Archive for the ‘antisemitism’ Category

Smear – unhelpful fact

‪    — ‬How to speak like a Corbynite: a helpful guide, Michael Deacon

When Theresa May announced in April 2017 that she planned to seek the House of Commons’ agreement to call a general election – hours after the message coming from ‘Number Ten’ had been no general election – I was far from the only person who viewed both the forthcoming campaign and election with dislike and distaste.

And, of course, viewed the eventual result drenched in the same sentiments.

Of course, May had on many previous occasions insisted that there’d not be an early general…

On the same day that the Commons voted to indeed hold an early general election, a lady who became known as ‘Brenda from Bristol’ famously summed it up for many: “You’re joking. NOT ANOTHER ONE?! Oh for God’s sake, I can’t, honestly – I can’t stand this.”

Indeed, her exasperation and frustration were shared by most of the people I knew; no one thought an election would solve anything. The government was trying to do the impossible and few thought that an election would make the impossible thing any less, y’know… impossible.

Well, no one other than Theresa May and her staff at Number Ten Downing Street, of course. And what do you know? It turned out that ‘everyone else’ was right and she, and they, were wrong.

So, yeah, I disliked the 2017 election. And I knew I would the moment it was called.

But I wasn’t dreading the election in the same way as I’m dreading the one we’re likely to have in the next year.

Whether it’ll be the first autumn/winter election we’ve had in almost fifty years, or whether it’ll take place in Spring 2020, an election is likely on the way. With an official working majority of one in the House of Commons, and an unofficial majority of who-the-fuck-knows-what-the-fuck-it-fucking-is – a technical parliamentary term, you understand – parliament is effectively paralysed.

Strictly speaking, of course, under the terms of the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act – a piece of legislation I naïvely supported when it was created – we already know the date of the next election.

It’ll be on 5th May 2022, five years after the previous election in 2017.

I don’t know anyone, however, who thinks that this pisspoor shitshow of a government and this toothless, impotent and incompetent parliament, will last until then. The FTPA does of course foresee situations, and permits a couple of circumstances, in which an election can take place earlier.

May used one of these in 2017 (the House of Commons votes by a two-thirds majority of all MPs) to get her early election. I find it fascinating, by the way, that it’s ⅔ of all MPs, as in you need 433 MPs – ⅔ of the 650 elected – to vote in favour, rather than merely ‘⅔ of MPs voting’. The authors of the Act really really wanted to ensure that both the government and the main opposition wanted an early election before getting one.

The other way an early election can, no must, be called is if a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the government is carried, and in the ensuing two weeks, no one – neither the current government nor the Opposition, nor anyone else – can command the ongoing confidence of the House.

So, yeah, under either one of those two circumstances – both of which I suspect we’re going to face in the next year – we have an early election.

Last week, I wrote about how anger often brings certainty. A certainty that’s unwarranted, to be sure, but certainty nonetheless.

I ended the piece with the following:

I’m dreading a general election. Honestly. One’s likely to occur this year, and if not this year, then next.

And I’m dreading it, and the campaign that leads up to it.

It doesn’t anger me. It doesn’t infuriate me. It scares me.

And I suspect, before this run of blog posts is done, I’ll write about why.

Ok, time to write about why.

Long time readers of this blog may remember the following three blog entries.

From May 2015… it’s my party and i’ll cry if I want to…

From July 2015… ABC: Anyone but Corbyn

From September 2015… congratulations, mr corbyn… and goodbye

In the first, I related how, after 30-odd years of adulthood with an intense interest in politics but somehow without joining a political party, I’d finally done so. I laid out why, where I stood politically, and why Labour was the party I’d joined.

Towards the end of that piece more than four years ago, I wrote the following:

I’m not suggesting that people who voted Tory are evil, nor that they have no compassion; merely that they were wilfully or otherwise ignorant of the policies the government now seeks to introduce. Because if they voted knowing full well the policies that will now be put before Parliament, then I honestly don’t know what to say.

It’s an old, and usually false, saw to say that “I haven’t left the party, the party left me”, but for me, this government has done that for me.

I can’t see how the Tories will move back to the centre-right ground, its natural home I’d venture to suggest, within the next fifteen to twenty years. Which means that it’s Labour for me unless or until they have a policy or party leadership that renders a potential Labour government as toxic to me as the Conservative Party now is.

Sadly, overwhelmingly sadly, history has shown me that’s possible. I just hope it doesn’t happen for a long, long time.

I’ll just repeat that last bit:

Which means that it’s Labour for me unless or until they have a policy or party leadership that renders a potential Labour government as toxic to me as the Conservative Party now is. Sadly, overwhelmingly sadly, history has shown me that’s possible. I just hope it doesn’t happen for a long, long time.

So, yes, I joined the Labour Party mere hours after it became obvious that David Cameron’s Conservative Party had won the 2015 election with a working majority; barely, but yeah, he had a working majority. And scarcely had the election results sunk in when the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, resigned.

How quickly did he resign? Well, my ‘welcome to the Labour Party’ email still had his photo attached, even though, by the time it arrived, he’d already resigned.

So, an hour or so after I joined, the Labour Party was already planning their next leadership election.

Nominations ran from [effectively] that moment until 15th June. And by then, I’d attended several constituency Labour Party (CLP) meetings, and quite enjoyed them.

The constituency in which I lived – Richmond Park – had never had a Labour MP; at the recent general election, the Labour vote had been at 12.3%. So it wasn’t exactly as if Richmond Park Constituency Labour Party ‘made a difference’ as to Labour’s position in the country. In truth, the seat had jumped back and forth between the Liberals/Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives for decades.

The CLP contained people from ‘the left’ of the Labour Party as well as people from the ‘right’ of the party, and all points in between, and had fairly vocal advocates of each position; in some ways, the make up of the local party was exactly as it should be; there were debates and some heated ones, but no more nor less than I’d expected, or wanted.

And then the leadership contest occurred. And everything changed.

I appreciate that as a new member, only a month or so into it, it’s kind of weird to say ‘everything changed’ when I only had two or three meetings under my belt.

But it’s true.

