BBC1’s Big Question Programme on ‘Anti-Semitism’

BBC1’s Big Question Programme on ‘Anti-Semitism’









The Rise of the New ‘Anti-Semitism’

I was invited as a guest on BBC1’s The Big Questions last Sunday, hosted by Nicky Campbell. The topic was the alleged rise of anti-Semitism. I must confess I hadn’t heard of the programme before. The programme, rather ambitiously, tackles 3 topics in a one-hour slot – and they were violent video games, inter-ethnic adoption and anti-Semitism. It was about 2 topics too many!

The 20 minute session on anti-Semitism was almost a text-book example of how, subtly and almost unnoticed, the BBC’s establishment bias is seamless and pervasive. Zionism, which shares the same viewpoint as anti-Semites, viz. that Jews belong in Israel not in the Diaspora, was entirely absent from the fight against Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930’s and the National Front in the 1970’s, is nonetheless concerned about ‘anti-Semitism’ today, or rather ‘new anti-Semitism’ i.e. opposition to Israel.

There were a number of invited Zionists including Jeff Goldberg of London’s Jewish Forum, one of 3 platform speakers, Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Zionist Federation, a Zionist rabbi, a couple of assorted Zionists, an idiot Israeli, Hadar Sela, who apparently couldn’t read her own passport and was therefore not aware that there is no such thing as an Israeli nationality and of course Mark Gardener of the Zionist Community Security Trust. [CST]

Sela also didn’t (apparently) know that the 20% of Israelis who are Arab or non-Jewish, don’t (except for the small Druze community) serve in the Israeli army. More probably she was more than aware of all of the above but believed that lies serve the Zionist cause more effectively than the truth. She certainly has good reason to hold such a belief.

Nicky Campbell called her repeatedly and failed to challenge her statements at any time, which says a lot for the (lack of) research behind the programme. It was also noticeable that Campbell failed to get the quite basic point I made, which was that if the Board of Deputies of British Jews [i.e. all Jews] goes out of its way to organise rallies in support of Israeli war crimes, then it is hardly surprising that some people believe them. A simple point but one that seemed to elude him. I got the feeling that Campbell is cerebrally no Paxman or John Humphries!

Outnumbered but not outgunned
On our side there were just 2 anti-Zionists – Prof. Chaim Bereshit of the University of East London and myself. Despite this, and together with Black and Muslim members of the audience, we more than held our own! But even the build-up to the programme, with stories of an Essex scout troop having shouted ‘yid, yid, yid’ on Remembrance Day at Jewish veterans, was exaggerated. In fact it was one Scout, ‘Antisemitic abuse by scout on Remembrance Day’, JC 13.11.09. was not contextualised. My father told me that in the 1930’s if you were a Jew you couldn’t walk down certain streets in the East End of London without being physically attacked and in fear of your life. The few and far incidents today, at worst mostly verbal or cemetery daubings, often a consequence of Israel’s claim that it is a Jewish State acting on behalf of all Jews, are not comparable with what Jews experienced in the past. Indeed such claims of ‘anti-semitism’ merely trivialise the very real racism that Jews experienced in the Europe of the first half of the last century.

Today in Britain there is no state racism directed against Jews, and it is noticeable that Gardener of the CST boasts of his organisation’s close links with the Metropolitan Police who were responsible for the torture and abuse of Barbar Ahmad who was paid £60,000 in damages for their criminal assaults. In other words a thoroughly racist police force, which the Jewish establishment sees as its ally.

Yet despite the heart-rending tales of a Jewish rabbi about being spat on, the sympathy of the audience was not with the Zionists. It was all too neat and to be blunt some of the allegations should be taken with a pinch of salt. False allegations of anti-semitism by Zionists are not unknown.

Zionist Federation representative, Sacerdoti, had the chutzpah to claim that the Rally in Support of Israel earlier this year, was a ‘peace’ rally despite the fact that it echoed the pretext for Israel’s attack, the ‘terrorism’ of the besieged victims of Gaza and their elected representatives Hamas whilst not uttering a word of condemnation of Israel’s murderous attack which took the lives of 1,400 people including 400 children. At no time of course did it call for a halt to Israel’s bombing of civilians. And this is a Zionist peace rally!!

