Anti-Semitism Or Snobbery?

What accounts for the outburst of hostility to Israel that we have seen in recent weeks in the U.S. and much of Europe? Quite a bit of it comes from Middle Easterners who probably shouldn’t be here (or there), but there is more going on than that. Michael Deacon in the Telegraph writes on “The real reason liberals attack Israel.”

Many people on the Right suspect that liberals who criticise Israel are anti-Semitic. No doubt some of them are. In most cases, though, I don’t think it’s got anything to do with race.

I think it’s got much more to do with class.

In the past, people could instantly tell what class you belonged to by listening to the way you spoke. But it wasn’t just your accent that gave you away. It was also your vocabulary.

He cites a number of examples.

These particular distinctions matter little today. But that doesn’t mean our society has become any less obsessed with status. All that’s changed is the way status is gauged. Instead of their vocabulary, people are now classified according to their opinions.

It’s an inevitable outcome of the digital age. Social media, to which everyone under the age of 50 has become incurably addicted, is a mode of communication based almost entirely on the sharing, applauding and denigrating of opinions. As a consequence, our opinions have come to define us – and to determine our social status.

I don’t spend much time on social media, but I think there is considerable truth to that observation.

If you’re eager to be seen as a superior class of person, therefore, you need to express the opinions that the superior class of people invariably hold. And in the world of social media, these opinions are always progressive ones. Which means you need to show that you, for example, support Black Lives Matter, believe trans women are women, love Greta Thunberg, and loathe Tories.

To express the opposite of these opinions would be a frightful faux pas.

He is talking primarily about England, but the same is true in America. If you say you are a Republican, in many circles you are a skunk at a garden party.

Which brings us back to the debate over Gaza. The superior class all take the Palestinian side. Hence why I think it’s wrong to assume that liberals who criticise Israel are anti-Semitic. Many of them, I suspect, are just painfully insecure, and desperate to gain the approval of their betters.

Yes, but why do high-status people, Hollywood stars and the like, generally take the anti-Israel side? Partly, I suppose, it is part and parcel of the anti-American, anti-“settler colonialism” ideology that most of our kids are taught in school. Beyond that, I think perversity plays a role. The average person is horrified by mass murder, gang rape, torture, burning babies alive, and so on. And thinks that taking revenge for such acts is entirely appropriate.

So if you consider yourself elite, how do you distinguish yourself from the common herd? By taking the opposite view. It is the gang rape that is justified, not the response to the gang rape. There are countless instances of this kind of perversity, but one good example is Barack Obama’s attempt to forge an alliance with Iran and help Iran–our friend!–to dominate the Middle East. An idea so idiotic that only someone with boundless ego and a supreme sense of superiority to the common man could entertain it.

I don’t know, maybe that isn’t the right diagnosis. Anti-Semitism and snobbery have gone together for a long time, way before social media existed. Recall the 1920s and 1930s, which we seem to be reliving.

But one way or another, it is a fact that being anti-Israel is fashionable in the same way that posting black squares on Instagram to support Black Lives Matter was fashionable a few years ago. That was stupid and ineffective virtue signaling. It’s the same this time. Sensible people, and above all the government of Israel, should ignore fashion and do what needs to be done. There is no point in seeking the approval of people whose views are perverse, no matter how “elite” they may claim to be.

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