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Art Thou Contented, Jew?

The British novelist on England, the Jews, and anti-Semitism today

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A London restaurant marks the Silver Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II, 1977. (© Paul Trevor, from the London Metropolitan University East End Archive: The Paul Trevor Collection.)
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Man Booker winner Howard Jacobson talks about English anti-Semitism, ping-pong, and the seriousness of Jewish jokes

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Britain has a long and ignoble tradition of literary anti-Semitism, featuring such anti-heroes as Shylock, Fagin, and Svengali. When I first studied The Merchant of Venice in class, at the age of 12, I took against the play strongly, largely on account of the treatment of Shylock. I don’t think I was vividly aware either of his Jewishness or of the nature of anti-Semitism, for at the time I didn’t knowingly know many or perhaps any Jews. I just thought he’d been treated badly. His daughter Jessica had been seduced and stolen, and he was cheated of his revenge by a lawyer’s trick. I remarked in class that Portia had pulled a rabbit out a hat, “and a very shabby one at that,” and was reprimanded for using unliterary language. I stick by that view.

Productions of Oliver, the musical based on Oliver Twist, still provoke outrage as the Fagin stereotype is wheeled out yet again, and each time it is revived there are the predictable complaints. Shylock fares better, for it is possible, indeed almost de rigueur, to play him as tragic and misunderstood. Peter O’Toole gave a magnificent Shylock at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1960, an interpretation greatly admired by Jewish critics and the Jewish theater-going public, for O’Toole in the role was both dignified and heroic. He triumphed over the lesser actors. In those days he still had a noble nose, which he later modified (in my view unwisely) in order to play Lawrence of Arabia for David Lean. He looked much better before he had it fixed. I watched his performance many times, for my first husband, Clive Swift, played his friend Tubal, and their scene together was memorable. Tubal tells Shylock that his missing daughter Jessica has bartered her father’s ring for a monkey, at which Shylock cries out, “Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my turquoise; I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys!” Who could not be on Shylock’s side? He has all the best lines.

O’Toole, of course, wasn’t Jewish, but my husband was. I saw this production with my parents just after Clive and I got married, and they were very impressed. This was just as well, as they had been somewhat apprehensive about our engagement, not because Clive was Jewish, but because we were both very young, and moreover he was an actor. This, I thought, was reasonable on their part. Acting is not the most reliable of professions.

Nobody in my family showed any sign of anti-Semitism, nor had I encountered it at school or at university. One or two of the more Orthodox of Clive’s family (notably his terrifying grandmother) were more hostile to me as a prospective in-law than anyone in my family was to him. Luckily this disapproval was kept from me, and to me, Jewishness wasn’t an issue. The two sets of parents got on well, pleasantly exchanging gifts at Christmas over the years, and I loved all the Swifts (apart from Grandma G.). One year my father made the mistake of sending a gift of smoked eel from the local fishmonger, as a change from the traditional smoked salmon, but nobody held it against him. But I was surprised when, at the time of my marriage, my father told me that he thought he ought not to accept an invitation to join the golf club because it had a Jewish quota, and it wouldn’t seem proper for him to appear to condone prejudice now he had acquired a Jewish son-in-law.

I didn’t know what a Jewish quota was, and he had to explain. My father was then County Count Judge of Northumberland, and apparently belonging to the golf club went with the job. He never played golf, so it was no loss to him, but it was an eye-opener to me. I had entered a new territory. I had never come across this sort of prejudice and wondered for a moment whether I had unwittingly embarked on a life of heroic struggle.

Jewish quotas are illegal in Britain now, and have been for a long time. But in those days, in the 1960s, they operated in several clubs and institutions, and I am sure some would tell you that, covertly, they still do. I wouldn’t know about that, as no one I know would want to join any of these discriminatory outfits, though some of my friends belong to the Garrick Club, which still doesn’t accept women members.

Having half-Jewish children and wholly Jewish in-laws has sensitized me to anti-Semitic attitudes and press coverage. I know that to the Orthodox my children don’t qualify as Jewish, because they are Jewish only through the paternal line, but they are half-Jewish to me and to themselves. Some of my Jewish in-laws and Jewish friends are more Jewish than others: Some do Friday nights, some won’t drink German wine or go to Germany, some won’t eat shellfish. Some make their own gefilte fish, others detest it. Some read Holocaust literature and fiction obsessively, others avoid it. (It was a Jewish friend who introduced me to the work of Primo Levi in the 1960s, long before he was well known outside Italy.) Some call one another (usually in the friendliest way, sometimes more acrimoniously) “Jew-hating Jews.” Some sing sacred music in Christian choirs, some prefer Fiddler on the Roof. Some go to synagogue, some haven’t been near one since their own bar mitzvah. But all of them, all of them think of themselves as English.

I don’t remember when I first became conscious of the Jews. As I was born in 1939, I was brought up in an England traumatized by war, and when I was a teenager I was aware that European Jews had been the victims of genocide, although we were not encouraged to look at Holocaust pornography. My father, as a young left-wing lawyer, had been involved with the placement of Jewish refugees in Sheffield in the 1930s, but I didn’t know that until much later. I don’t think I connected contemporary Jews with the Jews of the Bible, who seemed as remote from me as the Roundheads and Cavaliers, or the Ancient Britons who built Stonehenge. We read the Bible, but nobody at home or at school or during my university career ever suggested that the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. If I thought anything, I thought it was all the fault of Pontius Pilate, and Pontius Pilate was a Roman. The Romans, I knew, went in for crucifixions. The notion of the collective guilt of the Jews would have appeared ludicrous to my Shavian mother and Quaker father, and ludicrous in the Nonconformist Protestant North of England where I was brought up. I have since discovered that some English and Irish children, educated in convents or Catholic schools, did have some anti-Jewish indoctrination, but this would have been utterly unacceptable in the world in which I was reared. I was spared any of that nonsense and only came across it, with some disbelief, in recent years.

We did, of course, study the Bible at school, though, as it was a Quaker school, we studied it less assiduously than most schoolchildren, for the Quakers are not very scripture-dependent. But we did learn a few verses every morning, most of them from the New Testament or the Psalms, but sometimes from Isaiah or Ezekiel or, if we were lucky, from the Book of Job. We loved the Book of Job—its gloominess, its poetry, its majesty. The passage about the horse particularly delighted us, although I now see that the horse is a warhorse, and therefore should have been forbidden us, as we were meant to be pacifists. “He paweth in the valley and rejoiceth in his strength … and oft as the trumpet soundeth, he saith, Aha!” Magnificent, but not very Quakerly.

Did we think of Job as Jewish? Not really. But we liked the Old Testament stories—Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Whale, Naomi and Ruth, Samson and Delilah, Joseph and his brothers. English literature is permeated by the prose and poetry of the King James Bible. The phrases linger on in the memory, and one of my most treasured possessions is a Biblical Concordance, which I keep by the bed. I know one can easily find quotations on the Internet now, but they seem more valuable when tracked down in a leather-bound gilt-leaf volume. The other night I dreamed about my younger son Joseph. “Behold, this dreamer cometh!” were the words to which I woke, and which I found at once in my Cruden’s Concordance. And I remember writing a poem at school about Joseph, of which I can remember only the last line, which went “this pit in Dothan, where no water is.” Maybe it was a dramatic monologue in iambic pentameter, in Joseph’s voice, or maybe it was a cry of adolescent misery. I was rather proud of it.

My Grandfather Drabble was called Joseph. He was a Yorkshire Methodist. The choice of name seemed to unite the families. All three of my children have Biblical names.

