As if Priti Patel’s embrace of the Viktor Orbán playbook - unswerving support for the state of Israel, but no problem with using anti-Semitic tropes to fire up the base - were not enough, yesterday brought another helping of Tory anti-Semitism so egregious that there have been calls for at least one resignation. Worse for The Blue Team, an increasing number of Jewish voices have decided to condemn the party.
What happened may be put directly: Jacob Rees Mogg, the Right Honourable member for times long past, who has inexplicably been made Leader of the House of Commons, went on an unprovoked rant at George Soros in Parliament yesterday. It was not the first time he had veered across the anti-Semitism line in no style at all; he had previously accused Oliver Letwin and John Bercow of being “Illuminati”.
That exhumed an old trope: when Rees Mogg accused Letwin and the Speaker of being “Illuminati who are taking the powers to themselves”, he played on “the allegation that the ‘Illuminati’ infiltrated the ranks of European Jewish bankers in the nineteenth century. Following the lines of the notorious forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, these books assert that the bankers/Jews/Illuminati were behind the Bolshevik Revolution - as well as the creation of the Federal Reserve system in the United States”.
So it should not have surprised anyone when Rees Mogg got to his feet and told the House “One of the major funders - allegedly - of the Remain campaign, the Remoaner funder in chief, is one George Soros”. He had no evidence to offer in support of his contention. He just wanted to allege that It Was Soros Wot Done It.
That was on top of Jake Berry shouting “Britain First” at Jeremy Corbyn earlier - the words uttered by Thomas Mair, who murdered Jo Cox - and of course the earlier talk by Suella Braverman of “Cultural Marxism”, yet another anti-Semitic trope.
The reaction was swift. Musa Okwonga concluded “Clear anti-Semitism in Parliament just hours after a front bencher barks ‘Britain First’; just days after Priti Patel’s anti-Semitic dogwhistle”. James Felton was on the same page. “A Tory MP chanted ‘Britain first’ - the same thing Jo Cox's killer yelled at her as he murdered her - in Parliament a week after being begged by female MPs to tone down the language and the best spin I can put on it is maybe he meant the fascist political party set up in 2011”. There was more.
George Aylett added “We’ve seen Braverman use the anti-semitic ‘cultural marxism’ trope, Patel’s dogwhistle about ‘North London elites’ and, today, Rees-Mogg playing with the far right’s anti-semitic rhetoric by focusing on Soros. The silence from Tory activists about these comments is concerning”. And Owen Jones warned “George Soros as a sinister international Jewish puppetmaster is the classic antisemitic trope of our time. If Jacob Rees Mogg didn't know that, he is a disturbingly ignorant man. If he does know, then where do you even begin?” Then came the resignation call.
After Nathan Boroda wrote in Jewish News “We need to talk about the Tories’ anti-Semitism problem”, Lord Alf Dubs called for Rees Mogg to go, telling “Like [George Soros], I fled Nazi persecution, and like me, George Soros campaigns for European countries to give sanctuary to refugees today, just as I was given refuge as a child in 1939”.
He stated “Jacob Rees Mogg’s comments are straight from the far right’s anti-Semitic playbook. Boris Johnson must condemn his remarks about a Holocaust survivor and remove him from the cabinet”. But alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson will do no such thing. Because he approves of what Rees Mogg is doing.
Or rather, he will do nothing until mainstream and conservative Jewish voices tell him he has to act. Hence Michael Rosen musing “Hello [Board of Deputies]. You’ve said that [Conservative Home] are friends of the Jewish community. Jacob Rees-Mogg is in government. You should now have a dossier on the far right company he has kept, his attacks on Bercow, Letwin and Soros. Hello [John Mann] antisemitism tsar?”
But that may be about to change, after Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League asserted “Invoking George Soros as a puppet master behind current events is an anti-Semitic trope. Such insinuations are dangerous and have no place in our political discourse”. Maybe the BoD will listen to him, and note that the exact same playbook is being used across the North Atlantic. Because someone needs to act, and now.