Sacerdoti, when asked by Campbell whether a denial of Israel’s right to exist was anti-semitic, replied in the affirmative. Yet this is a loaded question. Was it racist to say that the Apartheid State of South Africa or similar states had no right to exist? Certainly a racist state, whatever its name, has no right to exist and must be dismantled. But if you equate a state with the people living under its control, then we revert to the ideology of Nazi Germany, that the State is everything and the role of the people is to serve the State.

But what is really at issue are the so-called European Union Monitoring Committee’s Working Definition guidelines on anti-semitism. One example given is ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ Even leaving aside the muddleheadedness of the definition, which is what one would expect from a State sponsored attempt to define a political philosophy, the idea that Jewish people form a nation or race (and historically the terms were used interchangeably) was the staple diet of anti-semitism. So we have the irony that the main definition of anti-semitism used by Zionism today is itself anti-semitic!!

As Shlomo Sand, in The Invention of the Jewish People writes [21]:

‘There were times in Europe when anyone who argued that all Jews belong to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today’s Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jewish hater.’

What was interesting is that the statistics of the shadowy CST were taken as given by Campbell. When I questioned them and suggested there were lies, damned lies and statistics, Campbell turned to Gardener to ask what the statistics were, without once questioning whether the CST and its £100,000+ head might have a vested interest in creating ‘anti-Semitism’ as a counter to the very real oppression of Palestinians. This is how bias in the BBC manifests itself. Not in the crudities of Stalinist propaganda but in more sophisticated taken-for-granted assumptions. Gardener of course was apoplectic. ‘I am really really appalled… to actually deny the integrity of the statistics…’. As well he might be!

However Gardener knows that the allegation is not new. In the Jewish Chronicle of 5.10.05., an article by Jenni Frazer entitled ‘Charge: CST ‘bumps up’ attack figures’ reported a Channel 4 programme “A War Against Prejudice,” makes just such an accusation:

A controversial BBC radio programme about the Community Security Trust includes allegations that the CST “bumps up” the figures on anti-Semitic attacks.

“A War Against Prejudice,” due to be broadcast on Radio Four on Sunday, features interviews with Jewish critics who believe the CST exaggerates the problem, thereby stoking up paranoia within the community.”

The CST has also been accused of physical attacks on Muslims, i.e. anti-Muslim racism. ‘CST rejects Muslim claims over stewards’ JC 24/05/2002

The CST is a body that is neither accountable nor transparent. Indeed it is a most opaque organisation. Its trustees are not listed, almost uniquely, on the Charity Commission website. Its accounts do not list its donors. It is a multi-million pound operation making £1m + surpluses each year [as you will find on the Charity Commission website] and at least 3 employees are paid over £100,000. Its assets are nearly £10 m and although last year was a bad year, with only an £8,000 surplus, the previous year it was £2.3m and the year before that £1.7 m. There can’t be many anti-racist organisations so well funded and with such well-paid employees!

The CST, which polices Zionist meetings, physically attacked a Jewish heckler at the Rally to Support the Attack on Gaza earlier this year and as a matter of policy excludes Jewish anti-Zionists, for which it has been condemned by Liberty. On one occasion it even got it wrong and excluded the left-Zionist Mapam organisation, as well as groups like the Jewish Socialists Group of course. Yet this organisation, mainly consisting of ex-Israeli security personnel has never once been involved in anti-fascist mobilisations, still less the demonstrations against the EDL and naturally played no part in campaigns against the pro-Zionist BNP. Yet the BBC and Campbell accepts it as a neutral unbiased recorder of statistics when its whole modus operandi is to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Gardener is in fact an extremely right-wing Zionist, who is quoted only this week in the Jerusalem Post as stating that Shlomo Sand’s book The Invention of the Jewish People was anti-Semitic. The book has spent 19 weeks on the Israeli best-sellers list. True it debunks most of Zionist mythology about the Exodus, European Jews originating from Palestine as opposed to the Khazars by the Black Sea and explains that there is no scientific evidence to support the biblical myths. A worthy academic debate you might think. But no. To Gardener it is anti-Semitic!

“There are many ways, often subtle, in which anti-Israel or anti-Zionist debate can have an anti-Jewish impact. However, a new anti-Zionist book by Tel Aviv University Prof. Shlomo Sand remolds the paradigm: with notions of Jewish peoplehood now under attack in the service of anti-Zionism.

