The day before last week’s General Election, the Guardian told readers “Boris Johnson has invoked some of the oldest and most pernicious antisemitic stereotypes in a book he wrote when he was a Conservative shadow minister. He describes ‘Jewish oligarchs’ who run the media, and fiddle the figures to fix elections in their favour”. There was more.
“He portrays a Jewish character, Sammy Katz, with a ‘proud nose and curly hair’, and paints him as a malevolent, stingy, snake-like Jewish businessman who exploits immigrant workers for profit … Johnson has form when it comes to anti-Jewish hatred [Taki is mentioned] … Even now Johnson continues to cosy up to Donald Trump, despite his rhetoric about Jewish disloyalty and support for neo-Nazis”. How to counter this?
Simples. Tories declare that they, with alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel’s backing, are hot on anti-Semitism. So it was that Conservative Friends of Israel declared “To rapturous applause in Jerusalem, [Eirc Pickles] expresses pride that new incoming [Conservative] Government under [Boris Johnson ]will make it illegal for any public body to engage in any way with BDS. ‘BDS is antisemitic and should be treated as such’”.
Who better than Eric Pickles, the man who knows exactly when to call out opponents for alleged racism, to make the declaration? But then several problems enter, not least that he made his declaration at the King David Hotel, scene of a terrorist attack before the creation of the state of Israel, which killed more than 90 people. Sensitive of Pickles, then.
Moreover, Pickles’ supposedly impeccable anti-racism was marred by his support for unrepentant racist Ray Honeyford, whose incendiary article “Education and race - an alternative view” eventually saw him removed from the headship of Drummond Middle School in Bradford. And then there is the claim that BDS is “anti-Semitic”.
That claim has been made previously (see HERE), but what Pickles is doing - conflating “[all]Jews” with “Israel” is in fact an anti-Semitic trope. Worse, as the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which the Tories urged Labour to adopt without exception, states unequivocally “However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”. What that means is not difficult to understand.
If boycotting the state of Israel is an act performed in the same way as boycotts of other countries - which by definition are not majority Jewish states - then it falls into the IHRA category which “cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic”. The IHRA definition contains eleven examples of anti-Semitic behaviour; criticism similar to that levelled against other countries is not one of them. And it is not in the gift of Eric Pickles to make it so.
Moreover, True Torah Jews have asserted “There are many Jews who identify as Anti-Zionist because we care about other Jews. Zionism is an atheistic movement that hijacked the name of Judaism to gain legitimacy. Jews are not proxy citizens of Israel and it is anti Semitic to suggest otherwise”. The Irgun, who bombed the King David Hotel, were Zionists. The term does not mean the same as “Jews”.
The Tories have opened their mouths to proclaim another great policy announcement. And in doing so, they have not at all elegantly inserted boot therein. No change there, then.
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