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Friday 25 May 2012

Judaism, Politics And Prejudice

Once again I find myself in – hopefully peaceable – disagreement with supposed Labour member Dan Hodges, who has moved on from tying himself in knots to justify voting Bozza for Mayor to considering the character of his party’s leader once more. Mil The Younger is Jewish. To me, and many other voters, this does not change his standing one bit. But Hodges rightly says that for some, it might.

Not another fishing story, is it, Ed?

That is because there is still, maybe not so much as in the past, a lurking anti-Semitism out there. Added to that is the ignorance displayed by the likes of (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, who justified her characterisation of Evan Harris as “Dr Death” on the basis that he was not religiously observant. Jewishness, though, is not just a religion, it is an ethnicity.

But where I disagree with Hodges is in his suggestion that anti-Semitism is a left-wing problem, and also with his rush to equate “Jewish” with Israel. Yes, the vast majority of Israelis are Jewish, and an equal proportion of the Jewish Diaspora identifies strongly with Israel. But wanting Israel to show restraint and cooperation towards its Palestinian Arab neighbours does not equal anti-Semitic.

And no, that doesn’t mean I have a problem with Israel being there: I bow to no-one in my unequivocal support for its past creation and continued existence. Moreover, having visited the country and flown with El Al to do so – anyone who’s experienced the three hour check-ins and security grilling will know what that means – I fully understand the fears over national security.

Why should I feel the need to interject thus? Sadly, alongside the latent anti-Semitism is the tendency across the political spectrum to make the accusation or suggestion of it, and once again, this is especially true of any comment on the behaviour of the Government of Israel or the IDF. But sometimes your friends are the only ones who are prepared to be honest when you’ve got it wrong.

That is why Hodges’ criticism of Miliband disappoints me, though not nearly as much as his dredging up what Ken Livingstone didn’t actually say (though he admits as much by calling the “rich Jews” accusation an “insinuation”). One wonders if he thought for a moment, before placing his mark next to the name of London’s occasional Mayor, that Bozza too has previous on this issue.

While editor of the Spectator, Bozza retained the servicesof one Taki Theororacopulos, as right leaning a pundit as can be found, and the most virulent of anti-Semites, and gladly kept him on the payroll. Anti-Semitism does not reside in any one part of the political spectrum, just as being a friend of Israel does not mean one cannot find adversely on some of its actions.

But a more thoughtful piece by Hodges nevertheless. Let’s see more of the same.

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