David Cesarani wrote a very good article on Cif on January 27th about Sir Oliver Miles’ questioning of the allegiances of the Jewish members of the Chilcot inquiry committee in which, as befits one of Britain’s leading historians, he pointed out the long tradition of such prejudiced traditions in the UK. Of course this practice is far from being confined to Britain’s shores; from first century Rome, through the Dreyfus affair, Stalin’s Soviet Union and up to modern times, Jews have been accused of holding dual loyalties.
Such accusations are defined as being antisemitic in the EUMC Working Definition of Anti- Semitism – “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”. Indeed it comes as no surprise that in a Google search for the words ‘dual loyalty’ and ‘Jews’, among the first half dozen results, two are from David Duke and one from Stormfront.
The Chilcot inquiry’s task is to investigate the UK’s involvement in Iraq:
“Our terms of reference are very broad, but the essential points, as set out by the Prime Minister and agreed by the House of Commons, are that this is an Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors. It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. We will therefore be considering the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country.”
Any possible objection to the fact that two of the committee’s members are Jewish can only be explained by the fact that the objector must buy into the idea that Israel somehow influenced the British government’s decision to go to war. One of the first people to promote that strange version of events was of course Yasser Arafat when he claimed in 2003 that the Israeli government was “the first inciter for the war against Iraq”. It is, however, worth remembering that the PLO had sided with Libya and Iraq against the coalition in the first Gulf War and that right up until 2003 Saddam Hussein was financing the families of Palestinian suicide bombers up to the tune of $25,000 a family. One would, therefore, hardly expect Arafat to say anything different, but it is nevertheless quite strange that Westerners would swallow Arafat’s propaganda, apparently with no questions asked unless, of course, that propaganda was falling on fertile ground.
Imagine for a moment that some British person of notability had suggested in the press that Baroness Usha Prashar CBE was unfit to be a member of the Chilcot inquiry committee because she is a non-UK born Hindu and, given the spiritual links between Hinduism and India and the fact that India has less than peaceful relations with its Muslim neighbour Pakistan, and an ongoing dispute over Kashmir, the Baroness could find herself at the mercy of ‘dual loyalties’ whilst investigating the Iraq war. One would hope that the British public would be disgusted by such implications and their blatant bigotry which clearly negates values of both multiculturalism and meritocracy. So why should Sir Martin Gilbert and Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman be subject to different standards?
With all the above in mind, let’s take a look at some of the below the line comments relating to David Cesarani’s article. Many were extremely ugly and their volume was so great that it is impossible to show them all here, so this is just a selection. Firstly; some of the comments from those for whom Jewish dual loyalty is an accepted fact.
29 Jan 2010, 1:11PM
Either he thinks it is a problem that Jews are serving on the Iraq inquiry because they have a dual loyalty or he thinks that less enlightened folk than him in the Arab world might draw this conclusion.
When one of them is a renowned Zionist – it skews your argument slightly.
29 Jan 2010, 1:18PM
Either he thinks it is a problem that Jews are serving on the Iraq inquiry because they have a dual loyalty
Ever read anything by Melanie Philips or Barbara Amiel? It’s not hard to see where this suspicion comes from. Just out of interest, does anyone know what percentage of Jewish MP’s are members of one of the various “Friends of Israel” groups?
Are Muslims to be barred from the Ministry of Defence or Home Office lest a terrorist outrage be perpetrated by a Muslim?
If, as Sir Martin Gilbert has, these Muslims have shown that their commitment to their race/religion is worldwide then this would be perfectly reasonable. We wouldn’t put a Muslim who wanted a global caliphate on this committee, why is a committed Zionist there?
29 Jan 2010, 2:05PM
Jews like David Ceserani make too much of everything. How many Jewish soldiers have been killed while serving for the British Army in Iraq? None? I think so. The Chilcott Enquiry is not perfect, but it is the only opportunity the country at large and, especially, the parents of the British dead, will have to hear evidence from those involved in the decision to invade Iraq.
The panel should have been constituted to avoid the stain that Jews loyal to Israel – which is probably 98% of them – would bring to it. I hope the two Jews on the panel rise above their ethnic interests and equit themselves appropriately. David Cesarani’s attitude suggests that that is rather unlikely.
29 Jan 2010, 2:10PM
In the Pinochet extradition litigation a leading law lord (Lord Hoffman) was criticised for not standing down after it became clear that he was a paid-up member of Amnesty International.
The Chilcot enquiry has already heard evidence that the Iraq invasion was strongly supported by the American Jewish lobby, presumably reckoning that a weaker (or US vassal state) Iraq could only benefit Israel.
It is not anti-semitic at least to question whether the perception of a conflict of interest might now arise. If people are able to question the partiality of the enquiry panel members, they can equally question the panel’s eventual conclusions. And then we are no further forward.
It may be that when the panel was appointed nobody could have foreseen arguments about the invasion being in Israel’s interests. Now that cat is out of the bag, it would be foolish to ignore the perception problems which could now arise. At the very least, Chilcot is forewarned and forearmed that he has an issue to manage.
