The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood attacks a straw man in contextualising antisemitism

Addressing the antisemitism scandal which continues to engulf the British Labour Party, the Guardian published an article today by Harriet Sherwood on the row titled ‘Corbyn’s Labour must be more decisive on antisemitism claims’.

Sherwood, the Guardian’s religion correspondent (and their former Jerusalem correspondent), was critical of the “party leadership’s failure to act immediately and emphatically in response to a string of incidents over the past few weeks”.

She then added:

The problem is defining antisemitism; any expression of Jew-hatred or Nazi sympathy is straightforward but the difficulty lies where opposition to or criticism of official Israeli policies becomes entangled with its citizens, or Jewish people around the world.

Some argue that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitism because of the state’s uniquely Jewish character. Others say opposition to the present Israeli government’s policies is entirely legitimate, and has nothing to do with antisemitism.

Of course, next to nobody actually claims that “criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitism”. Rather, most are quite careful not to conflate the two.

According to the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism (cited frequently by those tasked with combating antisemitism), here’s where criticism of Israel crosses the line to antisemitism.

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Sherwood has attacked a straw man.

There are certain grey areas when defining antisemitism, yes. But, for Sherwood to suggest that Israeli officials – or anyone of any real stature – frivolously use the antisemitism charge against mere opponents of Israeli government policy represents the height of intellectual dishonesty.


190 replies »

  1. Oh – and it is deliberate. She sets up the straw man because she wants to ‘put it out there’ that the Jews cry wolf if Israel is criticised.

  2. “Some argue that any criticism of Israel is de facto antisemitism because of the state’s uniquely Jewish character” – low-IQ idiot.

  3. But what do you expect? She writes for the Guardian. Intellectual dishonesty and paucity is a prerequisite.

    • Edward I agree with you.
      Livingstone is an odious little reptile who has no place in democratic politics in the UK, or any other country.
      The sooner he and his ilk, yes Margrain I include you, Bellend and Mad Cow Miranda in that group, are consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong the better.

      This is an answer from a well known historian to Livingstone’s warped version of history.

      • The problem with your ‘historian’s’ comments, Gerald, is that they contain precious little history and quite a lot of gratuitous comment. Of course the nazis would have welcomed any way of removing Jews from Germany, and their motives were entirely reprehensible. However there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that nazis actively explored the ‘Palestinian solution’ and discussed this with Jewish leaders in the early/mid thirties.
        Livingstone was essentially correct although I think his raising of this issue in the context of Khan’s suspension was stupid and insensitive.

        • So the ‘person’ who in the past has on this site posted links to the website of a known neo-Nazi, pops in to defend Livingstone.
          What a surprise.

          • I defend what Livingstone said because it’s true, Gerald. I don’t defend his raising the question now, not least because it did Khan no good at all, and I believe she deserves support not dragging into further controversy.

              • I guess what Khan was saying, in a joking fashion, is that Israel has no right to exist on Palestinian land. As David Baddiel indicates in Sherwood’s article, that is a legitimate political position, and is not antisemitic.

                  • How did the land become Palestinian? When was there a Palestine? Never. Israel’s claim to the land is as strong if not stronger than any other people. You would be surprised how many Palestinians have a last name al Masri (of Egypt).

                    Supporters of Israel support the two-state solution, the time has come for demanding that Palestinians stop saying two states in English and one state in Arabic, perhaps then peace will come.

                • Well, Sencar, since you’re such a history buff, the only people who consider removing the Jews from the Motherland as a political movement were the freaking Nazis.

                  Another winning hand by

                  • Not true. There are plenty of non-Zionist Jews and a growing number of supporters of a one state solution from all communities. Try addressing the issues rather than hurling ad hominem abuse.

                    • “There are plenty of non-Zionist Jews and a growing number of supporters of a one state solution from all communities.”
                      I’ll translate. sencar wants an Arab state in place of Israel. There are not really plenty of Jews who support this, sencar, and BTW “Jews” don’t actually get a vote on this, only Israeli citizens do. It’s an independent state. This likewise applies especially to what you describe as “all communities.” As the young girl said to the boy trying to foist himself upon her, “Keep you damn hands to yourself !”

                • Using your rational, moving all Palestinian Arabs who don’t want to co-exist with Israel to Tasmania or Iraq would be another legitimate political position. There is plenty of room in both locations. I’d like to hear your views on the positive aspects of such an arrangement.

