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Threads started in this topic after 9th November 2018 will no longer be removed after 90 days. A new topic called 90 Days Only can be found in the Other Stuff category of Talk.

Can someone talk to me about anti Semitism in words of one syllable, please?

(149 Posts)
BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 15:18:23

Specifically the vexed question of how to decouple criticism of the policies of the Israeli government from criticism of the existence of the state of Israel and from prejudice against Jewish people generally.

Is it possible to be pro Palestinian and not anti Semitic?

Do people think that Corbyn is prejudiced against Jewish people? Or is his pro Palestinian stance the basis of the accusations of anti Semitism?

Norland Thu 09-Aug-18 15:25:39

Words of one syllable? That'll be tricky.

In the mid 1800s, not long after German unification, a German politician coined 'anti-Semitic' as a phrase, in place of 'anti-Jew'

This is obviously incorrect, as a Semite, is a person who speaks a Semitic language and includes people in lots of countries in the near-East.

It could perhaps be summed up by saying not every Semite is a Jew but every Jew is a Semite.

Tim Shipman's book, Fall Out, offers some interesting insight into Corbyn's views of Israel/Jews.

specialsubject Thu 09-Aug-18 15:27:47

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

wowfudge Thu 09-Aug-18 15:32:53

Anti Semitism is a negative perception of Jewish people which may be expressed as hatred and acts against Jewish people.

You can be against the policies and actions of the Israeli government and its divisive protectionist Zionist policies - protecting the historically recently created modern state of Israel, often via hostile acts against Palestinians in Israel and neighbouring countries - without being anti-Semitic.

Bombardier25966 Thu 09-Aug-18 15:41:26

Upsetting Jews probably won't get you bombed or machine gunned

This is an interesting quote in terms of the difference between criticism of the Israeli government and criticising Jews. Criticising Jews is unlikely to get you bombed etc, but criticising the Israeli government may well result in military action - ask the Palestinians.

so it doesn't matter.

It should matter. Criticising someone because of their religion is not acceptable.

The problem with the IHRA definition is that, taken to the letter, it restricts legitimate debate of the Israeli government.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 15:46:03

“Anti Semitism is a negative perception of Jewish people which may be expressed as hatred and acts against Jewish people.”

So do you think Corbyn has a negative view of and hates Jewish people?

CulturalDilemma Thu 09-Aug-18 15:47:23

Anti-semitism is a term that has come to mean anti-Jewish. There will always be smartarses who say that many people are semitic people, so if you're being anti-Muslim then you're technically being anti-semitic too, but this is being deliberately goady and is a way of derailing conversations about anti-Jewish talk.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 15:49:34

“and you know what, I'm going to say it even if I do get banned. Upsetting Jews probably won't get you bombed or machine gunned, so it doesn't matter.”

Blimey. Not sure what to make of that..........Upsetting Jews seems to mean you won’t ever get to be Prime Minister, though, while upsetting Muslims seems to make it more likely.

wowfudge Thu 09-Aug-18 15:55:02

Don't put words in my mouth OP - I don't know enough about Corbyn's views to comment.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 15:56:02

I wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth. I was asking a question.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 15:57:40

I was asking if you think Corbyn is personally anti Semitic, or if his political beliefs are. This is something I don’t understand.

Norland Thu 09-Aug-18 16:03:24

Tom Sharpe wrote a book in 1979, called The Wilt Alternative (a follow-up to his 1976 book Wilt) in which he masterfully summed up the ignorance of so many, in his usual, highly-comedic fashion.