The debate about Jewish descent fascinates me, and it breaks out from time to time in England in a public storm, most recently about ethnic or religious criteria for pupils and teachers at a celebrated North London school, the Jewish Free School, or the JFS as it is always known. A lot of people want to send their children to the JFS, not because it is free (although, being a state school, it is) but because it is rated “outstanding,” and competition for good state schools is fierce. According to the National Secular Society (which opposes all Faith Schools), the controversial 2009 exclusion case “turned on whether the child in question was Jewish. It is generally recognised that a person is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish. The mother in this case (who actually taught at the school) had converted to Judaism and regarded herself as Jewish. But her conversion had not been recognised by the Office of the Chief Rabbi and therefore also was not recognised by the school.”

A good deal of room for acrimonious debate and expensive litigation there, and at the U.K. Supreme Court in December 2009 it was ruled that the JFS admissions policy amounted to direct discrimination on the basis of race. That probably won’t be the end of the story.

My sons went to a North London state school (not the JFS), which because of its catchment area had a fairly large Jewish intake, with many children from academic and professional families. I remember one alumnus saying of this school, “No matter how clever you were, there was also some Jewish kid who was a lot cleverer than you, and he was always top of the class.” I don’t know if that’s an anti-Semitic remark or not.

The JFS understandably didn’t like being accused of racial discrimination. Jews have been discriminated against in British society for centuries and don’t like a counter-accusation. What constitutes anti-Semitism in Britain today is another matter. It’s not to do with golf clubs or dining clubs, for Race Discrimination Acts and Equality Acts have largely brought an end to that. It shouldn’t feature in educational establishments and on the whole doesn’t: The mirror-image JFS case became notorious precisely because it was exceptional. My instinct is to claim that it has diminished almost out of normal daily existence, although that may be wishful thinking on my part, or ignorance, or proof of a sheltered life. Accusations of anti-Semitism still abound, and the tabloid press loves to make the most of stories of swastikas on defaced synagogues—arguably, inflammatory coverage that is in itself a form of anti-Semitism. The tabloid press is not a trustworthy source of information. But the truth is that these episodes are rare.

There were several acts of vandalism after the conflict in Gaza in 2008, as there were in the United States and Canada. When we talk about anti-Semitism, do we really mean anti-Zionism? They are not the same, although some argue that they are. British academics who boycott conferences in Israeli universities may be anti-Zionist, but they are not necessarily anti-Semitic, although the two charges are often conflated. Most of them would deny hotly (and rightly) any tinge of anti-Semitism and insist that they are protesting against Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. Neither a nation nor a race should be identified with its foreign policy. A few years ago I protested vehemently against the illegal detention of so-called “illegal combatants” in Guantanamo (in which our British government was lamentably and supinely complicit) and said, provocatively, that Guantanamo filled me with a deplorable and painful sense of anti-Americanism. I did not say that I hated America or Americans, although many think I did. Nor does an acute distress at the deadly invasions of Lebanon or Gaza imply that a critic of Israel hates Jews. To suggest that anti-Semitism is the underlying cause of British protests about Gaza is offensive and unjustified.

Both anti-Zionism and a support for the Palestinian cause are perhaps more prevalent and more boldly expressed in the United Kingdom than in the United States. In 2002, Cherie Blair, a human rights lawyer and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, let slip some words of what was interpreted as sympathy for suicide bombers. Although she got some flak for this from British rabbis and the Israeli embassy, she was not violently attacked across the board for racism or indiscretion. I doubt if she’d have dared to express herself so spontaneously and unguardedly in America. She later apologized for any offense. What she actually said, at a charity event to raise funds for MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) was this: “As long as young people feel they have no hope but to blow themselves up we are never going to make progress.” This does not strike me as an expression of support for Hamas, but it is easy to see how it could be misrepresented.

It is perceived, in Britain, that the U.S. pro-Israel lobby attempts, successfully, to censor criticism of Israel. I don’t know how fair this suspicion is, but it exists, and it was inflamed by a minor incident in October 2006 when Australian-born, British-based writer Carmen Callil was in New York promoting her remarkable account of Vichy France, Bad Faith. This gripping, carefully researched yet very personal book tells the harrowing story of the betrayal and deportation of French Jews during the Occupation, and on publication it was highly praised in Britain, and also by French and Jewish critics who rightly read it as a fierce indictment of the Vichy regime and an important contribution to our historical knowledge of the period. The problem arose when it was noted that in the last chapter Callil suggests that in recent times the Israeli treatment of Palestinians echoes the wartime persecution of the Jews. This is not a novel proposal, and the theory that violence begets violence is widely if not universally accepted. Callil does not go as far as Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago, who compared the conditions in Palestinian refugee camps to those in a concentration camp, but nevertheless her criticism of Israel annoyed some American Jewish readers, and, alerted to potential unpleasantness, the French Embassy nervously canceled a party in her honor. This was pusillanimous of the French, and understandably annoyed Callil.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that her book could in any way be construed as anti-Semitic. It is not.

I don’t think this specific incident could have happened in England. Here, these days, we are more sensitive to complaints from Muslims and other religious or ethnic minorities than to complaints from pro-Israel or agnostic Jews. There have been acts of official and unofficial censorship—plays closed, books burned, writers driven into hiding—and some cowardly decisions on the part of our government. Both Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Labor leader Michael Foot stood staunchly by Salman Rushdie in 1989 when the Satanic Verses fatwa was delivered, but I sometimes fear that since the London bombings of 2005 we are condoning censorship more easily than we did, in the name of multiculturalism. But we do not censor the Jews, nor do they censor themselves. It is Sikh and Muslim protests that exercise our consciences now. British Jewish writers can be as outrageous as they choose without unduly upsetting their own or the wider community. They are at home here, and have been for a long time.

Howard Jacobson, a Manchester-born novelist sometimes described as our own Philip Roth, returns again and again to deeply black Jewish comedy and to the sensitivities and particularities of British Jews. His 2006 novel, Kalooki Nights, is a fascinating compendium of information about Jewish life and Jewish urban folklore in Britain in the last half century, in turn affectionate, brutal, emotional, satiric, and tragic. It demonstrates that there are at least as many forms of Jewishness in Britain today as there are of Englishness, or Scottishness, or Irishness—there are Marxist, northern, London suburban, Oxford academic, secular, Zionist, anti-Zionist, rich, poor, tolerant, insanely intolerant, observant, card-playing, fell-walking, strictly kosher, bacon-devouring, lockjaw-fearing Jews. (We all feared lockjaw too, in our white suburban Yorkshire school: I think this was a 1940s thing, not a Jewish thing.)

His protagonist Max Glickman, son of a hard-line left-wing secularist, is a cartoonist, forever reworking his masterpiece, Five Thousand Years of Bitterness, a brilliant narrative device that gives Jacobson license to explore Holocaust jokes in the worst possible taste, and to caricature both extreme Orthodoxy and polite and impolite social anti-Semitism. He says things that we non-Jews would never dare to say. Spitefully presented by his grotesque non-Jewish mother-in-law with a nodding toy rabbi to hang in the back of his provocative Volkswagen (or Völökswagen, as he chooses to spell it), he wonders if it comes from a souvenir shop in Jerusalem. “You can never tell with tat; bad taste narrows the gap between the sentimental way you see yourself, and the scorn with which others see you. Half of what’s for sale in Israel you’d consider anti-Semitic if you saw it anywhere else.”

Recently I was on the judging panel for a National Short Story Award organized by BBC Radio 4. One of the five winning tales (“Other People’s Gods,” by Naomi Alderman) was set in the very traditional North London Jewish neighborhood of Hendon. The protagonist, a family man called Bloom, purchases on a whim a statuette of Ganesh, the Indian elephant god, which seems to bring him and his family good luck. The rabbi expostulates, accusing him of worshipping an idol, and destroys Ganesh. The mild-mannered ophthalmologist, in revenge, wrecks the synagogue. It is a good-humored multicultural story with an excellent Biblical punch line, and was brilliantly read on air by that fine actress Miriam Margolyes. Inoffensive as this little fable was, I was slightly anxious (how anxious we are these days!) that some might find it objectionable, and was reassured to learn that it had been cleared for broadcast by the higher powers of the BBC. I doubt if a similarly light-hearted yet literally iconoclastic story set in an orthodox Muslim neighborhood would have been passed as easily.

