Monday, January 31, 2005

anti-Semitism and New Labour

First there was the "Fagin" jibe by Labour's Chairman Ian McCartney directed at Oliver letwin - a Jew. It was quickly forgotten because by all accounts Mr McCartney is not an intellectual titan and a man of his intellect could not be expected to realise the significance of what he was saying. But then along came Home Office Minister Mike O' Brien with an article for Muslim News in which he asks how Muslims could trust Michael Howard (another Jew) on issues such as Palestine and allowing Turkey into the EU. In case the point was lost on its readers the article criticises a little known Liberal Democrat MP called Evan Harris who just happens to be Jewish. If this was not deliberate you would have thought that the spin doctors in Millbank would be going to some trouble to make sure that further allegations of anti-Semitism could be avoided.

Not so. This week Labour unveiled election posters depicting Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin on pigs bodies - did they really not know the significance of the pig to members of the Jewish faith? Of course they did, but the really clever bit is this: Labour will deny any anti-semitism but will still have achieved their aim of garnering anti-Jewish votes. How very astute. Knowing the devious way they operate in Millbank it wouldn't surprise me one little bit if they had run around briefing the papers about the anti-semitic nature of the posters and articles themselves before fiercely denying it. Thereby ensuring that not only do they get the "anti-racist" vote but that also they pick up votes from the worryingly large number of people who hold anti-semitic prejudices.

Of course the Labour Party leadership isn't anti-Semitic, but some of its supporters are. The Labour Party is power mad and playing to these prejudices just before an election makes perfect sense - electoraly. The morality of doing so is another question entirely.


Blogger Anthropax said...

I am Jewish, and although the 'pigs might fly' one wasn't too bad, the fagin one was. When you think about it, will the 'common man' vote for a Jewish prime minister? There is a small, but growing streak of anti-semitism in mainstream UK culture. Could Labour be trying to point out to the man on the street that Howard "isn't one of us". A vampire poster (with something about sucking the country dry) would have been acceptable, and would probably have got the point across, particularly to those who haven't brushed up on their Dickins

1:54 PM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

I am afraid you are right. What annoys me is that Labour are the first to jump up and down screaming about racism if anyone dares to question multiculturalism or the absurd amounts of money spent on supporting it.

Yet they are prepared to capitalise on the growing number of people who live in Britain and hate Jews in order to gain votes. Annoyingly by criticising the posters we have played into their hands by reminding their anti Jewish supporters of Mr Howard's Jewishness.

Like you I can detect a growth in anti-Semitism. I find it extremely worrying and hard to understand. I am surely not alone in thinking that British Jews could offer a lesson to many others on how to succesfully assimilate into a country and retain your own cultural identity without in any way wanting to impose it on others.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Anthropax said...

I am hugely in favour of multi-culturalism. Everyone in the UK's ancestors came to the UK at some point, or they came personally, so what is the difference between a Dutch weaver arriving during the 17th century and a Pakistani family fleeing repression of freedom? the righ-wing press has made the term 'Asylum seeker' a bad one, and people who we should feel pity for are hated just for seeking a better life. Isn't a key part of your party ethos enabiling the individual to better himself and his family? I dislike the resurgance in anti-semitism in the UK, but the (relativly) new wave of anti-Islamic feeling just as bad? When Jews came to the UK, they almost always didn't speak English, and faced hate crimes. The Daily Mail was paticularly vitriolic in it's attack on Jews fleeing the pogroms in Russia. Yet after a centuary or so, these people's grandchildren just become 'nice Mrs Cohen next door'. Surly this anti-immigration feeling is just the same as 100 years ago, and in a few decades, popping round to borrow some tea from Mr Jaffar will be perfectly normal.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Bishop Hill said...

I don't think that either the Labour leadership or the majority of its MPs or members are anti-semitic. I do think that the leadership are not above hinting that they are, if they think it will bring them an electoral advantage.


3:00 PM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

If "multiculturalism" is defined as ones right to attend a Church Synagogue Mosque and or whatever then nobody could have any objection. What worries me is that the word is used to describe a doctrine which encourages people to define themselves purely in terms of the culture of the place they left behind when they came to Britain. This is causing divisions amongst society. Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the CRE has attacked multi-culturalism and called for a greater emphasis on integration in order to foster better race relations. I think he was right.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Anthropax said...

But Jewish immigrants were still able to keep a unique identidy, even while integrating. There has to be a balance between integrating into a society, and keeping an identity of where you came from. Is not society comprised of individuals? Isn't it a bit much that immigrants can be expected to 'fit in' to British culture when that has been hugely influenced by others. Is culture an imutable thing? Curry has become a relativly major part of the British culinary tradition, yet 60 years ago, it would seem to be very odd. My point is that culture adapts and changes, and this evolution didn't just happen in the past, it's going on now. (I may have drifted off topic a bit - whoops)

3:28 AM  

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