Just How Anti-Zionist Is Britain?

I didn’t realise until a few days ago that the UK Government Petitions website is searchable. It’s not quite down to “Don’t tell him your name, Pike” level – but you can find out how many people from each parliamentary constituency voted for a given petition. So you can see in what areas support is strongest – and where they really don’t care.
Obviously I searched for the most popular antisemitic petition I could find, as you do. Fortunately there is nothing of that nature currently live: but in 2015 there was a fine example of antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism: “Benjamin Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes when he arrives in London” This attracted 114,122 signatures before it closed in February 2016.
As a control I compared it to the most popular petition which was likely to attract the sort of leftish, anti-establishment progressives who might have signed the first petition – but without the anti-Israel element. This is still open: “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom”. As of 29 April 2017 it has garnered 1,863,606 signatures.
There are 650 constituencies in the UK, so on average 175 people from each should have signed the Netanyahu petition. More than 840 signed from: Bethnal Green (1665), Poplar (1528), Bradford West (1347), Birmingham Hall Green (1323), Blackburn (1319), East Ham (1311), Ilford South (1292), Birmingham Hodge Hill (1101), West Ham (1069), Leicester South (876), Rochdale (866), Bradford East (858) & Birmingham Ladywood (847).

On average 2,867 people from each constituency should have signed the Trump petition. More than 10,000 signed from: Bristol West (13177), Hackney North (12346), Hornsey (11848), Bethnal Green (11499), Holborn (11309), Hackney South (11166) Brighton Pavilion (11136), Islington North (10776).

What can we learn from these figures? Most importantly, that the Israeli/Arab conflict is a long way down on the agenda of even the most left-leaning politically-minded Brits. Secondly, that there is no drive to intersectionality: no underlying linkage between opposition to Trump and opposition to Israel. The only proportional demographic overlap with these petitions is in the East End of London, specifically Bethnal Green. This might be expected, as it is home to both the hard left and a massive Muslim population. But anti-Trump centres outside London (Bristol, Brighton) seem to have little or no animus towards Netanyahu or Israel. So where is the anti-Zionist animus concentrated? Bradford, Birmingham, Blackburn, Leicester and Rochdale – all very large Muslim centres.

Conclusion: anti-Zionism is just not that popular a cause in Britain, even among the hard, anti-colonialist, anti-American, anti-capitalist Left. But it does obsess a worrying large percentage of British Muslims. Below is the spreadsheet giving all above-average constituency figures: judge for yourself.

Anti-Zionist to Anti-Trump Petition Map of UK

The Chakrabarti Inquiry: Evidence that it ignores antisemitism

This was my submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry:

As a concerned Jew I am writing to ask for your response to the following two questions about the Inquiry into the Labour Party which you will shortly be chairing:

  1. Can you confirm that you will not be applying double standards by on the one hand dismissing the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and Pickles governmental definitions of antisemitism, and on the other hand giving weight to accusations of Islamophobia made against those who merely wish to protest the incitement of violence?
  2. Can you confirm that you will not be perversely standing Macpherson on its head by accepting the testimony of those Jews who categorise such statements as “the creation of Israel as a Jewish State was a crime” and “Jews of all people should have learnt from the Holocaust to turn the other cheek ” as fair comment, and not the antisemitism that they are?

The following excerpts from the Inquiry prove that the response to my concerns is a resounding “No!”

[page 4]: “…  it  is incredibly important that whilst individual testimonies are acknowledged, universal principles are then applied. So for example Islamophobia, antisemitism and Afriphobia are all equally vile forms of racism.”

This was meant to be an inquiry into antisemitism. Islamophobia and hatred of people of African descent are serious problems, but of different origin and merit different treatment in a separate inquiry

[page 6]: “  In  1987  Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant and Keith Vaz were elected to the House of   Commons..”

All four of those MPs are egregious in their attacks on Israel. It is an insult to Jews for their names to be included in this inquiry.

“  The  Iraq War (to be  discussed  in  the  long-awaited  report  of   another  inquiry),  as  well  as  stop and search without suspicion, punishment without charge or  trial and the domestic extremism agenda left many British Muslims feeling suspect and alienated in their natural political home.”