            • It’s also “true” that Britain and France backed Nazi expansionism by not enforcing the Treaty of Versaille and allowing Hitler to expand its military and occupy the Ruhr Valley. Similarly the Munich and Molotov-Ribbentrop Pacts were prime examples of Allied collaboration with the Nazis leading to *cough* “peace in our time”.

              The same people who glibly point to the Haavera agreement as “collaboration” with the Nazis gloss over the above actions of the Allied powers that occurred at the same time, but whereas the Haavera agreement saved peoples’ lives, the acquiescence of the Allies led to the death of millions.

              One knows what Livingston did say, but what he didn’t add, either then or since, spoke volumes as to how he wished to be interpreted by his followers.

            • The Palestine Mandate was promised to the Jews in the early 1920’s by the League of Nations. Hitler came to power in 1933, and you, sencar, are a jackass. It is time to end Livingstone and his cohorts occupation of civil discourse, rational thought, and history.

            • Sencar whether you like or dislike the politics of the Historian, Andrew Roberts he has researched and written extensively about the period and demonstrates beyond a doubt that Livingstone’s claims are wrong.
              You may very well believe that Livingstone, Shah, and the other anti-Semites deserve support that is not a surprise.

              There is a growing attempt by the likes of Livingstone, our resident plagiarist and liar Margrain, and you, to claim a link between Zionists and the vile Nazi regime. Where historical fact does not support your claims then if you can’t distort history you make it up. Your blueprint is obviously the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s “1984”.
              Clearly this is part of your ongoing campaign to undermine Israel, you will fail because your claims are based on lies and distortions as the works of the anti-Semites who preceded you over the centuries have been.

        • That little bit LIvingston said about “before Hitler went mad”… the presumption here was that Hitler’s antisemitism was somehow sane is repugnant to begin with.

        • From the Independent:

          “Livingstone’s comments were so strange – both in their detail and their apparent intent – that no sane voice has been heard in his defense. ”

          sencar, Margrain, Miranda, etc.

    • Suspended for stating an historical fact. Didn’t they teach you about the Haavara Transfer Agreement at Hebrew School?

      • Historical facts according to the inheritors of the NSDAP like Margrain and Livingstone:
        K.L. “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932,” he told BBC Radio London, “his policy was then that Jews should be moved to Israel.”
        Fact: Hitler didn’t win any elections neither in 1932 and nor in 1933. He wanted to remove the Jews from Germany without any specific location in mind especially not the British governed Mandate, he preferred the then uninhabitable Madagascar where the Jews would die from hunger and diseases. The Zionists wanted to establish a successful Jewish state – if K.L. (and his pussy – Margrain) think that Hitler’s intentions were the same then they are in the David Duke and David Irving school of history.
        Regarding the Haavara Agreement – to conclude from a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to save the lives and properties of the German Jews by the Jewish Agency that Hitler was a Zionist and Zionist cooperated with Hitler is the textbook example of distorting history. Every major powers carried on different kind of negotiations with Hitler – partly supporting his genocidal actions – as the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax or the hero of the contemporary left Stalin did.
        So poor Livingstone has been suspended under the choking pressure of the long arms of the Zionist octopus… Don’t worry Margrain he will be excused and reinstated, Corbyn can’t kick him out for his Jew-hate when he himself is brown-nosing for well known “anti-Zionists” like Raed Salah who knows similar historical facts – like the Jews are using the blood of gentile children for their Passover rituals. And Margrain must be proud of Livingstone’s eternal love felt for Quaradawi of the “gays must be hanged” and “Hitler was right” school…
        File under: History according to a Jew-hating Nazi-sympathizer common thief called Daniel Margrain…

        • Ken was wrong on small details but his substantive point stands. The Zionists did support Hitler…That’s an historical fact and none of the apologetics and deflections will change that. It’s not surprising given that (as I’ve argued on here for weeks), ideologically, Hitler fascism and (neo) Zionism are aligned. Here’s a piece I wrote 17 days before the current “antisemitism” fiasco with Livingston emerged:

          JE SUIS KEN.

          • “The Zionists did support Hitler” – cretin.
            I would say that you were a good example of the dangers of a little learning, if you had even a little learning and were not completely mad.

              • How do neoFascist Socialists like you Migraine commemorate the 71st anniversary of the unconditional surrender of your Socialist Fascist SHlTlers Turd Reich?

                • Socialism and Hitler’s “national socialism” are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. However,neozionism and Hitler fascism are both far-right ideologies which explains why far right fascist parties court the neozionist vote. It’s insane to claim that left-wing socialists are courted by these parties for that very reason. I’ve already explained this logic to you Eddy Baby. I’ll submit my tutor fee to your Hebrew school in New York in due course.

