Ray Cook - As I See It

Israel, Zionism and the Media

Socialism of Fools

A few weeks ago I was surprised to receive an email from the Columbia University Press asking me if I was interested in receiving and reviewing a book on anti-Semitism.

The book duly arrived. It is ‘Socialism of Fools’  (Il socialismo degli imbecilli)1 by Michele Battini, a distinguished professor of modern history at the University of PIsa and a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The book is translated from Italian. This is a highly academic and learned book which reads like a doctoral thesis. The subject-matter is the history of anti-Semitism and anti-Capitalism in Europe from the Enlightenment, specifically after the French Revolution, up to the present day.

The structure of the book is more a series of essays which take us, roughly, on a chronological journey through the swamps of European anti-Semitism. It is not a history in the accepted sense, so there is no formal chronology, but there is a sense of moving forward in time as the book progresses. At the same time, there a frequent looks back and forward depending on the subject of the ‘essay’.

Battini concentrates on key figures in right and left wing socialism in Italy and France, but also covers leading figures in Germany and Europe in general.

The book presents an intellectual challenge as it deals with political and philosophical movements and individuals that few are very familiar with. The academic style of the book, along with the density of reference and the assumption of knowledge, makes it a hard, yet fascinating read.

The premise of the book is that modern anti-Semitism arose as a consequence of both anti-Enlightenment and anticapitalist movements. The anti-Enlightenment was fuelled by a reactionary, anti-Liberal Roman Catholic church which saw the Jews, newly emancipated after the French Revolution, as siding with, and promoting, the free market (which it virulently opposed) and as part of a conspiracy to break down the ancien régime and exploit the opportunities offered by new freedoms. Hence, capitalism was just a progression of usury, formerly the domain of Jewry alone. Jews were the enemy within, empowered by newly-won equality before the law to gain power and influence and, ultimately, carry out their plans for political and economic dominance.

So, these regressive forces of anti-Enlightenment began to write and propagandise their anticapitalist, anti-Jewish views in an attempt to roll back the revolution and limit Jewish power.

The rise of Marxist philosophy, as the 19th century progressed, identified Jews as purveyors of a malign free-market conspiracy and this movement, too, was infected with anti-Jewish anticapitalism. Thus both left and right had perceived grievances with Jews, who now began to flourish in Western Europe where the old tropes and blood libels eventually reemerged in, for example, the fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion, produced on the cusp of the 20th century.

Early in the book we are given a panorama, or an overview, of how modern anti-Semitism had its origins in the nascent Church which promulgated its supersessionist ideology, identifying Christianity as verus Israel, the True Israel and Jews as stubborn deniers of the Faith, clinging to their ancient beliefs, refusing to accept Christ and conversion. It is not difficult to see how the new religion of the Roman Empire, designed to be acceptable to a wide range of pagans, should see the Jews as an eternal enemy, deicides, and a corrupt and malevolent presence on which to project the dogma of damnation and heresy.

The Church saw in the Enlightenment what we would now recognise as a growing secularism and materialism which undermined its hegemony by liberating individuals from traditional feudal hierarchies. The Church was, therefore, decidedly anti-Democratic.

Some commentators even saw Jewish collusion in the rise of Protestantism which directly challenged and then denied the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Thus, throughout the 19th century, the Church pushed against the Enlightenment, the free market, capitalism and the Rights of Man. At the centre of this web and the new order was the Jew, the usurer, the banker, the striver for equality, the eternal enemy, the antithesis of the Church.

These attitudes permeated French society which, despite social changes throughout the 19th century, was still a Catholic stronghold. Anti-Semitism here, Battini explains, eventually exploded in the cause célèbre of the Dreyfus affair. The Jew was naturally the most likely betrayer of the nation, even though the man himself was a secular Jew with no great affiliation to his religion. His German name, perhaps, also contributing to the reflexive accusation of treason.

Battini gives us a long and detailed history of French anti-Semitism introducing de Bonald, Toussenel, Drumont and Proudhon and the progress of anti-Semitic socialism in the 19th century. In a complex series of interwoven political and ideological threads the Jews, once again, are seen as an internal enemy promulgating anti-agrarian capitalism and financial feudalism. So when the French economy hits the buffers, the scapegoat, as always, is the Jew.

Battini demonstrates throughout his work that the reasons for hating Jews have morphed over the centuries and that the glacier of anti-Semitism has collected the accumulated moraine of reasons to hate Jews and to scapegoat them with all the ills of society.

It is instructive to note that just as the Church believed that the ultimate salvation of the Jews and the end to the ‘Jewish Question’ would come with their conversion, so, in the world of socialism there was a complementary idea of converting the Jews and ‘curing’ them of their capitalism by the ultimate triumph of universal socialism. In this scenario, Jews would be assimilated into the amorphous body of international socialism, and any Jewish traits likely to exploit fellow citizens would be nullified forever. In effect, both Church and Marxist philosophies desired the social annihilation of the Jews before National Socialism contemplated the physical annihilation.

I wondered, at this point, whether this ancient desire of the socialists to turn the Jewish propensity for exploitation through capitalism (as they saw it) has an echo in the current animus of the left against the State of Israel and, in some quarters, Jews in general. Israel is seen as the bastard progeny of the uber-capitalist United States. But worse, it is a capitalism that is working and thriving. Therefore, the Jews must be exploiting someone to achieve this free-market success – and it’s the ‘Palestinians’, victims of aggressive capitalist colonialism. Add to this a strong nationalism and desire for self-determination, mix in some traditional undercurrents of European anticapitalism and anti-Semitism and Israel represents everything the far left hates. Not surprisingly this can manifest itself in the form of modern variants of ancient tropes such as blood libels – Israelis harvesting organs, Jewish power – the Israel lobby, loyalty to a foreign state – the enemy within seeking to undermine the political system to favour Jews and their state.

Of course, there are contradictions inherent in bigotry: the right will see the prominence of Jews in socialist and communist history and the left will see the bankers and the businessmen. If the contradiction is pointed out then it is dismissed as two aspects of the same plot for world hegemony – the twenty million against the seven billion.

National Socialism was a movement which extolled the negation of the individual to submerge him in a national project. Democracy and the Rights of Man emanating from the Enlightenment stressed the primacy of the individual – the state was the servant of the people not the other way round.

Jewish experience of subjugation and persecution, denial of rights and freedoms could either lead to support for those freedoms or to see the need to negate their Jewish heritage in a socialist utopian future. Hence, Jews were well represented both in western democracies and in revolutionary Marxism. National Socialism, the enemy of both, had its prejudices against Jews reinforced and justified. Jews were always the losers whichever philosophy they attached themselves to.