The Iraq war was against the regime of Saddam Hussein which rained Scud missiles down on Israel. How on earth is this comment helpful to an inquiry into antisemitism?

[page 14]: “I  am in no way suggesting that bad taste metaphors and comparisons should ever be a matter for the criminal law any more than say ill-judged and incendiary cartoons.  I am told that they are frequently used in Israel. However, they are all too capable, not only of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, but of actively undermining the cause of peace, justice and statehood for the Palestinian people which forms part of Labour’s current “two-state” foreign policy and which so many Jewish people (including in the Labour Party) actively support.”

This paragraph implies that insults used by Jew against Jew are fine for Gentiles to use against Jews. It also implies that the only Jews whose opinion is worth taking into consideration are those who support a Palestinian state.

[page 15]: “Crucially, I have heard testimony and heard for myself first-hand, the way in which the word “Zionist” has been used personally, abusively or as a euphemism for “Jew”, even in relation to some people with no  stated  position  or even a critical position  on  the  historic  formation  or  development  of  modern Israel. This has clearly happened so often over a number of years as to raise some alarm bells in Jewish communities, including amongst  highly orthodox  people  who,  whilst  perhaps  most “visibly Jewish” (e.g. in dress and or  observance), would never see themselves as Zionists.”

“A  further  complexity   comes  from  left-wing British  Jewry, including, but  not  exclusively,  young people becoming increasingly  critical of, and disenchanted  with Israeli Government  policy  in  relation  to settlements in the West Bank and the bombardment of Gaza in particular. This has led to some people personally redefining their Zionism in ways that appear to grant less support to the State of Israel and more solidarity to fellow Jewish people the world over.”

This clearly references Neturei Karta, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and their ilk. So these two tiny minorities are to be given as much weight when considering antisemitism as the vast majority of Jews who support Israel?

“ But  surely  it  is  better  to  use  the  modern  universal language  of  human  rights,  be  it  of dispossession,  discrimination,  segregation,  occupation  or persecution and to leave  Hitler,  the  Nazis and the Holocaust out of   it?”

This language is not universal but “When did you stop beating your wife?” It takes as a given that the Palestinian Arabs are dispossessed,  discriminated,  segregated,  occupatied  and persecuted.

 [page 16]: “What I cannot do is legislate for which causes activists within the Party spend their time and energies ,or require that people only highlight issues relating to one country or  government if they spend equal time  on  infractions or injustices elsewhere.  No doubt  my  many  years  as  a  domestic  human  rights campaigner may  have  led  some  people  (not  least  in  past  Labour  Governments)  to  question  my preoccupation with abuses by the British State when there was so much worse in North Korea, Saudi Arabia,  Syria,  Russia  and  elsewhere.  No doubt some people suspected my motives or my loyalty to Britain.  In truth it was my background, experience and a view that Britain should lead the world that informed my choice of activism.”

This is itself the antisemitic accusation of ‘whataboutery’ and comes straight out of the PSC playbook.

“ It is especially pernicious,  in  my  view,  to  blame  those who share  platforms with people who  went on (often some considerable time later) to say and do things with which we profoundly disagree and even abhor.”

“Sharing a platform or having a meeting around some kind of problem or injustice never has meant, does not and never will mean, sharing any or all of the views (past, present or future) of everyone in the room.  It is instead the business of peace-building and of the promotion of fundamental human rights.”

Far from being pernicious, this is shining a spotlight on a disingenuous protestation, here shamelessly repeated.

[page 19]: “Some care should also be taken to identify and record the identity of complainants. This would allow and facilitate genuine sensitive communication and “aftercare” in relation e.g. to a Labour Party member who has been targeted or upset unpleasantly by a fellow member.  However, it would also create an important distinction between such a complainant and a hostile journalist or political rival conducting a trawling exercise or fishing expedition in relation to a particular person or group of people  within the Labour Party.  I am not going so far to say that a politically motivated complaint should always be disregarded, just that motivation may have relevance, as will context. I also recognise that the Party’s elected structures (Leader, the NEC etc.) should be able to raise concerns of their own volition about a member in danger of   bringing the  Party into disrepute.  However, if  an  investigation arises  via this  route,  that  should  be  also  clearly recorded.  Further, subjects of complaint should normally be informed both of  its  substance  and  author  at  the  earliest  opportunity unless there is a clear and pressing reason for protecting the identity of a complainant.”

