Literary Giant Howard Jacobson Savages Anti-Zionists Who Reject Criticism
Man Booker Prize-winning British author Howard Jacobson lashed out at anti-Zionists who reject criticism, in an op-ed piece for the The Independent on Friday.
“The truism that criticism of Israel does not equate to anti-Semitism is repeated ad nauseam. Nor, necessarily, does it. But those who leave out the ‘necessarily’ ask for a universal immunity,” wrote Jacobson, in an article focused mainly on British Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn, who has faced accusations of antisemitism in the run-up to the party election this week.
Jacobson argued that outspoken critics of Israel whose critiques resembled thinly-veiled antisemitic tropes — such as the demonization of Israeli policy or support for groups that seek the Jewish state’s destruction — often cry foul play when they stand accused of antisemitism. He writes, “they trammel you in the ‘How very dare you’ trap. They are, they say, being blackmailed into silence.
“The opposite is the truth. It is they who are the blackmailers, intimidating anyone who dares their criticism… In fact, what determines whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic is the nature of it. Question Israel’s conduct of recent wars and you won’t find many Jews, in Israel or outside it, who disagree with you. Join Hamas in calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, as the prime instigator of all evil, and you’re on shakier ground,” wrote Jacobson.
The author called on the Left to acknowledge rather than pronounce the antisemitism that is “snarled up in the before and after of Israelophobia.” And he accused the British Stop the War Coalition, a British political group whose aim it is to stop “unjust wars,” of being a “home to Jew haters” because it simplifies the complex Israeli conflict into criticism leveled mostly at the Jewish state; Corbyn is one of the most prominent members of that group.
Jacobson, who won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Finkler Question, which tackles the complexities of modern Jewish identities and male friendship in Britain, is a regular columnist for The Independent, and has also written pieces attacking proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel.