Notes From the Margins…

The Antisemitism Circus Comes to Town

  • April 28, 2016
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The last few days of Labour’s ‘antisemitism crisis’ have been a genuine education for me on many levels.  I had thought that Naz Shah’s retweeting of a crass twitter meme suggesting that Israel should be reestablished in the United States was a clumsy satire on the ‘joined-at-the-hip’ relationship between America and Israel which American politicians routinely boast about.

I now understand that her actions were antisemitic and intended to incite physical and verbal hatred towards Jews even though she has denied this.  I understand, thanks to David Cameron, that she advocated ‘transporting’ Jews to America, presumably in shuttered trains.

I also realize, thanks to John Mann,  that Ken Livingstone is a ‘disgusting Nazi sympathiser’.  Thanks to Guido Fawkes, Andrew Neil, the Guardian, John Piennar and so many others, I now know that the Labour Party is riddled with antisemites, nearly all of whom are Muslims and leftists.

I also understand that anti-Zionism is actually antisemitism, and that it is no longer legitimate to criticize Israel without being antisemitic, because  the new definition of the term in former communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles’   Combating Anti-Semitism: A British Best Practice Guide, considers that antisemitism isn’t just about physical or verbal attacks on Jews; it also includes

 “manifestations … target[ing] the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”, such as: “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour; applying double standards by requiring behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation … drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis …”

Now some cynical voices might point out that the current chair of Conservative Friends of Israel would reach such conclusions, but I now know that even to suggest such motivation is also antisemitic.

I also know from Boris Johnson – he who once described black people as ‘piccanninies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’ and only last week suggested that Obama’s support for Bremain is due to his ‘Kenyan ancestry’ – that there is a ‘virus of antisemitism’ in the Labour Party.

Now Johnson has a long history of principled antiracist activism going right back to his days as editor of the Spectator, so I know if he says this, then it must be true.   I’ve also learned that the new NUS president Malia Bouattia is an antisemite, because she suggested that Birmingham University is a ‘Zionist outpost’ and because she criticized ‘Zionist-led media outlets’.

I now understand that that last phrase cannot be used, according to the BBC, because ‘    critics said [it] reflects anti-Semitic myths about Jewish conspiracies to control the media.

I don’t know who these critics are, but if the BBC chooses to mention them I assume that they are serious people without an agenda or axe to grind.    I’ve also learned something about myself.   I’ve learned, by stumbling across a website called ‘ The Real Face of Stop the War’ that an article I wrote  last March  criticizing Netanyahu’s rapturous reception in the US Congress was guilty of ‘insidious antisemitism’, according to the  novelist  Jeremy Duns.

Thanks to Duns’s profound philosophical insights, I now understand that I am antisemitic even if I don’t think I am, because if I say that Republican politicians are  “glassy-eyed zombie-politicians”¦..sucking up Netanyahu”s fearmongering, warmongering poison like alien seed pods in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” and politicians who have “had their minds well and truly snatched”, I am not referencing 50s sci fi movies but well-worn antisemitic tropes, since

‘This idea of Jews having such influence over others that they practice a kind of mind control has long been a favourite theme of antisemites, and is still used today. The theme runs through this article by Carr.  No cartoons of Jews with hooked noses or references to a world Jewish conspiracy, but here where antisemitism rests just below the surface, it is truly at its most insidious.’

Exactly, and it’s no use me saying that Duns is manipulative and intellectually dishonest for attempting to smear me and Stop the War into the bargain, because the thing about insidious antisemitism is that you don’t have to prove that someone is actually antisemitic, you merely have to extrapolate or insinuate it according your own needs and priorities, and this is what Duns has done to me – and what others like him have done to other people.

Never mind the piece I wrote only a week after that Netanyahu piece entitled ‘ Antisemitism: a blight that Palestinian solidarity doesn’t need’ – which Stop the War also published – Duns has seen my ‘real face’ and Stop the War’s as well, and I have no doubt that he is a man with no agenda and no unstated motive for saying such things,  except for a passionate opposition to racism in all its forms.