By Jacobson’s standards, Alderman’s tale was mild. Yet it raised questions of compliance, the new editorial fear word at the BBC. Novelists and story writers need not comply, but employees of the BBC must.

The BBC declined to broadcast Hanif Kureishi’s story “Weddings and Beheadings,” a not-at-all light-hearted prize-winner entered three years earlier for the same award. This controversial decision was made as “a courtesy” to the family of Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter on the Middle East who was kidnapped by Palestinian militants and was being held hostage at that time, in very delicate diplomatic circumstances. (He was eventually released after four months in captivity.) Kureishi’s story had been written before this grim episode, and did not refer to it, though it is narrated by a fictitious film maker who makes his living from news videos of violent death.

I should make it clear that Kureishi’s outspoken work has never been subjected to censorship, although he has been at times provocatively anti-Islamic in his writing—his mockery of extremists reading messages in a Koran-inscribed sacred aubergine in The Black Album (1995) was greeted with much praise. The circumstances in which the BBC decided not to broadcast his story in 2006 were wholly exceptional, and the story was published along with the other prize-winners in due course. The BBC treads a difficult path. I wouldn’t like to be its director-general. The decision not to broadcast was widely discussed and in some quarters much criticized. I do not know whether it was right or wrong.

If, as I have stated, it is perceived in Britain that there is a powerful pro-Israel lobby in America, I know from American friends that our press and some of our celebrities are perceived as pro-Palestinian. Reporter Robert Fisk of the Independent is cited as a Palestinian apologist, as is Vanessa Redgrave. (I went with Vanessa and her brother Corin Redgrave on a delegation to Washington for the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission, and it was clear that while Vanessa attracted media coverage, she also attracted hostility.) Pro-Israel Americans believe that the BBC is biased against Israel, but here, many on the left (including readers of the New Statesman) believe that the BBC is pro-Israel, particularly after its much-publicized refusal to broadcast a charity appeal for the victims of the Gaza bombardment. Attacked from both sides, the BBC probably gets it right, and its veteran reporter on the Middle East, Jeremy Bowen, is reassuringly reliable, rising calmly above the waves of partisan extremism. The BBC remains an independent voice. The reporting on the recent planned expansion of 1,600 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem seemed to me impeccably neutral. The settlements are considered by many (including President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and me) to be unlawful, and I cannot see how anybody could accuse the BBC of anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli bias in its coverage.

But we know that a crude political and racial anti-Semitism flourishes in some British constituencies where Muslim radicals campaign. This is a thousand miles away from the golf club quota or the launch party ban, and much more inflammatory. Sheffield born Oona King, formerly Labor Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in East London, is of mixed race—Jewish on her mother’s side, African-American on her father’s—and has been subjected to hate mail and abuse from several directions by her political opponents and her (largely Muslim) ex-constituents. She lost her seat in 2005 to the maverick pro-Palestinian George Galloway, having herself initially supported the invasion of Iraq. Galloway’s new Respect Party illustrates a strange new alliance of multicultural Britain, founded, Howard Jacobson would argue, on a profound ignorance of the history of Israel and of British involvement in the Middle East. Peter O’Toole’s nose and Lawrence of Arabia have a lot to answer for.

In sum, my own conclusion is that old-style anti-Semitism in Britain today has largely withered away, although as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved there will always be flash points abroad to trigger outbursts of hostility at home. But these do not in my view reflect a deep-rooted underlying establishment antagonism to the Jews in England. The golf club snobbery of the past has gone. Of course Jewish people here are sensitive to and worried about perceived slights and off-color jokes—what else would you expect, after centuries of Shylock and Fagin and Svengali? Britain remains, whatever people tell you, a class-obsessed society, but anti-Semitism no longer features high on the prejudice agenda. Howard Jacobson wouldn’t agree with me and would no doubt label me a representative of what he calls “cosy old lazy old easy-come easy-go England.” But there are worse things to be than that.


For more on this subject, listen to a Tablet podcast with Kalooki Nights author Howard Jacobson here.

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Do you want to know how to tell the difference between simply opposing Israeli policies and anti-antisemitism? Do you hold Israel to the same standards as the rest of the world, or are you particularly harsh when it comes to Israel?
For instance does the BBC constantly broadcast stories about how the Copts in Egypt are mistreated? How about the treatment of women in Egypt? How about the fact that all the Jews were driven out of Egypt? How about the antisemitic material spread by the Egyptian press? How about the fact that Egypt is blockading Gaza? How about the fact that the Egyptian police murder refugees trying to get into Israel? No to all of the above. Ergo the BBC is antisemitic.

With great respect for Margaret Drabble, one clarification; the BBC’s own internal investigation, the Balen Report, is reported to have concluded that BBC does, indeed, have an anti-Israel bias.

The BBC has spent a fortune in legal expenses to fighting against the public release of that report.

If they are truly neutral vis a vis the conflict, wouldn’t it quell suspicion merely to publish it?

Peter W. says:

Anti-Zionism/Pro-Palestinianism: the new “guilt-free” fashionable way to be antisemitic.

Enjoyable piece Margaret!
But as the comments reveal – the times are a changing and a darker force in UK politics is emerging.That of the radical muslim aided by the self denying moderates.

sara goldman says:

I was married to a Brit from deep darkest Surrey. His sister had a cocktail party whereupon a guest commiserated about buying cheaper towels for her Irish vacation cottage. Describing this behavior as “practicing one’s Yiddishisms”. I was flabbergasted as never having heard this terminology before, also that no one reacted in any way to this language. I kept my horror to myself, thinking what if this guest were in NYC and used the same diction.

That’s Jonah and the Whale.

Steve says:

“Do you hold Israel to the same standards as the rest of the world, or are you particularly harsh when it comes to Israel?”

While I don’t think it is appropriate to demonize Israel or the Israelis, there are a number of reasons why Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians deserves special scrutiny, and why you can feel strongly about Israeli actions without being anti-Semitic.

1) The Arab-Israeli conflict provokes strong emotions because there is real controversy. You do not find articulate defenders of the Beshir regime arguing in Western newspapers that the south Sudanese or the people of Darfur deserve what they get. If you did, I expect people would get rather agitated about it.

2) Israel’s alleged violations of international law are unusual in that the West is to some degree complicit. Legally speaking, Israel was created by a UN vote. The original Palestinian dispossession of the late 1940s might not have occurred had not Britain been so eager to shed its responsibilities for the Mandate. Today, the United States shields Israel from international censure with its Security Council veto. Consequently, illegal Israeli actions delegitimize the post-WW2 international legal order in a way that Khartoum’s trangressions do not, even if Khartoum’s are probably much worse from a humanitarian standpoint.

Also, while Egypt is not the religiously harmonious society it pretends to be, there is absolutely no comparison between the status of Copts in Egypt and the status of the Palestinians.

Richard Z. Chesnoff says:

Denying the Jews their right to a state of their own and their obligation to defend themselves against those who would destroy them is tantamount to anti-semitism. Criticizing Israel is has become an obsession – especially in the UK.

@Josh: Actually, it’s Jonah and the Big Fish. The Whale thing is a mistranslation, via the Greek cetus, from the 16th Century.

David Star says:

The lady wirtes as though she knows what she is talking about regarding Isreal. However she cites BBC as the source of her knowledge.
Item: There are no occupied territories. To have been occupied, the land had to have been taken from a proper owner. In fact this lnad area was conquered by the invading army of Trans-Jordan in their attempt to destroy the new new Jewish nation in 1948. Said army was officered at the time by British army men under the leadership of General John Glubb.
the Jordanians then annexed the land as part of their own nation. Only two countries ever recognized that criminal act, Pakistan and the UK. The only illegal occupiers of the land between the Jordan River and the green line has been the invader Jordanian Kingdom.