29 Jan 2010, 2:31PM
My point is that since, as you say, it is statistically unlikely that many Jews would be included among the British Army’s two hundred dead, why have we got two Jews – one a Zionist – out of fice panel members?
You are right that I have no demographic figures for the British Army. I would like them. And I would also like the figure for British passport-holding Jews serving in the IDF. I would bet a fair sum that there are more British passport holers in the IDF than there are their kinsmen in the British Army.
I read a fair while back that 98% of Jews support open borders in the West, 99% support Israel, but 100% support the holocaust movement. Jews are a hyper-ethnocentric people, and it is asking much more of a Jew to relinquish his ethnic interests than it is of a European, who is, on average, much given to individualism and out-group altruism. It is not unreasonable to suspect the capacity of Jews to perform, perhaps, in negation of their ethnic interests. It is not as great as Europeans.
29 Jan 2010, 4:34PM
I have done quite a bit of reading on anti-semitism in Britain and what strikes me is that ‘spikes’ in anti-semitism always accompany real events and real conflicts of interest: the Boer War, the period 1917-21 and the fear of Bolshevism, the stresses of the Second World War (especially in the East End of London), the riots that resulted from Jewish attacks on British troops in the Palestinian Mandate in 1947.
There is a strong tendency in Jewish historiography (and Prof Cesarani absolutely typifies this strain) to attribute anti-semitism to ‘irrational’ (preferably Christian) forces, whereas ethnic conflict is usually the result of an objective struggle between ethnic groups over resources (which can include ideological resources, such as competing interpretations of history). I know Jews don’t like talk of dual loyalties, but it is hard not to attribute such duality to Sir Martin Gilbert, and thus the view that he is not working fully for the British national interest.
For a wider perspective on anti-semitism I would recommend Albert Lindemann’s book, ‘Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews’ (Cambridge University Press).
30 Jan 2010, 4:05PM
Why is it “dismaying” that Sir Miles may think that Jews on the Chilcot inquiry might have dual loyalties? Is there a precedent for Jews in Western nations showing dual loyalty? There certainly is.
I would say therefore that it is prudent of Sir Miles to express such a concern. It is well founded. Israel was a prime mover and shaker in the propaganda war leading up to the attack on Iraq.
Many Jews feel loyalty to Israel, but certainly the fact that Chilcot inquiry member Gilbert has a record of active support for Zionism stands out and must bring into question his impartiality. This is not prejudice, it is most often described as a conflict of interest, and as far as I am aware, usage of that term in reference to a Jewish person is not yet ground for being labeled ‘anti-Semitic’.
If anyone still has doubts about how the CiF pages foster an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism becomes part of common parlance, the following comments should put those doubts to rest. Here are some examples of those who still think that anti-Semitism is just a trumped-up charge on the part of Jews.
29 Jan 2010, 6:39PM
The relevant sentence in the Oliver Miles article reads :
Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism.
If , by raising their Jewishness, he wishes to suggest that they are likely to be Zionists and therefore hold dubious partisan views, then he has a good point. However, the manner in which he has raised it is ambiguous and leaves him open to a charge of anti-semitism. His defence on Newsnight seemed quite robust, particularly his point about how their presence on the panel would debase its findings in the Arab world and he denied the charge.
His other points about their partisanship for Blair were also strong ones. Who appointed this panel and did they do any research ?!
I think this article is part of the “bigging up” of a problem that is really very small, as the Yoav Shamir film on More4 showed us recently. The way Dennis McShane addressed it on Newsnight, but avoided Miles’ charge, just reinforced this belief. It is a blind to draw us away from sensible discussion of the crimes in Gaza, the West Bank and the stolen towns and villages of Palestine. Who are the real victims here ? Where is the real suffering ?
Say no to fake anti-semitism charges.
31 Jan 2010, 1:27PM
It seems to me that this slur on Oliver Miles – proclaiming he “continues a long tradition of prejudice” against Jews – is born of the typically disingenuous, anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism over-reaction canard which is so often used to curb criticism of the State of Israel. And by pointing this out, I am not implying that Mr. Miles is an “anti” Zionist. In fact, I don’t know what his views are on Israel – furthermore, these views may not even be in the public arena.
Martin Gilbert is clearly an active “pro” Zionist – as David Cesarani rightly points out, he “unaccountably vented his ire in an interview on a rightwing Zionist online radio station serving Israeli settlers”. So it would appear that he supports (or at the very minimum approves) of the expropriation of Palestinian land by the State of Israel. How can a man who approves the flouting of international law by Israel, himself be fit to serve on an inquiry into the British government’s role in the Iraq War?
29 Jan 2010, 2:33PM
Here are some of the headlines from your links:
Data suggesting rise in U.K. anti-Semitism are misleading
But British Jewish watchdog says ‘there is no doubt’ there has been rise in hate crimes in U.K. ummm yup.. no chance of bias if the British Jewish Watchdog said it. Much like the ADL claiming that hate crim against jews is on the rise but struggle to fine one thats serious enough to be used as an example.
I was going to past more of the headlines until I realised that the sourse of the statistics for all the above linked articles are the same group – The Community Security Trust who solely serve jews despite the ambigious name.