Everything changed. Where previously there had been heated debates, now there came nastiness, and allegations of cowardice, of callousness, or not being ‘true’ to Labour. Where there had been discussion and mild distaste for others’ positions, now there was utter contempt for the other position. And most of the nastiness and the contempt came from one faction within the CLP.

Because Jeremy Corbyn had entered the contest to be leader.

And while at that time, I had no doubt that he wouldn’t have approved of the nastiness, would in fact have decried the venom, which accompanied the positions taken by his advocates, I quickly realised that wasn’t the case. I came to the conclusion that while he might not have approved, he certainly had no issue with it.

Which brings me to the second of the posts above.

Now, I’d been aware of Jeremy Corbyn since the mid-1990s, I guess. At least I don’t remember paying much notice before that. I knew that an MP, a Labour MP, had invited convicted IRA members to the House of Commons after the IRA bombed a Brighton hotel and tried to assassinate the Prime Minister and a chunk of her cabinet, but I doubt I recalled that it was Corbyn who’d done so.

And I knew that a Labour MP had chaired a conference calling for the Labour Party to kick out (‘disaffiliate from’) Poale Zion (Great Britain) – the previous name of the Jewish Labour Movement – in the 1980s, but again, I didn’t recall it being Corbyn who was the Chair.

But when I ran CompuServe’s Jewish Forum, and helped run the UK Politics Forum, in the mid- to late-1990s, his name cropped up every so often, alongside that of Ken Livingstone, Paul Flynn, and a few others of similar political views. He was one of the ‘I see no reason to support the party leader just because he’s leader’ lot, the blatant hypocrisy of which is mildly amusing now, in retrospect.

And by 2015, I was well aware of his policy positions and his – at that stage, I still thought – complete and supreme indifference to others’, including his supporters’, overt and snide antisemitism.

I didn’t at that stage think that he was personally antisemitic, merely that he regarded antisemitism in others as… I dunno, as having a pimple on their nose, or crooked teeth, or having bad breath. Not ideal, perhaps, but certainly not a genuine problem, certainly not a deal-breaker. Their antisemitism, their blatant and clear antisemitism, was entirely irrelevant as to whether he supported that person, liked that person, campaigned for that person, called them ‘brother’ and ‘comrade’.

But I found myself more and more questioning my position, struggling to maintain it.

As more came out, as more evidence was revealed, of his wilfully ignoring the antisemitism of those who he supported, defended, campaigned for… I found it harder and harder to maintain my ‘he’s not antisemitic; he just doesn’t care if someone else is’ position.

But anyway, even if that position was accurate, as someone else asked me: would he ignore another form of racism? Would he accept it in his supporters, and in people he supported, if they didn’t like people of colour, say? Would he regard it as a deal breaker?

Because if the answers to those question are No, No, and Yes… well, then he’s treating Jews differently, discriminating against Jews… and there’s a word for that.

The hypocrisy became more obvious, and clearer, with every example. Here’s one: he utterly and unreservedly condemned anyone appearing on a platform with Nick Griffin, one time leader of the racist British National Party. There was no excuse, he maintained, for sharing a platform with him. “No one,” he said, “should be sharing a platform with an avowed racist and an avowed fascist.” Oddly, though, as Corbyn’s history showed time and time again, he had no problem at all sharing platforms with overt antisemites.

“Ah,” his supporters say, “he does that solely to challenge them.” Equally and appropriately oddly, there’s no record of his challenges. Funny that.

So I wrote that second post, laid out some issues I had with Corbyn, and said that I wouldn’t, couldn’t, vote for him, and that if anyone did, they were siding with his views on antisemitism. Or – at the very least – they were saying ‘I don’t care’ about his views on antisemitism and on Jews.

One thing that started to piss me off, and my upset only grew, was that he never criticised his own supporters for antisemitism; he never told them not to, or at least not in any way that supporters or critics took seriously, or were meant to. He spoke about antisemitism – once he had to – only ever in the abstract, criticising antisemitism and antisemitic acts without condemning those who carried them out, without calling those who committed those acts, said those things, posted those images, antisemitic.

And then I started noticing that he never condemned anyone as antisemitic. He’d say they were wrong, that he disagreed with them, but not that they were antisemitic, not that they were antisemites. It was kind of like watching someone condemn a lynching without criticising the KKK as racists. (NB the ex-Grand Wizard of the KKK openly praised and praises Corbyn re claiming his election as leader was a sign that people were recognising “Zionist power” and “Jewish establishment power”.)

A month later, I got the opportunity to speak to Corbyn, on a Radio 4 phone in they held with all the Labour Party leadership candidates.

I came away from the phone call even more convinced that at best – at best! – he didn’t give a shit about others’ antisemitism. He cared that no one identified him as an antisemite, but his supporters?

He claimed, repeatedly, that any antisemites didn’t speak for him, but as others have observed equally repeatedly, but with far more justification, the antisemites are convinced that he speaks for them.

And as to whether he personally was antisemitic?

Well, I wrote the following hypothetical offer to those who claim he’s not.

A right-wing MP, proud to be on the hard right of the tory party never makes an overly racist statement himself… but platform shares with known racists, hosts them in parliament, says it’s his pleasure & honour to host his friends & it’s a pity the govt banned other white pride racists (he thinks that a big mistake). He gives tv interviews to affiliates of white power organisations, and defends white pride people as “honoured citizens” “dedicated to peace and justice”.

This man on the hard right of the Tory party makes statements against racism, but only in the abstract, condemning lynchings but never criticising those who carry them out. The closest he comes is saying in interviews that he doesn’t always agree with them.

This right wing Tory MP says a man who wrote that “blacks are racially inferior & want to take over the white race” is an honourable man and he looks forward to having him for tea at the Commons.

What would you say of this right wing Tory? Racist or no?

(And if you’re British, and the name John Carlisle springs to mind reading that, well, you’re not alone…)

But here’s the thing: all of the stuff in that hypothetical above? There are direct parallels to stuff Corbyn’s done, said and advocated.

And that was before blatant, clear, evidence started coming later out of his personal use of antisemitic tropes.

(And as previous posts in this run have shown, use of an age old antisemitic trope, a classic sterotype, used to demonise Jews for centuries doesn’t cease to be antisemitic merely because someone says ‘zionist’ or ‘israel’ instead of ‘Jew‘.)

