renowned historian and author
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