Serious and dangerous anti-Semitism always comes from the right. It did in the 19th Century; it did in the 1930s; it is coming from the same source now.
The Tory Party must get its house in order. Or it will be caused to do so.
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I notice you didn't include the full sentence Tim, or include any of the context. In fact you chopped it in half. Probably because it wouldn't look anti-Semitic if you had posted the full thing.
On Thursday, MP Valerie Vaz remarked that hedge fund manager Crispin Odey “made £220m overnight as Sterling slumped after the 2016 referendum result.” Rees-Mogg responded with the following:
"One of the major funders allegedly of the Remain campaign, the Remoaner funder-in-chief, is one George Soros, who made a billion pounds when Sterling crashed out of the exchange rate mechanism, which is five times as much as Mr Odey has made"
Anonymous - One difference being that Soros was not a supporter of the Govt at the time and neither did he help fund the campaign (or policy) from which he benefited.
"The Leader of House will be aware that Crispin Odey, a donor to various parties and people, made £220 million overnight as sterling slumped after the 2016 referendum result. Given that the Government have taken the Labour party policy of having 20,000 more police officers and raising the real living wage to £10, will they now support the shadow Chancellor when he calls for an inquiry into the finance sector, including the regulation of hedge funds?"
"The hon. Lady made some points about conflicts of interest. Of course it is appropriate that the ministerial code is followed, and it will be, but moving from the private sector into the public sector fully is not always simple. One sometimes has so many commitments that it is hard to remember all of them. She then criticised Crispin Odey for making money out of sterling falling. I remind her that one of the major funders—allegedly—of the remain campaign, the remoaner funder-in-chief, was one George Soros, who made £1 billion when sterling crashed out of the exchange rate mechanism, which is five times as much as Mr Odey made. I fear that all she is saying is that Mr Soros is a better hedge fund manager than Crispin Odey, who is a great friend and supporter of mine."
Surely it's time to settle the definition of antisemitism.
Which in my opinion should be this: An irrational hatred for the existence of Judaism and the State of Israel, plus denial of the right of both to exist. If taken to its extreme such behaviour can only lead to the organised murderous madness of the Holocaust. Dan Goldhagen has done some masterful work on explaining the development of that horror.
But none of this excuses the economic opportunism of George Soros or the land-grabs of Palestine property or the killing of innocent unarmed Palestinians. Simply being Jewish doesn't mean invulnerability to individual criticism or accusations of criminality against the government of Israel. Nor is it sufficient to quite properly point out the imbalance of UN resolutions against Israel vis-a-vis other criminal behaviour - criminal behaviour is criminal behaviour WHOEVER CARRIES IT OUT. Everyone has to be held to account for such actions. Whataboutery is not a defence. It is an affront to common sense and democratic justice to stretch the definition of antisemitism to include honest criticism of the Israeli government within that definition.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if Rees Mogg is a dyed in the wool antisemitic. After all, the man is an unwanted throwback to an era we all want to confine to the dustbin of history. He belongs to a part of our society which was (and still is in part) deeply antisemitic. As a matter of public record his political behaviour makes him untrustworthy and not fit for public office. Yet even he is a mere symptom of a much deeper malaise.
It's undoubtedly true that recent history means we must be especially careful of any criticism of individual Jews and the State of Israel. Memories are still raw and Jews have suffered two thousand years of crazy religious and secular persecution. But none of that means criticism cannot be placed in context.
For instance it is unquestionably true that Soros made unearned billions through currency manipulation, an activity surely most of us would hold in contempt. Where Rees Mogg and his ilk go wrong - quite apart from putative antisemitism - is in concentrating solely on Soros, when as a matter of statistic probability (nay, certainty?) most currency manipulators will be non-Jews.
Honest context is everything. Which is why Rees Mogg and his political type cannot be trusted. Ever.
Are you saying that JRM was making the free market argument? Well, blown me down.
Problem is, Soros wasn't a funder on the remain side.
You're worse than Grant.
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