But anyway, Corbyn won the leadership, convincingly. Wasn’t even close.

And, as I’d discussed with the chair and secretary of the CLP, I resigned from the party, four months after I’d joined it. I quit a few hours after having been in the hall watching him win the leadership. And I wrote about why here, in the third post above; in sadness, slightly scared, but mainly upset.

I resigned because I could see what was about to happen, what was going to happen.

I resigned because I knew from that moment that antisemitism would no longer be an automatic deal-breaker for membership in Labour, nor even to hold appointed or elected position within the Labour Party.

I resigned because I couldn’t stomach the idea of belonging to a party led by a man who welcomed antisemites, who campaigned for them, defended them, supported them.

And, since 2015, he’s continued to do so. He’s continued to defend antisemites, continued to campaign with antisemites, continued to defend antisemites, to call them comrade and brother, and to let his advocates, his surrogates, promote antisemitic conspiracy theories, to trivialise antisemitism, to allege conspiracism… and not done a single, meaningful thing to stop them.

Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected Leader in 2016.

And despite losing that general election he won in 2017, he’s still there.

And he’s likely – despite the huge number of times over the past two years that I’ve been assured otherwise – to be there, leading Labour, at the next election.

Because every time more evidence comes out of his personal actions, his own defences of antisemites, there’s always an excuse.

  • “No, no, he didn’t mean that,” his defenders will say, after previously maintaining that he’s a decent honest man who always says what he means, and means what he says.
  • “No, no, he didn’t lie; you misunderstood his statement.”
  • “No, no, the moment he found out that Paul Eisen was a holocaust denier, he stopped attending his [non-holocaust related] events. The photos of him attending afterwards? Smears!”
  • “No, no, he doesn’t agree with the person who promoted the Blood Libel; he just defended and campaigned for him”
  • “No, no, he didn’t say ‘Jews’ don’t understand irony despite living all their lives in Britain, he said ‘zionists’ don’t even though that made no sense whatsoever…”
  • “No, No, he doesn’t agree with the antisemitic statements made… and he said so at the time; It’s just an unfortunate coincidence that no records exist of that…”

And “how dare you attack an anti-racist?”

Yeah. Right. An anti-racist (except when it comes to antisemitism) who’s spent his life speaking out against racism (except when it comes to antisemitism) and who condemns racists (except when it comes to antisemites) and who called racists… racist! (except when it comes to antisemites)

And Labour continues to re-admit antisemitic member, after antisemitic member, continues to lift the suspensions of antisemitic councillors and activists, and those who do get expelled? Labour never says they’re ejected because they’re antisemitic.

And activists, Corbyn fans, continue to blame Jews for the antisemitism and claim it’s mostly malicious claims.

And that’s mostly why I’m dreading the election. (See, you didn’t think I’d get back to that, did you? Ah, ye of little faith.)

Because after four years of Corbyn-led Labour, I just don’t believe that anyone with the slightest interest, or who’s paid the slightest bit of attention, is unaware of Corbyn’s at best apathy towards, and supreme indifference to, other’s antisemitism, and his personal complicity and use of antisemitism. I just don’t believe it.

Which means that if people are voting Labour they either a) don’t care about all of that, b) they actively agree with it, or c) they think it’s a price worth paying to get Corbyn into Downing Street. None of those fills me with anything other that unfettered dread and unmitigated fear.

Corbyn supporters aren’t short of fucking good reasons to not vote for the Tories. Hell, I agree with most, the overwhelming majority, of those reasons. They’re very good reasons to not vote Conservative.

But I’ve got a pretty fucking good reason to not vote Labour while Corbyn et al run the shop.

And that’s mostly why I’m dreading the election.

Before any election campaign has even started, I’ve already been accused that by not voting Labour, by not trying to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister, I’m choosing ‘the jews’ over the poor, the disabled, the ill… which of course ignores that there are poor Jews, ill Jews, disabled Jews.

Before any election campaign has even started, I’ve already been accused of being a paid Israeli agent, of knowing that Corbyn’s a decent, honest man, and of maliciously making up claims of antisemitism inside Labour.

During Corbyn’s tenure as party leader, I’ve been told that even if I believed Labour was antisemitic ‘head to toe’ (not a claim I’ve made) that as a Jew I should still vote Labour “because the Tories are worse”. Think about that for a moment: I was told that, as a Jew, I should vote for an antisemitic party.

Through the looking glass? We’re through a whole fucking factory of mirrors.

And that’s mostly why I’m dreading the election.

Because while, right now, I might – just about – be able to handle the idea of someone I know and like voting Labour, I genuinely don’t know if I can handle, if I could handle, people I know and like advocating others to vote Labour, working for Labour MPs, campaigning for Labour, campaigning to put Jeremy Corbyn in Number Ten Downing Street.

It’ll end friendships. It will damage, fracture, and end some of my friendships, people I’ve been friends with for years… in some cases, decades.

Because at best, they’ll effectively be saying “I don’t care about antisemitism against you and yours, budgie” “or well, yes, it’s not nice but it’s a price worth paying to get Corbyn and Labour into Number Ten”.

And at worst they’ll be saying “I agree with him when he uses antisemitic tropes about ‘hidden hands’ of influence and when he supports antisemites.”

But yeah, that’s why I’m dreading the next election.

 

It’s Tuesday tomorrow. If you’ve been following the blog through the run, you know what’s occuring tomorrow. if not, then all I’ll say is the usual… which is, of course, “something else tomorrow.”

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

(For part the first, click here; for part the second, click here)

Last week, and the week before, I wrote a couple of entries about how, despite the claims of antisemites and those who defend, support, and campaign for them, some imagery which they claim not to be antisemitic often is. Not always, but often.

Longer opening explanation in those posts, but, basically:

…criticising Israel [its government/politicians/polices/military] isn’t per se antisemitic.

BUT… if that criticism is expressed using the same words, the same lies and/or the same imagery, as has been used for literally centuries to demonise Jews, yeah that’s antisemitic, Israel references or no.

