Guardian writer: Is my Jewish three-year-old too young to learn about antisemitism?

August 26, 2018

AboveAnti-Semitic booklets being handed out to delegates at a pro-Corbyn meeting in London last week.

In a tweet last week, Dan Hogan, who worked on the British Labour Party’s internal disciplinary inquiries (but has now quit), revealed the scale of allegations investigated. Hogan said: “I’ve done plenty of disciplinary cases against Labour members who compared Israel to the Nazis, peddled conspiracy theories about Israel, promoted Holocaust deniers, praised terrorists, and who questioned the Britishness or loyalty of British Jews.”

Other MPs from the party’s moderate wing said that the party does not have enough staff to handle all the anti-Semitic allegations coming in about Labour Party members.

 

[Notes by Tom Gross]

This is another in an occasional series of dispatches about British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who continues to rise in some opinion polls (largely because of the government’s difficulties over Brexit) and is currently a favorite to be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. The UK is, of course, a nuclear-armed power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

(This dispatch is primarily for readers in America and elsewhere since papers such as the New York Times have inadequately explained what is happening in the UK.)

For those interested I have also posted many items about Corbyn on my public Facebook page in recent weeks, here:

https://www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

Among previous related dispatches:

* Britain’s “next?” prime minister called terrorist who helped blow up café, “brother”

* “The worst cancer I’ve ever seen”

 

Above: The cover of yesterday’s Times of London comes is hardly surprising. The far left in many ways share the same anti-Semitic ideology of the extreme right. It led to the murder and persecution of Jews in Soviet Russia, for example. (Because there are laws against race hatred and anti-Semitism in many countries today, including the UK, they often disguise their anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism.)

After Corbyn’s derogatory remarks about British Jews in 2013 were revealed in a video by the Daily Mail on Friday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid (of the Conservative party) said yesterday: “If Corbyn had said “Asians” or “Blacks” instead of “Zionists”, he would have had to resign by now.”

Mike Gapes, a senior Labour MP, said: “Corbyn is a racist anti-Semite. Period.”

 

Above: From the inside pages of yesterday’s Times of London.

On another page The Times’s lead editorial said:

For too long the leader of the opposition has tolerated antisemitism in his party. For too long he has dragged his feet amid a growing clamour from inside and outside the Labour movement to stamp it out. Now Jeremy Corbyn is revealed as straightforwardly antisemitic himself. That is the conclusion any reasonable listener must draw from a 2013 speech in London …

There is a place in any party for legitimate criticism of any country’s foreign and domestic policies, including Israel’s, but this was not Mr Corbyn’s subject. He was singling out Jews on the basis of their ethnicity as problematic and in need of “lessons”. This is antisemitism. Anyone in doubt where such remarks might resonate was offered clarification yesterday via Twitter, which published messages of support for Mr Corbyn from Nick Griffin, former head of the British National Party, and David Duke, a Holocaust denier and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. With friends like these, Mr Corbyn can end his long search for enemies in implausible places…

Alongside Corbyn on the platform were conspiracy theorists including an Anglican vicar who has claimed that Israel was responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks and whom Mr Corbyn has commended for “excellent work” … The event was publicised on the website of the military wing of Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation that far from recognising Israel is dedicated to its destruction.

(Full editorial at the end of the dispatch.)


 

Above: a tweet on Thursday in support of Corbyn from Nick Griffin, former leader of the British extreme right.

Today, The Mail on Sunday newspaper reveals that bodyguards may be hired by a Jewish organization to protect prominent Jewish delegates at the forthcoming annual Labour party conference next month. Female MPs of Jewish origin including Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge and Luciana Berger all continued to receive abuse and threats from Corbyn supporters.

At last year’s Labour party conference, the BBC provided its political editor Laura Kuenssberg with security guards after she was bombarded with sexist abuse by some Corbyn supporters for alleged anti-Labour bias.

 

Above: the cover of the London Daily Mail from earlier this month.