“Submissions to my Inquiry reveal a level  of concern and confusion (in  some  quarters) about the “Macpherson”  definition  of  a  racist  incident.  This is of course a reference to the famous Report of   1999 into the Metropolitan Police after its appalling mishandling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.  The principle  that  an  incident should be recorded as “racist” when perceived that way by a victim may indeed  have  some  useful  application  outside  the  policing  context,  and  even  here  in  the  world  of   Labour Party discipline. However the purpose of   the approach is to ensure that investigators handle a complaint with particular sensitivity towards the victim.  It is to suggest the seriousness  with which  a complaint must be handled, but in no way to determine its outcome.  If I complain to the police that I have been the victim of a racist attack on the street, I should expect my complaint to be so recorded. However investigation and due process must of course then follow and it is perfectly possible that an investigator, prosecutor or magistrate will subsequently find either that no attack took place at all, or that its motivation was something other than racism.  In the present context, my complaint that I have been subject to racist or other personal abuse by a fellow Party Member should be so recorded, taken seriously and handled sensitively. However it will be for the investigation and any subsequent process to determine whether my complaint was ultimately well-founded.”

I am reminded of George Colman’s famous phrase: “Love and a cottage! Eh, Fanny! Ah, give me indifference and a coach and six!” Here, ladies and gentlemen, is Ms. Chakrabarti caught in the act of driving that indifferent coach and six through the spirit of the Macpherson Report. Macpherson clearly concluded that the accusation of prejudice is indeed in the gift of the victim: it is not for authority, and above all not for the perpetrator, to decide.

[page 27]: “I explained earlier why the trigger of antisemitism notwithstanding ,I believed that it was right that my terms of reference embrace all forms of racism. I also explained that it is not enough to avoid being clearly, expressly or deliberately racist in the Labour Party if anyone feels excluded from their instinctive political home. That is why the idea of ensuring “Labour is a welcoming environment for members of all communities “constitutes the fundamental underpinning of my task. The journey of this Inquiry has reinforced the importance of this, not just in principle, but sadly in practice as well.”

“ I believe it right, natural and wholly positive for the Labour Movement, that so many new-comers to Britain, their children and grandchildren have gravitated to the party of social justice since its origins and inception. There is nothing inherently suspect about this tendency, and it should be welcomed and positively encouraged by all in the Party.”

Having had the chutzpah to trample Macpherson underfoot, Ms. Chakrabarti compounds it by arrogating to herself the decision as to who is fit to join the Labour Movement. You do not have to be a social justice warrior to support Labour. If they expel the Blairite New Labour Centrists for good, then Labour will never again have the chance to form a government.

Trains from the East

I’ve been looking at those trains passing through Hungary, carrying refugees from further east, and seeing the Hungarian police offer them food and water, which they throw on the ground in contempt. And I’m reminded of other trains travelling the same route, 72 years ago, also en route to a place that in those days was in Germany. Those passengers, when the train stopped at a station, offered gold and jewellery for the privilege of a mug of water. But this was denied them. They arrived in a Germany, all right, but there were no lines of happy faces carrying placards saying ‘Welcome’. Just soldiers, dogs and whips. And a chimney.

“Jewish” Antisemites

There are two types of what I call “Jewish” anti-Semites.

The first are vocal in their support of Israel and continually urge all Jews to make aliyah. This is because they see Israel primarily as a bulwark against worldwide jihadist Islamism, and the more Jews live in Israel, the more protection they have. With the added bonus that they won’t have to put up with Jewish fellow-citizens in their country any more.

The second loudly proclaim that they yield to none in their welcoming embrace of Jews as their fellow-citizens – providing they join with them in condemning every action taken by the Israeli government to protect its own citizens. Better yet that they should agree that Israel should not exist at all as a Jewish state, since humility and passive resistance are the only legitimate ways for people to assert their right to live in safety.

Sadly, I suspect that both of these types will be prominently in evidence in Golders Green next Saturday purporting to oppose the neo-Nazis.

