For the last three years my daughter has worked in the same country pub in a small English town in order to support herself whilst at university. By now, of course, she is very well known among the regular clients but also still something of a novelty in the local landscape due to her part North African heritage which has graced her with dark hair and eyes and the fact that her English, whilst good enough to both earn her a British degree and cope with the enigmas of the Yorkshire dialect, still has an Israeli accent. On Mondays she finishes work quite late and I always wait up for her to come home. This week she came in well after midnight and I could immediately tell that something had upset her. Over a hot drink she told me how her evening had been ruined.
A customer had come to the bar and as my daughter handed him his change after he had bought a drink he asked her “Are you sure you’ve given me the right change?”. She replied that she was sure, and asked if there was a problem. The customer then turned to the other clients at the bar and said in a loud voice, obviously designed to attract attention, “You can’t be too careful with these Jews, you know”.
This is far from the first antisemitic jibe my daughter has suffered whilst at work. Usually the offensive remarks are to do with Jews and money, but sometimes the subject matter differs. Once, a customer made a remark about her ‘kike nose’. Having grown up in Israel my daughter was not familiar with the word and had to ask me what it meant when she came home, but from the tone of the remark, she knew that it was meant to hurt and insult. What is significant in our view is that in none of the cases in which she has endured public abuse has any other customer ever stepped in to tell the abuser that such behaviour is unacceptable. Readers may wonder if we live in some BNP stronghold but no; this town is actually quite bohemian and is populated by well educated, reasonably affluent, middle class people with a definite majority lean to the liberal Left, including a high proportion of academics, artists, writers, musicians and actors. A reputation for progressiveness and tolerance has prompted the establishment of a large and thriving gay community in the town, and yet a young Jewish woman can be racially abused in public and no-one sees fit to object.
It was therefore with interest that I read Mark Gardner’s excellent article on CIF which addressed the subject of the CST’s latest report on antisemitism in the UK. It was also interesting to note the trends in the comments below the line, one of which was a denial that the Left can be associated with antisemitism.
5 Feb 2010, 12:52PM
Um – I count myself of the liberal left, and I have to say that pretty much every person who has identified themselves as ‘the liberal left’ I’ve seen posting here HAS been strongly anti anti-semitism and HAS condemned it as strongly as any other form of racism…?
I’m not saying that I haven’t noticed a rise in anti-semitism: just that it doesn’t appear to be coming from the liberal left?
5 Feb 2010, 12:59PM
Thank you imogenblack.
Many members of the liberal left have problems with the Israeli government, but I have never met an anti semic liberal. It is a contradiction in terms.
If anti semtic crime is rising, that is appalling.
The point about the liberal left not being as revolted by anti semitism as other race crimes is complete rubbish.
5 Feb 2010, 1:12PM
Yes, the inference in the article does seem to be that the ‘liberal left’ are somehow lacking when it comes to opposing anti-semitism. And yet, no evidence is offered to support this.
Racist attacks on jewish people should be opposed one hundred per cent, and anger at the policies of Israel are of course no excuse for such attacks. That is why it is not helpful when a UK parliamentary report a few years back gave as an ‘example’ of anti-semitism “claiming that the state of Israel is a racist endeavour”, prompting the poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen to comment “So if I should write that jews have every right to self determination, but not at the expense of others as is the case with Israel, it would seem that now I, as a jew who is utterly opposed to anti-semitism, is now guilty of anti-semitism.”
It also ignores the historical reality of widespread jewish opposition to both the policies of the state of Israel and Zionism as a political project, in the same way that many non-jews have supported it. The only jewish minister in the cabinet at the time of the Balfour declaration opposed the setting up of Israel. Arthur Balfour, as home secretary, was also famous for introducing the Aliens Bill in 1906, with the explicit aim of preventing Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms from getting into Britain.
5 Feb 2010, 1:38PM
Lets blame Muslims.
Only Muslims are anit-semitic and they killed 7 million jews in world war 2.
These attacks are to be Condemed but where is Mark Gardners stats on other racist attacks ? does he have no concern for non-jewish racism ?
Mark stop pointing the finger at the so called “Left” .
5 Feb 2010, 1:51PM
What an inane, patronising article. Especially your accusation that people on the left of the political spectrum are acquiescent to anti-Semitism. If anything history has shown that it is people of right wing political ideologies that are fond of anti-Semitism.
