As is the case in the majority of Israeli homes, Friday is cleaning-up day in the Israelinurse household.
But in order for copious amounts of ‘economica’ (bleach), furniture polish and floor shampoo to do their magic, I have to prepare myself with two cups of coffee in rapid succession – usually consumed whilst trying to determine how many of the offspring will be home for dinner, checking e-mails and having a quick browse of the news online.
The third load of laundry is now hanging out to dry, the kitchen sparkles, the spicy pumpkin and tomato sauce for tonight’s kubbeh is bubbling away on the hob and sunlight filtering through the pomegranate tree outside the south-facing living room window makes dancing dappled shapes on a shiny terrazzo floor.
But throughout the polishing, wiping, scrubbing, chopping and mopping I’ve been troubled by one more thing I feel needs clearing up: a Tweet I noticed during morning coffee.
It refers to the story which broke yesterday regarding the questioning, by British MP Paul Flynn, of the national loyalties of the UK ambassador to Israel, and was sent by another MP who, to the best of my knowledge, has an impeccable record on the subject of anti-racism. That makes it all the more puzzling to me.
Tweet by MP Rob Halfon
Paul Flynn accused the British Ambassador, who happens to be Jewish, of being incapable of doing his job properly because of dual loyalties – a classic antisemitic trope, as is Flynn’s additional assertion – according to the JC – that Mr Gould does not have the required “roots in the UK”.
So Robert Halfon’s Tweet and the article on his blog are somewhat confusing from my point of view. Have we reached a point at which people – not least public figures – can make antisemitic accusations whilst secure in the knowledge that their reputations will remain squeaky clean?
If so, it wouldn’t exactly be a precedent in British politics. I’m sure many readers remember the remarks made by former Labour Minister Ben Bradshaw in 2009 regarding seemingly irresistible pressures supposedly applied to the BBC by Israel.
My personal view is that someone who is a genuine anti-racist would not have been susceptible to the kind of smears brought up by Giblin and Bartolotti against Ambassador Gould and would most probably have bothered to inform himself of the backgrounds and motivations of the accusers. A genuine anti-racist would certainly not have repeated such an obviously anti-Semitic trope in a Parliamentary Select Committee.
But the bigger question here is this: does the employment of anti-Semitic dialogue make one an anti-Semite or not? I think it does, but if not – what are the criteria necessary in 21st century Britain for someone to be defined as anti-Semitic?
I’d be very interested to hear what readers think.