Posts Tagged ‘anti-semitism’

“Liberal” bigotry at the New York Times

April 29, 2019

Published under pressure by the New York Times.

An opinion piece by Bret Stephens – where the publishing of a critical article is supposed to balance the blatant and bigoted propaganda that went before.

As prejudices go, anti-Semitism can sometimes be hard to pin down, but on Thursday the opinion pages of The New York Times international editionprovided a textbook illustration of it.

Except that The Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it.

It did so in the form of a cartoon, provided to the newspaper by a wire service and published directly above an unrelated column by Tom Friedman, in which a guide dog with a prideful countenance and the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. Lest there be any doubt as to the identity of the dog-man, it wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David.

Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.

The image also had an obvious political message: Namely, that in the current administration, the United States follows wherever Israel wants to go. This is false — consider Israel’s horrified reaction to Trump’s announcement last year that he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria — but it’s beside the point. There are legitimate ways to criticize Trump’s approach to Israel, in pictures as well as words. But there was nothing legitimate about this cartoon.

So what was it doing in The Times?

For some Times readers — or, as often, former readers — the answer is clear: The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.

For these readers, the cartoon would have come like the slip of the tongue that reveals the deeper institutional prejudice. What was long suspected is, at last, revealed.

The real story is a bit different, though not in ways that acquit The Times. The cartoon appeared in the print version of the international edition, which has a limited overseas circulation, a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon itself was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.

An initial editor’s note acknowledged that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes,” “was offensive,” and that “it was an error of judgment to publish it.” On Sunday, The Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and that “significant changes” would be made in terms of internal processes and training.

In other words, the paper’s position is that it is guilty of a serious screw-up but not a cardinal sin. Not quite.

Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?

The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this.

Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew.

I’m writing this column conscious of the fact that it is unusually critical of the newspaper in which it appears, and it is a credit to the paper that it is publishing it. I have now been with The Times for two years and I’m certain that the charge that the institution is in any way anti-Semitic is a calumny.

But the publication of the cartoon isn’t just an “error of judgment,” either. The paper owes the Israeli prime minister an apology. It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon — and how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise.

“Liberal” bigotry is bigotry masquerading under the cloak of self-righteous, and sanctimonious pretense. It is corruption when the New York Times uses its reputation for integrity to tout propaganda.


Corbyn’s Labour party “is not anti-semitic”, except when needed for class war

April 29, 2016

During the early days of the labour movement and the growth of industrial Europe, it was not only the right-wing view that Jews were grasping trades-people to be looked down upon which fuelled anti-semitism. In the beginning of the 20th century, Jews were identified with banking and finance and epitomised the Great Enemy in the class struggle against capitalists. A strong strain of anti-semitism was nurtured within the hard-left as being an integral part of the class-war.

The hard-left (the loony left) core at the heart of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party still believe that capitalism is the religion of the Jews and they are all fundamentally and ideologically anti-semitic. That group traces its history of Jew-hating to the rise of capitalism and long before the creation of Israel. After the First World War, the anti-semitism that was part of the class-war became associated also with a racial opposition to Jews. The hard-left version of UK anti-semitism thus shares the same roots of Jew-hating as that which fired up the National Socialists in Germany and which was exploited by Hitler. After the Holocaust and WW 2, anti-semitism was politically incorrect everywhere. The collective European guilt allowed – and encouraged – the robbing of the Palestinians and the creation of Israel. It was only 2 generations later – and since the 1980s – that the new strain of anti-Israel, pro-Palestine anti-semitism could grow. This strain of the disease is automatically carried by any Muslim who supports Palestine or Palestinians. In recent times the hard-core, loony left in the UK have found it convenient to cloak their own anti-semitism, which originates from class-war roots, under the guise of being pro-Palestine and in support of all things Palestinian.

Nowadays the UK Labour party contains many Muslim (mainly of Asian origin) members. A large section of these newer members (though not all) have little knowledge of the rise of the labour movement and the identification of all Jews with the Great Enemy – Capitalism. These members trace their antisemitism to their support of Palestine and the consequent opposition to anything Israeli (including the Jewish population of Israel). They are engaged in a religious war – not a class war. The UK Labour party contains many anti-semites of these two strains; a newer religious strain and a classic class-war strain which hides under the religious strain.

Jeremy Corbyn is trying to revive the class-war. That also provides an environment for the class-war based strain of anti-semitism to prosper. It still has to be hidden under the cloak of being pro-Palestinian. But that, in turn, allows the religious strain of the disease to grow. So when the UK Labour party MP, Naz Shah (of Pakistani origin and a somewhat lurid background), expressed her anti-semitic views she represented the new religious strain. She was suspended from the party for that. But she was suspended by a very reluctant Jeremy Corbyn. But then Ken Livingstone (“Red Ken”, “Loony Ken”) came out in her support and Corbyn was forced to suspend him as well. He actually suffers from the class-war strain of the anti-semitism disease, though he too conveniently hides under the pro-Palestine version of the disease.

Now Jeremy Corbyn himself is a closet anti-semite of the class-war kind. Before he became leader of the party he came close to coming out of the closet when he supported radical and even extremist proponents of the Palestinian cause. Now, as leader, he cannot afford to be so politically incorrect. Nevertheless he could not just suspend his long-time friend and class-warrior, Ken Livingstone, for saying what he himself believed. To try and create a balance he got the chief whip to give the MP who publicly confronted Ken Livingstone a real dressing down. Corbyn did not do it himself of course.

class warriors (incidentally anti-semitic) image Daily Mirror

class warriors (incidentally anti-semitic) image Daily Mirror

But the message was clear.

So when Jeremy Corbyn says that the Labour party “does not support any form of anti-semitism”, he means except when it is the class-war kind and it is kept hidden under the guise of something else.


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