Battini takes us on a journey through the development of French anticapitalist and corporatism from the second half of the 19th century up to the Vichy government which rather predictably blamed the devastating defeat at the hands of the Germans on a Jewish conspiracy. The Jews were to conquer the world by a two-pronged strategy of Bolshevism and banking. The Jews, as ever, remained an easy target for scapegoating from a nation reeling from its own inability to defend the nation from humiliation and subjugation. Not for the first time, nor the last, Jews provided a focus of hatred and contempt even as they were transported to the gas chambers in the East.

The Italian author has, of course, to address the rise of Mussolini and fascism in his own country and the path toward anti-Jewish laws and sentiment. Battini, now on home ground, presents us with the life and work of Paolo Orano, someone very few students of anti-Semitism outside Italy would have heard of, yet, according to Battini, he was a pivotal figure in the development of anticapitalist syndicalism to fascism. Orano was, indeed, an inspiration to Mussolini himself and his ideas informed the fascist movements of the early 20th century.

Orano, who seems to have had an ambiguous attitude toward the Church, nevertheless saw Italian Jews in very much the same way as the French anti-Semites: in other words an enemy within, anticlerical conspirators plotting the overthrow of the state and bending it to the financial machinations of Jewish capital. Orano was not averse to adopting the most heinous blood libels against Jews to emphasise their moral bankruptcy. Jews were not part of the Latin and neo-Roman order and never had been and Italian fascism which was strongly nationalist and racist had no place for its Jews. Despite this, it seems to me that Italians were less enthusiastic about sending Jews to their destruction than many other nationalities in Europe, but the role of the Church and the Pope during the Shoah is addressed in greater detail in other works, such as Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell.

Battini makes many references to Hannah Arendt whose works are particularly pertinent to the author’s context. Arendt who styled herself as a political theorist wrote about totalitarianism and also the potential conflict between universal human rights and civil rights. It is interesting to note that related views have informed the recent Brexit debate in the UK where national rights and obligations were represented as at risk and undermined by the higher European authorities and international courts which deal with infra-national rights rather than the specific exigencies of national legal frameworks.

In the context of this book, Arendt’s views of the social nature of European anti-Semitism as distinct from the older forms of religious animus against Jews are referenced.

It is at this point the State of Israel enters the fray because, by its nature, it is a Jewish national movement of self-determination which from the end of the 19th century to the present day is witness to the failure of the Enlightenment to assimilate Jews into European culture.

When the declared Rights of Man failed to provide Jews with physical and economic security in Europe and the Russian Empire they were emboldened by the very same principles to create their own socialist enclave in their historic homeland. It is, perhaps, ironic, that the early Zionists were agrarianists establishing moshavim and kibbutzim which were models of socialist principles and which extolled the virtues of work and developing the land. Of course, it was Herzl’s presence at the Dreyfus trial which gave impetus and structure to Zionism. The subsequent break-up of the Ottoman empire gave the Jews the opportunity to establish a state.

Battini defines the history of anti-Jewish anticapitalism – his ‘socialism of imbeciles’ as:

‘..  a process of social.. events that involve structure deeply rooted in European culture and reveal the Jewish support for legal emancipation but also opposition to the Enlightenment enterprise of assimilation.’2

I began to have a slightly uneasy feeling that there was an element of accusation here that the Jews, insisting on their separate dual identity within the European states, cleaving to their ancient traditions, were, somehow, partly to blame for their own destruction, however morally obnoxious the perpetrators of that destruction were.

I don’t believe this is Battini’s view but I do see a subliminal atavistic fear of one’s own otherness here. Jews, generally, see age-old persecution and accusations of pushiness, deceit and deviousness as arising from bigotry, yet, to survive, these traits may well have been present to the extent that they were identified as a characteristic, one would hope disproportionately. But I feel there is an underlying sense in this book that grievances against Jews were partly justified, but the response to those grievances were not.

It should be noted that the book repeatedly refers to the Enlightenment view, especially in France, that emancipation would be an antidote to Jews’ moral decadence and that it would ‘improve’ them. Added to this, a better regulated financial system and the free-market would remove the usurious practices of the Jew. At the same time, it was acknowledged, in some quarters, that the character of the Jews was, to some extent, the result of Christian persecution and the restrictions and exclusions placed on them. The extent, if any, of moral decadence among French Jews and those of other nationalities and how they differed from the general population is a matter for further study.

Arendt pointed out that assimilation did not save the Jews. Yet, is it not a very socialist viewpoint, whether you are of the left or right, to insist that full acceptance into the socialist embrace requires renouncing other allegiances? And this leads on to the difference between acculturation and assimilation where the former allows for a dual identity but the latter denies one. The former allows for Jewishness or any sort of otherness, the latter demands the sloughing off of the old allegiances and tribalisms and subsumption into a new single identity.

Yet modern Europe, learning or believing to have learned, the lessons of the Holocaust, embraced multi-culturalism which says assimilation is not necessary, and neither is acculturation, until the lack of either becomes so antithetical to the cohesion of the social structure that the political system begins to push back against it.

The last chapter or essay concerns ‘The Shoah, Social Anti-Semitism, and its Aftermath’.

Battini reiterates his conviction that he has demonstrated that modern anti-Semitism is a social outcome of Jewish emancipation and the Enlightenment. The Shoah was not an inevitable consequence of European anti-Semitism, but a product of a kind of evolutionary progression that was unpredictable, yet organic.

Battini draws together the many threads that led to the Shoah and stresses the importance of confronting the myths, tropes and false history that lead to negationist memes infecting the culture and the principles which lay at the core of historical analysis: truth, evidence and demonstrable facts. From the denial and negation of facts comes the accusation of lies, and from those lies the Jews are seen to be exploiting a non-existent or exaggerated history in order to morally blackmail and extort reparations. Hence, the Jews’ greatest tragedy is twisted into yet another plot to gain malign influence and power.

With regard to the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict Battini is right when he points out:

‘The Diaspora Jews are now depicted as the emissaries, the accomplices, the representatives of the State of Israel, which would constitute a military and intelligence outpost of the “American Empire”. In the “antiglobal” attitude, which has taken the place of the old anticapitalism, there are often ideological residues of European anti-Jewish anticapitalism, unearthed above all in Central and Eastern Europe or reemerging in the language of Islamist extremist groups.’3

This shift from anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism, with the Israelis egregiously depicted as the new Nazis to the Palestinian victims – the new Jews,  has downgraded the memory of the Holocaust.

What Battini does not say is that it is this shift to anti-Zionist rhetoric, which is a fig-leaf for anti-Semitism, has been expressly promulgated to diminish the Jewish catastrophe of the Shoah in order to promote a false equivalence with perceived Palestinian victimhood. Battini’s views reveal themselves as being on the left of centre with regard to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. That is his prerogative and is not core to his subject-matter.