          • So Ken was mistaken on small details like the assertion that Zionists and Nazis were allies. And do you really think that anybody here will waste his/her time to read neo-Nazi antisemitic crap published by a friend and supporter of a Holocaust denier and Hitler apologist like Ken Livingstone? Funny….
            Etes vous Ken Margrain? Of course you are – the same vicious hater of Jews.

            • Livingston isn’t a Holocaust denier.That’s a lie as is the claim that the Zionists didn’t support Hitler’s transfer of Jews from Germany. Ethnic cleansing is common to both Hitler fascism and neoZionism.

              • He defended a woman who said Jews should be mass transferred by claiming that Hitler was a zionist. What do you need, a fucking slap in face?

          • “Here’s a piece I wrote….”
            Margrain are you sure that you don’t mean “Here’s a piece I copied and pasted from other anti-Semitic arseholes” ?
            After all there is clear evidence, posted on this site, that you are proven to be a plagiarist.

            In the unlikely event that you managed to string a sentence together, why would anyone believe you?
            You are proven to be, a plagiarist, a liar, a hypocrite, a racist anti-Semite, an idiot.

            In short you are a clown with no credibility, so again why would anyone believe you?

            • I understand that Livingstone, (like the plagiarist, hypocrite and phoney Margrain,) will be relying on a ‘book’ by Lenni Brenner to support his repugnant outburst.
              That would be this book,
              ““Brenner’s book lies well outside academic mainstream. It is mostly celebrated either by the extreme left and by the neo-Nazi right.”
              Brenner’s book is cited by, among others, the Institute for Historical Review, which is widely regarded as antisemitic and is listed by the US Southern Poverty Law Center as a group that has engaged in Holocaust denial.”

                • That’s you projecting again, Gerald..Tut Tut. Baseless accusations won’t get you anywhere…LOL.

                  • “Brenner’s book is cited by, among others, the Institute for Historical Review, which is widely regarded as antisemitic and is listed by the US Southern Poverty Law Center as a group that has engaged in Holocaust denial.”

                    The Southern Poverty Law Center must be projecting, eh?

              • Yeah, yeah, anybody that doesn’t adhere to the (neo)Zionist narrative is an antisemite. I get that:

              • Margrain as you have been proven time and time again to be a liar, hypocrite, a plagiarist, a racist anti-Semite, as well as a phoney.
                Any accusation of a ‘lie’ from you will be treated with the contempt it and you so richly deserve.

                • You’ve proved no such thing. Neozionists are proven fantasists and liars. You are no exception.

                  • Margrain I don’t know which is the worst, your eyesight problem, your comprehension problem, or your many personality disorders.
                    For proof that you are;
                    A liar,
                    A plagiarist,
                    A hypocrite,
                    A racist and anti-Semite,
                    A phoney.
                    All anyone needs to do is look through the threads on this site and time and time again ALL the above and more has been proven.
                    The only amusing thing is when you, mistakenly, think you have made a valid point when actually all you have done is to trip yourself up and made yourself. look an even bigger clown than you normally do.

              • “All the pieces on my blog are sourced – so more lies.”

                But your sources claims don’t hold up to objective scrutiny, nor do they hold up to the historical record. They are there to confirm your prejudices. This is your problem in a nutshell.

        • What is clear is that you’re a crackpot who turns to other crackpots for his information. Clearly you have an obsession.

            • Of course Margrain. Your historians are Brenner, Irving, Pappe and Duke.
              This is for you but don’t kick to death the family pet, and don’t damage the rugs in the room, mommy will punish you and take away your SS uniform….
              And try to survive by stealing other people’s stuff – your kind of losers usually do this accusing the Jews for their failures.

                • Ken Margrain,
                  Try reading peterthehungarian’s link. Then come back and refute it if you can. (No, just claiming that all neoZionists are fascists and liars is not an argument.)

            • “Brenner is only a “crackpot” in the eyes of denials crackpots like you.”

              Where did the plagiarist gather all those up-votes from?

            • Brenner is a crackpot in the judgement of accredited and far more thorough historians of the period. He is the type that cherry picks, obscures, and twist facts to support his predetermined conclusions rather than letting the facts lead him to the truth. He has been exposed as unreliable and antisemitic in his views.

          • “Not interested in Zionist/Hasbara propaganda.”

            Oh, I see. Your keeping an open mind by reading regurgitated Soviet propaganda.

