Jews Don’t Count is an Exercise in Special pleading for Jewish Exceptionalism, Jewish Privilege & Jewish Victimhood
It says everything about the superficial nature of the mass media that I even have to write this. Baddiel has received massive publicity for Jews Don’t Count, his pathetic plea for Jewish Exceptionalism and for Jews to be recognised as what they are not, victims of racial oppression.
When Sir Keir Stürmer felt the need to display his ‘anti-racist’ credentials to Labour Friends of Apartheid Israel, who better to praise than Blackface Baddiel’s Jews Don’t Count.
The man who declared Black Lives Matter was just a ‘moment’ and who attacked calls for defunding the Police was more than happy to support Baddiel’s campaign for Jews to be treated as the prime victims of racism.
Anti-racism is, by its very nature, a threat to the power structures of British capitalism. It challenges the super exploitation that Black people experience. Baddiel’s campaign against ‘anti-Semitism’ threatens no one who is privileged. It targets the oppressed. That is why the media has been so eager to promote it.
It is no accident that it was two Black women – Whoopi Goldberg and Dawn Butler who Baddiel criticised because his targets are the left and Black people, not the racist right or the rich and powerful.
The crux of Baddiel’s argument is that Jews should be treated as specially oppressed and persecuted despite being privileged and White. He provides no evidence of Jewish oppression besides the existence of ancient prejudices and stereotypes, most of which are dying out.
Baddiel himself is the best example of why Jews do count and why it is Black and Muslim communities who are marginalised. Baddiel has a long history of racism with Blackface attacks on Jason Lee coupled with his refusal to apologise until 25 years later, his derogatory comments about Gypsies and a disgusting Guardian article Black men can jump. Despite being a 24-carat racist Baddiel lectures us about racism! It’s like Harold Shipman hosting a programme on care for the elderly.
What Baddiel wilfully ignores, which is why his argument elides into Zionism’s anti-Semitism narrative, is how ‘anti-Semitism’ has been weaponised against supporters of the Palestinians.
When the EU decided that goods produced in West Bank settlements should be labelled as such, it was described by Israeli Minister, Yuval Steinitz, as ‘disguised anti-Semitism’. When the US abstained on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned West Bank settlements, Obama was called ‘a Jew hating anti-Semite.’ Yet Baddiel has nothing to say about this.
There are hundreds of similar examples. I’ve not met a single Palestine solidarity activist who hasn’t been called an anti-Semite. Yet Baddiel simply ignores the way allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are used and abused and how the IHRA ‘definition’, which conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, has been used to target academics for example.
Thoughtful article’s such as that of former Jewish Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, Defining Anti-Semitism, which point this out are not on Baddiel’s radar. His victim centred, Jewish exceptionalist rant, which the media are always happy to publicise, gives the lie to the very case he makes.
Baddiel makes no attempt to differentiate between racism and prejudice. Ambalavaner Sivanandan talked of the racism that discriminates and the racism that kills. But there is a third form of racism that neither discriminates nor kills – prejudice.
The first two operate as part of the power structure of the state which is why they are so dangerous. The third, prejudice, is merely the leftover of past oppression yet to Baddiel it is the only form of racism.
When the Tory Party and Starmer proclaim their opposition to ‘anti-Semitism’ and use it as a pretext to attack freedom of speech it demonstrates that Jews have been co-opted as partners in state repression and supporters of imperialism in the Middle East. Jews played the same role in Algeria as they do today in Britain. Convenient pawns at the disposal of the ruling elites.
Baddiel makes great play of the fact that he isn’t interested in Israel or Zionism. But this is disingenuous. The ‘anti-Semitism’ that Baddiel talks about is the same phenomenon as the ‘anti-Semitism’ that defenders of Israel wield like a cudgel against those who support the Palestinians and oppose Zionism .
Throughout Jews Don’t Count Baddiel repeats the myth that Jews have experienced a never ending anti-Semitism for 2000 years. This places anti-Semitism outside of history without any explanation of its causes. It leaves only one explanation. That Jews themselves are the cause. In the words Leon Pinsker
‘‘Judeophobia is then a mental disease, and as a mental disease it is hereditary, and having been inherited for 2,000 years, it is incurable.’
All my life I have been struggling against the hitherto dominant
“lachrymose conception of Jewish history” … because I have felt that an overemphasis on Jewish sufferings distorted the total picture of the Jewish historic evolution….
Abram Leon similarly wrote in The Jewish Question a Marxist Interpretation:
Fundamental to Zionist ideology was the desire to wind up the Jewish Diaspora, the ‘accursed Galut’. This was the ‘Negation of the Diaspora’. It was a ‘return to history’. In other words Jews outside Palestine had no history, because history is a history of peoples.
This was total nonsense. The Golden Era of Jews was in Muslim Spain not Palestine. The Babylonian Talmud was more authoritative than the Jerusalem Talmud. It is as if Maimonides, Mendelssohn, Freud, Einstein, Arendt, Spinoza and Heinrich Heine did not exist.
Zionism holds that only in a ‘Jewish’ state can Jews once more take part in history. Well we can see what a ‘Jewish’ state has produced. An assortment of bigots, racists and chauvinists such as the present Israeli government of Ben Gvir and Smotrich.
If Baddiel really wants to find examples of anti-Semitism then all he need do is read how the Zionists saw other Jews. Hashomer Hatzair, the ‘left-wing’ Zionist youth movement wrote that:
The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligations, knows no order nor discipline. (‘Our Shomer’ “Weltanschaung” Hashomer Hatzair, December 1936, p.26).
Arthur Ruppin, the Director of the Palestine Office in Haifa from 1908 onwards retorted, when a friend called him an anti-Semite that:
‘I have already established here [in his diary] that I despise the cancers of Judaism more than does the worst anti-Semite.’
Leading Zionists took pride in their anti-Semitism. Joachim Doron, Classic Zionism and modern anti-Semitism: parallels and influences, (1883-1914), p.186, Journal of Israeli History 8]. wrote that:
No one doubts that there were periods of Jewish persecution but there were also periods when Jews were the persecutors. Jews lived for centuries in peace with their neighbours but Zionism focuses only on the periods of conflict and turmoil.
Zionism offers no explanation for the persecution of the Jews. It is the mere presence of Jews in other peoples’ lands that causes anti-Semitism. In the words of Israeli novelist and poet AB Yehoshua, the Jewish diaspora was a ‘cancer connected to the main tissue of the Jewish people who use other people’s countries like hotels.’ [Jewish Chronicle, 22.12.89. ‘Diaspora a cancer’) There is no attempt to compare the Jews’ situation with other minorities like the Gypsies and Armenians.
Another Zionist myth referred to in the program was the expulsion of Jews from Palestine after the sacking of the Temple in 70 AD. In fact there is no evidence of an expulsion of Jews by the Romans. Very large numbers of Jews had already migrated as a trading people, populating the Hellenised cities of the Middle East. Alexandria had, according to Philo one million Jewish inhabitants by the first century AD.
Baddiel may deny that he is a Zionist but his conceptual analysis of anti-Semitism is framed by Zionist ideology.
Are Jews are a Minority Ignored by Progressives?
The whole basis of Baddiel’s tirade against the left or ‘progressives’ as he calls it (he has nothing to say about the racial anti-Semitism of the Right) is that Jews in Britain are not allowed to define anti-Semitism (although he never says which Jews). Baddiel ignores the fact that anti-Semitism has been redefined in order to negate Palestinian oppression via the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism.
In the words of Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s Zionist propagandist and the epitomy of a dishonest journalist:
On the left, black people are usually allowed to define what’s racism; women can define sexism; Muslims are trusted to define Islamophobia. But when Jews call out something as antisemitic, leftist non-Jews feel curiously entitled to tell Jews they’re wrong, that they are exaggerating or lying or using it as a decoy tactic – and to then treat them to a long lecture on what anti-Jewish racism really is.
The title of Freedland’s article is instructive because it encapsulates Baddiel’s argument: ‘My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority.’ Their argument is that being a minority in itself entitles you to a place in the oppression stakes:
I often wonder whether there is a loose connection in the neutral networks of Zionists like Freedland and Baddiel. Do they not understand the meaning of the language or the concepts they employ?
There is nothing magical about minorities. What the left campaigns for is oppressed minorities. Jews in Britain are not oppressed as Jews. The rich and powerful are also a minority but we don’t campaign in support of them. Billionaires are a very distinct minority but I don’t recall anyone calling for them to have protected status. Fascists are another minority, except in Israel, but I don’t recall going onto the streets to protest against their unfair treatment!