I was hoping this book would throw some light on what we perceive as the modern alliance of far left socialists and anti-western, anti-Zionist forces in the Middle East and beyond. Could the past throw light on the present? Indeed, there were certain moments of clarity in this scholarly work where linkages between the socialism of the left and fascism, and their common cause in anti-Jewish anticapitalism presented them as two sides of a political and philosophical coin.

What the book does not do is explore whether European anti-Jewish attitudes and Christian anti-Semitism infected Islamic culture or whether Muslim Jew-hatred arose independently. Certainly, Arab nationalism has produced, since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, both left- and right-wing forms of socialism – for example Ba’athists were inspired by revolutionary socialism and against individualism; the PLO/Fatah has many connections to revolutionary, anti-imperial movements across the world, whilst Hamas’ quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Freemasonry in its anti-Semitic charter.

This work deserves a close reading and re-reading as it contains a dense network of material that any student of European and Jewish history would find informative and challenging.
Battini is dispassionate as he weaves his web of historical threads and presents his thesis. This may be the way of the academic historian, to remove himself from the story and look down upon the theatre of events he describes.

Yet, there is something emotionless about his prose. Maybe Battini does not like to see history presented as a story but I would guess that  non-academics, like myself, who are not historians but interested in history, per se, might prefer the style and lighter touch of popular historians such as Martin Gilbert. Nevertheless, this is an important work for those prepared to wade through its scholarly stolidity to eventually emerge with a greater knowledge and understanding of Battini’s subject-matter.

At the end of my reading, and re-reading, I remain left with the impression that any attempt to ‘explain’ anti-Semitism is always doomed to fall short of true enlightenment or epiphany simply because of the irrationality of Jew-hatred. If you succeed in explaining it logically you must prove that, to some extent at least, Jews are and have been the originators of the animus against them by virtue of their culture, beliefs and actions. This may be true, but it does not explain the uniqueness, ubiquity or persistence of anti-Semitism across two millennia.

1 The title is an 1893 quote from August Bebel ‘Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle’ but has been attributed to Ferdinand Kronawetter. Bebel was the founder of the German Social Democratic Party
 2 Socialism of Fools p159
 3 ibid p191

A Muslim stopped me on the street

There I was, on the last 400 metre stretch of my daily constitutional walk, when a small car approached on the wrong side of the road, and I could sense that it would stop and the driver would ask me for directions.

It happens frequently when I’m out. I must have the sort of face which says: ‘Grew up up in the era of the A-Z and will know where Acacia Avenue is’. It always amazes me that not everyone has sat-nav these days or thinks to carry a map, or plan their journey in advance.

But I digress.

The car pulled over to the kerb a few metres ahead of me, the driver’s door opened and out sprang a man in his thirties “of Middle-eastern appearance”. Now, not being one to tar everyone with the same brush, and being rather taken aback that he hadn’t just wound down his window and said, “you look like someone from the era of the A-Z and will know where Acacia Avenue is’, I felt that leaping out at me from his hatchback was of no immediate concern.

“Sorry to burden you”, he said, “but I have found some books”. This wasn’t the statement I was expecting. Now, it seemed, I looked like someone who might be interested in books, and this nice young man thought he would stop the first random pedestrian and offer him some.

“They’re in the boot”, he informed me. Still thinking it perfectly normal for a complete stranger to be offering me books rather than asking about said Acacia Avenue, I accompanied him to the tailgate. It was at this point I also noticed a little boy in the back seat. However, this gave me no comfort as my mind was not saying ‘jihadi with a Kalashnikov in the boot’ but ‘pleasant, smartly-dressed person desperate to relieve himself of a book collection.’

“I found these”, he said, as we both stared at a large cardboard box in which were an assortment of Jewish religious texts and the remnants of a pair of tefillin covered in dirt and grime.

“I wanted to know what to do with them. I respect all religions and I thought someone would want them”.

I then gave him a brief introduction to the rules of “shaimos” – the disposal of Jewish religious texts and explained they should be buried by Jews.

“Where did you find them?”

“I’ve just moved into the area and I was digging in my garden and I found them there. Should I take them to the synagogue?”

I thanked him for being so sensitive about the nature of these objects and advised him what to do with them. I couldn’t carry them home. Too heavy and awkward (not me, the books). I trusted him to do the right thing because he had thus far.

When I was home, I called the secretary of the synagogue informing him that a Muslim was on his way with a box and not to be alarmed.  He told me something similar had happened before when a Muslim had come on the bus on a 10-mile journey because he had found some Jewish prayer books and wanted to personally deliver them.

It was only afterwards that I wondered how the man had known I was Jewish.  I had no outward visible signs of being such. Do I really look so obviously Jewish? What if I hadn’t been Jewish. Some unsuspecting non-Jew would have puzzled over the texts, shrugged and carried on to Acacia Avenue. Was the driver just stopping everyone he could see who looked like they might be Jewish and I was just the last in a long line of hopeful, but ultimately disappointed bibliophiles?

It does show you, doesn’t it, that there are still heart-warming stories out there, and plenty of good, decent folk ready to confound your prejudices.

At least I now know that I have the appearance of ‘a Jewish man of a certain age who not only looks like he has memorised the A-Z, but also know what to do with disinterred Jewish religious artefacts’.

 

 

 

 

Britannia Redux – return to the rabbit-hole

I wrote here about waking up one day and finding that a vile anti-Zionist was leader of the Labour Party.

Since writing that blog post I am more convinced than ever that at some point during the  last few months I did, indeed, pass through a wormhole into an alternative universe.

You don’t believe me? Well, that’s because you are denizens of that universe and I am a mere interloper who has lost his way and is desperate to get Back to the Future.

Look. In my universe, the Premier League is won by Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea. In your universe, Leicester City, a club of no known provenance, wins the Premier League. It may be normal for you, but not for me.

In my universe it is surely beyond credible that Wales would even qualify for Euro2016 let alone win their group. In your universe they end up as semi-finalists. It’s as if the laws of nature have been torn up. I would have to qualify that incredulity by observing that England’s performances appear impervious to whatever universe they are inhabiting.

Did you know, for example, that Novak Djokovic does not lose to someone ranked 41 in the world at Wimbledon? But he does in your universe.

Although sport is of the utmost importance, replacing religion, in my universe – let’s call it U1 from now on – in your universe (U2) it appears its place is taken by politics.

I now inhabit a universe in which the UK will soon be on its way out of the EU, Michael Gove might be Prime Minister and Boris Johnson’s political career is toast.

It’s all about the Law of Unforeseen Consequences (LUC). Well, in U1, where, I presume, none of this has happened, we didn’t foresee this .