Item: the 1600 apartments which have received partial approval from the planning commission overseeing construction sites. However, despite the lies of BBC the area for building is not in east Jersualem but actually inside the northern boundary of the city in a neighborhood called Ramat Shlomo which already includes 20,000 inhabitants. This area is bounded by the Shuafat and French Hill neighborhoods to the east and Ramot to the west. But BBC does not allow geography to interfere with their version of truth.

The polite anti-semitism of the British “elite” shown by the lady, has always been behind that nation’s continual backstabbing of Israel from the 1922 partition to the present.

Matthew Fishbane says:

Thanks, Josh. We noted.

She seems to leave out the very strong anti-Semitism which is prevelant in the British Muslim community. While this is related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has its roots in deep fundamentalist Muslim antipathy towards Judaism which is justified by the intolerance and justifications for worse in parts of the Koran.

As to the BBC and especially Jeremy Bowen (who does not hide his hatred for Israel and has even been cautioned by the BBC), others above have detailed some of their anti-Israeli biases which have been shown to have anti-Semitic aspects. To go into detail about that would require many pages. The British Arab colonial links and their defeat by the Israelis prior to 1948 live on in their de-legitamizing Israeli defense against Palestinian and Arab violence as in the case of the Gaza and Lebanon wars.

Robert Hagedorn says:

Eden garden sex?
The lyrics stink.
But the scandal’s about evidence.
So forget about lyrics that stink.

Celeste says:

Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism or a better term Anti-Judaism since Arabs are also Semites.Yes even some Jewish people are self hating Jews when they take an anti-zionist approach. This author apparently knows little to nothing about the history of the middle east, and how long Jewish people lived in Israel even after the destruction of their two temples first by the Babylonians and than the Romans. When Jews have lived in the Disapora they have been slaughtered continuously with one of the largest amounts of Jewish people killed during WWII. So in 1948 when Israel was re-established as a Jewish homeland it would be a solution that Jews would never again have to live in countries where they were not welcome, have their rights taken away and especially their lives. So to be against this is preposterous. That is all Zionism means. At the same time in 1948, There was supposed to be a partition for two countries and one would be for Palestinians. However many left Israel and joined the ranks of Arab nations that went to war against Israel and wanted to destroy Jews and a Jewish state.It is these people who do not support a Palestinian state along with Israel, not Jews from Israel. Sadly Israel has had to defend itself against wars and now for several years terroism. The Israel government and the miltary does not pick on innocent Palestinians but those who commit terroistic or violent attacks against Israel citizens. Given the actual facts of what is going on and Israel’s right to defend itself, it is totally absurd to continuously support the Palestinians against Jewish people. The new anti-Judaism is this approach of anti-zionism. The BBC usually takes an Anti-Ziionist approach and attacks Israel in favor of the Palestinians, ignoring trerrositic attacks against Jewish people. Many Palestinians and many other Muslims do not support Israel’s right to exist and will never support a Palestinan homeland near Israel. Israel has always supported a Palestinian homeland along side their right to also exist. Until the terroism stops sadly this may never happen but it is not Israel’s fault.
You Margaret are definitely anti-Jewish with your anti-Zionist views, despite your arguments to the contrary, because you do not believe Jews have the right to exist and to defend themselves against violence and destruction. This kind of Anti-Judaism is far worse than Shakespeare’s literature, or golf club quotas against Jews which the author of this article is against. We are talking about the right of Jews to exist as a people and the right to return to a homeland for security that had been their homeland for thousands of years.

Rachel Port says:

As a fan of Victorian literature, I find the casual anti-Semitism of Trollope’s more jarring in some ways than Fagin.

Quite a different experience of Merchant of Venice. I had seen Portia’s speech given many times before seeing the entire play performed. I was shocked that the seduction and conversion of Jessica is so often ignored when Shylock is discussed, and her theft of the jewels. Indeed, this act is seen virtuous. Wish I had seen O’Toole in those days.

elisheva says:

Margaret Drabble comes across as a very naive product of a sheltered middle-class, middle-english upbringing. One wonders why she bothered to write on a topic she has no background in and clearly has thought about only superficially. Tablet, please try a little harder to find relevant contributors.

Old Man says:

What most Europeans don’t realize is that the Palestinian people’s worst enemies were its leaders. Arafat negotiated just enough to be accepted by the world as a quasi-head-of-state, but never accepted to make peace because having an external enemy to distract his people’s attention allowed him to practise high-level corruption and cronyism. Furthermore, in spite of all the rhetoric, no neighbouring Arab state (which incidentally had all attacked Israel within hours of its foundation in 1948) wants a free, prosperous and democratic Palestine – otherwise how could their theocratic or military dictators justify the shortcomings in their own countries.

Good to read Drabble’s personal impressions, but there is no particular weight to her peculiar views on international law, USA domestic politics (“the Israel Lobby”) or her narrow understanding of the scope of antisemitism. For example, she appears to be of that quaint school of thought that earnestly believes that anti-Israelism can never be antisemitism. By contrast, I believe that it is antisemitic to persistently target Israel and to persistently apply to Israel a more exigent standard than regularly applied to other countries in the same or similar circumstances. And, I would dare to say that my views are much more in keeping with the methodologies of modern human-rights law which would have no trouble interpreting as “anti-Jewish” or “antisemitic”, discrimination against a 75.5% Jewish-inhabited country that happens to be the political expression of the self-determination of the Jewish People. Drabble’s essay is simply intellectually weak.

hannah says:

evidently, Drabble has no understanding of British Jewish life. Anti-Semitism only seems to have “withered away” to her because she is not Jewish. I am only 17 and have certainly experienced anti-Semitism, having not been alive in the 1960s, which is – according to Drabble – when it was truly rife. The reason anti-Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism is because it refuses the right for the Jewish people to have a Jewish state. And as for Palestinians, I am sure that they have more rights under a Jewish Israeli government than they do under internationally recognised terrorist governments, e.g. Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel gave Hamas two days notice to evacuate citizens before attacking in Jan, after over seven years of constant rockets. It was thus Hamas who determined the human cost, not Israel. Also, if a terrorist organisation were to bomb Europe – or even Britain – continually, do you think they would have hesitated to react with a much larger and fatal attack? Look at the wars Britain has participated in in its long and discriminatory history – despite being much worse than the wars of the Israelis, have any inhabitants of this country ever criticised Britain on the scale that they do Israel? I should think Drabble should rethink her ‘informed’ views on British Jewish life. It is not as faded as she prefers to think.

Michael says:

And let’s not forget that the BBC is state-owned media in Britain.

Ms. Drabble: “When we talk about anti-Semitism, do we really mean anti-Zionism? They are not the same, although some argue that they are”

To that the historical reply:
“And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is antisemitism.

“The antisemite rejoices at any opportunity to vent his malice. The times have made it unpopular, in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the antisemite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. How he must revel in the new masquerade! He does not hate the Jews, he is just ‘anti-Zionist’!

“My friend, I do not accuse you of deliberate antisemitism. I know you feel, as I do, a deep love of truth and justice and a revulsion for racism, prejudice, and discrimination. But I know you have been misled–as others have been–into thinking you can be ‘anti-Zionist’ and yet remain true to these heartfelt principles that you and I share.

Let my words echo in the depths of your soul: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews–make no mistake about it.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend,” Saturday Review_XLVII (Aug. 1967), p. 76.

Richard Wicks says:

“Denying the Jews their right to a state of their own and their obligation to defend themselves against those who would destroy them is tantamount to anti-semitism. Criticizing Israel is has become an obsession – especially in the UK.”