90 years ago Jews were oppressed and scapegoated. They were subject to physical attacks and violence by Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists as well as Police and state racism. Then it was the Left, not Baddiel’s right-wing friends who came to their defence whilst the Zionists and Board of Deputies told Jews to keep their heads down and stay indoors whilst the fascists marched through the East End. At the Battle of Cable Street non-Jewish and Jewish workers in their thousands ignored the Zionist cries of appeasement.
Today Jews are a privileged part of the White community. William Rubinstein, a past President of the Jewish Historical Society, wrote 40 years ago that ‘Post-1945, British Jewry has migrated into the upper-middle class’. (The Right, Left and the Jews, p.51).
Professor Geoffrey Alderman, the historian of Britain’s Jewish community wrote that London Jewry
is, arguably, more bourgeois now than at any time since the mid-nineteenth century, and it is certainly more Conservative… support for Israel has acquired a centrality rivalling, and perhaps even surpassing, that of the synagogue.’ (‘Two Cheers for the GLC’ (JC, 26.3.86.)
Rubinstein’s conclusions were that
The rise of Western Jewry to unparalleled affluence and high status has led to the near-disappearance of a Jewish proletariat of any size; indeed, the Jews may become the first ethnic group in history without a working class of any size.
In other words British Jews, who in the 1930s were overwhelmingly working class had changed. Today they are mainly middle class professionals. As the class nature of British Jews has changed so has their politics.
In 1945 Phil Piratin of the Communist Party was elected as MP for Mile End. It is estimated that half his vote came from Jews who dominated many branches of the Communist Party. In 1979 Alderman could not detect a single Jewish vote in the Hackney North constituency for the CP candidate but he estimated that about 400 Jews had voted for the neo-Nazi holocaust denying National Front. Yet dishonest journalists like Freedland and racist clowns like Baddiel insist that being a minority makes British Jews as oppressed as Black people.
Baddiel produced a list of the examples of the anti-Semitic persecution that Jews suffer. Sarah Silverman told how she had been told to leave a lesbian march because she was a Zionist. Silverman exclaimed that ‘now Zionism is racism’ in mock horror. Yes Sarah haven’t you noticed the cries of ‘Death to the Arabs’ in Israel or the hundreds of all-Jewish communities in Israel from which Arabs are barred?
Another example of ‘anti-Semitism’ was Jeremy Irons reading TS Elliot’s poetry in 2017. Baddiel complained that no one had called for statues of Elliot to be pulled down. It is true. Elliot was an anti-Semite but he had no involvement in the persecution of Jews whereas Cecil Rhodes and Edward Colston were personally responsible for the death and murder of thousands of Black people. That Baddiel is incapable of grasping this demonstrates that he is as much a racist today as he ever was.
We were entertained to a speech by Dawn Butler at Labour Party conference where she mentions various groups but not Jews. Baddiel complains that Jews were left out. But they weren’t. She referred to whether people were Black or White. Jews are White in British society. The Whitest British religious group.
In the Political realignment of British Jews Professor Sobolewska and others from Manchester University concluded that
‘the historical association of the British Jewish community with the Labour party is a thing of the past, and that a large majority now support the Conservatives….
The socio-economic profile of Anglo-Jewry has changed dramatically in a few generations, with upward mobility shifting their profile towards privileged groups who typically support for the Conservatives… A large proportion of British Jews now live in more affluent suburban constituencies where the Conservatives are often locally dominant. Taken together with a significantly older age skew this provides a set of sound demographic reasons for Jews to lean Conservative.; (p.5)
Why the hell should the Left bother with this overwhelmingly reactionary community? Of course we should oppose anti-Semitism whilst recognising that Jewish identity today is largely based on Israel and that many Jews take criticism of this identity as ‘anti-Semitism’.
Playwright and Director Patrick Marber stated (12.51) that ‘We Jews are an oppressed minority and we can cite 2000 years of evidence.’ I don’t know what the quality of the programmes are that Marber produces but the myth of 2000 years persecution is not evidence!
Baddiel pretends that Jews are as much the victims of racism as Black people. We see (16.53) neo-Nazis marching at Charlottesville chanting ‘The Jews will not replace us’. This was indeed shocking but large sections of the Jewish community subscribe to the White Replacement Theory that these marchers were giving voice to.
