Steady on!

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I initially agreed with much of what Paul Richards wrote in his recent Labour List post. I was nodding my head vigorously as I read:

“The casual anti-Jewishness of most of British society, prevalent before the war, and found everywhere from the royal family to TS Eliot to George Orwell, has largely disappeared. Instead, like a virulent bacillus, hatred of Jews finds new hosts: amongst Islamist hate-mongers, the ultra-left and neo-fascists on the streets, and in the upper echelons of academia and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

As any regular visitor to Harry’s Place will tell you, this is all true. We should never be complacent about anti-semitism.

However, when going on to give further examples of anti-semitism, Richards writes:

“…when Peter Kilfoyle publicly attacks a Jewish woman Labour parliamentary candidate for, in effect, being ‘not from round here’ what did he think the impact would be?” 

Eh, what?

Without wanting to get embroiled in the arguments over who would make the best Labour parliamentary candidate for Liverpool Wavertree (near Kilfoyle’s own seat), it is a statement of fact that Luciana Berger (the selected candidate who, yes, happens to be Jewish) is not from around there, being a Londoner and all.

If Richards genuinely thinks Kilfoyle is stirring up anti-semitism – a serious accusation – he will have to come up with something better than that. It seems to me that Richards is ridiculously trying to shut down debate over Berger’s local credentials (or lack of) by raising the spectre of anti-semitism quite unnecessarily.

On a different note, Don Paskini has a good post about controversial Labour selections that diffuses cynicism.

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One Response to “Steady on!”

  1. Al Widdershins Says:

    It isn’t really fair to lump Orwell with Eliot as far as antisemitism goes; true, there are some (fairly mild) examples of casual antisemitism in Down and Out, but not in any of his mature works (ie; Wigan Pier and after). And, of course, he later wrote some excellent serious stuff about the topic and not exactly from an antisemitic point of view. Eliot’s antisemitism, though casual, was much more… aha… serious. But even that doesn’t really compare to (say) G.K.Chesterton. I would also dispute that casual antisemitism simply vanished as news of the Holocaust spread; Alec Douglas-Home was certainly an old fashioned ‘casual’ antisemite, for example. And you only have to look at Private Eye…

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