I have to comment on this.

Israel is constantly shielded from criticism in the media. How many times have you heard that Ahmadinejad has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” in the media? He never said this. How often have you heard of Israel’s illegal, clandestine, nuclear weapons program? Did you know Iran is a signatory to the IAEA and the IAEA hasn’t found them to be in violation? Did you know Israel is not a signatory to the IAEA? You often hear about Palestinian terrorists, but did you know that for every Israeli that is killed 10 times the number of Palestinians are killed? You are told Israel is a Western Democracy, but do you know that the Kadan Family of Katzir who were Arab were denied the right to build a home in Katzir, which is a Jewish only town?

The media constantly lies about Israel, and omits key facts about it. Two of Israel’s prime ministers were terrorists and murderers who were directly responsible for killing people – do you know who they are? Why not? You have a functioning press, don’t you?

The media takes part in numerous lies, and when the established media continues to repeat lies regardless of how many times they are corrected, it’s no longer a media – it’s propaganda. People who speak out against Zionism are trying to educate you to the fact that your media lies to you. It’s the most obvious deception of our media today.

Israel is not the country Western media portrays it to be. It’s a state that is built upon racism and continues to be racism. This conflict isn’t about religion, it’s about land, plain and simple. Before Zionists moved into the area, it was occupied by people, and these people have been driven off from their property and made stateless refugees for 60 years now.

My main contention with this conflict is that our media is so deceptive about what has gone on, and what is going on.

Hanoi Paris Hilton says:

The intentionally self-deluded Richard Wicks, apart from his raging Jew hatred (oh no, it’s simply anti-Zionism)! is astonishingly ill informed. E.g., the IAEA did in fact eventually conclude they were serially flim-flammed by the mullahs, and President Imadinnerjacket did say unequivocally, along with “exorcising the Zionist cancer from the face of the planet” what he was alleged to have said. Perhaps Mr Wicks should find some other site on which to vent his vast depth of ignorance.

And I’m not so impressed either by Margaret Drabble. Maybe her novel are profound but her political analysis is embarrassingly lightweight. I’ve been happily married to a convent-educated French Catholic academic for several decades now, and while she’s a bright lady, I certainly wouldn’t regard her as having any particular insight or expertise on how the state media baldly dissembles middle-eastern events, or on the present realities of antisemitism in our respective countries… much less on the nuances of contemporary Jewish psychology

Richard Wicks says:

“The intentionally self-deluded Richard Wicks, apart from his raging Jew hatred”

Yeah, whatever.

“the IAEA did in fact eventually conclude they were serially flim-flammed by the mullahs,”

Oh really? Can you provide a link please to exactly what the IAEA said? I can admit when I’m wrong, when I am wrong.

“and President Imadinnerjacket did say unequivocally, along with “exorcising the Zionist cancer from the face of the planet” what he was alleged to have said.”

Again, I’d like to see an actual source, and the original Farsi. Here is what Ahmadinejad actually said, when he was accused of threatening to wipe Israel off the map in a word for word translation:

“Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).”

He didn’t even mention Israel, or map for that matter, or wipe. That quote originated from MEMRI, it’s a propaganda outfit run by Yigal Carmen, an IDF colonel who is now in charge of propaganda for our “media” to pick up.

When you can provide links to establish that you aren’t just going to lie every time, I’ll continue talking. For now, I’m waiting for:

1) you to show the actual IAEA saying that Iran isn’t in compliance, and not from some US new source, from the IAEA itself (here’s their website:

2) and also to provide the source for the newest supposed quote of Ahmadinejad.

Yehudit says:

Richard Wicks frequently trolls Tablet comment threads. Tablet should put up a sign over each comment section warning people not to feed him.

Richard Wicks says:

I like how when I write something, it ends up in moderation, but when say somebody like Yehudit writes something, it doesn’t get stuck in moderation and shows up immediately, even before what I write gets out of moderation.
Being accused of being a troll… I am trying to figure out the mentality of a group of people who would probably be the first to properly denounce any racism, like that of South Africa Apartheid, or of segregation, or of sexual discrimination, but when they are the ones acting in a bigoted manor, all the past and current bigotry, well that simply serves to justify their current bigotry, and it’s proof of their own bigotry.
Lies in support of their bigotry go unchallenged, history is rewritten or more frequently simply ignored, tales from satires are treated as fact – and when somebody dares to challenge it, well, he ends up in “moderation” and is deemed a “troll” – even when he doesn’t hide behind a pseudonym being too cowardly to simply identify himself and be counted.
The outcome of this deception I can’t see ending in a good way.

Valery Amiel says:

These are more like Proustian, admittedly, therefore charming, reflections over the subject Margaret Drabble, otherwise busy excelling in putting words in literary order, had little time to waste it on equal devotion to facts and history, except relying on her credentials earned by sleeping with a Jew to produce his offsprings.
But, say, if the Nuremberg laws and sentiments, were to be reinstated by, say, Galloway and his ilk, her children would be fleeing guess where to? Right, there is only one palce for that.
And then she would, not just subliminally, realize that there is no difference, really, between an anti-Semite and his anti-Zionist a proxy, denying a Jew a country of his own.
Hence, think again, Margaret, before you benevolently touch this subject, believing you have a right thing to say about it (not to be confused with the right to say it, which you have, of course), just because you write about it, oh so well (not to be confused with thinking about it equally well, which you don’t).
Stick to what you know, or learn more, before drifting to the muddy waters of the Jewish fate among the Gentiles, present and past, especially since you think you are, oh so well intended…
Which I am sure you are, only to join the ranks and jokes about the good intentions.

Christian Zionist says:

I regret to disagree with Drabble, but it is indeed anti-Semitic to assert that “the Israeli treatment of Palestinians echoes the wartime persecution of the Jews.”

And it is indeed obvious that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

I thank Drabble for reminding me why I urge all Americans to boycott European products (including cultural ones); may the accursed continent of murderers sink into the miasma of its own anti-Semitic decadence.

Valery Amiel says:

… and to Richard Wicks:
My aunt, whom you call a Zionist, moved from Poland to Israel in 1935. That is how she survived out of eight other siblings, who did not, together with my father, who –detained in 1940 by the Russians and imprisoned in Siberia; settled by them after WWII in a part of Germany they carved out and annexed to Poland in exchange for what they carved out from Poland and annexed to USSR; only to be, together with me, a victim of the modern day Polish “pogrom” in 1968, imprisoned, freed, and finally landing safely in Israel.
You and moderation, Richard???
Because you use polite phrases and not the ones you’d really like to? For God’s sake, Wicks!
You –conveniently for your views– deem “terrorists” two Israel’s prime-ministers who faught for her independence. And how about your oblivion as to the names of thousands of British “terrorists” who terrorized millions and killed thousands, all over the world, enslaving them to the British crown? Oh, that’s your blind side, right?
You want the accounts? Make them. Compare what Jews did to Arabs, while making Israel what it is, to what Arabs did to the Palestinian Arabs, while preventing them to become anything, anywhere.
Israel absorbed and settled to a normal life over one million Jews expelled form the Arab countries. Arabs did nothing to absorb half a million of Palestinians, expelled or seeking refuge, in theirs. And that despite the fact that unlike the Jewish refugees, diverse in culture, color and language, the Arabs –wherever they are– are one. But think of other British sins, Richard, like in Munich before WWII – appeasing Hitler; after WWII in Jalta – appeasing Stalin; or before Israel’s independence – catching Jewish Holocaust camp survivors ashore in Tel Aviv, only to imprison them in British camps in Cyprus.
You know all that but you don’t care; you’re just not on our side.
But are you on Palestinian side? Not really. Only to the extent that it feeds your views: you just don’t like the Jews.
And that’s the only reason why you are on this site; admit it, Richard.

