Anti-Semitism: no longer big news

23 July 2012

My fellow Spectator blogger Douglas Murray wrote a powerful post yesterday. Like him, I was disturbed by the way the Bulgarian bus-bombing and the Manchester terror trial were treated in the media.

You won’t hear me say this very often, but I don’t think Douglas has gone far enough. For once, I think even he has pulled his punches. ‘What links these two events across a continent?’ he asks. ‘The answer is ideology. It is an ideology which deliberately targets Jews as Jews.’ I know what Douglas means: that there is a deeply entrenched anti-Semitism at the heart of the politics of extremist Islamism which strips its victims of humanity. We tip-toe around this phenomenon at our peril. But even describing this as an ideology is to give it a veneer of intellectual structure and logic it does not deserve. The events in Bulgaria and Manchester were driven by pure, irrational racism.


The real question we need to ask ourselves (and I salute Douglas for beginning this process), is why neither of these stories made more of a splash here? It is interesting to compare the coverage of the Bulgarian atrocity compared, say, to the blanket front pages devoted to the Batman massacre in Colorado. There is no hierarchy of suffering for the victims’ families. But there is no comparison in global geopolitical terms between an act carried out by a lone psychopath and a terrorist attack on Israeli citizens on foreign territory.

The low-key coverage of the Manchester terrorist trial is less easy to explain. I understand why a gunman opening fire on “innocent” cinemagoers is more shocking than the slaughter of Israelis (none of whom are entirely innocent of Israel’s crimes, according to the sick anti-Semitic logic which has seeped even into the judgements of international newsrooms).

Why did a plot by Oldham couple, Mohammed and Shasta Khan, to attack Jewish targets across Manchester raise barely a journalistic whimper? What does it mean when British people from one community are prepared to inflict pain, suffering and even death on members of a neighbouring community? Where does such hatred come from? Is Israel seriously at the root of it? Or have we become so inured to the mood music of anti-Semitism that it is simply not news any more.

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  • Judy

    Well done, Martin. You managed to name hatred of Jews by people in the Muslim community in this country and wonder where it comes from, and wring your hands and express surprise about the low-key UK media coverage, without any mention whatsoever of the strong active support given to the deeply anti-semitic Hamas regime in Gaza by Labour shadow ministers, including the Shadow Justice minister, as well as the elected leader of the Parliamentary group of Labour MPs. You managed to avoid mentioning the actions of Jeremy Corbyn MP, Andy Slaughter MP (praised by E Miliband for his good work) and other leading Labour MPs in strongly supporting anti-semitic Islamist preacher Raed Salah, despite his illegal entry to the UK.

    And you also managed to avoid mentioning the record of Ken Livingstone, nearly elected as London’s Mayor, and just voted top of the Labour elected members’ list for the NEC, despite his proven record, which can be seen on YouTube clips, of putting out anti-semitic smears against a former Labour junior minister (supposedly an agent for the state of Israel) and of making anti-semitic ludicrously false statements on the anti-semitic Iranian PressTV propaganda channel about the religious rules of conversion to Judaism and about their supposed origin in German racist ideologies of the 1880s.

        • Kate HA

          Actually, no conventrain.’So say’ all those trained in analytical thinking based on verifiable evidence. Only supremely stupid, deliberately uninformed apologists, deluded multiculturalists and fanatical Islamists seek to perpetrate the myth that Islam means anything other than medieval supremacy.

      • David

        Possibly, but you only have to check out the jewish Talmud to see Israel and Zionism are no better. And befoer anyone whines “anti-semite” go Google ” Rabbi Ovadia Yosef”. Now there is racist supremacism.

        • Mark2

          Considering that the “Jewish” (what other sort is there pray?) Talmud was written before (modern) Israel and Zionism existed your suggestion is a logical impossibility.

        • mbard

          Yes he has made some inflammatory and bigoted remarks, for which he has been truly contrite and has mostly worked assiduously for peace. See Wikipidia: “Yosef sent out a conciliatory message after some particularly harsh statements in a sermon reiterating his old positions in support of the peace process. He wished the Palestinians and their leaders, “who are partners to this important [peace] process and want its success long days and years”. He continued, “The People of Israel are taught to seek peace, and three times daily pray for it. We wish for a sustainable peace with all our neighbors”. He blessed “all the leaders and peoples, Egyptians Jordanians and Palestinians, who are partners to this important process and want its success, a process that will bring peace to our region and prevent bloodshed.” He may be prone to the odd racist remark, but his actions and overall approach as always been conciliatory. The same cannot be said for a swath of Imam’s and Ayatollah’s across the Arab and Persian world.