Among other articles in The Times, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror:

* Corbyn: I did attend wreath ceremony for Munich killers

* Side by side with a cinema bomber: Jeremy Corbyn is pictured alongside yet another terrorist in Tunisia

* Corbyn faces fresh questions over his links to terrorists as pictures emerge of him sharing a stage with the world's first female plane hijacker

* 'Biggest terror chiefs in Hamas' who said Jews were 'headed to annihilation', named in delegation attending Jeremy Corbyn 'peace conference' in Tunisia

* Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart breaks with Labour after 73 years over Corbyn’s support for Brexit


 

While continuing to campaign against Israel at every opportunity and promote anti-Israeli terrorists, Corbyn praises other countries.

Above, his tweet this month in honor of Pakistan.

Corbyn (who to my knowledge has never tweeted congratulations for Israel's Independence Day), omits to mention that Pakistan’s creation involved the slaughter of at least 200,000 people and up to 15 million refugees.

 

A CLIP FROM EXODUS

Here is a 42 second clip from the 1960 film “Exodus” in which Paul Newman (whose father was Jewish) plays an Israeli, Haganah officer disguised in British army uniform speaking with an anti-Semitic British officer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3FtzmvAiMc

I attach three pieces below.

-- Tom Gross


ARTICLES

IS MY JEWISH THREE-YEAR-OLD TOO YOUNG TO LEARN ABOUT ANTISEMITISM?

Is my Jewish three-year-old too young to learn about antisemitism?
I stand by my decision to read my daughter a children’s version of the Anne Frank story, but some of my friends have objected

By Hilary Freeman
The Guardian
August 23, 2018

My three-year-old daughter, Sidonie, stared for a moment at the illustration in the storybook I was reading her at bedtime. “Can I wear a yellow star too please, Mummy?” she asked, her innocent question betraying her lack of understanding. I laughed, uncomfortably. To her, the identifying mark forced on European Jews by the Nazis was nothing more than a fashion choice. She wanted “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on her clothes because it looked pretty.

Like me, Sidonie is Jewish. The book I was reading her, an illustrated biography of Anne Frank for young children, forms part of a series titled Little People, Big Dreams, which introduces young children to notable women in history. She had already enjoyed similar books about Frida Kahlo and Maya Angelou and I bought her the one about Anne Frank because, of all the subjects profiled, it most resonated with me. As a child who loved writing, I identified with Anne Frank. And my grandmother – Sidonie’s great-grandmother – was, like Anne, a little girl in prewar Germany. Unlike Anne, she and my grandfather had the good fortune to escape to England, not to the soon-to-be-occupied Netherlands.

When I mentioned this bedtime story incident on Facebook, some of my friends argued that I shouldn’t be reading my daughter a book about Anne Frank, or the Holocaust, even if it is a censored version without any horror or violence. There is a nasty man with a moustache, a train to “the worst place on Earth” and a glossed-over exit for Anne. “Preserve her innocence,” they said. “She’s far too young to learn about antisemitism.”

Perhaps they’re right and it is too soon even for this gentle introduction. I certainly don’t want to frighten or traumatise my daughter. And yet, in the current climate, with accusations of antisemitism in the Labour party making headline news virtually every day, and a rise in antisemitism all over Europe, this is an issue that is pertinent to her life and to her future, not just a story in a book. Many Jews in the UK are feeling very unsettled. I even know Jews who are packing up and leaving for Israel in fear.

Antisemitism – and its generally more visible sibling, racism – are not like the monster under the bed. They do exist. If I don’t begin to prick Sidonie’s consciousness with the knowledge that the world is not always a good place for people like me and her, will I be doing her a disservice? But how and when do you tell your child that there are people in the world – not just a few, but many, and for millennia – who hate her and may even wish to do her harm, simply because she exists? How young is too young? How, as a parent, do you prepare your child for the realities of antisemitism or racism when they make no sense to you, when they are illogical and irrational? And how do you guard your child’s innocence, without wrapping them in cotton wool, turning them into a “snowflake”, leaving them vulnerable and defenceless?

To those who say that children should be shielded from these truths, I say this: being a child has never been any protection against antisemitism. Children were the first to be murdered by the Nazis because they couldn’t be used as slave labour. My middle name – Rachel – was given to me in memory of my grandma’s niece, Rachel Stern, who died in Auschwitz in 1944, aged just five, together with her parents. Had she survived, she would be 79 now and Sidonie might have met her; it really wasn’t all that long ago.