I know that John Mann, Andrew Neil, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Guido Fawkes and so many others are motivated by similarly lofty considerations.  I know that they would never cynically use a long-established Israeli propaganda trope for cheap domestic political purposes, in order to destroy Jeremy Corbyn and the movement that he represents, and undermine a politician who has stood out against racism again and again throughout his career.

I know that these beacons of the nation would never engage in such base gutter politics, or that they would willingly debase the concept of antisemitism for political advantage, even if in doing so they run the risk of actually increasing the phenomenon they purport  to despise.

I know that the media outlets which have transformed marginal and minor voices within the Labour Party into a fullblown ‘antisemitism crisis’ come from the same elevated moral plane, and that they have been subjecting this crisis to rigorously objective and disinterested intellectual  analysis.

They want truth and justice, that’s all, just as they  really, really want peace in the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’  So faced with such a chorus of moral outrage, I can only conclude that I really am an ‘insidious’ antisemite, just as it was pointed out to me last year that I was a jihadist sympathiser and a supporter of Daesh.

And so I promise never to criticize Israel again, or suggest that Israel and its supporters – whether Jews or non-Jews – have any influence in any country anywhere in the world, including Israel itself.

Because I know that any such criticism would be insidiously antisemitic.  So  thank you, to all who made these realizations possible.

You make me ashamed of myself, but so proud of you.


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  1. Paul Seligman

    30th Apr 2016 - 8:58 am

    The trouble with Irony is that any sentence or phrase can be quoted later against you, or used as literal evidence when the opposite is intended – be careful, Matt.

    Yesterday I tweeted this: – my very own conspiracy theory. Once Corbyn gained control of the Labour Party, there was a convenient convergence between the Israeli increasing (and well resourced) world-wide campaign against BDS and any defenders of Palestinian human rights, the interests of the Tories, the Labour Right and the US, who would never allow an anti-trident party with an anti-Trident leader to come near to power in one of its vassal states. (I couldn’t fit that last part into the Tweet).

    In all seriousness, by the time the Conservative Government sent a Minister to Israel in February to announce the ban on ethical procurement in the public sector. (never discussed in parliament and aimed only at supporters of BDS) and improved trade deals (arms, settlement products not excluded), it must have been well understood, if not explicitly documented, that Israel would destabilise the Labour Party prior to this year’s elections.

    The BBC has lost all semblance of balance. Last night on The World Tonight (R4), they had an extended interview on the subject of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Did they find an independent expert? Or, say, a non-Zionist Jew? Well, no. They had the Director of a group whose web site says “We are Jews who love Israel, who stand with Israel, whose lives are bound up with Israel. We believe in its right not just to exist, but to flourish. We stand against those who defame it.”. This morning I heard an extraordinary interview with the usually sound Jeremy Bowen. He was stumbling and hesitant, and seemed uncomfortable with what he was saying, which was quite selective. “Palestinains often refer to Israelis as ‘Jews'” without saying that’s how Jewish Israelis, living in ‘The Jewish State’, regularly refer to themselves.

    Make no mistake, this witch-hunting attack on free speech will continue if not defeated. Check McCarthyism.

    Here’s some background reading for your readers: in which we see the obnoxious NGO Monitor (quoted by Bowen today!!!) attacks Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Medical Aid for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace among others.

    • Matt

      30th Apr 2016 - 4:15 pm

      Really useful Paul, thanks.

  2. Das Nik

    9th May 2016 - 5:47 pm

    What a shame, Matt! I always considered your Infernal Machine as my No. 1 Neonazi-Webseite! My Reichskriegsflagge in my Waffen-SS-Memorabilia filled Austrian basement shall fly at halfmast for the rest of this month while I weep teutonic tears into my Weißbier.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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