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Monday, October 10, 2005 

UK leftist recognizes the anti-Semitism that's been flaring up...

And also why it was neccassary to go to war in Iraq. As Melanie Phillips points out, left-liberal Nick Cohen, writing in the New Statesman, has made some very good points about the anti-Semitism that's been on the rise again in Britain:
'I learned it was one thing being called "Cohen" if you went along with liberal orthodoxy, quite another when you pointed out liberal betrayals. Your argument could not be debated on its merits. There had to be a malign motive. You had to support Ariel Sharon. You had to be in the pay of "international" media moguls or neoconservatives. You had to have bad blood. You had to be a Jew...

'As the months passed, and Iraqis were caught between a criminally incompetent occupation and an "insurgency" so far to the right it was off the graph, I had it all. A leading figure on the left asked me to put him in touch with members of the new government. "I knew it! I knew it!" he cried when we next met. "They want to recognise Israel."

'I experienced what many blacks and Asians had told me: you can never tell. Where people stand on the political spectrum says nothing about their visceral beliefs. I found the far left wasn't confined to the chilling Socialist Workers Party but contained many scrupulous people it was a pleasure to meet and an education to debate. Meanwhile, the centre was nowhere near as moderate as it liked to think. One minute I would be talking to a BBC reporter or liberal academic and think him a civilised man; the next, he would be screaming about the Jews...

'I could go on. The moment when bewilderment settled into a steady scorn, however, was when the Guardian ran a web debate entitled: "David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen are enough to make a good man anti-Semitic". Gorgeously, one vigilant reader complained that the title was prejudiced - the debate should be headlined: "David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen are enough to make a good man, or woman, anti-Semitic"...

'To explain away a global phenomenon as a rational reaction to Israeli oppression, you have once again to turn the Jew into a supernatural figure whose existence is the cause of discontents throughout the earth. You have to revive anti-Semitism.'
Now of course, as even some of the topics I've posted here could point out though, being a Sharon supporter is not what it would take to have a blood libel issued against you in places like the UK. In fact, it doesn't matter who's in charge, they'll accuse Israel of "oppression" of Arabs, totally dismissing any historical facts or even the fact that Arabs under Israeli rulership enjoy much better status, civil and social rights than do those under PLO controlled areas, and target the Jewish community all the same. Which is exactly why, IMO, Jews shouldn't bother to live in the UK.

As Phillips points out, there's something Cohen's also missed:
It appears that it has taken some time for Cohen to realise the precise nature and extent of this madness that has consumed British public life. However, while he is correct to identify the extraordinary axis between the left and Islamic fascism, he has not spotted the fact that this group-think also embraces much of the right. Conservatively-minded middle-Britons, who start from the premise that there would be no threat to themselves from frightening Islamists if only Britain had pulled up the drawbridge across the Atlantic, fervently believe that the global jihad is indeed a rational reaction to Israeli oppression.
That could explain why I eventually stopped reading the Spectator, even for Mark Steyn's articles there: as a conservative magazine, they too were wallowing in anti-Israelism, and I seem to recall that back in the late 90s, they wrote what looked like a smear against the Aboriginal community of Australia.

See also this article from the UK Telegraph, in which UK rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks warns about the rise in anti-Semitism and voices concerns that a new wave of it could be on the rise. But at the same time, given that Sharon has turned against the very ideologies his party was built on, that's exactly why we can't necassarily say that he's not at fault in his own way anymore.

Update: Here's an interesting file from Israel Hasbara Committee about British anti-Semitism. It's a letter addressed to Jack Straw, who openly sided with the PLO several years back. He was opposed, of course, to the neighborhood project on Har Homa, and went and shook hands with a PLO member, Faisal Husseini, whose eastern Jerusalem operation was thankfully shut down a few years ago following his death too.

Update 2: for the record, The AUT has thankfully ended its attempted boycott of Israeli faculties, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette(via the establishment Washington Post) reports.

Here's something interesting said by a lecturer who fought against the embargo:
The repeal "is not a victory for Ariel Sharon," the Israeli prime minister, said David Hirsh, a sociology lecturer who helped lead the fight to repeal the embargo. He told a news conference after the vote: "This is a victory for the other Israel -- an Israel on campuses where debate and discussion take place and not bloodshed."
Considering what Ariel Sharon's standings appear to be, no, I don't suppose this would be a victory for him. But then again, it's basically irrelevant.

In any case, it was something that was bound to fail, naturally, since all they'd done was to embarrass themselves, and the UK's already getting a bad enough reputation in much of the world as it is.

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