Saturday, April 30, 2016

A truth that's told with bad intent

For the second time in a few weeks I find myself quoting the word of William Blake

And the truth which rather too many people have been telling with bad intent, mostly on the hard left, but I have found one or two people on the right doing it as well (though not anybody holding elected office in the Conservative party) is this:

"Being anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-Semitic."

The trouble is that this truth is being used too often to give people who really are anti-Semitic a pass and let them get away with what amounts to the beginnings of re-heated Nazism.

Here is the internationally agreed definition of anti-Semitism (recognised by the UK college of policing, the US State Department, and the EU ...

If you disagree with the policies of the government of Israel on exactly the same basis that you would disagree with the policies of any other government or party, that isn't racist at all.

To take a simple example, if you think Donald Trump is a berk to propose building a massive wall on the US/Mexican border, and Nigel Lawson was seriously misguided to suggest we might build one on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, then it is not racist or anti-Semitic in any way shape or form to make similar criticisms of Israel's "West Bank Barrier."

On the other hand, if you support Trump's "build a wall" policy and agreed with Nigel Lawson that there would be no problem in setting up border posts cutting the island of Ireland in two following a Brexit vote, but have been denouncing Israel for their border wall, you might usefully ask yourself why you are criticising Israel for a policy similar to one you support for others.

If you are holding Israel to a much higher standard of behaviour than you would expect of another country, if you think it is OK to hate people just for living in Israel, if you think that every Israeli citizen, or every Jewish citizen of that country, is to blame for the actions of their government, then you are not just being anti-Israel but anti-Semitic and racist.

I have already posted an explanation of why it is anti-Semitism of the most offensive kind to compare the policies of Israel with those of the Nazis. But if you are in any doubt whether something is anti-Semitic, there is a very simple test,

Ask yourself whether a statement, comment or joke about Israel or Jewish people would have been considered racist had it been made about Africa or black people, and if the answer is yes, then that statement, comment or joke is anti-Semitic and racist.

It should be obvious from what I have written that if a senior Conservative were to come out with certain of the things Ken Livingstone has said this week, I would want that person expelled from the party for life, and certainly never again allowed to hold any position of responsibility within the party or supported for election to public office.


Anonymous said...

His art was ghastly.

Chris Whiteside said...

I must confess I am not desperately fond of Blake's paintings, but some of his poetry was sublime and many of his words were very wise.