But, I am trapped in U2 (no, nothing to do with Bono) and, by the way, if anyone knows a way back – maybe Professor Hawking (you do have a Professor Hawking, don’t you?) has created in U2 a method whereby I can return to the status quo ante – please let me know.

On the theme of the LUC, you guys in U2 voted for a Conservative majority, whereas in U1 David Cameron was expecting a coalition and, for all I know, is currently in power with Nigel Farage. Therefore, he thought it a clever ploy to agree to a referendum on EU  membership in the Tory party manifesto, which in U2 is known as Brexit. This was a sop to the Eurosceptics in his party and a device to win over potential defectors to U(2)KIP.

But what happened, my (now) fellow U2ers? He went and bloody won a majority. Instead of shutting up the Brexiters and putting Boris back in his box, he ended up having to have that referendum.

And here I am, in U2, no way back (Hawking?).

OK, I guess there are some unintended positives under the LUC; for example, having lost 10% of the value of my (Self-invested) pension overnight, and then finding sterling at its lowest against the dollar since 1985, my pension has more than recovered, the FTSE is at its highest for many months and only my bank stocks are looking a poor investment. Who knows – maybe your U2 Brexit will be good for the economy after all and I won’t have to pester Professor Hawking.

However, I did warn everyone that, if Brexit became a reality, the Scots would be justified in pushing for a second Indyref, and this time they would vote to leave the Union. What I didn’t contemplate was that Brexit would give the Northern Ireland Nationalists extra grist to their aspirations to unify the island of Ireland and stay within the EU.

I am pleased to say that in U1 Europeans in the UK feel welcome here, add significantly to our national story, our culture, our natural impulse to tolerance and our instinct for hospitality. This Europeanism makes browsing the aisles of Tesco (other stores are available) like a waltz through the culinary predilections of Europe. Who has not been drawn to fare on sale in the Polish section and not marvelled at how so much can be described with so few vowels in a language that appears to have been written in a cipher or by someone throwing the contents of a Scrabble bag in the air as a method of deciding nomenclature? (Apologies to my Polish colleagues).

Back in U2 those same fine folk are now subjected to abuse from a minority who have been emboldened by their perverted reasons for voting for Brexit (instead of the majority more nobly motivated). No doubt, this will die down, but it is not only Jews and Muslims now who are feeling the discomfort of being despised by random strangers.

And then there’s the Labour party. In U2 the party has allowed itself to be infiltrated and taken over by an unsavoury group of Marxists, Trotskyists, anti-Zionists and delusional ‘progressives’.

In U1 the Labour Party was a centre Left party with politicians of stature who respected the traditions of the UK Parliament and its flawed, but workable democracy. We in U1 may have disagreed with their policies and you might have voted for other parties, but at least they were, before Miliband, a credible opposition who could challenge the government and call it to account.

In U2 the Labour Party is run by a cabal with no respect for its own parliament, its own MPs or the electorate. Furthermore, it has presided over a plethora of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic ‘incidents’ that have made the majority of Jews in this country more uneasy than at any time since 1948.

This culminated in an event beyond parody where the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s anodyne report on anti-Semitism (and other forms of prejudice) within the Labour Party resulted in its leader using one of the comparisons of Israel excoriated by  Chakrabarti in her report and a Jewish MP being verbally harassed and ‘outed’ with a classic anti-Semitic trope.

These things just didn’t happen in U1, I can assure you. Yet, this is another example of the LUC; give the members of the Labour Party one person-one vote – just like a referendum – and you don’t achieve democracy, what you achieve is a parallel democracy to the parliamentary system that has served this country for almost 400 years. Plebiscites and referendums are dangerous tools, and democracy is so nuanced and so finely balanced in the UK that you meddle with it at your peril. These tools are usually used when the launcher is expecting to retain the status quo and is demonstrating his or her democratic credentials whilst doing whatever they can do to guide the process towards their own desired result. This was true of Indyref where the government just prevailed, but in Brexit they came a cropper.

And what of ‘austerity’, which Labour and its cohorts thought – ha, ha – that they could dispose of by borrowing and spending on public services? Silly idea in U1, but in U2 George Osborne has loosened fiscal policies, signalling an end to full Austerity, and trailed an increase in borrowing to invest in public works to stimulate the economy and avoid a recession.

So we U1ers are justified in asking why the hell he couldn’t do that when the economy was, reportedly, so strong. It seems paradoxical to an ignorant U1er, like me. It might just pull the policy rug from under the feet of the Labour Party – or Labour Parties – because another result of the LUC is the possibility of the Labour party becoming a covert, or not so covert, Trotskyite Party and the 170 MPs who voted no confidence in their leader forming a new party. Wouldn’t it be something if we had 170 by-elections as anti-Corbynistas refuse to  take the whip, resigning from the party and, perhaps, creating a realignment in British politics. Maybe that’s one for U3. Whatever happens, the Parliamentary Labour Party must find a way of reconciling the clear antagonism of the party members to elected MPs who face the threat of deselection. One thing for sure, party conferences this year should be great theatre.

In the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon might be enjoying an extended period as leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition – something else we U1ers would never have predicted.

O brave new world that has such people in’t!

PS One of the leading proponents of the multiverse is the renowned physicist Dr David Deutsch. In U1, around 1970, we were at school together. I played him at chess – and won (ahem). Little did I know that almost half a century later I’d experience the reality of his great theory first hand.

Anti-Semitism, anti-zionism and left-wing double-think

All my life, I voted Labour. My parents voted Labour. My aunts and uncles voted Labour. Voting Labour was about social justice, fighting class prejudice, equal opportunities, supporting the ‘workers’, confronting undeserved privilege, helping the weak against the strong.

In 2001, on polling day in the UK General Election, I was visiting my mother in hospital and intended to vote that evening. My car broke down in the car park and I had to wait for the AA to tow me to a petrol station. I then had 12 minutes to get to the polling booth, a distance of about 4 miles. I broke the speed limit several times, finally screeching to a halt at the school where I was to vote. As I ran in, the officials were packing up. ‘Am I too late?’, I asked. ‘You have one minute’, they replied. I put my X against the Labour candidate and presumed that I was the last person in the country to vote.

I have always insisted that we should all vote. People died so we can vote. Most people in the world do not have the right to vote in a democratic election.

I had also long held the view that whatever your views on Israel and how those views are shared or not shared by a particular political party, you should vote for what is best for the country, for the UK. Your support of Israel should not influence how you want THIS country to be run. This was always my view. I took the position that I have a duty to my fellow citizens to vote for a party that would would benefit most people and I should not subordinate this solemn duty to my own parochial affiliations,

Then Ed Miliband happened.