So I repeat – I thought Yeov’s documentary already dealt with this one. Why then do we keep hearing the lies.
Next; a selection of the many comments which were blatantly anti-Semitic and downright objectionable.
29 Jan 2010, 1:23PM
The author seems to think nothing of tarring a whole nation with “antisemitism” because of a single comment by an individual. A comment that although crude actually has some relevance when one member is revealed to be a “champion of Israel” – dont pretend thats not relevant, it very clearly is.
if theres a word for racism against Jews perhaps there should be a word for Jewish racists like Cesarani. I mean surely i could answer that question with “Israeli” if we are to adopt Mr Cesarani’s standards.
29 Jan 2010, 2:02PM
“Is comparing muslims to jews a fair comparison. Im always told that jews are a race. Muslims are not. Im told that antisemitism is racism and not religious intolerance.”
Who told you that ?
Historian Shlomo Sand has shown that Jews are overwhelmingly religious converts from lands outside of the Middle East, and overwhelmingly not semitic.
Judaisim is a religion, not a race. Also, the recent Jewish school furore sealed that in British law.
29 Jan 2010, 2:11PM
You make some fair points.
Does anyone know a Jewish postman or builder?
29 Jan 2010, 3:04PM
The question concerns the balance of the loyalty to Israel of the two gentlemen on the panel and their loyalty to Britons and the British state.
I am quite prepared to accept that all non-natives have some loyalty to the land of their ancestors. Peoples are not without ties of blood to their own soil, and it does violence to them to deny them this natural feeling. That is wholy true of Ashkenazim and Sephardim in diaspore, who plainly see Israel as that soil, and are fiercely loyal to the Jewish state.
The question over these two gentlement on Chilcott is wholly valid and does not imply anti-anything! That’s really all people here are trying to get across, I think.
29 Jan 2010, 3:09PM
It means, assuming you are Ashkenazic, that one of your uncles is either very rich, very educated or very powerful. It doesn’t mean that that wealth, education or power is wholly the product of nepotism or wholly the product of inate intelligence, but both together.
29 Jan 2010, 3:38PM
I am nearly sixty years old. I have observed a great deal in my lifetime, including the remarkable capacity of Jews to organise and find the pressure points of the political process. Did you never hear of the Labour Friends of …?
You two gentlemen are, in your aggressive pursuit of “anti-Semiticism” I suppose, merely confirming my opinion, and the opinion of a lot of people reading this, that Jews are poorly equipped to accomodate the idea that you are visible and known. You dish it out. I have read Jewish culture theorists who maintain that the position of separateness affords great observational advantages. Well, separatism is a two-way street. The host also has eyes. We are human too, you know.
29 Jan 2010, 4:03PM
Do i have some kind of obligation to renounce every time some one say something stupid ?
no not at all. but you are posting on an article which declares a British tradition of prejudice as if its ingrained into every man woman and child and it doesnt seem to even get on your radar. yet if someone suggests that Jews are disproportionately represented you are outraged. maybe your outrage would be more valid if you were so vocal about all prejudice and not just the type against your fellow man.
or is that part of the Jewish mindset? look after your own and f*** the “Gentiles” (except the “Righteous” ones of course). I have to say a lot of the Jewish attitudes towards non Jews to be extremely patronising.
29 Jan 2010, 5:57PM
Talk of ‘blaming the victim’ undermines a proper historical analysis of ethnic conflict. Of course, Jews have been victims but the behaviour of some Jews is not irrelevant to anti-semitism. Historically (that is, until the Enlightenment), Jews have acted as a ‘middle-man minority’, gathering rent, lending money etc. They have developed a particularly close relationship to the state, which has made them very vulnerable if the regime loses support, as happened in mediaeval England and led to their expulsion in 1290.
The problem we have with the historiography of National Socialist Germany is that on the one side we have the made anti-semites, who populate far right websites, and on the other an extreme view of Christian Europe that attributes all hostility to Jews to some irrational force in European culture. There must be some sane and balanced middle way that allows us to see Jew-Gentile relations as an interaction and get away from this ridiculous perpetrator versus victim mentality.
The fact is that despite representing only 0.6% of the population Jews were everywhere that mattered culturally in Weimar Germany. I don’t have the figures with me and I am not going to quote from one of those aforementioned made far right website, but Yuri Slezkine in his book ‘The Jewish Century’ sets out in a great deal of detail the disproportionate influence of Jews in Germany and (even more so) in Poland.
Is it really anti-semitic to suggest that Jews, due to various factors, including high IQ, tend to be rather more powerful than other ethnic groups and that this might lead to a conflict with other groups?
Well there we have it; just some of the examples of anti-Semitism and bigotry of the most blatant kind which adorn the Guardian’s virtual pages. So the next time a Guardian editor states that ‘we take anti-Semitism very seriously’, the question which must be asked is ‘do we take the Guardian’s editors seriously? ‘. When neo-Nazis such as those at Stormfront and racists such as David Duke are among those promoting the ‘dual loyalties’ trope, one would think that any respectable media outlet would avoid the further propagation of such ideas like the plague.