How can a politician be an unswerving ally of the state of Israel, yet be blatantly anti-Semitic? Received wisdom, until recently, was that this was impossible: for starters, whoever was in power in Israel would not entertain it. But now they would, and they did: the reception for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán by Binyamin Netanyahu has been conspicuous in its warmth. Yet Orbán is blatantly anti-Semitic.
That is clear in his demonisation of George Soros; his embrace by Israeli leaders shows that some forms of anti-Semitism are more acceptable than others. This is a precedent clearly not lost on our alleged Home Secretary Priti Patel, another fervent ally of Israel - indeed, her fervour contributed significantly to her sacking by Theresa May - who has nevertheless taken out the anti-Semitic dog whistle this week.
In her speech to the Tory conference, during which she smilingly informed her audience that she would be stripping millions of people of their hard-won rights, she said, very slowly and very deliberately, “Let me tell you this … This daughter of immigrants needs no lectures from the North London metropolitan liberal elite”.
Lawyer Adam Wagner knew exactly what that meant, and he said so. “This is an antisemitic dog whistle. Either [Priti Patel] intended it or was reckless in using it. Either way [not good]”. ITV political editor Robert Peston was more nuanced, but had come to the same conclusion: “Note to [Priti Patel]’s speech writer: you should have deleted the word ‘north’ from this trope because it has connotations I know the Home Secretary would be embarrassed by (I say this as a North Londoner born and bred)”.
Presenter Danny Wallace agreed with Wagner. “I never realised what this suggested, until the night [David Baddiel] explained it to me over a pint (we were actually in literal north London at the time) and it's never left me. PP's speech will be in the opening credits of fall-of-Britain documentaries one day”. Baddiel’s reply was also notable.
“In normal circumstances I would assume anyone using this language was speaking very very cliched code for Jews. However Pritti Patel may just be stupid enough not to know. But some people will hear the dog whistle anyway”. She’s not stupid. Just sly.
And to confirm Wagner’s and Peston’s misgivings, along came the voices of others to tell two Jews that they were wrong about anti-Semitism. Like infamous Tory councillor Stephen Canning, who sneered “That famous antismemite who was, err, sacked for being too supportive of Israel”. Viktor Orbán behaviour refers.
Then there is Sussex Friends of Israel, believed to be the voice of one Simon Cobb, who snapped “Oh leave it out. An ‘antisemitic dogwhistle’ from one of the best friends we have in Parliament? It’s the daughter of immigrants talking about Corbyn, Abbott et all. Nothing more but I think you know that!” Interesting use of the word “we” there.
And former Breitbart contributor David Atherton, who pontificated “Adam, I hope this settles the matter. The Israeli Ambassador to the UK [Mark Regev] attends the Conservative Friends of Israel event with [Priti Patel]. Nice photo of them together”.
None of which address the fact of the matter: this is blatant anti-Semitic dog-whistling.
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