UK General Election – Rejoice!

There is so much to be grateful for in the results of this General Election:

  • We have a majority government which can make decisions and carry them through
  • Nobody can say that politics is boring. A two-thirds turn-out provides a legitimate mandate, but the one-third who didn’t bother can see by the stats how they could have really made a difference. But they just couldn’t be arsed.
  • George Galloway and David Ward have been chucked out. A heartfelt thank-you to the decent citizens of Bradford, and good riddance to two loathsome, bigoted oxygen thieves.
  • Only 1,667 people voted BNP. As against  3,898 who voted Monster Raving Loony. The BNP vote is down to less than 4% of their peak.
  • Labour’s executive wanted to get away from Blairite centrism and return to Socialist Kinnock/Foot ideological purity. We’ve just seen how that worked out.
  • I don’t like the LibDems because they’re the most anti-Israel of the main parties. The British people seem to have massacred them because they’re hypocrites. I’m slightly stunned, but in a good way…
  • Portsmouth is re-united under the Conservative colours. In fact, with the exception of Southampton Test, Exeter, Brighton and Hove, the whole of the ancient Kingdoms of Cornwall, Wessex, and Kent are unbroken Conservative dominions.
  • Scotland may not yet have arisen as a nation, but as in the 18th century it is leading a revival of passionate, heartfelt politics comparable with post-apartheid South Africa. This really puts the pressure on David Cameron to achieve his goal of reforming the EU to conform with Churchill’s vision. Otherwise England will vote to get out of it in 2017 – and then Scotland will vote to get out of UK and back into EU.
  • Still in Scotland , we have the first MP (Mhairi Black) aged under 21. Ever. Well, since the 17th century when a grandee could have made his cat an MP if he’d wanted.
  • And the number of female MPs has increased by one-third to 191. We may yet hear the death-knell of the testosterone-fuelled bearpit that is PMQ.

As a great person once said: “Rejoice!”