And if you insist on expressing your criticism by using classic, age old, antisemitic tropes and themes, antisemitic imagery or antisemitic canards…

…well then, sorry, but people – me among them – are going to justifiably say, “yeah, antisemitism”. Note that: justifiably.

Those entries, and some others in the run going forward, were addressing the falsehood, the flat out lie, that using imagery based upon age old antisemitic tropes is automagically not antisemitic if you replace “Jews” with “Zionists” or “Israel” or “Rothschilds”.

Because it is [still] antisemitic if you do that.

Yes. It really is.


Of course sometimes, the allusion is so blatant, the trope so horrifying, the imagery so repulsive, that a perfectly reasonable person sees it and has an understandable reaction of

‘What the Actual Fuck? No… I mean, surely not, no-one could actually mean that, could they!?? It must be a mistake; it must be ignorance.’

Sadly, it’s not a mistake. Sadly they do mean that.

What trope? What imagery? What allusion?

What lie?

Well, let’s talk about The Blood Libel

I’m not quite sure how long this post is going to be, while I’m currently writing it. It could be a long one, and it could end up being running into a post next week.

Because it was only when I started writing this post that I realised that there are three distinct parts to The Blood Libel as it’s been historically used, and continues to be used today.

1. The Blood Libel in and of itself: that Jews kill non Jewish children in order to take and use their blood to make Passover matzoh.

I’ll just pause for a moment to let that sink in, if you’ve not come across it before as bluntly as that.

“…that Jews kill non Jewish children in order to take and use their blood to make Passover matzoh.”

Yes. That’s a thing.

Sorry if you’re just coming to this out of the blue; I know, you were were happily reading a silly story I posted, or read my fuming about the orange poltroon or the blond bullshitter and now you’re about to have a crash course in an antisemitic libel that ranks among the most libelly, erm, libellous, erm…

Anyway.

2. That Jews celebrate the above; that Jews are specifically, uniquely and particularly, bloodthirsty.

Oh yes. That’s an old favourite, derived from 1. above but it’s absolutely staked out its own little territory over the centuries

3. That Jews harvest organs and body parts not limited to, but in the service, of 1. and 2. above.

A modern take on both 1 and 2, again, alluding back but very much of the present.

So, I’m going to take each one in turn, show historical depictions of them and then, as usual, show you the modern identical equivalents, to demonstrate that the use was, is, and always will be, antisemitic in intention and motivation.

All right then.

So…

1. The Blood Libel in and of itself: that Jews kill non Jewish children in order to take their blood to make Passover matzoh.

The canard, the lie, the bullshit, that Jews kill non-Jewish children in order to take their blood to make Passover matzoh is particularly tasteless, if that’s the right word to use.

Here’s a thing, though: the drinking of blood is a strong prohibition in Judaism. Not kidding; it’s absolutely forbidden, under all circumstances.

To pervert that into a religious obligation to drink children’s blood, is antisemitic both in tone and intent; it’s to deny Jews their Judaism by saying Judaism is itself evil and perverted; it’s maliciously false, and whats more it’s saying that Judaism is a lie that Jews know is a lie.

Tasteless barely begins to describe it.

(Perhaps appropriately and amusingly, though, “tasteless” does, in fact, fairly describe matzoh; it’s been said, with some justification, that you get more taste from eating the cardboard packaging.)

This Blood Libel stretches back over the centuries.

No, I mean it: centuries.

In 1144, almost 900 years ago, a young boy who has become known to history as “William of Norwich” was murdered. It was said, and believed by many at the time, that Jews had murdered him for… yeah, you guesssed. The image above is a supposed depiction of the scene as is this.

A century later, almost two dozen Jews were hanged after a young boy was found in a well. In the Italian town of Trent, Jews were burned at the stake, or beheaded after allegaions that Jews had killed a 2-year-old named Simon and used his blood to make matzoh.

I don’t intend to go into a full, detailed history of every example where The Blood Libel became popular among the populace, although I recommend reading up on it in detail when you have the time.

For once, Wikipedia’s article on it ain’t that bad at all. But there are better…

However, while the middle ages may have been the first traceable examples, they certainly weren’t the last.

The Blood Libel reached down through the centuries, infecting new generations and new societies.

Wherever there were Jews, there was The Blood Libel.

And wherever Jews were expelled, there was The Blood Libel.

And wherever pogroms occured, wherever Jews were murdered, wherever Jews were slaughtered, individually or en masse… there was The Blood Libel.

But the antisemitic imagery, in sculpture, in drawings, in paintings, in engravings, continued…

Those last two? Yeah, they pop up quite a bit. You’ll never guess where.

Oh, you guessed.

But surely, I hear you cry, no-one believes that now! No-one spreads that libel, no-one propagates the Blood Libel NOW? No one claims Jews kill children in order to use their blood to make Passover matzoh not NOW? Not these days?

Now, now, you really ought to know better by now.

Not all that long ago, a then Conservative Councillor from St Ives – fella by the name of Rawlinson — asked how we could “be absolutely sure that this didn’t occur in some bizarre sectlet of Judaism”.

Yep.

A serving councillor, an elected councillor, in the UK, asked that question. Of me. Well, of me and the others on CompuServe’s UK Politics Forum.

When the wrath of the Forum operators, and – to be fair – almost everyone in the Forum, fell upon him, he responded with the defence offered by all racists:

I was only asking a question…

It was an early lesson to a standard tactic used by antisemites. Not only antisemites, of course; bigots or all stripes use the faux-enquiry bullshit in order to spread their own bullshit.

Here’s a screenshot from a Facebook page entitled Jewish Ritual Murder (subtitled ‘The Truth About Jews”).

In 2014, by the way Facebook decided that the page did not violate their “community guidelines”.

It was finally deleted by them last year.

Last year. 2018.

But the past couple of years? Oh yeah, it’s still around.

And now we come to the “ah, but if I say it’s ISRAEL, it’s not antisemitic, even if I’m using antisemitic canards, antisemitic imagery, used to lie about Jews.”

You know, like saying they delight in blood, that they drink blood, that they employ blood to get what they want… that they kill to get and use the blood…

Like this.

Blood…

Blood…

Blood…

Ah, students… bless them.

