Is this the tip­ping point?

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Stephen Pol­lard

MAL­COLM GLAD­WELL DE­FINES a tip­ping point as “the mo­ment of crit­i­cal mass, the thresh­old, the boil­ing point”. On Tues­day, Baroness Warsi re­signed be­cause the govern­ment re­fused to at­tack Is­rael suf­fi­ciently.

Later that day, the Tri­cy­cle Theatre told a Jewish char­ity it was not wel­come un­less it de­nounced Is­rael.

On Sun­day, Ed Miliband de­cided to cast Is­rael to the wind and use its cit­i­zens’ se­cu­rity as a do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal pawn.

Also at the week­end, anti-Is­rael mobs at­tempted to strong-arm su­per­mar­kets into drop­ping all Is­raeli pro­duce. Some forced stores to close.

The pre­vi­ous week, an Is­raeli theatre troupe was banned by its venue from per­form­ing in Edinburgh. The list goes on but you get the pic­ture. And that’s with­out even men­tion­ing the huge rise in an­tisemitic in­ci­dents since the start of Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

I don’t think I’m go­ing out on a limb by won­der­ing if this is a tip­ping point.

Take John Prescott. Has­been he might be but when a for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter thinks it’s ok to com­pare Is­rael with the Third Re­ich by calling Gaza a con­cen­tra­tion camp, and when there is not even a hint from his party that his com­ments might be worth even mild con­dem­na­tion, then some­thing has changed in the po­lit­i­cal ether.

That some­thing was given its head by Ed Miliband. In June, the Labour leader ended his speech to Labour Friends of Is­rael with fine words: “If I be­come Prime Min­is­ter… I will be proud to do so as a friend of Is­rael, a Jew and, most of all, some­one who feels so proud to be part of the com­mu­nity”.

Fine words, but ut­ter drivel.

One way to gain cheap ap­plause in the mod­ern Labour Party is to at­tack Is­rael. For some years, its lead­ers have stood above that fray. Not Mr Miliband.

With in­ter­nal whis­per­ing against the Labour leader ramp­ing up again, turn­ing on Is­rael gives him an in­stant pop­u­lar­ity shot within the party. At the very time when Is­rael needs sup­port most, this self-de­scribed friend has in­jected even more an­tiIs­rael poi­son.

He may play to the gallery but it’s what the gallery wants

But it’s clearly not just the Labour au­di­ence that Mr Miliband had in mind. Do the maths. Mus­lims ac­count for only three per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. But it is highly con­cen­trated and there are around two dozen mar­ginal con­stituen­cies with a sig­nif­i­cant Mus­lim vote. For a politi­cian with no shame, the maths point in one di­rec­tion.

As a for­mer Labour min­is­ter put it to me on Sun­day: “Just look at his record. He likes to pre­tend he’s driven by some moral com­pass but the truth is he’s the most cyn­i­cal leader Labour has ever had. Syria, now Is­rael. He’ll sell any­one out for a vote.”

Another se­nior Labour fig­ure told me he was “ashamed to be in the same party as this ex­cuse for a leader”.

Which is all very well, but it makes the point. Mr Miliband may be play­ing to the gallery but the prob­lem is that it’s what the gallery wants to hear.

On so­cial me­dia, the out­pour­ing of an­ti­semitism is shock­ing even to some­one who, as edi­tor of the JC, has to put up with it as a daily part of my in­box. But it’s not even the an­ti­semitism it­self that’s so trou­bling. It’s the well into which it drops — and the feel­ing that it’s nor­mal and ac­cept­able to speak of Jews as some kind of alien species.

In that con­text, at­tacks on Is­rael seem in­nocu­ous to those with no un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues. Then, with­out notic­ing that it hap­pened, we find we are caught in a pin­cer of an­ti­semitism and Is­rael hate.

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