          • Ru

            There are many writings and many wisdoms, which many Muslims appropriate in many ways. There is no Pope of the islamic faith, by design. It is fundamental to the Muslim faith that nobody’s interpretation should stand between you and Allah, therefore there are a billion and a half received wisdoms.

            • Dogsnob

              But there are ‘Islamic writings’ are there not? One of them is universally held, by the followers of the faith, to be directly given from God. How authoritative, how central, could a text get?

              Moreover, how far from the tenets of this text – and others – could adherents stray, before they cease in fact to ‘adhere’?

            • Dogsnob

              Why is territory ‘hostile’?

      • David

        The quote is wrong and Israel is a theocracy, not a democracy.

        • Judy

          Israel is not a theocracy. It is even less of a theocracy than the UK with its 24 Church of England bishops with seats in the House of Lords and its head of state who is the head of the Church of England. The President, the Prime Minister, the Judiciary and the Knesset of Israel are not controlled by any religious authority and there is no single supreme religious authority in Israel. The Knesset is democratically elected by all the people of Israel inside the green line plus the settlers on a proportional list system (i.e. not on a geographical constituency basis). This results in Arab political parties also electing members independent of Jewish-dominated political parties, although other Arab politicians are members of mainstream Jewish political parties and serve as diplomats or junior ministers in the Israeli government. Some Jewish political parties are militantly anti-religious, such as Meretz, and campaign against religious Jews. The Arabs living on the West Bank elect the Palestinian Authority (which has failed to hold elections since 2006). No Jews living on the West Bank or who still own property there going back to the last century and beyond are allowed to vote in the PA elections. The Arabs living in Gaza voted for Hamas, which has seceded from the formerly single Palestinian authority and set itself up as an independent regime (ardently supported by some prominent fans in the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties including the Labour Shadow Minister of Justice). Hamas is a self-declared theocratic party based on adherence to Sharia law. It is in fact an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

          There are Sephardi community and Ashkenazi community Chief Rabbis appointed by the Israeli state (not the other way round) but they have authority only over state-approved Jewish religious marriages and burials and a degree of authority over religious conversions to Judaism. They have no powers to stop rabbis from rabbinical movements which do not recognise their authority from making their own conversions or declaring the state-recognised ones invalid. The laws of the State of Israel are based on a mixture of the prior laws of the Mandate and the Ottoman Empire with various other laws added in the spirit of the Jewish tradition, but not complying with Jewish rabbinical law. They are adjudicated on in the Courts by Judges, not Rabbis, and most of the Judges are not religiously observant Jews and some are avowed atheists. Unlike English courts, no prayers are said in the courts of Israel. There are also Muslim judges. The former President of Israel, Katzir, was convicted of rape by a court presided over by a Muslim Judge.

          Israeli mainstream schools do not have compulsory religious assemblies, as do mainstream UK schools.

          There are Jewish-religious political parties of various kinds, but they obtain only a minority of votes and Knesset seats. There have been religious parties in most Israeli coalition governments, but these have sat alongside other coalition parties that are militantly anti-religious and stood (and gained many votes) on a programme to increase the secularisation of Israel (i.e. campaigning against Sabbath closure laws which are the equivalent of English Sabbath observance laws). In practice, the Jewish religious parties’ main achievement is to retain a degree of state recognition of Jewish observance, which is being increasingly eroded, and to retain funding for religious schools and exemption from military service for teenage and adult students of religion who wish to be exempted. The latter is currently the subject of controversy and the latest coalition just foundered because Netanyahu would not agree to the forcible conscription of both the most strictly religious orthodox Jews and of Israeli Arabs (who are presently excused military service in the Israeli forces unless they choose to join, which some do, and rise to very senior rank, e.g. Brigadier, better than their Muslim equivalents in the UK’s forces.

          So your comment that Israel is a theocracy and not a democracy is, frankly, tosh.

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