'....Wilt launched into this more agreeable topic and finished more beers. 'I don't intend to. they're so bloody inconsistent There's Bilger who sends his children to a private school and lives in a ruddy great house his father bought him and he goes round advocating world revolution from the driving seat of a Porsche that must have cost six thousand if it cost a penny and he calls me a fascist pig. Added to which is the knowledge that ten feet above my head. If you'd had the sort of day I've had and were faced with the prospect of climbing into bed with Eva in a foul temper you would seek oblivion in beer too.. That's what I like about these maniacs of the right and left.. I am merely pissed.' said Braintree doubtfully. 'Eva will give you hell when you get home. radiant. By the time they left The Glassblower's Arms Braintree was too drunk to drive .' said Wilt. Add the fact that they're semites and he's so anti-semitic he makes Eichmann look like a Friend of Israel. and then tell me how his bloody mind ticks. 'there's nothing worse than an introspective drunk. sensitive creature. a floor and some wall-to-wall rush matting. It's enough to drive a rational man to drink.. and own half Mayfair. 'Not that it's relevant. I'm just recovering from that one when I bang into Toxted who is a genuine fascist and lives in a council house and wants to send anyone with a pigmentation problem back to Islamabad even though they were actually born in Clapham and haven't been out of England since.' 'Brilliant.' said Wilt. Come to think of it. separated only by a ceiling.Arabs now. 'You've had six already.' said Braintree. I'm damned if I know. And I may be introspective but I am not introspectively drunk.. well I'd just as soon you didn't. Henry.' said Wilt. 'When I consider how my life is spent.' 'Yes. that almost rhymes. period.' As if to give point to this remark Wilt ordered two more pints.. and who does he team up with? A bunch of ruddy sheikhs with more oil dollars under their burnouses than he's had hot dinners. 'absolutely brilliant. you know.' said Braintree threateningly. intelligent. can't speak more than three words of English.' 'I was quoting from the first line of "Testament of Beauty" by Robert Bridges.' said Wilt. 'Such ears as yours are far too coarse..' 'Eva gives me hell.' 'If you mention the word Muse again......'

Obviously for those of us who have been on the planet long enough to remember when a billion was a million-millions, there may well be a reluctance to accept the re-writing of history by changing the meaning of words we grew up with.

We accept this means being called 'smart-arses' and worry as much about it as we care about the views of the 5% of the population who get so hot under the collar about any challenge to the neoliberal metropolitan hegemony, desired by Islington-ites. xx

CheeseTheDay Thu 09-Aug-18 16:16:38

Yes someone can be pro-Palestine, but not antisemitic, because antisemitism is hatred/bigotry towards Jews.

It's not antisemitic for someone to say, they are against the state of Israel, because of their actions against Palestinians.

However, it would be antisemitic for someone to say the above, and then add on the end of it something like, "but what do you expect from the Jews, they run the media/banks/world/universe, so they get away with it."

It is also antisemitic to apportion any kind of blame/responsibility in regards to Israel's actions, on every single Jew, and expect them to apologise for it. I'm Jewish. I have no connection to Israel. I have never been to Israel. Yet apparently, according to some bigots, some blame still lies at my door, because Israel is "the Jewish nation, the home of the Jews." Well it's not my home.

However, there is a blurred line about whether being anti-Zionist is antisemitic, as opposed to simply being pro-Palestine. Anti-Zionists do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own homeland, so anti-Zionism is often interpreted as being antisemitic. It's a grey area.

wowfudge Thu 09-Aug-18 16:19:49

I misread your post OP - apologies. I can't stand Jeremy Corbyn so I'm probably not the right person to ask for any kind of balanced view.

CommunistLegoBloc Thu 09-Aug-18 16:21:28

I’m Jewish and I support Palestinian rights. I do not support the Israeli government, their policies or their treatment of the Palestinian people.

I obviously care deeply about Jewish people and their culture. But it’s not mutually exclusive and I’m certainly not anti-semitic.

CertainHalfDesertedStreets Thu 09-Aug-18 16:32:34

I think Corbyn's problem is that he's so very convinced of his right-on-ness that he has forgotten that he is a white middle class man. And he is not very careful how he conducts himself.

So no, I don't think on a one to one basis he would be anti-semitic (or misogynistic for that matter) but he hasn't taken any trouble to examine his own ingrained prejudices or privileges. And he is unwilling or unable to do the same for the structural prejudices in the party he leads and the wider socialist/progressive movement around him. So he allows really careless stupid offences to happen on his watch.

It's just common or garden hubris I guess...

That's my reading.

Maliali Thu 09-Aug-18 16:48:44

Ditto CommunistLegoBloc
I’m appalled at the treatment of Palestinians and do not support the Israeli Government and it’s policies

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 17:08:08

“I think Corbyn's problem is that he's so very convinced of his right-on-ness that he has forgotten that he is a white middle class man. And he is not very careful how he conducts himself.“

I am not a Corbyn fan, although I am a Labour voter, but I do find it difficult to square a lifetime of fighting for human rights with him being an anti Semite. Can you say what you mean by him not being very careful? Do you mean him sharing a platform with Hamas?

