Wednesday 20 May 2020

Political choices

Antisemitism is just a political choice. Remember that! (One has to wonder, though, if the same can be said of Islamophobia and all other forms of racism)

When Ms Unsworth did her best to justify the BBC’s commissioning of a known antisemite to appear on the “Tory Takedown” episode of Panorama, various BBC scrutineers took up the case. Guido Fawkes  had:
Back in 2012 when Ashton was campaigning against health reforms, CCHQ got sick of the BBC, issuing the statement “The BBC has a responsibility to report news objectively. They should always inform their viewers if the person they are interviewing has political motives”. Eight years on and the BBC are still refusing to adhere to their own guidelines…
And the Campaign Against Antisemitism had
After antisemitic comments made by Prof. Ashton were revealed in the Jewish Chronicle last week, Campaign Against Antisemitism launched a petition to urge the BBC, ITV and Sky News to stop inviting him to appear as a regular commentator on their news programmes. 
As well as his comments revealed last week (in tweets he has since deleted), which included phrases such as “time for Jews to reflect” and “Zionists behave like Nazis”, we have now uncovered further comments which show the extent and venomousness of his obsession. 
In light of these revelations, and the BBC’s and Sky News’ dismissal of Prof. Ashton’s antisemitism as mere “political views”, we call upon others to join the hundreds who have already signed the petition to get him off our television screens. 

Although this seemed to me to be an obvious breach of the BBC’s obligation to identify their guest speakers’ political affiliations and advocacies, it set me athinkin’.

In what turned out to be a never-ending exercise of whataboutery, I was able to list dozens of known antisemites, Jew-haters and Israel-bashers who appear fairly regularly on our screens without even having to wrack my brain cell.

For one example, take emotional-meltdown-prone, exBBC staffer Chris Gunness. Formerly Gaza-based head of UNRWA, the discredited Palestinian aid agency, Hamas affiliate and recipient of $squillions of international aid, having had his Twitter account suspended for tweeting an obnoxious poem, Gunness has reinvented himself as a music critic. The biggest mystery of all is how he got away with both being gay and collaborating with Hamas. 

Perhaps, for Hamas, the perceived benefit of his anti-Israel advocacy outweighed their inherent homophobia. At any rate, he escaped being dragged behind a motorbike or thrown off a building or whatever they like to do to gay men in Gaza.

Then, of course, there’s QT panellist Richard Horton of the Lancet. He’s well known for his ‘political choice’.

We mustn’t forget Dateline London’s most frequent guest, Abdul Bari Atwan  Usually introduced simply as the editor of Al Quds magazine, our ‘Bari’ is famous for his Jew-hate and for saying he’d ‘dance with delight’ in Trafalgar Square if Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon.
That’s quite strong for a political choice, wouldn’t you say, and worth a mention in the introduction to any platform the BBC might be offering him.

Ken Loach, Miriam Margolyes a multiplicity of pop stars and thesps, they’re all at it - they’ve been spoon-fed the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian fiction for so long that no kind of enlightenment whatsoever is likely to dawn on any of them 'anytime soon'. 

So without boring myself rigid with further lists and links, I’ll say what I originally set out to say. With the pro-Palestinian narrative firmly embedded as the default ‘political choice’ of the many (not the few), I keep asking myself how did we get to this? 

Most antisemites, anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian advocates must know there’s ‘another side’ to the story. (surely?) Aware of it or not, they choose to dismiss it. Let’s call that a political ‘choice’.

What baffles me is why anyone in the post-Christian, liberal/libertarian largely secular democratic Western world would align ideologically with radical Islam? Why would they simply believe the infantile lies, the more absurd the better it seems, of the fanatics and religious bigots who simply loath Jews?

And the anti-Israel narrative is so embedded in Britain, sad to say, that anyone trying to explain the case for Israel is asking to be ridiculed and scorned. The most recent example I can give is Israel’s strategic decision to annex settlements in the West Bank. 