We tell children fairytales, replete with child-eating witches and wicked stepmothers, and they are meant to be scary. Child psychologists like Bruno Bettelheim have argued that the very point of such stories is that they are dark and frightening, because by reading them children learn to cope with their fears. The fact is that some monsters goose-step and wear swastikas, and it’s not always imaginary witches who burn children in ovens.

Hiding away from horrible truths doesn’t make them go away, and being screened from reality almost certainly does not create strong or happy children. That comes from being loved, from feeling secure. I believe that children absorb the information they need and process it at their own pace. They ask the questions they are ready to know the answers to. For now, Sidonie is content to see a yellow star as a fashion accessory, and I won’t tell her otherwise. In the future, she will understand what the symbol really means. Slowly learning about the evil in the world means that a child will grow up with the knowledge and resilience to cope with difficult situations and hostile people.

Like all tiny children, she is currently blind to the labels we adults ascribe to differences of race, religion, disability or colour. I am only too aware that in a few years time this won’t be the case, that she will see these differences, just as other children will see them in her. And some will hate her for them. She needs to be gently prepared.

 

IN THE AGE OF FAKE NEWS, CORBYN WILL GET AWAY WITH HIS SHAMELESS LIES

In the age of fake news, Corbyn will get away with his shameless lies
By Charlotte Henry
CapX
August 14, 2018

Anti-Semitism is, in many ways, the original fake news. Centuries before the Nazis used anti-Semitic propaganda to such horrific effect, the Bubonic plague, no less, was blamed on the Jews. Later, in 1545, Martin Luther published a pamphlet called “The Jews and their Lies” which described Jews as “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth”. It also featured the blood libel — the vile lie that Jews slaughter non-Jewish children for the purposes of making bread.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise then that in the post-truth era, this oldest of hatreds has once again raised its ugly head.

This weekend, the alt-right returned to the streets in the US. This is the same group of people who have a devoted network of fake news websites that includes the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer and have been known to shout “lugenpresse” — a phrase used by the Nazis meaning “lying press” — at journalists covering Donald Trump’s rallies. Their riots in Charlottesville a year ago used the classic imagery of the American far right and resulted in the deaths of three people.

In the UK, developments have been perhaps less dramatic, but no less sinister. The Labour anti-Semitism scandal has rumbled on for nearly two years, with Jeremy Corbyn supporters insisting the whole thing is nothing more than a smear cooked up by a hostile press.

Corbyn and his allies’ evasion and dishonesty have reached new heights in the last few days. Following a Mail on Sunday story that Corbyn had laid a wreath at a ceremony commemorating Palestinian terrorists who were involved in the kidnapping, torture and murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Labour leader at first denied it. The Labour press office even issued a statement that had the stomach-churning gall to claim that the “Munich widows are being misled”.

Having lied to journalists with this statement, Corbyn then conceded in a television clip that he was “present when it was laid”, but did not “think I was actually involved in it”, evoking his equally bizarre denial that he did not properly look at an anti-Semitic mural before praising it.

That a Labour leader — someone who wants to run the country — can tell such a lie and get away with it suggests there has been a worrying change in the way politics works. The durability of his claim to have worked tirelessly for peace in the face of the torrent of evidence of his penchant for some of the most extreme people on a rather regular basis perfectly encapsulates the post-truth era in which we live.

Corbyn’s behaviour has a lot in common with Donald Trump’s. They both follow the post-truth playbook. The two have even started using the same form of words, with Trump this weekend condemning “all types of racism and acts of violence” as Corbyn frequently refers to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. If you don’t deal with specifics, they can’t pin you down.

Indeed, anti-Semitism is to Corbyn what the Russia election probe is to Trump — more and more keeps dripping out, but nothing seems to stick. Instead, Corbyn and his followers keep gas-lighting us, telling us what we can see with our own us is not true. The chutzpah of it all is almost breathtaking. The mental gymnastics required to believe it would be impressive if it were not all so frightening.

These post-truth politicians pretend they are being authentic and honest but, in reality, they deny, obfuscate and muddy the waters as much as they can. So what if Corbyn had written in the Morning Star about the wreath being laid on the graves of terrorists? Fake news sites like Skwawkbox were happy to go into bat for him, dismissing the Mail story as “desperate smears” before seemingly deleting a host of tweets on the topic when Corbyn released his statement.