Enoch Powell fan and advocate of the White Replacement Theory pays tribute to the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks praised as one of the books of the year Douglas Murray’s Strange Death of Europe which argued that Muslims were replacing White people. The neo-Nazis variant of this is that Jews are responsible for Muslim immigration. Gary Mond, former Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies and Samuel Hayek, Chair of JNF-UK are also adherents to this theory.
And who organised the Charlottesville march? Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer who describes himself as a White Zionist! After Donald Trump had praised the ‘fine people’ who had organised the march Netanyahu refused to criticise it. As the Washington Post observed:
As neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us,” one may have expected Israel’s response to be swift and unequivocal.
But as President Trump was being criticized in the United States for blaming violence on “both sides,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has styled himself as a leader of Jews everywhere, drew flak for giving no response at all.
I know a little about British Jews since I was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish home, the son of a rabbi.
I forget how many times I was told that you cannot trust an Arab. My dad didn’t like schwarzes either. What is schwarze? Literally ‘Black’ in Yiddish. But that is not how it is used. Let Erica Davies explain:
When [my grandmother] was in a nursing home at the end of her life, she’d say, ‘everyone who works here is a shvartze, they’ll steal from you.’
Schvartze is proxy for nigger… anyone who says otherwise is delusional, lying or incredibly naïve,” an Orthodox friend told me. “If it means black then why does no one ever refer to schvartzer shoes when talking about black shoes, why does the black hat community, which sometimes refers to itself as the black community, never call itself the schvartzer community — because the use of the word within the frum community is only as a substitute for nigger.”
My father warned me about working with Arabs. ‘They’ll stab you in the back’ I was told. This kind of anti-Arab racism is very common in the Jewish community, brought up as it is on a series of fables and myths about how Israel sought peace and the Arabs refused their outstretched hand.
No matter that there is no truth in these fables. Erskine Childers wrote an article, The Other Exodus, in The Spectator of 12 May 1961, in which he laid these myths to rest.
In 1961 The Spectator, was owned by liberal Tory Sir Ian Gilmour. It had not yet been captured by the racist Tory Right under Boris Johnson who combined Zionism with employing neo-Nazi Taki Theodoracopulos. See Conservative anti-Semitism: the strange case of Boris Johnson, Richard Spencer and Gavin McInnes
In The Other Exodus Childers wrote how, on the basis of examining BBC and CIA transcripts of Arab radio stations he found that
There was not a single order, or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine, in 1948. There is repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put.’
Today despite claims by Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotoveli that the Nakba is an ‘Arab lie’ there is no doubting that three-quarters of a million Palestinian refugees were expelled. This is why Israel’s National Archives refuses to release files on the period.
Anti-Arab racism and Islamaphobia amongst British Jews is high. So high that although there have been regular surveys about Muslim attitudes to Jews there have been no equivalent surveys of Jewish attitudes to Muslims. Those who sample the views of Muslims are afraid of what they may find out if they did the same with the Jewish community. But judging by the racist output of the Jewish Chronicle and companion papers, one can be certain that British Jews are perhaps the most racist section of White British society.
Ironically it was Baddiel’s niece Dionna who destroyed Baddiel’s argument that Jews are as much a victim of racism as Black people. Baddiel immediately equated what she said as equivalent to Jews changing their names in non-Jewish society, even though that is entirely voluntary.
Donna has a Jewish father and a Black mother and spoke of not belonging in either community.
I can’t hide the fact that I’m Black. You know my dad can hide the fact that he’s Jewish. In America if my mum gets stopped by the cops in her car I’m a little more worried than if my dad gets stopped by the cops.
Forced on the defensive Baddiel accepted that ‘there is an element of privilege’ but he immediately switched it to Jews adopting non-Jewish names whereas in fact most Jews chose to Anglicise their names, which is not the same thing. My name was originally the German for Green Stone. I assume my grandparents wanted to Anglicise der Grünstein. They wanted to be a British sounding name which was, nonetheless instantly recognisable as a Jewish name.
What Baddiel can’t or won’t get into his head is that Jews are not victims of racism today. Jews don’t get stopped for driving whilst Jewish whereas this is the experience of Black people. Jews don’t experience death in police custody or police violence, Black people do. Jews aren’t singled out by immigration control or deported because they are Black. This simply did not fit into Baddiel’s narrative because his whole programme was based on Jews not being White.