Miliband began making statements about Israel and Gaza which would sit well coming from the mouths of Israel’s enemies; virulent and shrill anti-Zionists. Yet Ed declared he WAS a Zionist. So, why was he couching discussion of the Gaza conflict in such terms? I came to the conclusion that he was disingenuous. He was playing to both the far Left in his party and the Muslim community, which he assumed likes to hear politicians condemning Israel. In other words, he was a left wing Labour politician first and a Jew and a Zionist somewhat low-down in his list of cultural identification. The virulence of his language simply said ‘Yes, I’m a Jew, but don’t let that put you off voting for me because I can condemn Israel like a good’un’.

At the last election, despite knowing my Jewish Labour MP is a Zionist, I decided that voting for him would mean that I wanted a Labour MP and another seat in the Commons which might bring Miliband to power. My view was that the UK would become a darker place for Jews if that happened. I’m sure my parents and ancestors would have understood why I stopped supporting the Labour party. Turkeys shouldn’t vote for Christmas, as the saying goes.

And it would be darker because anti-Zionism is very easily converted to anti-Semitism. You don’t believe me? Well, does your church, mosque, C of E school or your Muslim school require three metre high fencing and security guards? My Jewish school does. My synagogue does. And the reason is not because there are a lot of anti-Semites in the UK, it’s because there are a lot of anti-Zionists – and they don’t pay too much attention to the distinction.

If you don’t think anti-Zionism is all too often anti-Semitism then explain to me why any conflict between Israel and the Palestinians makes me less safe, but when Islamists kill UK citizens across the globe the Muslim community in the UK, quite rightly, garners sympathy and reassurance that these events have nothing to do with them.

So when Ed lost the election I was relieved. And, despite Cameron also using emotive language on Gaza and the conflict in general, he is very strong on fighting anti-Semitism (its why there is a security guard outside my synagogue) and he is generally supportive of Israel whilst being, when so moved, a critical friend. That’s fine. Israel is not immune from criticism.

Then Corbyn happened.

This was pretty much the nightmare scenario that no-one believed could happen. But happen it did. The Trots had arrived. And I wrote about it here.

I predicted that this election of a long-standing Israel hater would embolden every anti-Zionist  in the party and outside. Since his election as leader it has been clear that anti-Israelism is firmly centre stage as never before for the the far Left. Anti-Semitism was fashionable and unashamed at last, albeit, frequently fig-leafing itself as anti-Zionism.

A string of anti-Semitic statements from  Labour Party members in recent weeks and days culminated in one the Four Horsemen of whom I wrote, Ken Livingstone, making the most egregious and incomprehensible statements about Jews and Nazis that has ever been heard from a politician in this country,

I don’t want to rehearse the details of this furore or Ken Livingstone’s historical illiteracy, as you can find many more able commentators views strewn across the media (Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times, for example), but I do want to try, as others, to make the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I also want to understand how politicians from a progressive party actually inflame the problem which they vehemently oppose.

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews simply because they are Jews. That is the dictionary definition and anyone who claims he can’t be anti-Semitic because Arabs are Semites is clearly anti-Semitic.

Anti-Zionism is more complex. To understand anti-Zionism you have to understand Zionism. Zionism was and remains a political movement that sought to establish a national home for Jews in their ancestral land. How that was to be achieved and its affect on other groups living in that ancestral home are not part of the definition, although they are part of the history of Zionism.

Zionism achieved its goal in 1948. The State of Israel is as legitimate an entity as the United States. Whether you like it or not. Being anti-Zionist means you do not believe that a national home for Jews in Palestine should have been created.

Anti-Zionism, in these terms, is a perfectly legitimate position to hold. I could say that I don’t believe Kurdistan should become an independent state (I actually do believe it should, by the way). That would not mean I am anti-Kurd, it might mean that I don’t believe  the national aspirations of the Kurds should allow chunks of Turkey, Iraq and Syria to be taken as that homeland.

68 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, millions of people, mainly Muslim, but also their Marxist and progressive friends in Europe and across the world, want to see the Jewish state destroyed. Either they want the Jews to ‘go back home’ or they are deluded to believe that if there were one state for Jews and Palestinians it would be a democratic country where everyone would get on swimmingly with each other and no-one would kill anyone any longer.

That is anti-Zionism. It is either blatant anti-Semitism or it is the denial of Jewish nationalist aspirations. Anti-Zionism can be different to anti-Semitism, but it almost always is, at its core, anti-Semitism because it denies Jewish identity, history and rights whilst championing those who are openly and proudly anti-Semitic.

Time and again we hear the defence that critics of Israeli policies are smeared with accusations of being anti-Semitic to close down the debate on Israel’s ‘crimes’. That would be true if these ‘criticisms’ were made in the same way as criticism of other countries. Yet, when Israel attacks Gaza the streets of countries across the world are thronged with demos of very angry people who want Israel destroyed, Jews exterminated, and in support of Hamas or Hezbollah or both.  Can you name any other country which creates such outrage and hatred? No Israel supporter I know, no Jewish or Zionist institution I know regards criticism of Israeli government policies illegitimate or anti-Semitic. Contemplating the destruction of Israel because you don’t like it is, surely, anti-Semitic. If not, tell me another country you wish destroyed.

‘Criticism’ of Israel can be found in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement which seeks to stop all trade and cultural contact with Israel to force it to change its policies and whose members often reveal that their real goal is to destroy Israel by kicking out 6 million Jews, or at least visiting on those Jews the consequences of becoming part of a Palestinian state. I’m sure they would all call themselves anti-Zionists even those that would need to have the concept explained to them. But never anti-Semitic.

I cannot help come to the conclusion that the Palestinians have become the poster-boys of Left Wing anti-Zionism because Israel is a Jewish state. Otherwise, how can a ‘progressive’  become an apologist for, and find common cause with, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, anti-Democratic, homophobic Islamists in the form of Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority. By all means criticise settlements, prejudice, even the tactics of war, but don’t then ally yourself with anti-Semites. Does that not make YOU an anti-Semite, even if you did sleep with a couple of Jewish girls (Livingstone).

Some Labour politicians (and those from other parties most notably Greens and Lib Dems, SNP and also some in the Conservative Party) ideologically support those that demonise the Jewish state and wish for its destruction whilst at the same time being completely against anti-Semitism. Once such person is Diane Abbott MP.

Her constituents include many Ultra Orthodox Jews. She has worked vigorously to protect them from attack in their schools and synagogues. But this same MP who appears at pro-Palestinian rallies, as a dutiful progressive has to do, cannot see that one of the reasons her Jewish constituents need her protection is because the uber-rhetoric of anti-Zionism which demonises, delegitimises and seeks to destroy Israel, which she cannot fail to see at these same rallies, is responsible for the hate directed at her Jews. It is the same equation we have seen in Belgium and France. The only difference is that the outcome of murderous Jew-hatred has not yet been visited on London or Manchester.

