What re­ally drives an­tisemitism in Bri­tain

The Jewish Chronicle - - Entertainment -

IN 2005-6, the Labour (and Catholic) MP for Rother­ham, De­nis MacShane, es­tab­lished and chaired an all-party com­mis­sion of in­quiry into an­tisemitism — the first of its kind in the UK. For MacShane, this in­ves­ti­ga­tion was a per­sonal odyssey as well as a po­lit­i­cal im­per­a­tive. The com­mis­sion, com­posed en­tirely of non-Jewish MPs, went about its work with me­thod­i­cal de­lib­er­a­tion, and pro­duced a se­ries of rec­om­men­da­tions based upon its over­ar­ch­ing con­clu­sion that anti-Jewish prej­u­dice (which Conor Cruise O’Brien once de­scribed as “a very light sleeper”) had, cer­tainly in the UK, been aroused from its slum­ber­ing and was on the prowl once more.

MacShane’s com­mis­sion of­fered a large num­ber of con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions. Buried among th­ese was the cat­e­gor­i­cal state­ment that “a mi­nor­ity of Is­lamic ex­trem­ists in this coun­try do in­cite ha­tred to­wards Jews”. And it warned that “the un­doubted prej­u­dice and dif­fi­cul­ties that Bri­tish Mus­lims feel… can­not be used to jus­tify an­ti­semitic words and vi­o­lence”.

Whether MacShane was sat­is­fied with th­ese some­what muted phrases I do not know. But in the short, very read­able book that he has now pro­duced he has dis­pensed with what­ever di pl omat i c c on­straints and dis­cre­tions the mem­bers of his com­mis­sion might have felt as they crafted their con­clu­sions. A “neoan­tisemitism” now walks abroad, “a vi­cious and de­struc­tive ide­ol­ogy” that threat­ens lib­eral val­ues and un­der­mines ef­forts t o sus­tain peace in the world.

The­ma­jor­driv­ing­force that pow­ers this ide­ol­ogy is not Chris­tian an­tipa­thy to­wards “Christkillers”, or even the eu­geni­cist racism of Nazi ide­o­logues and their lat­ter-day im­i­ta­tors. It is, rather, rooted, un­mis­take­ably, in a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­pre­ta­tion that par­tic­u­lar Mus­lims have placed upon the ills, imag­ined and real, that have be­fallen the Mus­lim world.

Glob­al­is­ing Ha­tred does not beat about the bush. Is­lamic peo­ples have dis­cov­ered, and are busy re­cy­cling, the old myths, fash­ion­ing them into a new one. Thus, in Saudi Ara­bia, the an­tiJewish rav­ings of the pu­ri­tan­i­cal Egyp­tian Is­lamist Sayyid Qutb (ex­e­cuted by Nasser) have been res­ur­rected so as to em­brace and (thus) le­git­imise The Pro­to­cols of the El­ders of Zion. Al Qaeda has dis­cov­ered the po­tency of Judeo­pho­bia as a re­cruit­ing tool.

While this prej­u­dice is some­times dis­guised as anti-Zion­ism so as not to of­fend west­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties, else­where there is no pre­tence. MacShane is right to de­nounce as “one of the most… Jew-hat­ing po­lit­i­cal state­ments ever pub­lished” the char­ter of Ha­mas. A lead­ing Hizbol­lah writer has boasted that his or­gan­i­sa­tion’s “strong aver­sion to Ju­daism is un­re­lated to its abom­i­na­tion of Zion­ism and hence ex­ists ir­re­spec­tive of the ex­is­tence of Zion­ism”. Such are the or­gan­i­sa­tions which Bri­tish apol­o­gists for Is­lamic ter­ror­ism in­sist are part­ners for peace!

Two silly er­rors blem­ish the book. The “first-ever” Jewish Con­ser­va­tive MP (ex­clud­ing con­verts to Chris­tian­ity) was elected in 1874, not 1955. Nor is it true that “un­til the 1970 elec­tion there were only two Jewish Tory MPs”. One hopes that th­ese mis­takes can be cor­rected if and when the book makes its (de­served) pa­per­back ap­pear­ance. Ge­of­frey Al­der­man is a his­to­rian and JC colum­nist

De­nis MacShane: no beat­ing about the bush

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