In The Hidden Costs of Jew-Baiting in England, Richard Landes (who blogs at The Augean Stables, and maintains The Second Draft) contrasts the vitality and intensity of London with another aspect--one that it does not brag about, but is becoming more and more evident. Landes writes about a conference by The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists on Democratic and Legal Norms in an Age of Terror.
Panels discussed everything from the Goldstone Report, to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, to “universal jurisdiction” (lawfare against Israelis brought in foreign courts). Here, in the Khalili Lecture Theatre of the SOAS (School for Oriental and African Studies), Jewish lawyers discussed a grim reality whose only public appearance on an everyday basis is the drumbeat of calumny that a boisterous elite — NGOs, journalists, academics — rain down on Israel.
Perhaps the most startling of the sessions concerned the BDS movement. Jonathan Rynhold, from the BESA Center at Bar Ilan, and Anthony Julius, author of Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England, both presented a picture of British anti-Zionist activity whose intellectual and moral foundations were profoundly irrational, a dogmatic will to stigmatize and destroy Israel that responded to no argument about proportion (what about other places?) or reason (you make no moral demands of the Palestinians). And behind that lies a much weightier volume of negative feeling, a kind of unthinking animosity that expressed itself in its most banal form when a woman explained to Julius: “We all know why the Jews are hated: you marry among yourselves and live in ghettos like Golders Green and Vienna [sic].” In so doing, she put her finger on the most widespread subtext for hostility to Jews – “they think they’re the chosen people.”Read the whole thing.
Of course, anti-Semitism is not limited to intellectual circles or those who claim to be 'humanitarian activists'--you can find the same shallowness and coarseness just about anywhere in England.
The encounter I'm here describing took place very recently, in the course of a large academic dinner at a University in another city, not my own one. It was a pleasant occasion, and the people at my table were innocuously and comfortably talking about sociological issues connected with the economic crisis, all completely harmless and (relatively) uncontentious. And then I heard the academic on my right hand side say to the person opposite him, 'Bloody Jews.'Of course being an intellectual or an academic is just skin-deep. After all, what is a piece of paper supposed to mean today, anyway?
When he saw my appalled stare, he said impatiently, 'Oh well, I'm sorry, but really...!'
'I'm glad you're sorry,' I replied politely, collecting myself together for a fight. But then he asked, 'Are you Jewish?' When I nodded, this academic - whom I'd met for the first time that day - put his arm around me and said, 'I'm sorry, but really Israel is terrible, the massacres, Plan Dalet, the ethnic cleansing, they're like the Nazis, they're the same as the Nazis...'
The encircling arm was offensive enough in its own right, but the Nazi reference was conclusive - it's so manifestly false, and when addressed to a Jew, it's designed to wound; no one makes that equivalence without malicious prejudice. And this, after all, was an academic talking, a professor, someone trained to resist casual stereotypes and easy equivalences.
...I don't think this would have happened 10 years ago. There certainly was anti-Semitism (of a relatively mild kind) around the place, among academics as elsewhere, but they used to know that there was something wrong with it, and hence restrained themselves, at least in public. I haven't met anything quite as nakedly direct as this in the universities before no
Being an intellectual is only skin-deep.
Being an Anti-Semite goes a whole lot deeper.
And in England, it's getting a whole lot broader.
Technorati Tag: anti-Semitism and Great Britain.