 

Look, however angry, however furious, you are about Israel’s actions, the moment you start putting CHILD KILLERS on the door of a British synagogue, don’t pretend it’s not antisemitic. You forfeit that right. Because a) you’re not protesting to the Israelis, and b) you’re not showing your anger: you’re being antisemitic.

And whatever your views on Bibi Netanyahu, however you loathe and detest him, however flat out evil you consider him… if you want to condemn him… is it really necessary to go with the fucking Blood Libel?

Oh, you think it is, do you? Yeah, I’ll say antisemitic… justifiably so.

(What, you thought the vampire thing is a coincidence? Please…)

If you use or promote or even give credence to the idea that Jews kill non-Jews to use their blood to make matzoh, you don’t get to say it’s not antisemitic. You just don’t. Not without lying. Because those who do so know it’s antisemitic.

That’s why they do it.

As with last week, two final points.

So how can I criticise Israel without being antisemitic? Glad you asked. There are loads of good sites out there on the subject; I like this one, as it happens: How to Criticise Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic.

Secondly, and following on from the above, it’s so easy to criticise Israel, Zionism, and indeed capitalism, without being antisemitic, that when folks do insist on using antisemitic canards, tropes, and imagery…

…one is forced to conclude that it’s the antisemitism that’s important to them, not the criticism.

I did say that this would probably stretch into two posts; more images, on a different expression of the blood libel canard, next week.

But something entirely different, however, and distinctly more pleasant, tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

(For part the first, click here; for part the third, click here)

Last week, I wrote a piece about how despite the claims of antisemites and those who defend, support, and campaign for them, some imagery which they claim not to be antisemitic often is.

Longer opening explanation in that post, but, basically:

…criticising Israel [its government/politicians/polices/military] isn’t per se antisemitic.

BUT… if that criticism is expressed using the same words, the same lies and/or the same imagery, as has been used for literally centuries to demonise Jews, yeah that’s antisemitic, Israel references or no.

And if you insist on expressing your criticism by using classic, age old, antisemitic tropes and themes, antisemitic imagery or antisemitic canards…

Well then, yeah, folks – me among them – are going to justifiably say, “yeah, antisemitism”. Note that: justifiably.

That entry, and some others in the run going forward, was going to address the flat out lie that using imagery based upon age old antisemitic tropes is magically not antisemitic if you replace “Jews” with “Zionists” or “Israel”.

Or, say, “Rothschilds”.

Because it is [still] antisemitic if you do that.

Yes. It really is.


So let’s talk about The Rothschilds

Ah. Yeah. I suppose this was an obvious and inevitable one to do.

Don’t know who they are? They’re a very wealthy family. Like lots of others.

They’re also Jewish. Like not quite so many others.

Like not quite so many other people.

On a slight tangent, the true number of Jews in the UK, in the US, on the planet(!) has become more widely known in recent years, but even now, people usually hugely overestimate the number of Jewish people in the UK.

Intelligent, sensible people, when asked “how many Jews do you think there are in the UK?” often, surprisingly often, get the number not only wrong, but wildly so.

I’ve asked friends of mine on occasion.

Just the straight questions: how many Jews are there in the UK? (And if they’re from Scotland or Wales, ‘how many Jews live in your country?’)

Stop just for a second, if you need to, and take a wild guess.

OK, guessed?

Well, the numbers suggested to me over the years by friends, by people I know, have ranged from ‘a million’ in the UK, to ‘…three million?’. A million and a half is the usual number offered. For context, that’d be about 2 percent of the population.

And in Scotland? A very Scottish, very smart, friend recently admitted he didn’t have a clue, but said he’d be ‘amazed’ if it was 250,000 Jews in Scotland, but that was his top range guess. (Higher than the usual suggestion of around 150,000. 150,000 is about 2½% of the Scottish population)

A Welsh friend recently suggested 15k for Wales, about the average offered to me for Wales; about half a percent of the population.

The actual numbers? About 280,000 Jews in the United Kingdom, under half a percent of the total population.

In Scotland? Under 6,000 Jews live there, almost all of them in Glasgow and Edinburgh; that’s about 0.1% of the Scottish population

In Wales? 2,000… in total; about 0.06% of the population of Wales.

Anyways, as I always say when I’ve spent longer on a digression than I intended.

Anyways… back to The Rothschilds.

For once, we have a pretty definite date for the creation of a specific antisemitic myth. Not the whole ‘Jews and money’ thing; that goes back more generations, more centuries still, and maybe I’ll do a post on that later.

But The Rothschild ‘myth’, and its use as a specific antisemitic trope, dates back to 1846, thirty years after The Battle of Waterloo.

Yeah, almost 200 years. It’s nothing new, and the pretence that using “Rothschild Zionists” means that the term isn’t antisemitic fools no-one, David Icke… but then, of course, it’s very much not meant to.

There’s a pretty good – and understandable – history of the trope, the lies, the provable falshoods, here: The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?

My only quibble? It hasn’t been dismissed, not at all; for, sadly, the libel and antisemitic trope is still alive and well.

But let’s go back into history for the first set of images.

Remember the first pic in the Cephalopods post last week? Here it is again:

Now look at the following three pics, all of which pre-date the establishment of The State of Israel in 1948.

See any familiar names?

That’s a caricature of… James de Rothschild.

How about in the following?

So, a centuries old antisemitic conspiracy theory about the wealthiest family secretly controlling banks, governments, countries.

Let’s bring it up to date.

(Note the ultimate puppet-master in that last one. It’s notable that as some – not all, but some – have realised that ‘shit, they’re on to us if we use ‘Rothschilds’… they’ve switched to using the name of Soros… but yeah, even then it often comes back, in the end, to guess who?)

Here’s a modern post using a “Jews stabbing in the back’ image from the end of the first world war… Of course they had to make it even more specific, because why wouldn’t they?

Oh, and the numerous “The Rothschilds own all the media organisations!” as well.

And then there’s this, still doing the rounds today.

Huh. A reference to Waterloo; what, you thought the ‘Napoleon’ reference was a coincidence? It’s never a coincidence.

Oh, by the way, I wasn’t exaggerating for effect when I said it’s still doing the rounds today.

