Emma Watson is NOT antisemitic. But, questions about her Palestine ‘solidarity’ remain.

The British media ‘debate’ about British actress Emma Watson’s social media expression of ‘solidarity’ with Palestinians isn’t really a debate of any real merit.

That is, if Israel’s former UN Ambassador Danny Danon hadn’t falsely accused the Harry Potter star of antisemitism, it’s unlikely that there would be a row at all over her Instagram post.

We wrote that Danon “falsely” accused Watson of antisemitism because – though there’s a proven correlation between extreme anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism – there’s of course nothing intrinsically anti-Jewish about expressing solidarity with the Palestinians.

We’ve in fact argued at this blog, in a post condemning cancel culture, that pro-Israel advocates, and activists fighting anti-Jewish racism, should be extremely careful when using the term antisemitism, and should normally only do so in accordance with the IHRA Working Definition.  Even then, as IHRA makes clear, “the overall context” must be taken into account when determining whether rhetoric crosses the line to antisemitism.

However, in the media storm that ensued after Danon’s accusation, one question doesn’t seem to have been asked about the politically outspoken actress: Did she ever use her considerable social media influence to express, to her tens of millions of followers, “solidarity” with British Jews during the Labour Party antisemitism row under Jeremy Corbyn, or during the huge surge, last May, of antisemitic incidents during Israel’s war with Hamas.

Though Watson spoke out against racism and ‘white privilege’ in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and has advocated for gender equality, we couldn’t find any evidence of even a carefully worded condemnation of antisemitism amidst what many British Jews perceived as an existential threat to their community.

We ask whether she ever expressed solidarity with British Jews for two reasons: First, because we honestly don’t know.

Also, because it would be telling if it turns out she stayed silent amidst the outbreak of anti-Jewish incidents last Spring, and during a Labour Party racism scandal so bad that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found the party guilty of three breaches of the Equality Act.  If she didn’t speak out, it would serve as further vindication of the thesis of David Baddiel’s book ‘Jews Don’t Count’, that antisemitism is not taken as seriously by the anti-racist, identitarian left – and even mainstream literary, political or media personalities – as bigotry towards other minorities.

Like we said, Danny Danon’s accusation that Watson’s expression of solidarity with Palestinians is antisemitic was scurrilous and unserious.  But, the broader question of what precisely it would take to motivate British celebrities to speak up for the country’s tiny Jewish minority is one that should trouble anyone who’s intellectually honest and is sincere in their opposition to racism in all its forms.

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4 Comments

  1. says: Samuel Wright

    Benign neglect is ultimately the same thing as hate if she condones the actions taken against Jews in the name of the Palestinian cause. She may not hate Jews, but she might as well for the complete lack of sensitivity her post shows. She has no problem allowing her account to be used to promote a cause that would lead to a genocide of Jews in Israel.

  2. says: David

    Surely the widespread obsession with the Palestinian issue in the absence of any mention ever of some of the most awful trampling of human rights by well known countries DOES come under the IHRA general definition of double standards. So it is likely that Watsons behavior is or is at least rooted in antisemitism.

  3. says: David Harel

    The sign “free Palestine” in its core, means clear the Jews.
    If you are going to “free Palestine” you will need to kill more than 6 million Jews. You can’t get more antisemitic than that. It is quite possible that Miss Watson is just clueless and does not really want to kill so many Jews, nevertheless, she should take responsibility for her racist post.

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