STEPHEN POLLARD: It’s often the self-proclaimed anti-racists who are the foulest of the lot
Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine that Richard Sharp, the now ex-chairman of the BBC, was Muslim.
Now imagine that The Guardian newspaper, that champion of all things right-on and woke, decided to publish a cartoon of Mr Sharp as having a hook hand and carrying a box with ‘ISIS’ written on it. Inside the box is a bomb.
I know this is a ridiculous experiment. It is inconceivable that anyone would publish such a cartoon.
And, as The Guardian tells us at every opportunity, anti-racism is in its very DNA. Indeed, it’s gone to great lengths to research its 19th-century founders’ links to slavery and offer financial reparations in a bid to inoculate itself against attacks from organisations such as Black Lives Matter.
Mr Sharp is not Muslim, of course. He is Jewish. But in a cartoon published on Saturday, The Guardian chose to portray him exactly as racists and bigots have depicted Jews throughout the ages – as having distorted facial features. (Nazi and Soviet propagandists were particularly fond of this technique.)
Imagine that The Guardian newspaper, that champion of all things right-on and woke, decided to publish a cartoon of Mr Sharp (pictured) as having a hook hand and carrying a box with ‘ISIS’ written on it. Inside the box is a bomb
In a cartoon published on Saturday (pictured), The Guardian chose to portray him exactly as racists and bigots have depicted Jews throughout the ages – as having distorted facial features. (Nazi and Soviet propagandists were particularly fond of this technique)
In the cartoon, Mr Sharp is carrying a box labelled ‘Goldman Sachs’ – the investment bank that he once worked for – but with the end of both words blocked out so it appears to read ‘Gold Sack’, a clear reference to that old anti-Semitic trope of Jews being obsessed with money.
The box contains a squid, or octopus, which has its tentacles wrapped around what looks like gold coins next to Rishi Sunak’s head.
Again, such imagery is commonly used by anti-Semites to depict a Jewish conspiracy, with the tentacles wrapped around whatever elements of society it controls.
The image – for which both cartoonist Martin Rowson and The Guardian itself have now apologised – is as blatantly anti-Semitic as anything I have ever seen.
It would have fitted perfectly into Der Sturmer, the Nazi newspaper which routinely depicted Jews as diseased, or rats and leeches. Which leads to the question: how did a newspaper such as The Guardian, with its woke, progressive agenda, let this happen?
Important as that question is, it misses the point. Because it is not despite The Guardian’s agenda that it published such a cartoon – it is because of it.
For many years, anti-Semitism was mainly thought of as being the preserve of the far-Right – such as the skinhead fascists and neo-Nazis of the National Front and the BNP, as well as the likes of historian David Irving and his acolytes.
But as we have seen recently, the Left has no lessons to teach anyone when it comes to anti-Jewish prejudice.
The Labour Party itself was placed in special measures by the Equality and Human Rights Commission because of its problems with anti-Semitism.
And as any prominent Jew will, I’m sure, attest, the vast majority of anti-Semitic poison directed at us on social media comes not from the far-Right but from Left-wing trolls – often those who still proclaim their allegiance to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was suspended from the party for saying the scale of anti-Semitism within Labour had been ‘dramatically overstated’ by opponents.
In some ways, even worse than this, are what I call the bystanders. These are people who would loudly protest that they do not have an anti-Semitic bone in their body.
In the 1970s, they would have attended Rock Against Racism gigs and they now attack the Government over controversies such as the Windrush scandal.
But when an example of Jew-hate stares them in the face, they are utterly blind to it. As for calling it out – forget it.
I know from my own experience of editing the Jewish Chronicle and reporting on this whole issue how depressingly true this is.
Time after time, we would come across examples of Labour councillors, rank-and-file members and even MPs posting vile anti-Semitic tweets – but when we reported them, there would be no outrage and very little follow-up in progressive circles.
Excuses would be made for why someone had, for example, shared an anti-Semitic image on social media. Because they were on the Left, it was as if they should be given a free pass.
As a progressive, by definition, they couldn’t be racist. That meant accusations of a specific form of racism – anti-Semitism – had to be ignored, even if the evidence was there in black and white.
Over the weekend I was struck by the same phenomenon repeating itself. There has been much condemnation of The Guardian, but the vast majority of this has come from Jews.
Go through the social media posts of many of the most prominent so-called progressive activists who are the first to lambast the Government for its supposed racist immigration policies, and there is silence.
The likes of Gary Lineker, lawyer Jolyon Maugham and LBC presenter James O’Brien are usually the first to jump on such a bandwagon. But they have uttered not a word on social media between them about a clearly racist cartoon.
It is as if racism against Jews doesn’t really matter. As the title of a recent book by the comedian David Baddiel puts it: Jews Don’t Count.
Martin Rowson, who drew Saturday’s cartoon, first published a thousand-word act of contrition, then an even more abject apology after a controversial Twitter exchange.
What this episode shows, of course, is just how deeply ingrained the repugnant Jewish stereotype is in society – so that even an experienced cartoonist, clearly aware of the history of his art, can still produce such a vile image.
In a way, however, Rowson’s thought processes are irrelevant. The real story here is how the cartoon passed through any number of editorial hurdles at The Guardian. Did not a single person look at it and think, ‘Hold on a minute, we can’t publish this’?
When it comes to The Guardian, however, no one should be remotely surprised. Because the paper does not merely stand by and not notice anti-Semitism – it has a long and shameful history of actually publishing such depictions of Jews.
In 2012, it published a cartoon of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the puppet master of William Hague and Tony Blair.
Even the paper’s own readers’ editor agreed that it was based on the classic anti-Semitic idea of Jewish control over world events.
That cartoonist, Steve Bell, is a repeat offender.
Over the years The Guardian has also published a cartoon by him defending Ken Livingstone from ‘false’ charges of anti-Semitism, and another in 2018 which both exonerated Corbyn over Labour anti-Semitism and characterised Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, one of the most widely respected British Jews, as a racist.
It is striking how often those who boast most vocally and stridently their own moral virtue turn out to be the worst offenders.
That’s true in so many areas – and it is all too true when it comes to anti-Semitism.
It is the self-proclaimed anti-racists who so often turn out to be the foulest of the lot.
Source: Read Full Article