Jewish women, money and cunning
2 August 2017
The deep outrage directed against Kevin Myers’ depiction of women, Jews and money in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times was inevitable and correct.
The condemnation of Myers' crude, ugly linkage came from all sides. He was sacked and this squalid example of hoary old antisemitic stereotypes was swiftly dealt with: but the themes of Jews, money and cunning superiority remain central elements of antisemitic opinion today, including much of the anti-Zionism that now passes for accepted wisdom in a disturbingly wide circle of British and international politics.
Writing of Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman (who unlike Feltz is not known for identifying as being Jewish), Myers noted that both were relatively well-paid women at the BBC and said:
“Good for them. Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price…”
Myers apologised for his words, says he deserved his sacking, professes a deep admiration for Jews, but also penned an even worse article in 2009 in which he calls himself a Holocaust denier (not strictly in the David Irving sense, see it cached here).
The antisemitic association of Jews with money is deeply embedded within British literature and culture. (As superbly summarised here, by the Jewish Chronicle’s Daniel Sugarman). More widely, it is also an utterly fundamental component of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the many which today substitute the word “Zionist” for where the word “Jew” once appeared.
This goes back to the Jews being blamed for selling out Jesus (money changers in the temple, Judas’ thirty pieces of silver) and their taking mutual responsibility for his killing. Since then, the Jews and money and cunning theme has been essential to accusations of Jewish power, manipulation and conspiracy: whether that is Nazi accusations of Jews causing two World Wars, the popularity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion throughout the Muslim world, or the way in which the word “Zionist” is routinely used and abused within far left circles, as if it were a global force on a par with imperialism, racism and other universal ills.
The continuity between these overlapping anti-Zionisms and old-school antisemitism is stark and simple. Zionism derives its power from wealth and cunning. Zionism’s wealth is from Jewish money. Zionism’s cunning is from the same Jewish street smart that enables Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkelman to earn more than non-Jewish women.
It is all very well then to condemn Kevin Myers, but there are immeasurably more insidious and dangerous forces that rely upon the same myth. And let us be very clear, these forces, whether Islamist, far right, far left or New Age, are not trying to give some bizarre cack-handed compliment about how much they admire Jews. Rather, they use it as antisemites always have, as a means of explaining the hidden hands that run the world, as a means of excusing their own failure, whilst also compelling and justifying their own hatred of Jews: or now, of Zionists.
Kevin Myers came and went. The rest of it remains.