The wording on the image of Jacob R – the nonsense about central banks, the financing north sids of wars, the 500 trillion dollars (I’ve seen it with ‘500 trillion pounds’ as well) – has been comprehensively debunked so many bloody times, and yet somehow that hasn’t stopped the bullshit being propagated.

Because of course it doesn’t. Debunking antisemitic tropes, smears and libels, never stops the antisemitism. Because antisemites like being antisemitic. I’m surprised how often that point is missed.

If debunking antisemitism and antisemitic tropes stopped antisemites being antisemitic,

  1. there’d be no antisemitism any more and
  2. my hat¹, life would be a lot easier for Jews.
  3. Antisemites wouldn’t be able to be antisemitic; and they really, really like being antisemitic.

(¹No, I don’t own a hat. No, I’m not going to buy a hat. Stop telling me to buy a hat!)

Here’s another image, this one on Facebook, reposted by a Labour councillor in October 2016. Look familiar?

An Australian candidate for the Senate had posted something similar, in the same October:

And in 2017? A serving Labour councillor – and former parliamentary candidate… oh, and a confirmed ‘it’s not antisemitic if you don’t say JEWS!’ Labour member…

He posted it saying it “had a lot of truth”.

And then protested that he wasn’t antisemitic.

Thing is, if you use or promote any of the images above, you don’t get to say they’re not antisemitic. You just don’t. Not without lying. Because those who use them know they’re antisemitic

That’s why they use them.

As with last week, two final points.

So how can I criticise Israel without being antisemitic? Glad you asked. There are loads of good sites out there on the subject; I like this one, as it happens: How to Criticise Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic.

Secondly, and following on from the above, it’s so easy to criticise Israel, Zionism, and indeed capitalism, without being antisemitic, that when folks do insist on using antisemitic canards, tropes, and imagery…

…one is forced to conclude that it’s the antisemitism that’s important to them, not the criticism.

More images, a different trope, a very, very nasty one, next week.

But something entirely different, however, tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

(For part the second, click here; for part the third, click here)

I’ve been going back and forth on this one. But last night’s Panorama programme about antisemitism inside the Labour Party tipped the balance.

No, I’m not going to write about that today, neither the programme itself nor the details therein, save for one small reference towards the end of this post; maybe soon, but not today.

Some years ago, I wrote a piece about antisemitism in the UK, and how it’s risen, and how it’s not uncommon – some would aver often – for criticism of Israel (used as a metonym for its government, PM, military, laws, politicians) to ‘cross the line’ into overt antisemitism.

Now, whenever this does happen, whenever antisemitic criticism – not criticism itself, but overtly, blatantly, antisemitic criticism – is highlighted, you can guarantee two responses:

  1. “Oh, you just don’t want any criticism of Israel!”, and
  1. “You’re making up false allegations of antisemitism to prevent any criticism of Israel; you always do that!”

How best to respond?

Bollocks. Oh, ok, yeah, that works.

Unfettered, unmitigated, unreserved… bollocks.

(The second of those responses above is known in the UK, among the Jewish community as ‘The Livingstone Formulation’, since it’s been deployed by Kenneth-of-that-Clan for decades.)

I don’t know how often it has to be said but apparently at least once more is necessary even before I read the comments to this piece: criticising Israel [its government/politicians/polices/military] isn’t per se antisemitic. How could it be? It’s no more inherently anti-Jewish to criticise the actions of a Jewish state than it’s anti-Christian to condemn the UK government – of a still formally Christian country – for the ‘Bedroom tax’, or to criticise its Prime Minister, or to criticise the actions of the UK’s military.

BUT… if that criticism is expressed using the same words, the same lies and/or the same imagery, as has been used for literally centuries to demonise Jews, yeah that’s antisemitic, Israel references or no.

So what do I mean, when I say the ‘same imagery?

Do I mean ‘similar’? Nope, I mean the same. The same hooknosed caricatures of ‘zionists’, the same ‘gorging on blood’ images of Netanyahu (a politician I loathe, not that it should make the slightest difference) that have been used to demean, disparage… demonise Jews via the Blood Libel for centuries.

This entry, and some others in the run going forward, is to address the lie, the flat out lie, that using antisemitic imagery – based upon age old antisemitic tropes – is somehow, magically, not antisemitic if you replace “Jews” with “Zionists” or “Israel”.

Because it is [still] antisemitic if you do that.

Yes. It really is.

You want to criticise Israel? Its government, that government’s policies, its actions, its statements?

Go right ahead; I might even agree with you on the criticisms. I might not, but hey, there’s lots of criticisms on any subject with which I agree… and some I don’t.

Seriously, go right ahead and criticise away. One small thing, though: Just don’t do it antisemitically. It’s not a lot to ask, I believe. Just don’t be antisemitic. Don’t express your criticism, your condemnation, by using the same canards, the same myths, the same fabrications, the same images, used to condemn, excoriate, and falsely disparage Jews for hundreds of years in some cases, longer in others.

Don’t do it using a decades’ old, sometimes centuries’ old, antisemitic trope. Don’t do it with classic antisemitic themes, antisemitic imagery or antisemitic canards.

If you’re going to do that, then, yeah, folks – me among them – are going to justifiably say, “yeah, antisemitism”. Note that: justifiably.

So… in some blog entries over the remainder of this run, this place is going to give examples of antisemitism that – in some cases pre-dating Israel’s existence – criticise Jews and then show exactly the same modern criticism, only with “Jews” clumsily replaced by “Zionists” or “Israel”.

Ok then. Let’s get started.


Let’s start with: Cephalopods

I don’t know what antisemites have against cephalopods; I really don’t. They seem pretty harmless to me, although an octopus’s three hearts do really freak me out, I’ll be honest.

But cephalopods (the octopus, the kraken, the squid) have been used as a symbol of “Jewish power” by antisemites for over a century.

It’s used, I guess, to indicate, both the alleged secret way Jews have supposedly infiltrated everything from any established previously ‘clean’ system – the media, banks, the press, democracy – to a named county, to even a planet. (No, you didn’t misread that. Yes, I said a planet.)

And also, I guess again, that Jews somehow cling on to things?

I dunno.

Logic and facts are not two things antisemites are that fond of, I’ve found.

