A busy week
24 January 2014
Nicolas Anelka's 'quenelle' and the Football Association's disciplinary process still hog the airwaves and remain hard to escape from. Nevertheless, elsewhere it has been a busy week for antisemitism and related matters. A summary:
There is the imminent visit to London of Gabor Vona, leader of the neo-fascist Hungarian Jobbik Party. The Anelka coverage has masked the seriousness of this, but the Telegraph combined both matters as unwanted foreign imports. The Independent took a similar line on Jobbik's dangerous presence in the UK. Also, Jewish community leaders in Hungary are threatening to boycott some of the country's official events to mark 70 years since the near-destruction of Hungarian Jewry in the Holocaust.
Like the first cuckoos in Spring, as Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) approaches on 27th January, so the usual abuses of the Holocaust and Jewish memory come out of the woodwork. To nobody's surprise, Liberal-Democrat MP David Ward again used HMD as a prop for pro-Palestinian activity; and pro-Iranian IHRC group has expanded its Genocide Memorial Day into Europe, claiming it is "more inclusive" than Holocaust memorial. At Edinburgh University, the HMD event adverts by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Islamic Society mention racism and "Islamophobia": but not antisemitism. (On HMD last year see Ward here and IHRC here.)
An inquest into the tragic antisemitic murder of a Jewish man, Michael Kahan, in Manchester in June 2008, found that his fatal stabbing by a paranoid schizophrenic could not have been predicted or prevented. Michael Kahan, a violinist, was on his way to buy bagels when he was fatally stabbed by Jonathan Mills: who later told police that he "needed to kill a Jewish person".
Following complaints, the respected Economist magazine removed a cartoon from its website that had implied Jewish control of President Obama. The cartoon showed a ball and chain around the President's ankle, holding him back from a nuclear deal with the Iranian President (who was being held back by fundamentalists). The ball was the seal of Congress, replete with Stars of David. There was nothing new in the cartoon that has not been seen and said many, many times before now: but the Jewish control element was perhaps marginally less offensive than the usual puppet master-like motifs.
Every MP appeared to receive a copy of an antisemitic email called "JEWISH BANKERS OF THE US FEDERAL RESERVE (SINCE 1913) STRANGLE THE WORLD".
Footage appeared of a George Galloway MP interview on Russia Today. He claims the blue stripes on the Israeli flag signify the Nile and Euphrates rivers. Actually, the stripes recall the design of a tallit prayer shawl: whereas the rivers claim has a less positive association for those who know about such things.
A Conservative Party report on its MP, Aidan Burley, found that he had "acted in an unacceptable and offensive way" but "is not a bad man. still less a racist or antisemite". The report concerned Burley purchasing an SS uniform when best man at a Nazi-themed stag-do in France in 2011. Stuart Polak of Conservative Friends of Israel also insisted that Burley had been foolish but "is not antisemitic in any way".
A Labour Party spokesman said its MP, Grahame Morris had posted a "poorly worded" tweet, but had always "campaigned against discrimination". This followed complaints about his tweet of English Defence League protestors flying an Israeli flag. Morris had tweeted, "Nazis in my village do you see the flag they fly".
Police arrested three Tottenham Hotspur fans for their use of the word "yid". The case is sub-judice, so actual details are unknown.
Now, some of the more obscure Anelka impacts. For Gilad Atzmon, Zoopla's sponsorship withdrawal proves its all about "Jewish money" and "Jewish paymasters". For the IHRC (also see above), Anelka's Muslim religion is what its all about: proof of double-standards against Islam. Then, a startling example of antisemitism denial at the well known Counterpunch website. Their defence of Anelka's chum Dieudonne is destroyed by an Israel-hating French Trotskyist.
Finally, let us stay in France for the bitter-sweet news that a French Jew, Raphael Levy, has been exonerated on charges of having killed a toddler in order to use the blood for religious rituals. Putting complaints about the FA's disciplinary time scale into a somewhat broader context, it has taken 344 years for the village of Glatigny to recant. Raphael Levy was burnt at the stake for his supposed crime.
Will we still be discussing Anelka and Dieudonne in 344 years time? It may feel like it right now, but surely not.
Shabbat shalom to all of our readers...and hoping for a quieter week ahead.