Guardian letter accuses Oxford U Jews of ‘crying wolf’ about antisemitism

Among the letters published today in the Guardian in response to their Feb. 18th article on charges of antisemitism at Oxford University Labour Club was one signed by several pro-BDS British Jews well-known to readers of this blog (including Tony Greenstein and actress Miriam Margolyes).

First, the signatories write that “antisemitism is conspicuous by its absence in your article on ‘antisemitism’ at Oxford University Labour Club”, ignoring these truly disturbing examples of reported anti-Jewish bigotry revealed by Oxford University Jewish Society.

  • Members of the Labour Club’s committee have been known to sing the song “Rockets over Tel Aviv” and have specifically expressed support for Hamas’ tactic of launching indiscriminate attacks against Israel’s Jewish citizens.
  • One Labour Club member stated specifically that it was “not antisemitic” to allege the existence of a “New York – Tel Aviv axis” that rigs elections, and said that “we should be aware of the influence wielded over elections by high net-worth Jewish individuals”. He also stated that it was “not antisemitic” to allege the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy, even though he did not endorse the idea himself.
  • One Labour Club committee member stated that all Jews should be expected to publicly denounce Zionism and the State of Israel, and that nobody should associate with any Jew who fails to do so.
  • Several individuals, some who have been on the Labour Club committee, repeatedly used the word “Zio” (a word normally only found on neo-Nazi websites) to refer to Jewish students.
  • Several Labour Club members have alleged that US foreign policy is under the control of the “Zionist Lobby” and when asked if by “Zionist” they simply meant “Jewish” they did not answer.
  • One member of the Labour Club was formally disciplined by their College for organising a group of students to harass a Jewish student and to shout “filthy Zionist” whenever they saw her.
  • In a public discussion on the Labour Club’s Facebook group, one member argued that Hamas was justified in its policy of killing Jewish civilians and claimed that all Jews were legitimate targets. Several other members, including two former Labour Club co-chairs and one then on committee, defended the member as making “a legitimate point clumsily expressed”.
  • Two Labour Club members argued that Jenny Tonge, a peer expelled from the Liberal Democrats over antisemitism, should be encouraged to join the Labour Party.

But, arguably the most troubling element of the letter is found in the final passage:

Those who deliberately confuse antisemitism and anti-Zionism give comfort and aid to the real antisemites in our society. Like the boy who cried wolf, they ensure that if antisemitism does rear its ugly head, people will assume that this is just another false accusation. 

The “little boy who cried wolf” charge is nothing new, as it evokes the Livingstone Formulation – a term (coined by Professor David Hirsh) characterizing the spurious charge that Jews cynically ‘play the antisemitism card’ in order to “muzzle” debate about Israel.

This accusation is, in effect, an ad hominem attack on the Jewish community, as it imputes bad faith and dishonesty to those complaining of antisemitism, rather than taking the charge seriously and attempting a refutation on its merits. The Livingstone Forumulation is a popular rhetorical tool within anti-Zionist left discourse.

Though such critics of Israel of course have the right to level such charges against Jews, the Guardian has no obligation to publish their letters – an editorial decision which necessarily grants such toxic invectives far greater respectability than they deserve. 

10 replies »

  1. The as-a-Jew rubberstamp brigade crank up another of their storehouse of anti-Israel letters. I wonder who they think people like Tony Greenstein, Deborah Fink, Miriam Margolyes and the other assorted misfits whose association with Judaism exists only in the last names they inherited actually impress?

  2. Don’t try commenting on the this Guardian letter’s web page – they won’t let you.

    “Comment is Free” – as long as you toe the party line.

  3. I have to give the CiF signatories credit: they constructed a good facsimile of a fireproof argument for the “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism” school, and it took me a little while and some serious analytical processing to zero in on the “facsimile” part of that statement and burn their theory to the ground.
    The signatories group’s fatal blindspot is in how they perceive anti-Semitism to exist: as solely a product of the far-Right, and NEVER as a product of any Left or Islamist individual/group when they’re touching on matters involving Israel. The problem is that this whitewashing of those individuals and groups, is that they constantly engage in what’s objectively anti-Semitic rhetoric and behavior on Israel-related subjects and then try to fall back on the AZ train by using each other as defenders and resources. They’ve inaccurately defined anti-Semitism–at best, out of stupidity, and at worst out of malice–to the point where the strong hint that they’re the ones and not anyone with pro-Israel credentials who are the sole arbitrators of the point is not just insulting and ugly, it’s completely and fatally erroneous. The Left/Hard Left don’t have credibility on this matter because they don’t care about making an honest case for it with anyone but their core supporters (which often overlaps with the AZ/AS crowd at CiF) and that’s why thiey don’t do what would be a favor to all and clean up their rotten internal scriptures.
    When the Left and their supporters can figure out that the baseline argument “this is true no matter what because my politics and friends agree with me that it’s true” is bankrupt, they’ll be a strong part of any ME discussion. Right now, they’re air mixed with static and nothing more.

  4. When I read about fellow Jews throwing all of us over the cliff and it makes me want to scream at the top of my vocal chords. The sad truth is these at one time promising students who probably think of themselves as the intelligentsia, smarter than all of us and therefore see all these connections. They wasted their parent’s resources, our need for smart productive people, and are a dredge on all of us. Looking upon a roomful of these types is the same as looking at a roomful of court Jesters the 2 jokers you find in a deck of cards. Throughout the Bolshevik Revolution , purges, and so forth it was they’re very ilk who were the first before the firing squad or on a train to the Gulag. Since they aren’t really Jews in their minds & hearts they don’t suffer or identify Anti-Semitism when their brothers & sisters suffer or die. Yes, die. I’m sure in the UK as well as in the US Law Enforcement simply ascribed the crime to anything other than a Hate Crime. Today politically, Obama declares the motive on National TV before the investigation. When refuted by the FBI and local law enforcement that 3-Muslims murdered by a White had nothing to do with Islamophobia Obama did not retract his statements. However a year ago when Jews were murdered for being Jews in Paris at a Kosher market Obama would call it Anti-Semitism until 48 hours after his stupid statement some people. These people signing the petition you won’t save nor are they worth your time. They deserve your disdain.