In this era of information overload, people mostly hear what they want to. There is so much out there that we are unable to process it all. Populists and fringe politicians can, therefore, rest safe in the knowledge that the true believers will not be put off by negative stories, and they will be there to attack anyone who dares to question their hero.

What ultimately happens is that everyone’s opinion just stays exactly the same. Those core supporters still continue to believe in the cause and that their hero is being attacked, people who oppose Corbyn still want him out and everyone else cuts out all the noise and gets on with their lives. The post-truth politicians win.

In normal political times, Corbyn would not have won the leadership of one of the great political parties. There was too much baggage, too many questions, even then. He certainly would not be able to survive the ongoing revelations and accusations of anti-Semitism both by him and his supporters. But we do not live in normal political times, we live in a time when facts are anything you want them to be and politicians can seemingly do and say the most heinous things under the guise of “authenticity”.

The true believers have gone through the looking glass and are able to believe “as many as six impossible things before breakfast”, but the rest of us mustn’t fall for it. In times like these, guarding the truth matters more than ever before.

 

“IT IS TIME FOR THE PARTY TO TELL HIM HE IS NO LONGER WELCOME AS ITS LEADER”

Labour’s Moral Vacuum
The Times (of London)
Lead editorial
August 25 2018

Corbyn’s antisemitism makes Jewish MPs feel unwelcome in his party. It is time for the party to tell him he is no longer welcome as its leader

For too long the leader of the opposition has tolerated antisemitism in his party. For too long he has dragged his feet amid a growing clamour from inside and outside the Labour movement to stamp it out. Now Jeremy Corbyn is revealed as straightforwardly antisemitic himself. That is the conclusion any reasonable listener must draw from a 2013 speech in London in which he claimed that “Zionists” did not want to study history and “don’t understand English irony either”.

The speech used the word “Zionists” as a synonym for “Jews” and as a term of casual abuse. It sought to depict British Jews as alien to British culture, and wilfully ignorant of it despite “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives”. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said Mr Corbyn’s remarks have been taken out of context and that Mr Corbyn has dedicated his career to the pursuit of peace. To take such evasions at face value is at best naive.

There is a place in any party for legitimate criticism of any country’s foreign and domestic policies, including Israel’s, but this was not Mr Corbyn’s subject. He was singling out Jews on the basis of their ethnicity as problematic and in need of “lessons”. This is antisemitism. Anyone in doubt where such remarks might resonate was offered clarification yesterday via Twitter, which published messages of support for Mr Corbyn from Nick Griffin, former head of the British National Party, and David Duke, a Holocaust denier and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. With friends like these, Mr Corbyn can end his long search for enemies in implausible places.

Labour’s current leadership has gone through the motions of addressing antisemitism in the party rank and file, but it has a blind spot when it looks for antisemitism in the mirror. It is fixated on the notion that it has become the victim of a media conspiracy to remove Mr Corbyn using antisemitism as a pretext.

There are many reasons to remove Mr Corbyn from the leadership of a once-great progressive party. One is his economic illiteracy, which would cause a run on the pound if ever allowed to influence policy. Another is his conspiratorial world view, formed as a student, based on a kneejerk instinct to blame America for the world’s ills, and unchanged by decades on the back benches — or, it appears, by three years close to power. But what disqualifies him from power and from his present position is precisely his antisemitism. His refusal to acknowledge it does not make it any less real. This is not a pretext for his removal but the most urgent reason for it, and the task falls squarely on the shoulders of Labour members who have so far conspicuously failed to summon the courage or moral clarity to carry it out.

Mr Corbyn has a record of insouciant disregard for the concerns of British Jewry and of evasion about his past affiliations. His remarks from 2013, only two years before his elevation to Labour’s leadership, are a case apart even from this dismaying history. Alongside him on the platform were conspiracy theorists including an Anglican vicar who has claimed that Israel was responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks and whom Mr Corbyn has commended for “excellent work . . . in highlighting the injustices of the Palestinian-Israeli situation”. The event was publicised on the website of the military wing of Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation that far from recognising Israel is dedicated to its destruction.

Labour prime ministers have included such staunch friends of Israel as Harold Wilson, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. By contrast, Mr Corbyn exemplifies not only poor judgment but bigotry and dishonour. In earlier eras, he would have been forced to resign. His comments should render him ineligible for membership, let alone leadership, of a democratic party and for public office.

 

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