Toby Appleton says:

What, exactly, does Drabble mean when she refers to “Holocaust pornography”? Obviously not the “Stalag” porn literature that circulated during the post-WW II years, and was banned by Israeli courts following the Eichmann trial.
Are images of victims of Nazi abuse “pornographic” simply because In looking at them the viewer (presumably Jewish) is indulging in some sort of obscenely vicarious and self-satisfying identification with victimhood? The analogy is offensive and demeaning to the victims, none of whom were complicit in the chronicling of their torture and destruction.

Richard Wicks says:

With regard to Valery Amiel:
I don’t see who your aunt’s suffering under the Nazi regime justifies Jewish people in Israel stealing land, and victimizing a group of Muslims and Christian Arabs. Would you explain that to me?
My immediate family escaped from Poland. I have family that ended up in Auschwitz – does that justify me stealing land in say, India? I have family that lived in Poland all during the Soviet Occupation. We used to send them food every year, but half of it would be stolen before it reached them.
> You –conveniently for your views– deem “terrorists” two
> Israel’s prime-ministers who faught for her independence.”
Yitzhak Shamir ordered the murder of the UN peace negotiator Count Folke Bernadotte who became famous for negotiating the release of tens of thousands of concentration camp victims. The murder was committed in 1948, immediately after the UN created Israel with UN Resolution 181. That’s thanks for you, isn’t it?
Menachem Begin blew up the King David Hotel killing 91 people.
Yitzhak Shamir led the Irgun at one time. This group offered to enter WWII on the side of the Nazis in 1941 provided that the Nazi state recognize a Jewish state in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Menachem Begin assumed leadership of the Irgun in 1942. The Likud is a direct descendant of the Irgun, but it was Herut first.
Sounds like terrorism to me. You’re the one seeking convenience, not me. They were terrorists, and they were murderers, and they were both prime ministers of Israel. I am sure you recognize I haven’t provided a complete list of their crimes, just 2 of the most recognizable ones, but I can if you like.
> Israel absorbed and settled to a normal life over one
> million Jews expelled form the Arab countries.
…int 1948 as a direct result of the founding of Israel. Many Sephardic Jewish people claim that Zionist false flag attacks were made to help drive Jewish people out of Arab countries as well. I cannot say if this is true or not, but I am aware of the Lavon Affair, and that there was no purging of Jews in Arab lands prior to 1948.
What do you suppose happened in 1948 to cause this expulsion? Some say that Zionism is the main impetus for anti-Semitism today, what do you think?
> Arabs did nothing to absorb half a million of Palestinians,
> expelled or seeking refuge, in theirs.
So, let me get this straight, since Arabs don’t want to absorb the Palestinian refugees that Israel created, Palestinians should be placed under additional pressure to get them to leave, although there is no place for them to go to?
That appears to be your reasoning for what Israel is doing. How do you think that will work? I can point to the last 50 years and tell you how it’s worked out so far… Can’t you learn from history?
> And that despite the fact that unlike the Jewish refugees,
> diverse in culture, color and language, the Arabs –wherever
> they are– are one.
Arabs are not “one”. Iran was at war with Iraq for 8 bloody years – is this because “they are one”? Hussein attacked Saudi Arabia. What about Black September in Jordan?
Can you recognize the absolutely bigotry in the statement you just made? Probably not because of course, a Zionist can possibly be a bigot in your mind. To me, people like you are simply insane.
> But are you on Palestinian side? Not really.
You just stated that the Arabs won’t absorb the Palestinians and you can see they won’t.
But Israel won’t absorb the Palestinians. They will absorb everybody else, of all colors, as long as they are JEWISH, but not Christian or Muslim Palestinians. That’s not bigotry to you either.
And Israel continues to appropriate more land, taking the land from Palestinians. Settlements in the West Bank are still going up, during Israel’s supposed “peace process”.
Just what do you expect Palestinians to do? They have nowhere to go, and they are under constant pressure to leave. What do you expect them to do?
Also, I can’t help but notice that “Hanoi Paris Hilton” hasn’t responded, presumably because I caught her (him?) in 2 lies. Why do you suppose your side lies so much? If Zionists are in the moral right, why are so many of your fellows lying all the time, about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and what Ahamdinejad has said?

Christian Zionist says:

Valery, don’t waste your time with Wicks. Israel knows well how to ignore fools.

Richard Wicks says:

> Valery, don’t waste your time with Wicks. Israel knows
> well how to ignore fools.
Why shouldn’t he waste his time?
I really want to see what you people have to say. I really try to present a pretty logical case, but nobody challenges my facts. When I challenge other people’s facts, they go unanswered. You call me names, you say it’s not worth wasting your time with “fools” like me, but you won’t argue the merits. I really want to see if you individually believe what is to me, the KKK movement for Jewish people, or if you rely on deindividuation in crowds.
Your arguments to me seem pretty thin, and yet how entirely convinced you are that you are right or at least seem to be. I don’t see any of you relishing the chance to rip my supposed stupidity apart. I would expect you’d love to demonstrate how wrong I am by citing facts, if I were wrong. I like to do that, for example, when people point to the Balfour Declaration as a source of legitimacy, I like printing it out so they can read it for the very first time because almost no Zionists have actually read it. Why are you so sheltered if you are right?
There was a time that priests argued the merits of slavery, pointing out that nowhere in the Bible was anything negative said about it, and in fact that there were several places in it which told the servant to obey and serve his master – but now, “Christians were always against it”.
When Hitler came to power in Germany, 95% of the population was Christian, and when he blew his head off, it was over 99%, but now, he led a nation of atheists or a nation of pagans today.
I wonder when Christian Zionists of today will swear up and down that they always opposed the atrocities of Israel? It is a day that will have to come, because the Palestinians have 2 choices today, they can either die or fight, there’s no leaving for them. They have nowhere to go. They don’t have any choice and it’s easy to realize this. There are about 4.62 million Palestinian refugees now.

It is tragic that Margaret Drabble only gets the poltically-correct, BBC-sanitised version of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This version has always obscured certain key but inconvenient facts:
1. The Palestinians led by the Nazi-sympathising Mufti of Jerusalem have always been a figleaf for a genocidal Arab/Muslim project to destroy the Jewish state.
2. Israel is the vindication of Arab and Muslim antisemtism no less than European antisemitism. This antisemitism predated the creation of Israel eg, the 1840 Damascus blood libel, 1905 Fez pogrom, 1941 pogrom in Iraq, 1945 pogrom in Libya, forced conversion of Jewish orphans in Yemen, etc
3. There were more Jewish than Arab refugees, and they lost twice as much in property and assets in Arab lands, and deeded land four of five times the size of Israel itself was stolen from them.
4. Even if Israel had never existed, Arab/Muslim fundamentalists would still have turned against their Jews, as they are turning against their Christians.

Shalom Freedman says:

The BBC not only does not almost always get it right they almost always get it wrong.With all due respect Margeret Drabble is mistaken in terms of anti- Zionism and anti-Semitism. Today the new anti-Semitism is anti- Zionism. This may not be so for Margeret Drabble and certain people she knows but it is overwhelmingly so in the radical Left and the Islamic fundamentalist right.

JRapp says:

Ms. Drabble,

You are correct that Anti-Zionism is not automatically Anti-Semitism, but in asserting this you to readily deny that quite a bit of Anti-Zionism is inextricably intertwined with Anti-Semitism. The test for determining whether Anti-Zionism is also tied with Anti-Semitism is whether a double standard is applied to Israel that is not applied to other Nation States. If such a double standard is applied, it’s reasonable to conclude that the double standard is applied precisely because Israel is the Jewish nation state.

In categorically dismissing the possibility of a link between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism, you never have to ask whether the Anti-Zionist applies his or her critiques of Israel uniformly to all nation states. The overwhelming weight of the evidence is that many, if not most Anti-Zionists don’t apply the same standard of criticism to other nation states that they do to Israel.

