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Guardian legitimizes claim that Jews are responsible for European antisemitism


For every letter published at the Guardian, presumably there are hundreds which, due to space limitations and editorial decisions, don’t get published.  Thus, their letters editor must carefully choose a select few based (one would think) the seriousness of the argument, and conversely omit letters which promote or excuse racism, or otherwise fail to abide by their community standards.

Yet, as we have exposed on several occasions, they have sometimes chosen letters from writers with extremist and/or racist views.

Here are a few examples:

  • The Guardian published a letter by a philosophy professor named Ted Honderich which justified, on moral grounds, the Palestinians’ right to murder Jews in the ‘occupied territories’.
  • They also published a letter by Alison Weir, whose notoriety stems from her spirited defense of the hideous libel that Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian to harvest their organs, and in fact further defended her blood libel in the body of the letter.
  • And, they published a letter by a neo-Nazi style racist named Gilad Atzmon which defended his book ‘The Wandering Who?’, a work which the CST characterized as “probably the most antisemitic book published in this country in recent years.”

Today (June 25th) the Guardian published three letters all taking aim at a recent op-ed published at the Guardian’s blog, ‘Comment is Free’, by Noreena Hertz warning of an upsurge in antisemitism in the EU (Europe must face up to the new antisemites, 21 June), and included one letter by a Londoner named Benedict Birnberg.

letters

Here’s the full text of his letter:

Antisemitism is an age-old phenomenon long preceding the emergence of Israel – with the role of churches playing a part – and Noreena Hertz is right to talk of individual responsibility in combatting it (Europe must face up to the new antisemites, 21 June). But it is odd that she is silent on Israel’s own responsibility in fomenting antisemitism and that she castigates leftists for “kneejerk anti-Zionism”.

Israeli policies have often fanned the flames of antisemitism with their obdurate denial of justice to the Palestinians and, indeed, a large part of the radicalisation of Muslims and “the increasingly violent cadres of Islamic extremists”, which she describes as one of the three prongs of antisemitism, can be attributed to Israeli government policies. It is the kneejerk responses of Israel towards the Palestinians that bear a heavy responsibility for antisemitism today. The Israeli journalist Ari Shavit has recently spoken of Israel sitting on a volcano; it behoves individual Jews, wherever they happen to be, to use their influence to change Israel’s policies.

First, per the final sentence of the letter, Birnberg holds Jews worldwide responsible for the actions of Jews in Israel – a doctrine (“accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group”) codified as antisemitic by the EUMC Working Definition.  

Moreover, in blaming the Jewish State for “fomenting” (inciting) antisemitism and the radicalization of violent Islamist extremists, he’s both infantilizing antisemites and Jihadists by denying them moral agency, and, most troubling, implicitly blaming Jewish victims of European antisemitism (most of whom, remember, are Zionists) for the hatred directed at them.

Birnberg’s screed is simply a textbook case of antisemitism, and represents a perfect illustration of the racist impulse to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.”  

It’s instructive to wonder if Guardian editors would have published a letter which, say, excused Islamophobia as a rational response to Muslim behavior around the world, or blamed ‘immodestly dressed’ women for inciting men to commit rape.

As the late Norman Geras said in the context of condemning the Guardian’s appalling editorial on the Toulouse Massacre which avoided so much as mentioning the word “antisemitism”, but which reflected the media group’s broader ideological blind spot:  

It is “incomprehensible” that “a liberal newspaper, committed to racism’s never being acceptable anywhere, can find the words to name the poison that is rightwing anti-immigrant xenophobia, but not the word for hatred of Jews”.

We look forward to the day when the Guardian Left applies universal standards to their professed opposition to racism in all its forms, and becomes as intolerant towards rationalizationsexcuses and alibis for antisemitism as they are towards senseless hatred directed towards all other historically oppressed groups.

15 replies »

  1. You say “It’s instructive to wonder if Guardian editors would have published a letter which, say, excused Islamophobia as a rational response to Muslim behavior around the world”

    It should be relatively easy to find out. A few such letters, sent over the course of a couple of weeks especially after a batch of beheadings in Iraq or chemical warfare in Syria, would not look like a campaign, but if none of them were published, I think we could draw our own conclusions. Anyone up for writing a letter or two?

  2. Sorry for the html code confusion, the revised version of my comment:
    Israeli policies have often fanned the flames of antisemitism with their obdurate denial of justice to the Palestinians…
    But of course. And the relatively high number of successful Jewish businessmen, artists, scientists, doctors etc. is behind European antisemitism.
    … and, indeed, a large part of the radicalisation of Muslims and “the increasingly violent cadres of Islamic extremists”, which she describes as one of the three prongs of antisemitism, can be attributed to Israeli government policies.
    Correct again. The Farhud, the Damascus Pogrom, the Boko Haram etc. etc. not to speak about Malaysian, Afghan antisemitism, the gay beatings in London and Paris – the root of these atrocities is perfectly clear – ISRAEL!
    Only one question: If the radicalisation of the “increasingly violent cadres of Islamic extremism” is caused by Israel then why the use of quote marks? Are they exists or not?
    And some of the posters doubt that the Guardin is one of the worthy successors of the Sturmer…

  3. This Birnberg?
    http://www.theguardian.com/law/2010/oct/13/my-legal-hero-benedict-birnberg

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/law-farewell-to-a-nonfat-cat-1073079.html
    His own decision to go into law was influenced by his uncle, Norman Bentwich, a barrister who went on to become Attorney General of Mandatory Palestine and later became professor of international law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His grandfather had also been a solicitor, then a barrister, at the turn of the century. His father was a maths teacher and his mother ran a small private school: “It was the wider family connection, particularly my uncle’s career, that made law the option.”