“The sense of common lineage, kinship and peoplehood that Jews around the world share and hold is a fundamental part of their identity, as perversely demonstrated by the splenetic accusations of ‘self-hater’ that are hurled by some Jews at others who do not toe the majority line.

And likewise the irrepressible co-Chair of the Zionist Federation Jonathan Hoffman stated in the same article that:
‘”Sand’s agenda is to sever the historic link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,… To promote that agenda his book ignores archeological and genetic evidence.’ ‘TAU Historian accused of anti-semitism’, Jerusalem Post 15.11.09.

Now when Nick Griffin tried to explain that his racism is really a wish to trace our lineage back to the original white inhabitants of these islands some 17,000 years ago, as the Ice Age was ending, people mocked him. But Hoffman and Gardener are saying exactly the same thing. Gardener talks of a ‘common lineage, kinship and peoplehood between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.’ This could be Alfred Rosenberg talking of the blood links between the German Volk and the soil of Greater Germany. It is utterly reactionary and racist nonsense but it underpins the ‘historic’ claims that Zionism made for settling Palestine.

There was a time when it was the anti-Semites who sought to ‘prove’ that genetic evidence proved that the Jews were a separate race and nation. Now it is the Zionists who are protesting that genetic ‘evidence’ is being ignored. In fact genetics tell us nothing about ‘race’ still less about any Jewish association with Palestine. And just in case you didn’t get it, then ‘the splenetic accusations of ‘self-hater’ that are hurled by some Jews at others who do not toe the majority line.’ is also proof of Gardener’s thesis. What Gardener is saying is that because some people use racist arguments, such as anti-Zionist Jews are ‘self-haters’, this is therefore proof that their racism must be correct! A circular argument which ironically proves that Gardener is understands very well that the ‘self-hater’ slur is part of Zionism’s biological determinism. The term ‘self-hater’ was used in South Africa against anti-apartheid Whites and in Nazi Germany against anti-fascist Germans. So he is in very good company!

Perhaps the most effective contribution came from the retired Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, who recalled that he too was called an anti-Semite when he questioned the Israeli attack on Gaza and its murder of over 400 Palestinian children. And therein lies the truth. It is therefore ironic that the EUMC Definition of ‘anti-semitism’ includes ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’ Presumably it had the Board of Deputies in mind!

What conclusion should one draw? That one cannot expect the BBC, with its record over the Disaster Emergency Appeal, which it refused to show, to be unbiased on Palestine. The BBC almost invariably takes the same position as the government of the day and when it doesn’t, as was the case initially over Iraq, then it gets hauled over the coals as in the Hutton Report. Yet the natural sympathy of people in Britain is with the underdog and Israel, despite its pretensions at being a victim, is seen by most people as the United State’s bully in the region. And its well-heeled supporters are likewise seen as defenders of the indefensible trying to portray themselves as victims.

Tony Greenstein





  1. Val

    bottom line – did you see Peter Oborne on Ch. 4 on Monday, 8pm?

    lots you would disagree with I've no doubt – but exposed the huge amounts of money going to the Tories from Israeli lobby sources.


  2. Red Maria

    You don't want to see tonight's Newsnight segment on Sarah Palin on iPlayer.

    You really don't want to see it.

    It will put you in a bad mood.

  3. Tony Greenstein

    No I didn't see her but it is a testimony to the stupidity of the American right-winger that the dumb and even more stupid Palin is an object of their hero worship.

    Imagine, she makes a virtue of her stupidity and corruption and this is seen as an emblem of success. A pity since Alaska is apparently very beautiful and yet it elected someone whose only claim to fame is her racist stupidity.

    That is the United States of America for you.

  4. Red Maria

    The Newsnight segment included a clip of Palin being quizzed by veteran celebrity interviewer, Barbara Walters. She was asked her opinion of the Obama's "hard line" – Newsnight's words, not mine – on Israeli settlements.

    Her reply was, uh, interesting. Made Tzipi Livni look like a vegan pacifist.

  5. Gert

    Oh boy. Tony, I don't know how you keep you're cool with these numpties: the new Hoffman is now funnier than Mad Mel Phlips, now he's found a home at CIFWatch.

