A Jew-hating Jew
Tuesday’s Daily Mail paid tribute to the “waspish wit” of Sir Gerald Kaufman, who died this week at 86. As an example of his bon mots, the paper cited this remark: “The present Israeli government cynically exploits guilt over the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.” There may indeed be people who find this witty. Then again, there have always been people who are amused by antisemitism — and Sir Gerald’s remark is a straightforward example of antisemitism of the foulest kind. Nothing surprising there, because this was Sir Gerald’s stock in trade. He had no compunction in attacking Jews as Jews, thinking that somehow his own Judaism gave him an exemption. It did not. And yet the Daily Mail was not alone in its obsequious coverage. You will have struggled to find a single mention anywhere in all the tributes paid to him that he was a racist — a man who spat out, ‘‘Here we are, the Jews again’’, when Louise Ellman rose to speak in the Commons. It would be comforting to think that this was an oversight. But that would be misplaced. Sir Gerald represented a type that continues to be given a free pass in much of the media and political life: the Jew who is contemptuous of other Jews and feels the need to express that contempt at every opportunity, most often in relation to Israel. Sir Gerald was entitled to his view of Israel. He was not entitled to his view of Jews.