This is the double-think of the progressive Left. It divides the brain so that they can be class warriors fighting all forms of prejudice but at the same time supporting the most bigoted people on the planet. The progressive Left, therefore, in the UK or Europe, is guilty of outrageous hypocrisy and must share at least some part of the blame for the toxic anti-Semitism that is invading Europe. It is responsible because it is often the midwife of ‘anti-Zionism’.

This is why the leader of the Labour Party has asked for an investigation into anti-Semitism AND “other forms of racism’ in the Labour Party.
He simply cannot bring himself to admit that anti-Semitism has a unique place in his party. He is unlikely to find very much, if anything, about these ‘other forms’, so why include them when the recent row was about anti-Semitism only. But, perhaps, he might ask Shami Chakrabati to investigate anti-Zionism in his party – and how it victimises Jews in their national homeland. He might ask Shami to investigate individual party members’ support for pernicious Islamists and anti-Semites. Now that would be a worthwhile enquiry.

Sadly, Shami is likely to turn over a few small stones lurking in dark, dank places in the party and find, lo and behold, someone is anti-Semitic. Hooray,  the party faithful will say, that’s sorted that problem out, now let’s move on to that rally where we can all be Hamas.

Down the Rabbit Hole and Through the Looking-Glass …

Aliceroom3… and, it seems, through a wormhole.

Tomorrow I will wake up in a Britain with the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

What happened?

Did I accidentally take the wrong turn at La-La Land?

Have I somehow, like the dreamer in Piers Plowman , slombred in a slepyng and woken up in an alternative universe in a wildernesse, wist I never where.

What’s wrong with people!?

I wouldn’t mind that Corbyn has become leader of the Labour Party were it not that this means the Israel haters and the ‘anti-Zionists’ now have a delusional Marxist as their cheerleader.

After all, is it not good to ‘widen the debate’? Well it’s so wide now that we all risk falling into its great maw and being swallowed by pro-Pals., Trotskyites and Islamists.

Exaggeration? Come and sit where I sit, stand where I stand, walk where I walk, pray where I pray.

Corbyn is the apotheosis of Israel hate which morphs seamlessly with Jew hate. I do not accuse him of the latter, but he and his ilk seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the realities of of what ‘Free Palestine’ means for Jews and Judaism.

Now we shall see the Four Horsemen of the Socialist Apocalypse – Corbyn, Livingstone, Galloway and Abbot – reborn, nay, resurrected as part of an inverted, nightmare universe where Good is Evil and Evil is tolerated as long it hates Israel.

‘We are all one’ he says. ‘If only’, I say.

This is the delusion of the Left; to see the world not as it is but how you want it to be. And then, think up some stupid policies you hope will make it that way.

No, we are not ‘one’ and that is the whole point. It is this delusional belief in ‘oneness’ that threatens us all because you may believe it all you wish, but there are billions, yes billions, of people out there whose view of ‘oneness’ is not the same as your view of ‘oneness’. You, Mr Corbyn, want us to be one world where everyone is equal: men, women, gays, disabled; where everyone gets a living wage; where everyone can live according to his needs. Very noble. Yet, there is another form of ‘oneness’ which you are flirting with, in fact you are flirting to the extent that you will have to marry, and it will be a shotgun wedding, or a Kalashnikov one, and your offspring will be chaos, misery, war, famine and destruction. Then you’ll tell us ‘that wasn’t meant to happen. Peace brothers and sisters – all we want is universal peace and the end to war’.

And this other ‘oneness’ is the same ‘oneness’ that jack-booted its way across Europe in the 30s and its the same ‘oneness’ that sent millions to the Gulags and its the same ‘oneness’ that killed millions in the Cultural Revolution.

It’s not your cosy comradeship of the Left sort of oneness, it’s the oneness which says to hell with your democracies and your liberties and your human rights and your inclusiveness; to hell with 500 years of building European civilisation. You do what we do, believe what we believe or else.

This is the danger of Corbyn. Not that he wants to nationalise or re-nationalise everything that moves, not that he wants green policies but wants to re-open coalmines (WTF?) . The danger is that he will embolden the intolerant and bolster the haters.

And the danger is that Jews in this country will feel the rack of intolerance stepped up several notches. And where will we run to? Israel. The very place he doesn’t want us to go to or believe we have any right to. And if he tells you he is a two-stater it’s bollocks (sorry but sometimes the Anglo-Saxon is necessary) because those he associates with want one state and no Jews and he knows it. He thinks you can talk to Hamas and Hizbollah and you can talk to the IRA and you can talk to any two-bit terrorist and persuade him that what is needed is Socialism and ‘oneness’ and all will be OK.

But, clearly, I’ll wake up in the morning and David Miliband will be leader of the Labour Party, and Jeremy will still be a an under-achieving Trot who does good work in his constituency but will never be a front line politician because he doesn’t really believe in the institutions he is part of.

Tell me it is so – someone? Please?

Newsreel of my grandmother in 1947 emerges

In 1972 my late uncle Alf was snoozing in front of the television when he heard his mother’s voice. She had passed away three years earlier.

The voice was coming from the television and his mother was giving a short vox pop on the 1947 meat-workers strike.

The interview was filmed for British Pathé news in the Angel, Islington, London – just around the corner from where my grandparents and their four children were then living.

The programme was All Our Yesterdays and some older readers may remember its presenter, Brian Inglis, who looked back a quarter of a century using newsreel of the day.

My uncle tried to get a copy from the BBC but to no avail. When British Pathé went online I hunted without success for many months trying to find the clip.

Two days ago my brother sent me a link asking me – ‘is this Booba?’ It most certainly is.

In 1947 Britain had been gripped by the coldest winter for fifty years to be followed by one of its hottest summers. Austerity – real austerity, was the post-war order of the day in Britain. The, now-lauded, Attlee government was in mid-term. Britain was a bleak place of rationing and food-shortages and London smogs.

My grandmother, Yetta Phillips, or Booba as we called her, had always been a staunch Socialist and supporter of ‘working people’. In the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 she had availed herself of a chair leg and set off to confront Mosely and his Blackshirts, only to find herself in Leman Street nick, presumably for her own protection.

Born in Poland in 1893, in my remembrance, she always had a pronounced East European accent. In this newsreel we hear her speaking fluently and with little trace of an accent. She actually sounds quite ‘posh’.  According to my brother, this was what we might now call her ‘telephone voice’. I never heard it.

