Why didn’t David Aaronovitch challenge Nazi analogy on BBC 4 Radio?

Charging Jews with engaging in behavior or embracing values similar to the Nazis is a moral and historical inversion on par with suggesting that African-Americans have adopted the values of white slave masters - a disgusting, intellectually unserious invective that should have been robustly refuted by the BBC Radio 4 host.

The list of Labour Party members recently suspended for antisemitism includes some who have been suspended over Tweets, Facebook posts and comments advancing the Israel-Nazi analogy.

  • Newport councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi was suspended for sending tweets comparing Israel to the Nazi party.
  • Former Labour Party parliamentary candidate Vicky Kirby was suspended (for the first time) in part due to tweets calling Hitler the “Zionist god”
  • Illyas Aziz, a Labour councillor for Nottingham, posted an article about Nazi Germany with the message: “A reminder of the treatment and suffering of Jews in Nazi Germany. Are there any similarities to how Israel is treating Palestinians?”
  • MP Naz Shah was suspended in part for a Facebook post in which she appeared to “liken Israeli policies to those of Hitler”.
  • Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended after claiming that Hitler was originally a Zionist.

This brings us to a fascinating post yesterday by our colleague Hadar Sela (at our sister site, BBC Watch) on a BBC Radio 4’s programme ‘The Briefing Room’, hosted by Times of London journalist David Aaronovitch, on the topic of Labour Party antisemitism.  

One of Aaronovitch’s guests was an anti-Israel propagandist named Kerry-Anne Mendoza, who said the following:

“And so, well, what other state in the world do I know of in the present day who’s [sic] been behind the forced sterilization of Jewish women? That would be Israel. It was applying Depo-Provera – long term contraceptive injections – to Ethiopian Jewish women. I think that’s an anti-Semitic act. I think it has horrific echoes…eh…of some of the atrocities – not all of them – some of the atrocities perpetrated by the Third Reich and I think it’s right to call that out. I would call that out in any state, anywhere in the world where Jewish women or any other group of women were subject to forcible sterilization to prevent some sort of racial dilution which was the theory behind that process.”

First, as we’ve noted at this blog, and as Sela pointed out in her post, the claim that Ethiopian women in Israel underwent “forced sterilization” – which first surfaced in 2013 – is a flat-out lie.  

Moreover, whilst it’s understandable that Aaronovitch evidently wasn’t familiar with the ‘forced sterilization’ smear, and therefore didn’t refute the charge by his guest, it is unclear why he failed to challenge the Nazi analogy that Mendoza employed to contextualizing the story – a racially offensive charge deemed serious enough by the Labour Party to warrant suspension.

As we’ve noted at this blog, the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism defines ‘drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ as antisemitic.  This codification of the racist nature of such agitprop about Jewish villainy seems predicated on the fact that no sober commentator with even a rudimentary understanding of the Nazi genocide could conceivably make a comparison between the industrialized slaughter of millions of Jews and the policies of the Jewish state.  Thus, those employing such charges – suggesting that, 70 years after the Holocaust, Jews have embraced the values or policies of those who sought their annihilation – are engaged in racial abuse by using language meant to inflict the most pain on Israeli Jews and millions of non-Israeli Jews who identify with Zionism. 

Charging Jews with engaging in behavior or embracing values similar to the Nazis is a disgusting invective and historical inversion – on par, say, with suggesting that African-Americans have adopted the values of white slave masters – that should have been robustly refuted by the BBC Radio 4 host.  As Sela concluded in her post, “by failing to adequately challenge Mendoza’s mendacious propaganda, this programme…lent a helping hand to the spread of the blight of anti-Jewish racism it purported to discuss”.

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