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September 6, 2015 9:09 pm

Literary Giant Howard Jacobson Savages Anti-Zionists Who Reject Criticism

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Howard Jacobson wins a pig. Photo: The Telegraph.

Howard Jacobson wins a pig. Photo: The Telegraph.

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.

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  • ‘Criticism of Israel isn’t antisemitism’ isn’t an argument. It’s a mantra. Once repeated it one can dredge up any medieval, Nazi or Soviet Jew Hating meme you like.

    Once the Israel Haters would turn somersaults to replace the word Jew with the word Zionist or Israeli. Now they don’t even bother.

  • Carl

    Very refreshing to see an honest evaluation of Europe’s pathological Israel obsession! Only point I would disagree with is his characterization of Israel’s conduct in recent wars. Of course Israelis and Jews in general, as do most civilized people, abhor the loss of civilian life. But the onus must be on Hamas for intentionally placing their own women and children in harms, knowing that Israel alone would be blamed and demonized in the world marketplace of opinion, exactly as has played out. Yet no other army on the planet goes takes such care to avoid civilian casualties, warning of impending attacks via telephone and leaflet and calling off attacks when civilians are obviously present. Thanks to Mr. Jacobson for speaking up!!

  • Joseph Feld

    The ‘usual suspects’ here in London tend to be the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent, so it’s good to hear the Indie printed an op-ed by Howard Jacobson, a genuine Jewish intellectual, not one of the ‘herd’ who oppose anything Israel does to defend itself. The world has seen four million Syrian refugees driven from their homes by Islamists who also have Israel and Western Europe among their long term targets.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    The Jewish people need more intellectuals like Howard Jacobson to come forward to defend Israel and show-up the true colours of our anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish enemies.Jeremy Corbyn is an absolute disgrace and Labour Party supporters should be ashamed of themselves to have supported him as the front-runner to lead their party.Well done Mr.Jacobson!

  • dante

    one appreciates the effort and the sentiment and, coming from Jacobson, it is very important.

    nonetheless, he’s wrong on some important points: Israel’s conduct in its wars BY ANY REAL-WORLD STANDARD is beyond reproach. against some utopian standard, to which no nation actually adheres, Israel may be faulted. but compare Israel’s war-time record with that of the uk, the US, france, germany (there’s a sick joke), russia, china, iran (other jokes), and one is compelled to conclude that Israel’s record is admirable.

    and, btw, if you’re using different criteria to evaluate Israel than you use for other countries, you are anti-Jewish. if you throw yourself into a venomous, hateful hysteria when discussing Israel but maintain your equanimity when talking about russia, china, britain, france, belgium, netherlands, iran, syria, iraq, libya, tunisia, algeria, you’re anti-Jewish. it’s your right to hate whom you wish. but, you shouldn’t pretend to be a decent person; you’re not. you’re a hater. a vile, disgusting, loathsome hater.

  • Rabbi Norman Patz

    The late Dr. Svetlana Boym’s work on “nostalgia’ helps to explain not only the psychological roots of ISIS’ appeal to disaffected Muslims, but also the reason for so many Western intellectuals’ silence in the face of attacks on modernity, democracy, individual rights and Israel, which despite all its flaws, is the canary in the mineshaft of the West. Long ago, the Muslim extremists warned : “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.”

  • steven L

    Antisemitism is synonyms with cowardliness.

  • Caren Shapiro

    Jacobson is a hackneyed whiner. Wake up and smell the ethnic cleansing and Incremental Genocide. If he can’t separate his own identity from the atrocities of The Jewish State, he needs a shrink, very badly, or maybe a roll in the hay with someone halfway hot. Corbin is awesome.

    • Emil Sinclair

      So Caren–which Stalinist hacks have you been rolling in the hay with? Gerry Downing? Seamus Milne? or the great JC himself? How was it? Even if you are right that Howard Jacobson is a hackneyed whiner (great all purpose phrase—I will remember to use it) he probably already has a shrink. What does yours say about your distorted world view or have you chosen one that agrees with you? What’s Incremental Genocide please and must it have capitals? Is that a new one for your party’s glossary of epithets? Funny how Israel is The Jewish State when you are spitting your vitriol at it but no way when it wants to be regarded as such. What is it with you people?