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 17:11:28

And yes, the intersection between believing in the right of the state of Israel to exist and being opposed to the policies of the government is difficult. It must be very hard for Jewish people. There are similarities, I suppose, with being a Catholic and not agreeing with the Pope’s handling of child abuse accusations.

specialsubject Thu 09-Aug-18 17:22:47

I dont think any of us can speak for Corbyn, although he could speak for himself. I dont know why he does not.

perhaps it is time to stop saying 'antisemitism' and call it what it now is : jew hate.

I also see that the rockets and bombs fired at Israel dont count here , only the ones fired back. same old same old. pity that the ceasefires never hold.

sergeantmajor Thu 09-Aug-18 17:44:53

I don't know what is in Corbyn's heart, but his problems come from closely associating himself with people calling for the destruction of Israel (i.e. calling Hamas his friends and brothers). Pause a second. That is the destruction of a nation - pretty dramatic.

With regard to Holocaust comparisons, this is problematic in two ways. First, just think how vicious it is to compare a people to the murderers of their family. Second, however passionate you may be about the Palestinian plight, there is no comparison between the events of the Holocaust and the current conflict in Israel and Palestine.

And yet, Corbyn is explicitly changing the definition of anti-semitism to protect people who wish to make such comparisons. Hang on, why is he seeking to re-define it all? Do white people define racism against blacks?

Many Jews are also deeply troubled that Zionism is used as a dirty word. Zionism is self determination for a people in a land where they have deep, deep roots. This is a sentiment that is respected where it applies to other peoples around the world (including the Palestinian desire for self determination).

Perhaps there will always be bigotry as long as there are humans. BUT... this is the first time that someone associated with such troubling views is close to power in the UK.

As a Jewish person, I find the prospect of a Corbyn-led government absolutely terrifiying - not due to his left wing policies but due to his close association with such hostile viewpoints. How strongly do we feel about this? Well, some of us are thinking that we may have to leave. Recent history weighs heavily on our minds.

So for many Jews this is not an academic point. This is not a political smear. This is about a man whose long-standing association with those who call for the destruction of Jews is now on the brink of becoming prime minister.

Jews are a tiny minority in Britain, something like 0.05%. The Jewish vote would not swing a single constituency, let alone an election. I don't expect the wider electorate to care, especially with Brexit and austerity and crime issues.

But the character of a man who can make a benign, law-abiding minority consider leaving their homes in fear should give everyone pause for thought.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 17:56:14

Sergeant major- what do you think would happen if there was a Corbyn’s government? Why would you consider leaving?

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Aug-18 17:57:59

Sorry, that wasn’t clear. Do you think it would legitimize racist attacks on Jews, or do you fear some government led action agains Jewish people?

Bingpot Thu 09-Aug-18 18:16:24

I'll just throw in one point here. Corbyn has been under fire for antisemitism for a while now. It is a huge problem. It amazes me that instead of taking clear action to prove he is not antisemitic, Corbyn instead tries to narrow Labour's definition of antisemitism (the one accepted by many institutions critical of Israel) so that he can continue to make what constitutes antisemitic comments. While the Brexit fire rages, his energy is spent on essentially telling the Jewish community he can definite prejudice against better than they can.

And when asked to apologise, he issues an article that is partially a copy and paste job from several months ago, and chooses to publish it on a Friday evening when the sabbath comes in, when religious Jews will be unable to read what he's written. That's at the very least a certain degree of disdain for the Jewish community that he wouldn't dream, I imagine, of showing to other minorities. I can't help but think this extends beyond politics. It completely possible to be pro-Palestinian/highly critical of Israel and not to be antisemitic.

The crux of it is this: criticise Israel robustly, as you would any other nation. But when you start to say Israel doesn't have the right to exist, or shouldn't, you become anti Semitic. Because the truth is, it does exist. That will not change. So what that line of debate is tantamount to is wanting Israel to not exist - an extremely antisemitic viewpoint.

Bingpot Thu 09-Aug-18 18:17:36

*define not definite

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