Thursday, April 25, 2013

Casual anti-Semitism of the British middle class

Sometimes even the most seemingly insignificant anti-Israel statements reveal, by their complete irrationality, deep-rooted anti-Semitism. I want to recount two recent such statements - one in a newspaper and one I experienced personally.

The latter occurred in a pub in a middle class area of London. A highly intelligent upper-middle class gentleman had arranged an exhibition of local artists' work (including his own) there, and I ended up in a long conversation with him. I told him I was Jewish because we were discussing the use of religious images in art. The man, who described himself as a lapsed Catholic, said he had refused to hang a painting by another artist because it contained images of women in burkas and he said he felt this would be offensive to Muslims. I asked him why he felt it would be offensive and how such an attitude was consistent with the fact that his own displayed artwork contained graphic nudity. His only response was to say that he felt that it was not his job to offend Muslims. Perhaps feeling that the conversation was at this point getting too serious he decided to tell a joke. It was about a landlord having problems with some tenants in his flat and the police being called, leading to the following  'punchline':
Police: "Who are the occupiers?"
Landlord: "The Israelis of course!"
When I told him that the 'joke' was not only completely unfunny, but deeply offensive because it perpetuated a false stereotype about the Jewish nation he said he was shocked. "How could you possibly be offended by that joke. It was on a BBC show".

He did not realise the irony of his remarks and the fact that he had just made it clear how far he would go out of his way never to offend a Muslim, while thinking nothing of offending a Jew. In the subsequent conversation he asked if I was born in the UK and when I told him of course I was born in London, he said in that case I had no right to be offended by a joke like that.

The second example is from the Editorial here in yesterday's Evening Standard.

Evening Standard Editorial, 24 April 2013
Readers of this blog will know of the rampant and obsessive anti-Israel stance of this paper (see here, here and here), but in many respects this particular Editorial is pretty sensible. It is the insertion of the very small statement in relation to Israel that reveals - when you analyse it carefully - irrational contempt.  Al Qaeda's number one stated goal is to kill every Jew in the world. The Al Qaeda Syrian units have already started firing at Israel from the positions it has overran near the Golan Heights in Syria and its leadership has publicly stated that their first goal after defeating Assad will be to destroy Israel, hinting that they will use Syria's massive stockpile of chemical weapons to do this. There is some threat to the stability of Lebanon from an Al Qaeda takeover of Syria as the writer understands. But, unlike to Israel, this is not an existential threat. So does the writer show sympathy to Israel's concerns as he clearly does to Lebanon's and the peaceful people of Syria? No because whereas Lebanon is 'threatened by chaos' the only concern the writer has about Israel is its 'bellicose reaction'. From this read  "just because the Jihadists threaten Israel with extinction and just because they back this up with actual bombings, terrorist attacks and the potential use of chemical weapons, the thing we REALLY have to worry about is the disgraceful notion that Israel might actually takes steps to defend itself".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anti-semitism will blow up democracy in Europe, or what's left of it anyway, if European governments do not immediately banish Radical Islam from their shores.

Unfortunately, the UK has always been filled with Anglo-Saxon Jew haters, and I, tragically, never, ever see that going away.