Ask yourself, if Israel were not the Jewish nation state, but any other nation state except the Jewish one, would the Anti-Zionist be as critical of this state and as obsessively focused on it? We already know the answer to this question by the relative silence from Anti-Zionists towards the litany of real human rights tragedies over the world. The examples are endless, but the same people, who become apoplectic over Israel defending itself from thousands of Palestrina rocket attacks, resulting in the unfortunate death of several hundred civilians, are silent when Russia killed tens of thousands of civilians in Chechnya during the 00s.

Hanoi Paris Hilton says:

ref: “Arabs are not “one”. Iran was at war with Iraq for 8 bloody years – is this because “they are one”?”

Mr. Wicks, who fancies himself quite the expert, on amongst other things, the nuances of Farsi philology, somehow seemed to miss learning along the way that the Persians aren’t Arabs, and conversely, that the Arabs aren’t Persians. This alone would quite legitimately undercut his credibility. And while most Arabs are Muslims, likewise most Iranians, in both cases some of them certainly aren’t.

BTW, HPH is an “it”

David Libchaber says:

Is it possible in today’s anglo speaking Jewish world to be Jewish and not Zionist? I am a Jew. Can I not feel a ‘special’ connection with Israel? Is that allowed?

After all, my roots are in Central Europe, not in Yerushalayim. I do not think of hummus and pita as my every day food and no one in my family ever spoke hebrew; it was Yiddish (and by the way, it was the same in your family, even if you were spharadi. Hebrew was not spoken!) So how exactly did ‘we’ become such strong zionists?

I feel that there is no dialogue allowed anymore about Israel. As soon as one is lightly critical (and there are reasons one could be), he is automatically a self hating jew or an antisemite. This just can’t be right.

Shabbat Shalom

Jerome says:

How does Ms. Drabble know that “the old antisemitism” will not make a comeback in England? You can’t allow Jew hatred to flourish at the margins and not expect it to travel to the center sooner or later?

Dovyd says:

“After all, my roots are in Central Europe, not in Yerushalayim.”

Listen Lincahber, either you feel and affinity with the Jewish people in all its experiences or you don’t.

Denying Israel is like denying a proud part of the Jewish experience.

Feeling an affinity with Central Europe means feeling an affinity with the death camps in central Europa?

Jewish experience isn’t just about pita and bagels.

Richard Wicks says:

Hanoi Paris Hilton:
> ref: “Arabs are not “one”. Iran was at war with Iraq for 8
> bloody years – is this because “they are one”?”
> Mr. Wicks, who fancies himself quite the expert, on amongst
> other things, the nuances of Farsi philology,
The concept of “race” is a false bifurcation used exclusively for the purposes of racism. The Iran and Iraq war is hardly the only conflict in the region, and the concept that Arabs are “one” is shallow. The Arab world nor the “Farsi” world bears no responsibility for solving a problem has created.
I want to again draw your attention back to your previous claims though, which I specifically challenged you to support. You claimed the IAEA had found Iran in violation, and you also claimed that Ahmadinejad had made statements to the effect that he intended to attack Israel. Both statements to the best of my knowledge are false. If I’m correct, that means you have purposely lied and that undermines the concept of a superior morality of Zionists – which to me are nothing by self-aggrandizing liars and amoral bigots.

Dovyd says:

Richard Wicks says:
“With regard to Valery Amiel:
I don’t see who your aunt’s suffering under the Nazi regime justifies Jewish people in Israel stealing land, and victimizing a group of Muslims and Christian Arabs. Would you explain that to me?”

Wicks is a wicked liar.

Jews didn’t steal any land from Arabs, Christians or Muslims.

You are just repeating antisemitic lies.

Where do you live, btw, and whose land did your ancestors kill and more to the point how many Jews did you forefathers kill?

Dovyd says:

Is this the same Wick mentioned here?

“The fifth factor is clearly applicable here. Mr. Wick’s use of Morrison & Foerster’s [*1132] mark in his domain names demonstrates his intent to divert customers from Morrison & Foerster’s online location. As stated [**19] by the Second Circuit in Sporty’s, the most common method of locating an unknown domain name is simply to type in the company name or logo with the suffix .com. Sporty’s, 202 F.3d at 493. Any user attempting to find Morrison & Foerster’s web site in this manner, entering or, would instead find Mr. Wick’s web sites rather than the official Morrison & Foerster web site at Also, I conclude that if the public believed these to be Morrison & Foerster’s sites, Mr. Wick’s web sites would harm the goodwill represented by Morrison & Foerster’s mark. As noted above, Mr. Wick’s sites contain many hyper-links to Anti-Semitic, racist, and offensive domain names. Mr. Wick’s sites refer to attorneys as parasites and are derogatory of the legal profession. Although some might profess to agree with Mr. Wick, the likelihood of confusion is great. Because Mr. Wick has placed his web sites at domain names identical or confusingly similar to Morrison & Foerster’s mark, a user may wonder about Morrison & Foerster’s affiliation with the sites or endorsement of the sites.”

Jerome says:

Richard Wicks is that Jew hating ass-hole who has been posting all over the internet antisemitic comments.

Chuck says:

Attacked from both sides, the BBC probably gets it right
So all haters have to do is label one of their supporters as Jew lovers and they get a pass on their anti Semitism.
Look up the terms double speak and turn speak.
With this type of logic why would you expect any appreciation of your perspective with your obvious naivety.
I suggest you re evaluate what you know with the understanding that the Guardian and the BBC are 95% anti Semitic and 5% Jew hating; perhaps a very slight exaggeration.

David44 says:

David Star wrote:

“The lady wirtes as though she knows what she is talking about regarding Isreal. However she cites BBC as the source of her knowledge.
Item: There are no occupied territories. To have been occupied, the land had to have been taken from a proper owner …”

Only in the ignorant fantasies of pro-Israel supporters. In the real world of international law (based on the 1st clause of Article 2 of the 4th Geneva Convention, along with the 1907 Hague Regulations), land legally counts as occupied if it is taken in war during two Contracting Powers. It does not require that the land in question belong de jure to the country from which it is taken. The land is occupied even if the country from whom it was taken had only controlled it de facto.

So the fact that Jordan’s legal right to the land was never internationally recognized is irrelevant. The only things that matter are (a) that Jordan de facto controlled the territory from 1948-67; and (b) that Israel captured it in a war with Jordan. Once those two conditions are met, then it follows automatically that Israel is the occupying power, and is bound by all the obligations of an occupying power, including the obligation not to settle her own civilians on the land.

This understanding has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the rulings of all authoritative international bodies, including among others the International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the UN Security Council. If you want to affirm the contrary, you need to cite official rulings of comparable authority. In their absence, Israel has no case.

And for the same reason, Ramat Shlomo is legally in “East Jerusalem” – for this is the generic term used for the parts of Jerusalem captured by Israel in 1967. The fact that this particular bit of “East Jerusalem” lies north of the city is irrelevant: it is its legal status that is at issue, not the point on the compass.

    Robert Starkand says:

    There can only be de facto control if the the land was not disputed in the first place. The borders were always in dispute so there is no occupation, it is disputed territory.

      Mike says:

      So? I dispute the border with the U.S,as a Canadian. does that mean the U.S. is not a rightful state? No. Stop your foolish lies. Foreign recognition is not a prerequisite to a legitimate state.

        Robert Starkand says:

        There are no lies here. If you represented Canada at an international forum such as the U.N., and disputed the border with the U.S. in the name of Canada, that would be an international dispute over territory.

Grant says:

The antisemitic creep said:

“I really want to see if you individually believe what is to me, the KKK movement for Jewish people, or if you rely on deindividuation in crowds.”

So why do the KKK and David Duke and the Neo-Nazis and Richard Wicks all support the Muslim Arabs against the Jews?

