UK Newspaper Apologizes for Letter Saying ‘Privileged’ Jews Cannot Be Victims of Racism
A British newspaper apologized on Wednesday for publishing a letter that asserted antisemitism is not racism because Jews are “privileged.”
Published by Metro, the reader letter followed an outcry over antisemitic remarks made by cricket star Azeem Rafiq in 2011.
Rafiq had recently testified before the British parliament about discrimination he faced while playing for Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He has since apologized for the antisemitic comments that later emerged, saying he had “absolutely no excuses.”
“Racism should not be misconstrued for prejudice — this alone does not infringe on the rights of minorities,” read Metro reader letter on the controversy Monday. “Racism is an attempt by a ‘privileged’ majority to undermine the destiny of a minority individual or group — it can only be applied by the privileged.”
“What we term ‘racism’ by minorities is not racism by ‘prejudice,’ as the minority cannot affect the destiny of the privileged majority,” it continued. “Azeem was deprived of his potential.”
“But what did he take from Jews when he made his prejudicial comments at the age of 19?” the letter’s author asked. “For racism to exist, there has to be a power imbalance and he had no power. Let us not misconstrue racism with prejudice.”
Metro apologized the following day, saying, “The MetroTalk page is carefully edited with all sorts of views coming in from around the country. Our readers always challenge views that are clearly wrong in the cut and thrust of debate. But in hindsight the letter should not have made the page. Apologies.”
Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, commented, “It is beyond belief that in the light of Azeem Rafiq’s historic antisemitic posts, Metro would publish a blatantly antisemitic letter claiming that racism is only racism when not directed against Jews.”
“The editor’s apology is welcomed, but the paper must ensure its letters page is never again infected with racist views,” she said.
Dave Rich of the Community Security Trust, a British charity that seeks to protect the Jewish community, told the Jewish Chronicle, “The idea that racism towards Jews doesn’t count because Jews are somehow too powerful or privileged to be affected by it is, itself, an antisemitic myth that reinforces old stereotypes about Jewish power while denying us any anti-racist solidarity.”
“It is based on a flawed and simplistic understanding of racism that belongs in the dustbin of history,” he added.