‘Unchosen’ by Julie Burchill – Book Review

‘Unchosen’ by Julie Burchill is one of those delightful books that you devour like an addictive guilty pleasure. Like a whole pint tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, I picked it up intending to read a chapter before going to sleep, and before I knew where I was it was 2:30 am and I’d scarfed down the lot.
Critics may sneer that no commercial publisher would touch ‘Unchosen’ because it reads like a magazine article self-indulgently over-loaded until it topples over. They can fuck right off.
In language that is often intemperate but never half-arsed, Julie chronicles her abiding love of the Jewish people and everything about us, a love to which she has stayed faithful for over 40 years.
What I like about Julie’s approach is that she doesn’t go a bundle on the Jewish clichés – humour, chicken soup, family warmth etc. As she says: “The things I love about the Jews are the REAL things about them, the things that make lots of people uncomfortable and uncomprehending – their religion, their language and their ancient, re-claimed country.” To a large extent, the book is not so much the memoirs of a philosemite as of an anti-antsemite. Never dull, the book becomes absolutely turbocharged when ripping a new one for antisemites, mealy-mouthed antisemites masquerading as anti-Zionists, and – a species which puzzles and disturbs her as much as it does me – the self-hating Jews so memorably rubbished as ‘ASHamed Jews’ in Howard Jacobson’s ‘The Finkler Question’.
There is so much with which I feel an instinctive kinship here. Like me, Julie despises the way that people of our generation and older paint themselves as ‘young’ and positively revels at having been born in the middle years of the last century. And I thought I was the only one who wanted to say to Muslim couples on Edgware Road: “Your wife is dressed so modestly – why are you got up like a little whore?” I also have a Bristol connection. In Chapter 2 Julie gives a well-researched history of the Jews in Bristol, including a fascinating glimpse into the tiny 16th-century community – the only one outside London between 1290 and 1660. What she doesn’t mention is my maternal grandmother’s family – Millet(t) – who, after a couple of years struggling, first in London and then in Dublin, found their feet in Bristol and from 1891 expanded from there to found the nationwide chains of Millet(t)s clothing & camping shops. Within three generations they’d managed to churn out several captains of industry – and a Law Lord.
I can also see why conversion – especially to Liberal Judaism – wouldn’t be for her. People brought up in Christian (and Muslim) traditions, where all the drive is to convert unbelievers, can’t grasp why we Jews make it so damn difficult. That’s because so many prospective converts to Judaism are just fucking Walts.
Let me explain. In the British Army, some of the greatest contempt is reserved for men who have never served their country but try to pass themselves off in the pub as veterans who served in 2 Para in the Falklands. This is how so many converts come across to us born Jews. They haven’t earned their chops. Even people like me who’ve led easy, comfortable middle-class lives have encountered ingrained, unthinking low-level casual antisemitism from early childhood. You’ve been spared that. The idea that anyone could try out being Jewish for a bit and then jack it in when they get tired of it is sickening. That’s why most Jews only really respect Orthodox Jewish converts. In Orthodoxy it is held that, when somebody genuinely converts to Judaism, they actually become a new person, and their previous persona is no more. It takes at least two years to get started, and carries on for a lifetime.
For me – and I suspect for Julie – Liberal & Progressive Judaism embodies the worst of both worlds. You have to turn the other cheek and be exaggeratedly right-on like a trendy C of E vicar, but you’re still part of the minority called Jew that has to know its place as only 0.5% of the population. You don’t even get the feeling of specialness that comes with learning Hebrew, because all the prayers are in anodyne New Revised English. What would suit Julie best would be ‘Jews on Bikes’ Judaism – eat & drink what you like, but if anyone has a go at Israel, clean their clock for them.
I only have one caveat – yes, I know, there’s always bloody something, isn’t there? We Jews are always a little nervous of gentiles who loudly proclaim their philosemitism. We’ve had too much experience of people like Tony Benn who were passionate Zionists when Israel looked like being strangled in its cradle, but as soon as it showed it could stick up for itself went over to the other side on the morally bankrupt principle that the underdog must always be right. At first I thought Hadley Freeman’s article in ‘The Guardian’ expressing her worries about Julie Burchill’s philosemitism was risibly masochistic; but, after reading ‘Unchosen’, reluctantly I have to concede she may have the faintest whisper of a point. Listen to Julie Burchill in Chapter 7: “If the man in the street can often become anti-Semitic because he fails to shine in comparison with this endlessly persecuted yet ceaselessly achieving group, how much more must the man on campus get even more paranoid as he sees the Jews do effortlessly what he must burn the midnight oil to do…”; and in Chapter 3: “It’s weird when you meet your first dumb Jew – like meeting a gay man who can’t dance –and I’ve never gotten used to it, right to this day.” Personally I bridle at the expectation of being homo superior. Well I do now that I’m old and tired. But it did get me laid once or twice when I was young, so on balance it was worth it.
Julie Burchill has a visceral understanding of Jews that many people, including many sympathetic to Jews, Judaism & Israel, just don’t get. There are insights and perspectives on la condition Anglo-Juive in this book that you will not find elsewhere. Read it.

It Was Alright In The 1970s

Cecil Rhodes said: “To be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” This is often seen as an expression of gloating triumphalism: but I would rather view it as a precursor of a well-known arachnid-related character’s catchphrase: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
So I was very depressed to see the harmless telly of the 1970s disembowelled by the sneers and exaggerated shock of a bunch of young whippersnappers in ‘It Was Alright In The 1970s’ (Ch4, 16th & 23rd Nov). They even managed to parade a couple of chaps who had actually been in the 1970s progs to shamefacedly condemn them, like Western hostages of the IS about to be beheaded.
The 1970s was the time of my teens and young adulthood. It was a golden era of galloping progress: we looked back at the war and the 1950s and saw how far we had come in terms of free speech, mod cons and technological development in every sphere. Everything seemed possible. I was looking forward to a life where I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to and might actually have a rich and enjoyable sex life, rather than the pre-60s norm of one fumbling and awkward shag leading to a couple with nothing in common being chained together for a lifetime for the sake of the child.
Didn’t quite work out like that, did it? Today the universe of public discourse seems to be hurtling back to a pre-Enlightenment mindset, where the rational separation between words and actions is being erased. We seem to have lost all psychological robustness.
I was much happier in a world where I could be unthinkingly happy to be male, heterosexual, British and white(-ish). I shall check my privilege when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.