    A very good post, unfortunately overshadowed by the controversy (weeelll, you know…) around Peter 'Blood Libel' Oborne's rather tame 'Inside Britain's Israel Lobby'.

    "That is the United States of America you". Indeedy… *sigh*

  6. Tony Greenstein

    Well you know my views on Ms Palin Maria. She is symptomatic of the dumb biblical fundamentalist messianic Yank. She makes idiocy into a virtue. What more can I say?!

    Didn't see the Channel 4 programme though I will try and catch up with it. Hoffmann is our best friend. When we were picketting the Ahava shop in Covent Garden his shouting managed to deter more people than us. Really he is a good friend which is why I sent a letter to the Jewish Chronicle defending him against his stiff upper lip opponents in the Zionist community!

    Re the programme itself. There's always a danger of people missing the symptoms for the reality. These lobbies are undoubtedly reactionary and generally nasty. But they aren't the reason for the policy. The Tories (& New Labour) support Israel not because of filthy lucre etc. but because it's in Britain's imperial interests to do so.

    People often say, well it makes the Arabs hate us. Probably true and so? Given we steal their oil and bribe their rulers to oppress the masses who might want to follow a different path, what else do we expect? Imperialism has never wanted popularity as long as the money and goods flow westwards.

  7. Zionist Idiot - Anon

    Tony Greenstein – you got nationally humiliated on television. Your baseless arguments attaching the statements of the Board of Deputies (which you did your best to distort) with the broader Jewish community was a farcical attempt at justifying the increase of anti-semitism in this country.

  8. Tony Greenstein

    I don't usually allow the Zionist whose comment is previous to post as he always tries to be insulting (whilst never quite succeeding).

    He's an idiot because he posted this to the wrong discussion even, but there you go.

    National humiliation? Gosh, everyone though Haim and myself did really well given we were outnumbered.

    The Jewish Chronicle made my comments the lead item on the story so if that's national humiliation I'd like a bit more!!

    What is more to the point is that people can see very clearly the logic of the argument, which is:

    1. Israel invades and bombs Gaza killing 1,400 people including 400 children.

    2. The Board organises a 'peace rally' with the main slogan of 'End Hamas Terror'. This when white phosphorous shells were being launched at UN schools and at the population, when innocent people were being terrorised. NOT ONE WORD ABOUT THE BOMBING

    3. Not only do the Board organise the rally but they do it in the name of the Jewish Community,000_TURN_OUT_TO_SUPPORT_ISRAEL/258/103/3

    since they call themselves the representative body of the Jewish community.

    4. So if people see that Jews in Britain support the murder of 1,400 people, children included (& Israel's rabbis are now justifying the slaughter of children too – as long as they are non-Jewish of course!) then that will inevitably result in antagonism to Jews, which is then termed anti-Semitism. If most Jews find difficulty in separating their Jewishness from being a Zionist, then how much more difficult is it for non-Jews?

    5. And perhaps our anonymous idiot even will understand this? If not, it pjavascript:void(0)roves my point!

  9. Gert


    "The Tories (& New Labour) support Israel not because of filthy lucre […]"

    I wouldn't dismiss the importance of the lucre too much. Every little helps…

  10. Green Idea Factory

    Well, at least they didn't have Atzmon as a musical guest…

  11. Tony Greenstein

    I'm sure every little helps but it would be a case of looking down the wrong end of a telescope to see British foreign policy explained in terms of their petty bribes to politicians. Same in the USA.

    Both the USA and Britain support Israel because it is in their interests to do so and it was one of the defining features of New Labour that it was pro-Zionist, unlike the Labour Left.

    And they are right. If you look at how demoralised and divided the Arab world is then it has been a successful strategy to keep the oil flowing.

  12. Thinking.......
    Well when it comes to being anti semetic = anything said against Israel is considered anti semite. Even the Goldstone report is considered ant semite even though there are many Jewish communities who agree with it.
    What I am saying now would be considered by the Israeli Zionists as ant semitic.
    If you happen to be Jewish you are considered a self hating Jew which is just ridiculous.
    They want to kill our freedom of speech so we are all silenced.
    The link above is a prime example of how they do what they do. They even try to stop the freedom of the press.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This