(Someone I know wondered a while back where all the smart, intelligent antisemites were, because they only came across “fucking idiots” online. I have some sympathy with that view, but I think that, dark humour aside, it’s giving the ‘smart’ ones far too much credit.)

But anyway, take a look at the first set of pictures below.

They’re old, really old, and are explicit in their Jew hatred.



Hitler – yeah, be fair; you knew he’d be along sooner or later – made plain his views on Jewish power, metaphorically using… oh, you guessed.

“If our people and our state become the victim of these bloodthirsty and avaricious Jewish tyrants of nations, the whole earth will sink into the snares of this octopus; if Germany frees herself from this embrace, this greatest of dangers to nations may be regarded as broken for the whole world,”- Mein Kampf

The next pic comes from that time….

(Sometimes they start with an octopus and I dunno, figure a spider is better… or they can’t draw tentacles?

But yeah, a hook nosed, caricature of a Jew. (And of course the spider has links to ‘vermin’ and lots-of-people-are-scared-of, which may form another post in the run.)

But the pics above are just half a dozen of literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of examples in history.

Oh, let me quickly address one apparent confusion among some:

Two pics:

The one on the left (on top if viewing on mobile) is the Israeli Flag. The one underneath (on the right) is the Star of David I wear around my neck, a 21st birthday present. The former is the symbol of The State of Israel. The latter is a symbol associated with Jews and Judaism back to the days of the Bible. In Hebrew, it’s not called a Star of David, but a Magen David (pronounced Moggain Dovid), a Shield of David, because that’s what was painted on the shields of King David.

The two share a six pointed star. The former has details not on the latter: a white background, a specific colour, stripes above and below.

If you use the magen david without all of the above…? Don’t pretend you’re referencing Israel; you’re not. You’re referencing Jews. And you know it.

Here’s another, more recent, picture.

Recognise anything?

Now, those who use, promote and post the pic would almost certainly – do, in fact – insist it’s aimed at Israel (the AIPAC in the background would ostensibly seem to agree.) And it may well be ‘aimed at Israel’… but it’s not only aimed at Israel. Which is the point.

It’s using age old antisemitic imagery used for centuries to attack Jews as well, and the people who created the image and those who promote it, distribute it, send it around, use it on social media, defend it… they know it means Jews.

But surely they don’t always know?

Let me introduce you to Kayla Bibby who posted the attached on social media.

OK, it’s the facehugger from Alien movies, but it’s just the latest iteration. Hey, look, there’s a Star of David… not on a flag, not with a white background, not with stripes above and below.

Huh. How about that?

But did she know that it means ‘Jews’?

Well, for once we have a concrete answer to the question. The image comes from a far right website which was crystal in its clarity that yes indeed it was about Jews. The article it accompanied described Jews – not zionists not Israelis, but Jews – as “parasitic” and said they were to blame for “financial heists of entire nations”.

Ah, but how was Ms Bibb–

She contacted the site and specifically asked permission to use it.

Ah. Yes, ok then.

Ms Bibby actively sought this image out, requested its use… from a site which specifically said it was about Jews.

(By the way, the Labour Party first said that the image wasn’t antisemitic, and that neither was she, and chose to not even suspend her; they merely issued a “reminder of conduct”. Only after outrage at this decision – and her MP, Louise Ellman, raising it at a parliamentary party meeting – was she eventually, over the original protests of the leadership’s office, suspended.)

If you use those images, any images like them, you don’t get to say they’re not antisemitic. You just don’t. Not without lying. Because those who use it know the images are antisemitic.

That’s why they use them.

Two final points to make today.

So how can I criticise Israel without being antisemitic? Glad you asked. There are loads of good sites out there on the subject; I like this one, as it happens: How to Criticise Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic.

Secondly, and following on from the above, it’s so easy to criticise Israel, and its government, ministers, military, etc., without being antisemitic, that when folks do insist on using antisemitic canards, tropes, and imagery…

…one is forced to conclude that it’s the antisemitism that’s important to them, not the criticism.

More images, a different trope, next week.

But something entirely different, however, tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

To adapt the opening to a well known book:

Alison Chabloz is an antisemite. There is no doubt whatsoever that Alison Chabloz is an antisemite. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the stories I am going to relate.

(She’s also a holocaust denier, white nationalist, and avid and vocal supporter of literal Nazis, but that’s a bit of a mouthful and it ruined the flow of the paragraph above. However, it’s equally important to understand and appreciate all of that as well.)

Chabloz was convicted at trial in 2018 of offences relating to malicious communications, and then, upon appeal this year, her convictions and sentences were upheld.

I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores of whether she should have been charged, and then convicted; there are coherent and rational arguments on both sides. If you want to read more on it, well, Google is your friend.

But I attended most of the days of the pre-trial hearings, and then both trials.

Leaving aside the specifics of the trials themselves, attending them was a genuinely fascinating experience. Y’see, I’d never been to court before. I came close a couple of times, professionally, but in the past couple of years I’ve been in court a few times. Never as a defendant, I hasten to add, nor as a witness, merely as an interested – a very interested – observer.

What surprised me – continued to surprise me, on each occasion – was how genuinely interesting it was. I’ve heard the tales of how boring it is, how technical much of the legal argument is, how painstakingly slow the days go; also of the arcane and nitpicking over points of law to the point of absurdity…

Well, not in my admittedly limited experience.

All the barristers and advocates I’ve observed have been at pains to explain to the court, to witnesses, and to the judges, in the plainest possible language, their cases.

Sure, there have been plenty of technical details, but nothing that was even mildly difficult to follow.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Or maybe it’s that like so much else:

a) things have changed, and
b) the worst steoptypes are the worst, not the typical.

So, anyway, back to Chabloz.

STORY 1: Zionist… maths?
A pre-trial hearing, fairly early on in the process. As I recall, it had to do with formally reading the charges, and legal argument as to whether the court had jurisdiction over two of them.

While we were waiting, I pulled out of my bag the book I was then reading: Things To Make And Do In the Fourth Dimension by Matt Parker. (If you don’t know Matt, he’s an Australian mathematician and standup comedian, part of The Festival of The Spoken Nerd.)