It was, and remains, an emotional experience, seeing her and hearing her forty-six years after she died, in her prime aged about 54, as I never saw her. Life had prepared several hammer blows for her and her family in the years ahead, but watching her in this clip I feel an unexpected pride that someone, who, at the time, was still an ‘Alien’ and not a naturalised citizen, spoke ‘posher’ than the other interviewees. A hint of her whimsical sense of humour which passed to her daughter and then, I like to think, to me, is also detectable.

She begins to speak about 59 seconds into the clip.

Text:

Well, I think it’s very disgusting about the strike because I have a family of six and I have nothing to feed them on and we’re all getting run down and probably end up in a hospital! Well, this is not fair and the strikers, if they do want a little more pay, they should really get it, because we’re paying enough for our food, Dear enough!

Well said, Booba!!

My connection to Napoléon Bonaparte

Shows: Napoleon  Source: drew gardner For the sake of ‘sholem bayit’ – I don’t want anyone to think I am prejudiced against the French or Bonaparte. Having just posted a connection to Wellington, I need to be even-handed here.

Unlike Wellington, Bonaparte had, it seems, a better opinion of Jews. He believed in Jewish emancipation, after all. Égalité was one of the the pillars of the revolution.

Indeed, we could see Napoléon as a progressive fighting the forces of conservatism which wanted to retain hereditary monarchies and the privileges of class.  Napoléon’s army was led by the sons of the petit-bourgeois, not by dukes and princes.

Anyway, notwithstanding, I think Boney, despite his good points, was, at the core, a more successful version of Mussolini: an Italo-Frenchman who thought he was Julius Caesar but without the fasces, as it were.

But I digress.

The connection, you say, what’s the connection?

Well it’s even more tangential than Wellington. You may be surprised to know that my great-grandfather – my father’s father’s father was born in around 1800. He lived to 102 and my grandfather was the offspring of his third marriage. My grandfather was born in 1880. Do the math, as they say. the old boy was still at it when he was about 80 years old!

However, do the math again. When he was about 12 there was a bit of a war on. the French had marched on Moscow in 1812, succumbed to the Russian winter and the Grande Armeé marched all the way back again – including through Poland.

And that’s where Koppel Kuchcik comes in – he’s my great-grandfather. The family story is that he witnessed part of that terrible retreat, as a boy, in Poland, probably in Kalisz or somewhere nearby.

So there you have it – a connection to both great men.

My connection to the Duke of Wellington

220px-Arthur_Duke_of_WellingtonOn this momentous anniversary of the greatest battle in European history, I thought I’d go a little off-piste and tell you a personal story.

My late father was a gentleman’s hairdresser in Maddox Street, Mayfair in London during the 1960s and into the 1970s.

Being near to both Regent Street and Piccadilly, where the BBC’s Paris studios were located on Lower Regent Street, he had a celebrity clientele. The clientele not only included media stars, well-known names from television, the radio and the cinema, but also one or two members of the aristocracy.

One of these was the Duke of Wellington. Not the current Duke, of course, but his father, the 8th Duke. However, His Grace did not pop into the salon like everyone else (including a Prince of Siam),  my father had to go to Apsley House to cut the Duke’s hair.

One can only imagine how the little Jewish man from the West End must have felt the first time he showed up with his bag at Number One, London and, no doubt, marvelled at the splendours within.

At least, I have always assumed it was Apsley House and not Stratfield Saye. By the 1960’s the house had belonged to the nation for over a decade but the Wellesleys still occupied apartments. I’m pretty sure my father would not have travelled all the way to Berkshire or be required to do so.

On one occasion, he told me, he arrived at the house and the Duke’s butler directed him to a side entrance. When ushered into the Duke’s presence he somehow knew the direction from which my father had come. He glowered at his butler, who had confirmed that my father had been told to use the tradesman’s entrance, and rebuked him, ‘Mr Cook comes through the front door!’

I should also add the Duke was four years younger than my father and in a few days time it will be the 8th duke’s centenary.

This story would always fill me with some pride that the Duke regarded my father above the station of a tradesman and was embarrassed to have him treated so rudely. On reflection, and I know this was 50 years ago, it was a rather patronising attempt at conferring some measure of status on my humble, scissors-wielding father. Nevertheless, His Grace was most gracious on that occasion and I thank him for it. The fact that I often tell the story shows that I am proud of the association, however slight, with such a great name. Even though I know the first Duke was no philo-semite, and regarded our people with a certain disdain, I can’t help admiring the old goat.

The 8th Duke would send notes to the salon ordering toiletries. Here’s his autographed request for just such an item, sent from Stratfield Saye in 1967, in case you think I am fibbing.

wellington-sig

‘Please send me a guinea bottle of “Kara” to this address

Wellington

May 31 ’67’

I have no idea what “Kara” was but it seems the Duke thought it worth sending a postcard for it from his country seat.

The Battle of Waterloo is a seminal moment in European history where a mainly German army led by an Irishman defeated a Frenchman from an Italian heritage – but only just; had it not been for the timely arrival of the Prussians – more Germans – under Blücher.  Strange thing, history.

I recommend that you watch the BBC documentary ‘The Scots at Waterloo’ which gives a vivid portrayal of what it was like to take part in the battle. It’s on iPlayer for a while yet. Hundred of books have been written about Waterloo but one I have recently read takes you through the day hour by hour and transports you to the Regency period in a way few history books achieve – ‘Went the Day Well?: Witnessing Waterloo’ by David Crane.

Fifa Palestina – politicising sport

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Slideshows/_production/ss-120724-munich-1972/ss-120724-munich-1972-tease.380;380;7;70;0.jpgSo the Palestinian Football (Soccer) Association is trying to get Israel suspended from international and European football because, they claim, Israel is deliberately trying to prevent Palestinian footballers the free movement they need to engage in their sport.

As CNN report:

The Palestinian group objects to Israeli teams playing in the West Bank. They also say Israel restricts movements of Palestinian players between the West Bank and Gaza as well as for international matches.

“They keep bullying here and there, and I think they have no right to keep being the bully of the neighborhood,” Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub said of Israel. “If the Israelis are using the issue of security, I can say that their security concern is mine. I am ready to fix parameters for security concerns, but security should not be used … as a tool in order to keep this racist, apartheid policies.”

But as the Israeli FA says, these are political issues not policies of the IFA. If political issues were reason to suspend a national team not only would there be very few countries represented at international level but far fewer in European  competition, too.

Remember, the only reason that Israel plays in the European area of international football is because so many Asian countries refused to play them – which is a form of Apartheid and racism itself, is it not?

In fact, Israeli football, though not free from racism by any means, actually enables Jews, Muslims and Christians all to be represented at club and international level. There is no Apartheid or racism in the IFA.