But of course taking your cue from the Israeli Government you have no interest in fighting anti-Semitism and only wish to make the veiled connection between being pro-Palestinian and holding a grudge against Jewish people. And like the Israeli state you conflate Judaism, a religion, with a political enterprise that is Israel, allowing you to smear anyone who utters a word against the expansionist state with the Nazi epithet.
5 Feb 2010, 2:03PM
What on earth is the liberal left?
The fact of the matter is that the lie that the left does not condemn racism, is just that, a lie, that seems to be a favourite of the illiberal right, who use this deflection as a fig leaf to cover their own unpalatable prejudices.
What’s particularly interesting is that this outright denial that there is any such thing as antisemitism on the Left has of course been disproved by such eminent writers as Robin Shepherd and Bernard Harrison. Whilst there is no reason to presume that all of the Left dabbles in antisemitism, there is equally no reason to assume that none of it does, as the experiences of many of us show. It was also fascinating to see how the indignant comments to this article reflected the mindset of CiF editor Matt Seaton in his ‘right of reply’ piece in the Jewish Chronicle as regards being ‘misrepresented as anti-Jewish’.
Another interesting theme on this thread was the pseudo- semantics of anti-Semitism:
5 Feb 2010, 12:34PM
Some Semites (the chosen ones) are more semite than other semites (the occupied)!
5 Feb 2010, 12:37PM
CST (Community Security Trust) monitors antisemitism on behalf of the British Jewish community.
and ignores anti-semitism when it isn’t directed at the Jewish community. Most semites in this country are Muslim.
5 Feb 2010, 1:14PM
Antisemitism is the accepted English word for being racially prejudiced against Jewish people.
It’s very important to zionists like yourself to fuel this error because it allows you to call anyone who criticises Israel a racist. Despite the fact that the majority of alleged anti-semites in the country are Muslism Semites opposed to Isreals campaign of terror. Start using the correct terminology and it becomes clear that the complaint is really not about anti-semitism but about anti-zionism. The problem with that is that it is perfectly acceptable to be anti-zionist.
5 Feb 2010, 1:19PM
I am simply pointing out that the term Semite has been hijacked over the years and if you look closely at one particular state, we find that the occupied semites are not willing to talk two state solution for the rampant invasion of their land and human rights abuse of their nation by the occupying Semites, with dire consequences comparable to apartheid.
I could not care less what peoples’ religion is, but lament the fact that I am paying taxes towards some faith based education. If some faith schools then exclude pupils for not being of undeniable clean racial stock, I get reminded of a rather nasty chapter that people of that very race in question often rely on as prime example.
5 Feb 2010, 1:53PM
why does anti-semitism have its own distinct phrase? Smacks a little of exceptionalism.
Xenophobia, bigotry, racism.
Same, whoever they are directed against. And unfortunately very commonplace, especially in less enlightened times and places.
And although Jewish populations, as a particularly dispersed minority, have borne the brunt in Europe more than many ethnic groups in this continent over the centuries, making as they did convenient scapegoats during the period of Christian dominance, they don’t deserve a special name for it
In today’s post-christian Europe, making the distinction is an irrelevance.
Unfortunately, what resonance it once had has become completely devalued by the endless boy-who-cryed-wolf behaviour of Israeli apologists and propagandists.
Its time to get rid of this self-serving phrase, and call it what it is, simple old-fashioned bigotry like any other, none the less deplorable, but not needing to be given its own phrase to serve an agenda.
5 Feb 2010, 2:34PM
well apart from the fact that jews are not a race, simply people who follow some form of a religion called judaism, many of them seem to have this irritating arrogance that they are the only semitic people, arabs are too. Zionists however are no better than racists in the true sense rather like the european colonialists of times past and with a similar appetite to the usa for bombing to bits civilian infrastructures and a complete disregard to the people living in them.
So there we have it folks, the GWV in action; if there is such a thing as antisemitism it’s certainly not nice people like us – must be those nasty right-wingers – and anyway, how come those Jews think they’re so special that they even have to have a word to themselves? In other words, despite thousands of hours of meticulous work on the part of the CST, nothing to see here… move along.
Sadly, the anti-Semitic incidents my daughter has suffered in the UK are not the only thing she will remember after she leaves this country, in which some of her ancestors have lived for hundreds of years. She will also remember those, either in the media or individuals, who tried their level best to assert that nothing she has experienced is of any significance, and a society which allowed them to do so.