Friday 30 March 2018

Andrew Neil on heroism and antisemitism

Welcome to This Week. I arrived in France last Friday afternoon just as the terrorist attack in the small south-western town of Trèbes was unfolding. It was over by bedtime. Three folks murdered, the Islamist terrorist killed, the policeman who had swapped himself for a hostage in hospital. We all awoke on Saturday morning to the heart-breaking news that Gendarme Arnaud Beltrame had died of his wounds. Shot and stabbed by the terrorist. Now I know in today's news cycle that Saturday is an age away and much has happened since. But I don't apologise for returning to it tonight because if this man's remarkable courage and self-sacrifice are not worth marking only a few days after his death, then nothing is. His mother said, "I knew he was the one who'd volunteered "before any name was released. "It's just the sort of thing he would do". The word "hero" is bandied about so loosely these days that it's become almost meaningless. Arnaud Beltrame was a hero, in every sense of the word, and he has restored its meaning. His example is a rare shaft of light in these dark, depressing days. An evil demon we thought had been slain, antisemitism, pollutes society on both sides of the Channel once more. I was told today that polls and focus groups show many Brits, and not just the young, don't know what antisemitism is. Well, gather round. Mireille Knoll was 85. In a wheelchair. Suffering from Parkinson's. She'd survived the Holocaust. But not an attack last Friday in her Paris council flat. Stabbed 11 times and burnt to death. Because she was Jewish. That, dear viewer, is antisemitism. At its deadliest and most depraved. Which is how it always ends up. Which is why it can't be tolerated. Those still in doubt need to educate themselves. Fast. 


  1. A powerful piece. The only problem I would have with it is the following: "Which is how it always ends up. Which is why it can't be tolerated."

    In a free society anti-semitism does have to be tolerated. Of course, not incitement to violence or conspiracy against the state or persecution and harrassment of individuals - those limits to free speech are well understood. But in terms of political belief and analysis, I think you cannot have a free society if you start saying certain forms of discourse cannot be tolerated simply because we find them repugnant.

    Andrew Neil is really putting forward the "Hope Not Hate" thesis there: that there are some thoughts and modes of speech that cannot be tolerated because of where they will lead. There are and have been plenty of belief systems widely held and tolerated in the UK which have led to the unjust deaths of tens of millions of people - Communism, the caste system, Sharia, nationalism and imperialism are examples that come to mind. They have all been tolerated thus far.

    Hope Not Hate use a Neil-style approach to demonise UKIP voters, Brexit supporters, Trump voters, anyone concerned about mass immigration or Sharia - claiming they are all on a slippery slope that will end up in a repeat of WW2. In other words they use it to toxify free debate in the UK - and that really IS dangerous, if ordinary people can't voice ordinary concerns about ordinary things which should be debated, like immigration policy, crime, the safety of their children, the housing shortage, the welfare system and so on.

    Neil of course does not wish to close down those debates, but Hope Not Hate and nearly all our political parties do, in varying degrees.

  2. It has been noted that the source of this more lethal manifestation of antisemitism is left rather vague.

    1. Quite. Some lethal ideologies are more tolerated than others, it would seem.

    2. Yes. The Times of Israel has been reporting for days, as if it's a fact, that the main killer was a Muslim neighbour and that the murders gave the usual Islamic cries as they killed Mireille Knoll. According to the Daily Mail, the French authorities are keeping tight-lipped about such things. The BBC's articles about it....

      ....are entirely typical in avoiding any mention of Muslim antisemitism, even when they refer to the recent case of Sarah Halimi. The BBC says:

      "Last month, a judge confirmed that the murder last year of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman who was beaten and thrown out of her window, was driven by anti-Semitism."

      The BBC DOESN'T say that it was a Muslim loon who killed Sarah Halimi.

      The second BBC report focuses on calls for the French far-right and far-left leaders to keep away from the protests against antisemitism.

      (Its focus, you'll note, is very much on the far-right. The French Corbyn equivalent gets off lightly in comparison).

  3. Lammy MP reporting the Leave.EU for hate speech crime for saying that Labour had been covering up anti-semitism in their ranks in order to appease followers of Islam. The danger to free speech is clear and present and getting worse. I predict Rudd will support Lammy.


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