          • “Not interested in Zionist/Hasbara propaganda” – or in English, this insane 12-year old will continue to stick his fingers in his ears and shout “Lalalalalala!”, utterly convinced that he has made the world disappear.

      • Margrain,
        You’ve repeatedly posted the same video of this nutter. What do you hope to accomplish by throwing a discredited source in the face of people who already know the difference? Do you have a secret wish to embarrass yourself, because that is all you are doing. “Democracy Now! ” (explanation point!) is where (neo)Marxist totalitarian wannabe’s go to reinforce their prejudices, and shed crocodile tears for the “Palestinian People.” They certainly don’t go there to have there ideas challenged. Of course, the country with the BIG target on its back is the USA. These people, such as the host, Amy Goodman, were simply crushed by the Soviet Union’s demise. Now, of course, they try to tell different story, to the unsuspecting.

        • Anybody who challenges the (neo)Zionist/Hasbara narrative based on lies is a “nutter”, I get that.

          • Margrain,
            How many times per day are you going to keep posting this video unaware that this “look! I found a real jew who says it,” is a centuries old, time-worn gambit of antisemites?

            • It’s the truth, Jeffrey. It hurts when the neoZionist lies are exposed, I understand that Jeffrey old chap..I trust an insider like her more than a propagandist like you.

              • It’s not the truth. It is an untruth uttered by a nutter. Your constant sourcing of it is a joke, although an antisemitic one. But if takes energy for you to post this, and if there is only so much energy you get to use for your entire life, and it quickens the end of your dreary antisemitic existence, then go for it!

    • If Corbyn had any backbone he would of suspended Mann not Ken. Ultimately Ken will be vindicated.

            • More racist-based sectarianism and ad-hominem attacks. I didn’t mention “Jews” YOU did. i’m talking about the Israeli state NOT “Jews”. So your premise was misplaced. And you are wrong on your second point too. That’s because it’s illogical to claim that the IOF is defending itself and Israel given that the latter is the occupying force who illegally steal Palestinian land while also engaging in illegal collective punishment and ethnic cleansing. No occupation = No resistance to occupation. So, as usual, the neoZionists are wrong.

              • Migraine is a plant, right? Nobody could really be so stupid and ignorant, single-handedly lowering the collective human IQ by 20 points and making lunatic Israel-haters look so utterly demented?
                There is no ‘ethnic cleansing’, cretin. There is no ‘illegal stealing’. Do you even know what all those words mean, dribbling loon?

                • It’s a fact that Israel is in breach of international humanitarian law and has broken more UNSCRs than all of the nations of the world combined.. In other words, Israel is rogue, pariah state. The rest of your diatribe amounts to nothing other than ad -hominem attacks. Have a nice evening.

                  • Security Council resolution come in different types. They are not all binding international law. To say they were broken is if they are all law is simply incorrect and shows an ignorance of the UN Charter and the way the UN operates.

                    • “They are not all binding international law” – exactly ZERO of them are ‘law’.

                  • More nonsense from the Logic 101 for 5-year olds failure.
                    This sad specimen thinks that ‘resolutions’ by the antisemitic cabal of mass-murdering, fascist states on the UNSC actually MEAN anything?

        • It’s not antisemitic to state the truth and Ken stated the truth. Don’t like to hear it, then too bad:

          Je Suis, Ken..

            • On the contrary, Ken’s assertion that the Zionists supported Hitler’s transfer of Jews from Germany is a fact. Facts are stubborn things.

              • Letting Jews escape from National SOCIALIST (left of centre?) Germany would be better than killing them. Don’t you agree you anglo fascist wanker?

                  • Miranda,
                    As a matter of fact, I took that test just last year. And I was squarely on the left. But, of course, it’s not just a matter of left and right, but also measures north (authoritarian) and south (libertarian). I was in libertarian left territory, whereas the British Labour Party had the unfortunate designation “authoritarian right.” Now of course that was before Corbyn got in, so I would assume Labour has lurched even further north, and who knows, maybe to the far right with his friends in Hamas, Hezbollah, Putin, plus any right wing authoritarian America and Israel hating group on the planet.
                    Thanks for playing.

                    • @Jeff21st –

                      “I was in libertarian left territory.”

                      Same as me, then – so what a surprise! One thing baffles me, though …. it’s your belief that Corbyn belongs in the same “Authoritarian Right” quadrant as those near-as-dammit Thatcherites who held Labour’s reins when you took the test – and who very clearly loathe him for being “too Left” and “not Authoritarian enough” to win a UK election. (For what it’s worth, I’d put him a smidge over the Left line and a gnat’s whisker away from entering Libertarian domain.)

