Antisemitic trope at the Indy: Israeli minister called “bloodthirsty”

The blood-libel motif originated in the twelfth century in England and alleged that Jews needed Christian blood for their Passover service. In today’s Arab world – and in some far-left anti-Israel circles – this staple image of unbridled hatred has mutated into Israel’s alleged quest for Palestinian blood.

The changing nature of antisemitism – whereby racists used to attack Jews qua Jews, but now attack Israel as ‘the Jew write large’ – resulted in the inclusion of such modern day libels into the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism

Though most mainstream British media sites stay clear of such overt antisemitic motifs or language, in 2013 The Sunday Times had to apologize following the publication (on Holocaust Memorial Day) of a cartoon depicting a bloody trowel wielding Israeli Prime Minister torturing innocent souls.

In response to some who argued, in Scarfe’s defense, that he previously depicted Syria’s Assad using a similar blood motif, Stephen Pollard of The JC aptly noted: “But there’s never been an anti-Alawite blood libel, and the context matters. The blood libel is central to the history of antisemitism.”

As even the Guardian readers’ editor has acknowledged in a column addressing another accusation of antisemitism, whatever one’s intent, in understanding modern day antisemitism, context and history matter.

The CST noted, in their 2010 report on antisemitic discourse relating to media reports on Gaza, that depicting Jews as “blood thirsty” represents a “deeply rooted antisemitic theme”.

This brings us to a column by Robert Fisk at The Independent on June 9th, commenting on the motivation of the two Palestinians who murdered four Israelis in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.  Our intent is not to take issue with Fisk’s analysis or to defend Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman. We are instead concerned with the decision by the paper’s Middle East correspondent (and Indy editors) to use language associated with the classic antisemitism.

Here’s the headline:


In case you may think the language was the work of sub-editors, the term “blood thirsty” is repeated in the text:

Ever since Avigdor Lieberman was appointed to his new post by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the world – and especially the Palestinians – have waited to see if he would fulfil the bloodthirsty threats he made during Israel’s 2015 election.

Let’s be clear: When we talk about antisemitism in the British media, we’re not suggesting that the writer or editor in question is haunted by Judeophobic thoughts.

Rather, those of us who talk seriously about antisemitism are identifying common tropes, narratives and graphic depictions of Jews which are based on stereotypes and mythology which has historically been employed by those engaging in cognitive or physical war against Jews.

In short, we’re asking anti-racists to resist becoming, even if unintentionally, intellectual partners with those who trade in the lethal narratives associated with antisemitism which has caused us immeasurable pain to Jewish communities throughout the ages. 

As such, we’ve contacted Indy editors to ask that they remove the term “blood thirsty” from Fisk’s op-ed.

33 replies »

  1. “…we’re asking anti-racists to resist becoming, even if unintentionally, intellectual partners with those who trade in the lethal narratives associated with antisemitism…”

    “Anti-racist” today is more often than not a euphemism for just the opposite, nor do they become “unintentionally” accomplices with Jew-Haters.

  2. We live in a very nasty neighborhood…..Perhaps having a blood thirsty Defense Minister isn’t such a bad idea..

    • I wish he was, but he is just another leftist. Alas someday we will get the government we keep trying to elect instead of the leftists we are stuck with

  3. What Howard Jacobson described as the “indurated anti-Zionism” at The Independent I would say was, at least in part, antisemitism. It is a rag. However, the CST stated that depicting Jews as “blood thirsty” represents a “deeply rooted antisemitic theme”. Jews. Plural. Here, they’re attacking a Jew (singular) for comments which to many do seem bloodthirsty. I’d say that we’d all be better off if we contacted Lieberman’s office and asked him to tone down his rhetoric.

    • I see. Two killers shoot up a restaurant. The killers come from a society that constantly promotes the letting of Jewish blood, but a Jew who is not in any way involved in this act gets the title “bloodthirsty.” The mere existence of Lieberman and his views, which could just have been just as easily characterized merely as ‘hard line,’ is not a sufficient provocation for perpetrating a heinous crime. Such a theory only works if the perpetrators were looking for an excuse in the first place. This looks to me like another effort to assign blame to Jews for the factually bloodthirsty acts of Arabs.
      Yes, here they are attacking a singular Jew for the murder of several Jews attacked by Pal Arabs. Perhaps you should contact the offices of Mahmoud Abbas and demand he tone down the rhetoric. Just don’t forget to wash your “dirty feet.”

    • Just the usual ignorant nonsense from the usual mealy-mouthed apologists. Lieberman isn’t interested in the ignorant nonsense emanating from you. He knows how to behave in that neighbourhood: too many of those absurdly called ‘progressives’ – incl. many Israeli politicians – are craven galuti Jews. More backbone and cojones and less idiotic whining would achieve a lot more against terrorists, up to and incl. the arch-terrorist Abbas.
      The Independent is utterly antisemitic, end of. There is no ‘new’ antisemitism: it’s exactly the same old antisemitism as always.

  4. Lieberman is a great person to have as a defense or foreign minister. He should be defended. And what he says is right. Enemies of Israel and the Jews, hate Jews who are prepared to defend their own people. Some other Jews can carried along with the same rhetoric to try and appear “even handed”

  5. The Jew WRIT large, Adam.
    There is no ‘new’ antisemitism.
    Fisk is one of the half a dozen or so vilest people contaminating the UK with their revolting presence.

    • Don’t forget george gallowsway, jeremy corbyn, jennie tonge, lauren booth, andy choudary, UAF (United Alliance of Fascists).

  6. Am I understanding this correctly. If you refer to a politician of any other country as bloodthirsty that doesn’t make you a racist. But if the politician is Israeli, it does ?

    • Dullamy The 2 Pal-e-SWINIANS who shot and murdered people in the Tel Aviv restaurant were BLOOD THIRSTY, as were the savages who bombed London transport on 7/7 2005, beheaded Lee Rigby, bombed Brussels, shot the staff at Charlie Hebdo, shot concert goers at Bataclan, ISIS who behead captives and post the video of their BLOOD THIRSTY deed on the Internet,