The legal argument for this is set out by Michael Calvo here,:
“According to international law, the Jews are the indigenous people of the lands referred to as Judea, Samaria, Palestine, Israel and the Holy Land, and therefore fulfill the criteria required by international law. The Jews are the ethnic group that was the original settler of Judea and Samaria 3,500 years ago, when the land was bestowed upon the Jews by the Almighty. Leaders of this world, who chose to make abstraction of history, misleadingly refer to Judea and Samaria as the "West Bank" of the Jordan River (which includes Israel) or the "Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
but who’s going to bother with trying to get to grips with that?
“With the Mandate for Palestine, accorded to Great Britain in August 1922, the League of Nations recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". The Jewish people's right to settle in the Land of Palestine, their historic homeland and to establish their state there, is thus a legal right anchored in international law. 
UNDRIP reaffirms the right of the Jewish people as the indigenous people, and "especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources."
That’s not going to be very popular, is it? So the Israel-bashers in the UNGA  get round it by making hundreds of non-binding declarations and treating them as though they’re legally valid.
“Recent UN General Assembly Resolutions stating that the settlement of Jews in Judea Samaria is contrary to international law are no more than recommendations and have never led to amendments of existing binding treaties. 
“UN Security Council Resolutions, stating that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal, are not binding. Only resolutions taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter are binding on all UN member states. For example, Security Council Resolution 2334 was adopted on December 23, 2016 by a 14–0 vote. Four permanent members of the Security Council -- China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom -- voted in favor; the US abstained. This resolution was not adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. It is not binding. That resolution states that Israel's settlement activity constitutes a "flagrant violation" of international law. It has "no legal validity". 

We’re in there, look! The UK voted in favour of another ‘non-binding’ resolution crafted to undermine Israel’s legitimacy in favour of the Palestinians and their fairy-tale fantasy!
“This position is political, not legal. Despite UN resolutions to the contrary, the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not inconsistent with international law.
Will the case for Israel ever be heard with a sympathetic ear? Not very likely, is it?  And just as I was thinking all this, and realising how hopeless it would be (for anyone) to try, in the face of such a resistant audience, to persuade the British establishment to be reasonable, this popped into my inbox. Unherd
Anti-Semitism runs deep in BritainThere is a strong native tradition in this country and it cuts across party linesBY MATTHEW SWEET
He starts off with an anecdote. It’s the kind of anecdote that I could easily have recounted myself. This sort of thing has happened to me many times over. I think it’s why I blog. He’s describing the belly-blow one feels when someone who seems perfectly nice and ‘relatable’ turns out to be a raging, antisemitic, ignoramus. His contention is that embedded antisemitism isn’t confined to the left. It’s also a feature deeply ingrained in the right (left and centre.)
“The journal Political Quarterly has just published the first academic study of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis. Its authors are the sociologists Ben Gidley and Brendan McGeever, and the historian David Feldman — all attached to the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck University of London.
Their conclusions will comfort few. Conservative voters, the data suggests, are more likely to assent to an anti-Semitic proposition than their Labour equivalents. These numbers are alarmingly large: added together, they work out as about 30% of the population.
I’m not totally convinced by all the reasoning, but 30%! That sounds pretty bad. 
“They suggest that most of the participants in the crisis — from Jeremy Corbyn to Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis — are guilty of the same intellectual error. They have chosen to characterise anti-Jewish racism as a poison, a virus, a disease — a foreign pollutant that has breached the defences of a 120-year-old British institution. “Figures on all sides,” the article concludes, “conceive antisemitism as an exogenous force which contaminates and spoils the political body it inhabits.”
I had to look up exogenous. It means “external force”. I can’t see that it is such a big blunder to mischaracterise a “reservoir: a deep reservoir of stereotypes and narratives, one which is replenished over time and from which people can draw with ease”  as an exogenous force, or to confuse one for the other. 

Whatever it is, exogenous force or deeply embedded reservoir, it’s real, and the examples of cultural (and casual) antisemitism he cites are all too familiar. 

It’s in the literature of John Buchan, Graham Greene and the antisemitic sources upon which many of our favourite black and white movies were based. It seems that these movies were ‘sanitised’ before release by Jews running the big studios of the time.

Interestingly, Matthew Sweet declares:
The deadlines for peer-reviewed academic journals are long. Gidley, McGeever and Feldman were committed to print before the new Labour leader issued his thoughts on the anti-Semitism crisis in his party. Keir Starmer’s language was much the same as that of his predecessor, though he did add a slightly confusing horticultural layer: “Antisemitism has been a stain on our party,” went his victory speech. “I will tear out this poison by its roots.”
and concludes:
“Prejudice does not show up on an X-Ray. It can’t be collected on a swab or in a blood sample. It lives in our actions and utterances and encounters, and in the culture they generate — on pages and screens, in workplaces and social media feeds. We are, however, a metaphor-loving society. The present moment demonstrates that. Covid-19 is a virus that we discuss in terms of war; racism is a form of human conflict that we discuss in terms of virology and toxicology. 
When words fail, sometimes our ideas are at fault. It is an opportunity to find better ones. Better deeds, too. And better friends.
This brings me back to the BBC. (At last)  Can antisemitism be seen in terms of war? Is it something nasty and pervasive to be rooted out? Is it a virus that someday a vaccine to prevent it or a treatment to cure it can be found?  Or is it deeply embedded in our reservoir of memes and tropes, and (unlike any other form of racism) for the BBC simply a matter of political choice? 

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