And who is PFA President Jibril Rajoub? Well, this article tells us.

NGO Shurat Hadin is calling on FIFA to expel the head of the Palestinian Football Association for serving as a member of a terror organization at the same time while heading the PFA, calling it a blatent violation of basic FIFA principles.

The letter by Shurat Hadin’s President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, sent on Tuesday to FIFA head Sepp Blatter, gives examples of PFA president Jibril Rajoub calling for terror against civilians while serving simultaneously in Fatah.

Shurat Hadin provided a slew of examples of Rajoub’s calls for violence and discrimination against Israelis which violates Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes and of Article 53 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

“It is outrageous that FIFA would allow a senior official of a terror organization to serve in a public position,” the letter stated.

It pointed out that Fatah is the parent organization of the murderous al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, and that Fatah was the organization behind the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich.

“Rajoub, personally, and in combination with others on the Central Committee of Fatah, actively supports and renders aid to AAMB and engages in public conduct designed to foster discrimination and terrorist violence against Jews and Israelis, in
violation of the FIFA principles and of the FIFA disciplinary code.”

Remember, the government of ‘Palestine’ is run by Mahmoud Abbas, one of the leaders behind that same Fatah/PLO organisation that perpetrated the Munich Olympic massacre. The Palestinians have a long history of politicising sport. Please read the rest of that article.

So, a non-state, ‘Palestine’ which manipulates the world’s sympathies as a self-perpetuating victim culture to infiltrate all sorts of organisations in all fields of human activity, not to improve the lot of its people but only to delegitimise, victimise, dehumanise and destroy another people – this is what the soi-disant State of Palestine is doing in every sphere that it participates in.

Its claims are ridiculous – if Israel is a transgressor than surely ‘Palestine’ is too – after all, its ‘unity’ government consists of terrorists (Hamas), and some of its footballers have indulged in terrorist activities and, as we just read, even its President supports terror and terrorists.

If Israel is suspended this will have serious repercussions on Palestinian football because all co-operation with Israel will surely cease. The PFA want this – so they can blame Israel for that, too. They care nothing for football or sport except as another means to attack and isolate Israel.

The Palestinians are world-class hypocrites.

But, then so is FIFA as it faces two corruption charges.

28/05/2015 – PMW have a thorough analysis of the PFA’s involvement in terror here where they call for the PFA itself to be suspended.

29/05/2015 Rajoub withdraws the motion to suspend Israel H/T Avi Mayer on Twitter

 

 

The Holocaust must never be consigned to history

Today was Holocaust Memorial Day.

Today was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I have been extremely gratified by the BBC’s coverage of the day’s events which has been sensitive and sincere. Today’s memorial service in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, attended by the Prime Minister, leading politicians, the Chief Rabbi, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, broadcast on BBC2, was also a profoundly moving occasion.

Yet this same BBC, on Sunday, put out a programme, The Big Questions, with the question ‘Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?’

What does this even mean? ‘Lay to rest’? Is the memory of the greatest crime in human history to be buried?

Yet, it is the implication behind this question that is disturbing. It is suggesting we have to move on, move on from something. But what is that ‘something’ that is to be, by its laying to rest, somehow reduced, diminished, waved away from our collective memory. Yeah, it happened, awful, wasn’t it. Let’s tuck it away so we don’t have to be embarrassed any longer by the stench that worries our collective guilt.

But let me take this a little further. Does the question mean, perhaps, that it is we, the Jews, that really need to GIVE it a rest; is it that we should be done whingeing and making everyone feel guilty.

And let me take it yet a little further still: does it mean the above AND quit your whining because look at what you are doing now in Palestine! Have I inferred too much?

As noted by BBC watch:

No less contentious than the wording of that tweet was the fact that the programme’s subject matter was allowed to be exploited for opportunistic promotion of political propaganda by Nira Yuval-Davis of the University of East London.

In a programme with two huge elephants in the room, namely Israel and widespread and endemic Islamic antisemitism and Holocaust denial, both were assiduously avoided until Yuval-Davis was given a platform to accuse Israel of exploiting the Holocaust to cover its crimes, and attacked Bibi Netanyahu for taking all visiting dignitaries to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial Museum in Jerusalem. But, as BBC Watch points out, surely the BBC researchers would be well aware of the views of Yuval-Davis. Maybe, they would argue, her views represent the minority ‘yes’ vote for the programme’s motion.

It was, therefore, also good to hear from the (apparently) only Muslim (or maybe ex-Muslim) in the audience speak and denounce Jew-hatred and Holocaust denial in the Muslim community.

It is ironic that a programme can ask its provocative question with the clear evidence that a second Holocaust is the devout wish of so many in Europe and beyond; a time when Jews are leaving France in droves, where we have a Europe in which Jews feel increasingly threatened, where they are physically attacked and even killed.

An historian on the front row tried to make the point that too much is made of the Jewish Shoah, and that it is too prominent when there have been so many other holocausts and genocides.

I reject this suggestion which was mentioned or hinted at so frequently in the programme. No-one was brave enough to say that the Shoah is THE worst genocide, or that other events are NOT equal in human evil. David Cameron was not so coy today at the memorial service I mentioned earlier.

It is not about suffering or numbers killed, it is about the impact on the entire world, the depths of depravity, the centuries of persecution which preceded it. It is so fashionable to be PC and to find equivalence everywhere. Sorry – I just don’t buy it.

Killing people is one thing – but that was not the only objective of the Nazi genocide. It was an attempt to eradicate a civilisation, a culture. It was an attempt to eradicate memory itself. The camps were not called vernichtungslagen for nothing. It was about erasure and oblivion.

It was also about what Daniel Goldhagen called ‘Hitler’s willing executioners’ because they were by no means all German. The Nazi empire unleashed centuries of suppressed enmity in almost every country in Europe.

Most importantly, the defeat of the Nazis did not destroy antisemitism; it was merely ground into the mud of post-war Europe from which it germinated again fed by Islamic judeophobia and anti-Zionism. The holocaust denial trope of much of the Islamic world, which is a mental holocaust, provides its believers with a fig-leaf for the delusion that their hatred is somehow justified.

Someone posted this on Facebook:

fb

As someone pointed out, he clearly learned nothing. This speaks so eloquently of the cognitive dissonance associated with Jew-hatred and the reasons why any genocide can happen.

Finally, Auschwitz is not the Holocaust and the Holocaust is not Auschwitz. If we just concentrate on one death camp, however terrible, it risks missing the rest of the story, and it is that story which tells us why the Nazi genocide of the Jews (and others, yes, but mostly Jews) is, and will remain, the greatest crime ever committed, and those responsible for the BBC’s efforts in this programme to dumb it down into some politically-correct moral equivalence must never succeed.

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