It’s a great book; funny, clever and lots of thought experiments and things, as the title promises, to make… and to do. I’d picked it up in the hope it would refresh my enjoyment of numbers and maths; it quickly did both.

So, there I was, in the public gallery at Chabloz’s pre-trial hearing, and as on previous occasions, I was one of the few who wasn’t there to support her. Oh, yes, she had her supporters; a dozen or so people there, some wearing offensive t-shirts, some with tattoos that wouldn’t be out of place at a far right rally… for the obvious reason.

Before the hearing started, I was reading the opening chapter of the book… which deals with “how high can you count with your fingers?”

It’s an obvious question, and an even more obvious answer, yes?

No. It’s only obvious if you a) count in Base 10, and b) allow each finger to count as a single unit.

The moment you switch to other bases, or take advantage of knuckles, etc…

Look, here are some pics of the illustrations, at a decent size so you can appreciate them.

So there I am, reading away, chuckling at the gags – it’s a genuinely funny book – when suddenly A Shadow comes over me, and a very large bloke is looming over me – give him credit, he was very good at looming – and staring at my Star of David necklace, which was revealed by my just-open shirt.

Now, it’s not a huge Magen David, but yes, granted, it’s noticeable.

He clocks the diagrams of the hand counting on the page and is suddenly in my face – “Are those Zionist hand signals then?” he demands. (I’d add ‘belligerently’ but be fair, that’s a given.)

I look up in surprise and he gestures to the court room before us. “Are you going to signal the zionists in the court…?”. And then there’s suddenly two more people, equally knuckle draggers, pointing at the page, and muttering.

There was a lot of muttering.

I merely raise the book, so they can see the cover… the idea of mathematics is apparently but very obviously beyond them; they make some further comments about zionist and jews… and signals.

There is more muttering.

Apparently, it’s well-known, ‘we’ have secret hand signals. You didnt know that? Well, now you do.

But before I could actually say anything… the clerk of the court called us to order and the case began; they returned to their seats, glaring at me… and muttering.

Gloriously, a few weeks later I met up with Matt at a comedy gig and told him what happened. I bet him – before I told him the tale – that no matter what reactions he expected the book to have… that wasn’t one of them.

I won the bet. And I got his permission to tell the story, and use the images above, for which he has my grateful thanks.


So, Chabloz was tried in magistrates’ court in 2018, and was convicted. She appealed her verdict and, in early 2019, she faced… well, it wasn’t merely a new hearing; the prosecution and defence cases were presented again, calling witnesses and everything.

And it wasn’t merely an appeal, because it wasn’t on a point of law; the entire case was reheard in front of three district judges. It was, effectively, a new trial. So I’ll call it that.

STORY 2: “One of us?”
The first day of the trial, post pre-trial hearings, is due to start at 10am. I get there about five to, but the display screen is showing the case is now due to start at 10:30 in Court 8. The usher outside the courtroom confirmed “an urgent court matter” had to be dealt with. (I guessed a bail matter or search warrant or somesuch… the usher just said he ‘couldn’t say’ why, but that it shouldn’t take long.)

So, I’m waiting outside the courtroom, checking Twitter, playing a game on my iPhone, and A Very Nice Older Lady comes across.

Very polite, very unsure. Think Miss Marple, but a bit taller, a bit less bird-like. But basically… her.

Hello, are you going into Court 8?” she asks.

Now I have no idea who she is, or why she’s asking, and previous experience has taught me the wisdom of wariness. I merely look up and reply with “Hello, can I help you?”

Very Nice Older Lady: “Oh, I’m supposed to be going in there but I thought it was due to start at 10.

I explain about the delay and she’s full of “Thank you so much, oh dear, but thank you…”

“Not a problem,” says I, and go back to my phone.

Anyway, 20 minutes later, we’re let in. I find a seat at the end of the front row, directly behind the row reserved for the press.

She immediately comes over to me, suddenly very animated.

Oh!” She says… “Oh… I didn’t realise you were… ‘One Of Us!’

Now, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, dear reader, ‘One Of Us’ could mean a multitude of things. It could mean:

Oh, you’re also Jewish!’

It could alternatively mean:

Oh, you’re also interested in the trial

Or it could be:

how lovely, someone else coming here to support our dear friend in her hour of persecuted need!

Could be anything…

So I say, politely, with a smile, “I don’t know if I’m ‘one of you’… what do you mean?”

One of us!

“Er…” I smile. She’s not making this easy.

Here to see the trial?” she ventures.

Me: “Well, yes… but whether I’m ‘one of you’, I guess, depends on which side you’re on.”

Pardon?” The Very Nice Older Lady looks shocked, as if the very idea that someone could be ‘on the other side’ is inconceivable, literally inconceivable. Still not helping, though. But she starts to look less ‘very nice’.

I offer: “Well, whether I’m ‘one of you’ depends on whether you’re hoping she’ll be acquitted, or whether she’ll go down for a couple of years.”

Well, acquitted OF COURSE!” She looks at me, the penny finally starting to drop…

“Ah. Then I’m very much not ‘one of you’…”

Oh?…Oh!

“No, I’m hoping she gets convicted again and is sentenced for as long as the judge can possibly send her down for…”

“…” (And for once, that’s not a conceit… her mouth opened and closed a couple of times, but nothing came out.)

I smile very sweetly at her.

Ah, she finds her voice. “Ooh,” she says. Yes, she said “ooh.” Then “I should bash you…” and raises a mildly shaking hand…

“I really, really, wouldn’t advise it…” I say, and fuck knows what she sees in my face when I say it… but she scuttles to the other side of the box so fast, your eyes would spin…

And then spent the rest of the session muttering to her companions and pointing at me…

So, that was nice.


 
So, what did I learn from the two stories above? Antisemites who support Alison Chabloz like to mutter, and to point. And to point and mutter. And that they are very, very stupid.

(I was curious later, so had a look online. According to a revisionist – i.e. holocaust denying – website, the woman’s name is ‘Sophie Johnson’, or at least one identity she’s used is, and she’s one of Chabloz’s chief supporters. She’s on the left in the pic attached.)

See you tomorrow, with something very different.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.