Richard Wicks says:

> So why do the KKK and David Duke and the Neo-Nazis and
> Richard Wicks all support the Muslim Arabs against the Jews?
Opposition to an obviously racist movement of Jewish people, doesn’t not even imply support for a bunch of Arab countries which are mostly puppets of the United States, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt – run by dictators, and thugs.
You rely entirely on false dichotomies for all of your arguments. It’s odd to see the same prejudices repeated all the time. If I oppose racist Jewish people, I must support their enemies. I really don’t care what Israel does, I care what the United States. PART of what the United States does is enable Jewish people to act out a racial stereotype of a selfish, thoughtless, backstabbing group of people who lie, cheat, and steal for their advancement of their kind. Zionism is every stereotype of what the KKK says Jewish people are.
And here’s an example of this for Dovyd
> Jews didn’t steal any land from Arabs, Christians or Muslims.
The British Census reports of 1922 and 1931 are online, do you think I don’t know they exist, so you think you can get away with such a naked lie? Do you think I don’t know where the Separation Wall went up? Do you think I’ve never seen the map of the “generous” offer to Arafat in 2000? I’m not uneducated about this situation like most people are.
It’s my experience that most Zionists have absolutely no clue what is going on, and they don’t want to know.
And yet again, I have to point out that every time I spot a lie, people simply pretend I never found it. False claims about Ahmadinejad, lies about Iran’s nuclear program. Why does your side lie so often if you are indeed in the moral right? I’ll be the first to condemn somebody who lies when they are purportedly supporting me, because deception is always rooted out and there’s always a backlash. You people don’t do this, the very concept of Israel rests on deception and it will be Israel’s undoing. Most moral army in the world? Victims of radical blood thirsty muslims? Not ethnically cleansing? Western Democracy? All of that is false.

Richard Wicks says:

> Is this the same Wick mentioned here?
First, no it’s not me, and second, you’re resorted to an ad hominem attack. Why is it that you can’t argue the merits of your position? My guess is you know your own position. At one time, I actually thought Israel was just a victim of racism, but then I got an education beyond high school and television news.
Did any of you?

Richard Wicks says:

Still no replay from Hanoi Paris Hilton regarding his or her lies about what Ahmadinejad said, and the IAEA’s conclusion on Iran’s nuclear capability.
This begs the question, why are Zionists so eager to get the United States to go to war with Iran? They will tell any lie, exaggerate any story, repeat “mis”translations ad nauseum to get the United States to go to war with Iran. Why?

Toby says:

“Opposition to an obviously racist movement of Jewish people, doesn’t not even imply support for a bunch of Arab countries which are mostly puppets of the United States, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt – run by dictators, and thugs.”

Unlike Iran and Syria, Wick’s preferred home.

Is Wicks a right wing Jew hater or a left wing Jew hater? Who cares?

Both right and left and Arabs hate Jews equally:

“Political Soldiers and the New Man – part three”
April 28th, 2010 by Dave Rich

“In 1996, The Crusader, published by the English Nationalist Movement (a smaller Third Positionist group which had split from the ITP), featured an obituary for the Hamas bomb-maker Yehiya Ayyash, who had been assassinated by the Israeli army. Ayyash, it claimed, was “an important symbol of Palestinian defiance and deserves to be remembered for the sacrifice he made on behalf of his Race and Nation”. Alongside it stood an advert for the pro-Hamas monthly newspaper Palestine Times, and a lengthy article featuring more familiar allegations about “The power of World Jewry”, “Khazar Jews”, “the invasion of America by the Zionist conspirators” and how “Jewish power” was behind the French and Russian revolutions. It may be a surprise to more recent observers of extremist politics to find that at the end of the 20th century, it was parts of the British far right, not the far left, that promoted Hamas and Iran as fellow resistors against Zionism.

Nick Griffin has changed his stated views considerably since his time in the NF or the ITP – I doubt he would describe himself as a Political Soldier or an eco-pagan today – and the BNP does not bear much resemblance to either group under his leadership. But this story of one of the odder turns of the British far right shows that Edith Crowther is not alone in seeing radical Islamists as comparable to the BNP; and if she is ever called to account for her views, she can hope to find some understanding, if not agreement, from her party leader.

On a more serious note, this story sheds some light on the nature, and limits, of extremist politics. Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Sayyid Qutb on the decadence of Western civilisation, or the more extreme parts of the anti-Zionist left, will have noticed many similarities in the Third Positionist outlook. Their adoption of the Falangist slogan “Long Live Death” is unavoidably reminiscent of the jihadist mantra, “You love life and we love death“. It is something of a cliche that the further you go to one extreme or another the more they come to resemble each other, but despite the similar rhetoric this is a bit too simplistic. The more the NF and the Political Soldiers moved onto political territory normally associated with the far left or Islamist revolutionaries, the more of their traditional support they lost until they eventually disappeared into irrelevance. At the same time, they discovered that adopting an overt anti-Zionist message was not enough to persuade pro-Palestinian activists to work with them.”

edith crowther says:

All of you prim and smug “educated” commentors are playing with fire. Margaret Drabble merely proves the truth of V.S. Naipaul’s remark, that there is no British author worth reading after 1920. She should give up her attempts at writing, and watch the recent “Unreported World” on Channel 4 about the nationalist Islamic movements within Pakistan and Kashmir (i.e. NOT the Taliban, but similar mass popular groups).

The Pakistan westernised government is petrified of these men (and their unseen women), and so allows them to operate virtually unchallenged. But there are men like this in Britain, white native NOT the Pakistani and Kashmiri expats, massing in menacing, silent groups, uninterested in the media, uninterested in anything but the way they are being snuffed out in a manner that smacks of the UN description of genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc. Rabbit on if you want, and carry on with your self-delusions if you want. It is in any case far too late for any of you educated fools to do anything about the wreckage you have presided over except run for cover.

Believe it or not, whether you idiots are Jewish or not is supremely irrelevant. All that matters is that you are fools, cowards and traitors. And that you think you can control, and plot against, the righteous anger of the “illiterate” people you have deliberately excluded, by setting one group against another. Dream on. You are in for a rude awakening, by a monster of your own making. And yes, Mary Shelley was a superb writer. Had she been born in 1900, or later, she would not have been a creative writer at all. Because after 1920, British men and women of vision did not engage in works of fiction – and they will not do so again, until matters have been put right.

sophia says:

“I did not say that I hated America or Americans, although many think I did. ”

What a liar.

“My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world.”

This woman is delusional.

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Asher Yosef says:

This is a terrible article and an open apologetics of British New Anti-Semitism, complete with tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories about the pro-Israeli lobby in the US. Margaret Drabble makes the point that boycotting Israel is not anti-Semitic, though the boycotters boycott no other country but Israel. Not genocidal Sudan, not Tibet-occupying China, certainly the Britain who still has colonies. No, just Israel.

Of course, Ms. Drabble never mentions that Palestinians deny the Jews the right to an independent country, neither does she mention Palestinian terrorism directed against Jews. Apparently killing Jews is so normal that it doesn’t warrant a single mention in her lengthy disquisition.

As for why BBC is correct, she hilariously says it is so because it attacked from both sides. Ms. Drabble is even-handed indeed. Her reasoning recalls the dark Jewish joke from the 1930s about the press’s even-handedness: “It’s true that Hitler doesn’t like the Jews, but to be fair the Jews don’t like Hitler either”. With friends like Mr. Drabble, the Jewish people needs no enemies.

Interesting, unintentionally hilarious, unconvincing piece. What sophia said, below.

Also, Tablet really needs to moderate their comments.

Fritz Wunderlich says:

What the author didn`t understand is that Antizionism is a peculiar form of Antisemitism as it means to be against a Jewish state and against those Jews who want, support or live in a Jewish state.


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