Toward a theory of anti-Semitism

Julie Burchill is leaving her post as a columnist at the Guardian next month to join the Times. On her way out the door she is devoting herself with a flourish to the subject of anti-Semitism: “If you take into account the theory that Jews are responsible for everything nasty in the history of the world, and also the recent EU survey that found 60% of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world today (hmm, I must have missed all those rabbis telling their flocks to go out with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow up the nearest mosque), it’s a short jump to reckoning that it was obviously a bloody good thing that the Nazis got rid of six million of the buggers. Perhaps this is why sales of Mein Kampf are so buoyant, from the Middle Eastern bazaars unto the Edgware Road, and why The Protocols of The Elders of Zion could be found for sale at the recent Anti-racism Congress in Durban.
“The fact that many Gentiles and Arabs are rabidly Judeophobic, while many others are as horrified by Judeophobia as by any other type of racism, makes me believe that anti-semitism/Zionism is not a political position (otherwise the right and the left, the PLO and the KKK, would not be able to unite so uniquely in their hatred), but about how an individual feels about himself. I can’t help noticing that, over the years, a disproportionate number of attractive, kind, clever people are drawn to Jews; those who express hostility to them, however, from Hitler to Hamza, are often as not repulsive freaks.”
I don’t think Burchill’s thesis can withstand much scrutiny. For example, she doesn’t cite any Arabs who are “horrified by Judeophobia,” and I doubt that Arab anti-Semitism has much to do with how Arabs feel about themselves in the sense that Burchill suggests. Burchill’s thesis seems to rest on a pretty narrow set of specific examples. We can nevertheless enjoy the ride: “Think of famous anti-Zionist windbags – Redgrave, Highsmith, Galloway – and what dreary, dysfunctional, po-faced vanity confronts us.
“When we consider famous Jew-lovers, on the other hand – Marilyn, Ava, Liz, Felicity Kendal, me – what a sumptuous banquet of radiant humanity we look upon! How fitting that it was Richard Ingrams – Victor Meldrew without the animal magnetism – who this summer proclaimed in the Observer that he refuses to read letters from Jews about the Middle East, and that Jewish journalists should declare their racial origins when writing on this subject. Replying in another newspaper, Johann Hari suggested sarcastically that their bylines might be marked with a yellow star, and asked why Ingrams didn’t want to know whether those writing on international conflicts were Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Hindu. The answer is obvious to me: poor Ingrams is a miserable, bitter, hypocritical cuckold, whose much younger girlfriend has written at length in the public arena of the boredom, misery and alcoholism to which living with him has led her, and whose trademark has long been a loathing for anyone who appears to get a kick out of life: the young, the prole, independent women. The Jews are in good company.”
It’s a thought-provoking column, and it seems that this is only the first of two. Burchill promises to “return to this dirty little secret masquerading as a moral stance next week and, rest assured, it’ll get much nastier.” What a swan song! (Courtesy of Malcolm Smordin.)


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