  4. What a fine article. A few more Jews like Adam Levick and a few less like Birnberg and the world would be a lot safer for the Jewish people.

  5. 1) ” First, per the final sentence of the letter (i.e. “it behoves individual Jews, wherever they happen to be, to use their influence to change Israel’s policies”), Birnberg holds Jews worldwide responsible for the actions of Jews in Israel.”

    Birnberg doesn’t ‘hold Jews responsible [for antisemitism].’ He simply notes that Israeli government policies increases levels of antisemitism and it is therefore in the interests of ‘Jews worldwide’ to seek to moderate those policies.

    2) “in blaming the Jewish State for “fomenting” (inciting) antisemitism and the radicalization of violent Islamist extremists, he’s …. infantilizing antisemites and Jihadists by denying them moral agency,”

    The causal effect of policies on antisemitism is a factual matter which may be true or false; moral agency doesn’t come into it. It is quite reasonable to believe this fact to be true and at the same time to condemn those responsible for antisemitism.

    Incidentally, Adam, when are you going to stop quoting the EUMC Working Definition? This never had any official status and has long since been completely disavowed by the EU.

    • See, Sencar, I always knew you knew the right reasons for hating Jews.

      Can I seriously beat the living shit out of you because of your supposed support for blowing up the Sbarro pizzeria? Oh, you really do support that?

      Another classy move by your doofus brain, Dipshit.

    • Incidentally, Adam, when are you going to stop quoting the EUMC Working Definition? This never had any official status and has long since been completely disavowed by the EU.
      But of course the EU disavowed any definition of antisemitism. The lack of any definition is very convenient in these times when in the heart of Europe – in Paris
      “In the third disturbing incident from French capital this week, JTA reports that a Jewish teenager was attacked with an electric Taser by a group of teens at Paris’ Place de la République square yesterday. One of the teens, all of whom fled after a passerby intervened, was reportedly also carrying a club. The victim was wearing a yarmulke and tzitzit when he was targeted—just as the two teens chased by a man with an ax last Wednesday, as well as the two teens sprayed with tear gas this weekend, were wearing yarmulkes.

      This week’s attacks add to the already combustible climate facing France’s Jewish community. A report released last month revealed that a whopping 75 percent of French Jews have considered emigrating. It’s not hard to understand why. To wit, the anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred in Paris so far this year:• In May, a Jewish woman with a baby was attacked at a Paris bus station by a man who shouted “Dirty Jewess” at her.

      • In March, a Jewish teacher leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris had his nose broken by a group of assailants who also drew a swastika on his chest.

      • One week earlier in March, an Israeli man was attacked with a stun gun outside a Paris synagogue,

      • A week before that in March, a 28-year-old Jewish man was beaten on the Paris metro to chants of “Jew, we are going to lay into you, you have no country.”

      In January, anti-government demonstrators shouted “Jew, France is Not Yours” as they marched through the streets of Paris.”

      Who needs a definition when sencar’s comrades are at work?

    • sencar, bottom line after reading your contribution: Israel’s policy should be that Israel should move out of Israel and that sorts out the problem.

      Or am I reading you wrong?

      And sencar when are you going to stop ignoring the EUMC definition entirely?

    • What I notice is that Arab/Muslim mischief results in cries of Islamophobia and the injustice of holding an entire religion responsible for the actions of a few wether it be non-state actors or governments. However, anti-Semitism is treated as just a natural and understandable consequence of Jewish character and/or Israeli behavior. The double standard is odious. Anti-Semitism doesn’t come from Jews and it doesn’t come from Israeli policies, it comes from the darkest corners of the human psyche and is a symbol of something gone very awry in societies where it is rationalized for any reason.

  6. Incidentally, Adam, when are you going to stop quoting the EUMC Working Definition? This never had any official status and has long since been completely disavowed by the EU.
    It had to, otherwise the antisemitic politics of the EU bureaucracy would have been disclosed to the public. The hypocrites working over there knew the danger.

  7. What would you expect from Europe’s foremost antisemitism-sprerading and legitimizing neo-Nazi [in-effect] “newspaper”?

  8. A weaker article than I have seen here. The letter makes it clear that it is Israeli policies but this is stated as “Jews” in the headlines in an over elaborate attempt to attribute anti Semitism to the piece. There is no need for this. Also to call it the Jewish state means as critics allege that every criticism of Israel will by definition be anti Jewish . There must be a way to combat anti Semitism without using such clumsy devices.