                      I can only suppose that’s because you can’t see a difference between readiness to TALK to Hamas, etc, and being “friends” with them.

                      But maybe I make similar assumptions about you, too. Just because you view Israel as being existentially threatened by everything from rockets to BDS campaign chants doesn’t necessarily equate to “friendly feelings” for the (extremely) Right-wing Authoritarians who run the country and whose every “defensive” action – no matter how obnoxious or OTT – is hailed so unequivocally by most in this forum.

                      Amazing how easy it is to paint yourself into a corner when “clarification” only gets you bashed from both sides….

                    • Miranda,
                      Your take on things is inverted as well as insane. You characterize the Israeli government as super-duper right wing extreme, an overblown mischaracterization, yet can’t bring yourself to characterize Hamas’ political leanings at all. A blind spot for sure that relates to your unworkable and delusional yet trendy “black vs. white” weltanschauung. Jews have never been responsible for the aggression against them. There is nothing they can or have ever been able to do about it, except defend themselves, which they were never really able to do, until now. Jews cannot control the aggression against them, because they are not responsible for it. That responsibility lies with the aggressors. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand what antisemitism is and how it works. Educate yourself.

                      re your characterization of Hamas rockets and BDS “chants.” This mischaracterized downplaying of the threat to the Jewish State’s continued existence is astounding.
                      And the excuse that somehow its policies and aims, which are continuously misrepresented in forums around the world, for the excessive and obsessive focus and pillorying it receives is absolute rubbish.

                    • Anyone know what the lunatic Miranda is babbling about this time?
                      Actually no, no need to ask: she is claiming that Israel defending itself is a mark of far-right fascism …
                      How old are you, cretin – 12?

                  • Err, pathetic Miranda, Thatcher WAS centre right to anyone with the political understanding of a safety pin.

                    • @Leah27z –

                      “Thatcher WAS centre right …”

                      If by “centre right” you mean halfway between the Left-Right dividing line and the ultra-Far Right ground occupied by General Pinochet, for eg, I guess you’re (almost) correct. But what’s normally meant by “centre” in politics IS that Left-Right line…. thus placing Thatcher much more squarely in “extreme” territory than you seem able to recognise.

                    • Ignorant, lunatic nonsense. Hamas is far right. You are far right. Thatcher was just to the right of centre.

                    • @ leah27z –

                      RE: “Ignorant, lunatic nonsense. Hamas is far right. You are far right. Thatcher was just to the right of centre.”

                      You clearly don’t have a clue about the difference between Left from Right – which is why, presumably, the Likud-led Israeli government doesn’t get a mention in your scale of “Right-wingery”. (If you’d done so, of course, that would have put Hamas, Thatcher, me and Bibi all in the same broad political camp – the only difference between us being the degrees of our “extremity” … how VERY inconvenient, confusing, and embarrassing!)

                      Before making an even bigger chump of yourself, some basic education from the Jewish Virtual Library about Likud might come in handy (see ):

                      ‘The Likud Party … is a right wing political party in Israel founded by revolutionary leader Menachem Begin and was the first right-leaning party to lead the Israeli government. It is currently headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ….

                      ‘…In a last ditch attempt to squeeze out as many far-right votes as he could [in the 2015 General Election], Netanyahu stated during an interview … that there was no chance of the establishment of a Palestinian state while he remained Prime Minister. ….. [He] stirred up controversy on election day when he posted a campaign video on social media stating “Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations….” ‘

            • Like I say, he will be vindicated. No amount of neoZionist lies and McCarthy witch-hunts will prevent the truth. .

              • Daniel Margrain, at age 54, in 2016, discovers McCarthyism, then misapplies it to critics of antisemitism. Intellectually sad, morally malign.

                • “Daniel Margrain, at age 54, in 2016, discovers McCarthyism, then misapplies it to critics of antisemitism. Intellectually sad, morally malign.”

                  • “Daniel Margrain, at age 54, in 2016, discovers McCarthyism, then misapplies it to critics of antisemitism. Intellectually sad, morally malign.”
                    Certainly worth a 3rd printing.

                  • Wrong as usual. I’m correctly applying it to those who have been falsely accused of antisemitism. And I didn’t “discover” McCarthyism in 2016. So wrong again.

                    • Oh, so you just started applying it in 2016, imitating your “friend” Ken. Sorry for the mistake.

                    • Migraine discovered Stalinist 54 years ago.

                      The tens of millions of people who died from Stalinism would be happier if they weren’t killed by Stalin and his fascist minions.