David Ward, Steve Bell, and the Games They Play

February 8, 2013 2:08 am 0 comments

MP David Ward.

David Ward MP and cartoonist Steve Bell have recently provoked controversies about criticism of Israel, antisemitism, and where the two phenomena meet.

Each episode followed a familiar pattern.

Here is the David Ward episode in brief…

His starting point: a belief that one cannot say anything remotely critical of Israeli policy without being accused of antisemitism.

His next move: making a genuinely outrageous statement about Israel, “the Jews” and the Holocaust.

The effect: David Ward is accused of antisemitism.

His conclusion: I told you so!

(Ward’s ongoing refusal to admit the problem with his comments is toe-curling to witness. First, he giggled about it on Sky News. Yesterday, The Guardian published a jaw-dropping interview in which he continued to dig his hole. Today, he called out for an even bigger shovel in Jewish News.)

The row involving cartoonist Steve Bell is different but no less familiar.

Bell, a longstanding, obsessive critic of Israel, was spectacularly boorish during an exchange with the Jewish Chronicle‘s Stephen Pollard on Radio 4′s Today programme last week. Arrogant Bell said of complaints of antisemitism: “They throw it around with such abandon and, if there is real antisemitism, it’s actually getting ignored.”

He did not explain precisely who “they” are, nor did he elaborate on his question of “if” real antisemitism exists anywhere.

But it seems reasonable to conclude he was accusing at least some Jewish people who complain about antisemitism of being the kids ‘who cried wolf’. Yet when real wolves are pointed out to him Bell simply dismisses them with fresh sneers.

He has recently taken to drawing daily anti-Israel cartoons, in which he mocks antisemitism as ‘aunty semutism’ [sic]. I remember when Guardian contributors campaigned on behalf of those experiencing racism. Bell mocks them.

I’m not aware of him targeting any other nations as obsessively as he has the Israelis. Nor can I find any record of him issuing condescending rulings to other minority groups on what they are and are not allowed to find offensive. Were his arrogance more widely targeted it would cause less suspicion.

Ward and Bell are playing familiar games. Ward went to great effort to be accused of antisemitism, in order to become the martyr who had been accused of antisemitism. Bell’s game, meanwhile, is to appoint himself arbitrator of what is and is not antisemitism.

These two games are popular among Israel-haters who lack the rhetorical skill or knowledge to debate the issue properly. No one needs to play along with such fools. Call them out on the game they are playing and they quickly shut up.

Then we can debate with people who actually care.

Visit Chas’s blog here.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.