At 33.38 there was a section ‘What About Israel’ (33.38). Baddiel asked ‘Isn’t Israel actually an oppressor’ to a backdrop of Israel’s Apartheid Wall, which divides Palestinian communities from their land and which resembles the ghetto walls that Jews experienced. Yet Baddiel hurriedly moved on without answering his own question. Why?
Baddiel couldn’t bring himself to answer the question either because he doesn’t believe it or because those applauding him might have had second thoughts about his whole argument. Instead he turned the conversation back to ‘antisemitism’:
Well I think there are many things to say about anti-Semitism, a racism that goes back centuries since well before the establishment of the State of Israel.
There could be no more clearer example of Baddiel’s refusal to confront the fact that Israeli Jews, acting with the support of a majority of the Jewish diaspora, are the oppressors. Instead his main concern was the fact that Jews keep getting asked ‘‘What about Israel’. A terrible form of oppression, to be sure! Stephen Fry complained:
‘I’m not a citizen of Israel. Do I have to tell you how upset I am that Palestinians are treated so abominably.’
At least Fry made his position clear whereas Baddiel consistently refuses to give an iota of support to the Palestinians.
And then we have slippery Sarah Silverman, the archetypal Jewish supremacist, feigning shock (34.31) ‘and now Zionism is racism’. Silverman is incapable of understanding why a State whose Prime Minister proclaims that it is a state only of its Jewish citizens not its Arab citizens is racist.
Then there is Howard Jacobson, who can’t even bring himself to utter the word ‘Palestinian’. He asserts that ‘however the Israeli government sorts itself out… the country was always going to be hated’ to the accompaniment of pogrom like flames devouring a Star of David. It is that old myth of 2,000 years of anti-Semitism. What Jacobson is really saying is that it’s not land theft or ethnic cleansing which motivates Palestinians but a 2000 years old hatred of Jews. Very convenient of course. Baddiel replies: (34:57)
No-one is suggesting that the State of Israel has not done many bad things but British Jews are not responsible for those actions.’
But that isn’t true. The Board of Deputies has repeatedly issued statements and organised demonstrations in support of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, the last one being attended by that well known anti-racist Tommy Robinson.
The Board of Deputies claims to be the ‘Voice of British Jewry’. What Baddiel really wants is for British Jews to be able to support Israeli war crimes whilst not being held to account. It is a good example of chutzpah. Baddiel claims it is racist to expect Jews to condemn Israel whereas in fact it is Baddiel and his establishment supporters who are the racists by demanding an unfettered right to support Israel without suffering any consequences.
Miriam Margoyles who has a long track record of supporting the Palestinians is interviewed (35.15). Miriam cuts through Baddiel’s hypocrisy and cant when she says ‘we have to say the word Israel. Israel is at the root of all this. Israel is the problem’ She accuses Baddiel of being ‘wilful’ in refusing to take responsibility for what Israel does. Baddiel refuses to recognise that by associating British Jews with Israel’s actions Zionism helps perpetuate anti-Semitism.
Baddiel immediately responds ‘I disagree with that’. He sees no problem in Israel’s actions as a Jewish state but seeks to avoid making any criticism by taking refuge in identity politics. It is telling that not once does Baddiel take issue with Israel’s claim to act and speak on behalf of all Jews. That is not his concern.
It says everything about Channel 4 that instead of examining the role of Jewish organisations in supporting Israeli war crimes and apartheid it employs a Zionist with a long record of racism like Baddiel to seek to muddy the waters with false charges of ‘anti-Semitism’.
The Board of Deputies is to blame for rising antisemitism in Britain, according to a leading member of a Jewish anti-Israel group.
Tony Greenstein, of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG), was speaking on the BBC1 debate show, The Big Questions, on Sunday morning.
During the wide-ranging discussion, Mr Greenstein said: “Of course there’s no justification for antisemitism, but there’s also no justification for the Board of Deputies calling rallies in support of the invasion of Lebanon and Gaza in the name of the British Jewish community. That causes antisemitism.
“It associates every Jewish person with the terror in Lebanon and Gaza.”
You cannot support Israel right or wrong in the name of British Jews and then complain if people associate Jews with Israel’s crimes!
In November 2019 Baddiel joined in the Zionist attacks on Corbyn. Instead of pronouncing Jeffrey Epstein’s name “Ep-steen” Corbyn said “Epshtine” which is the correct German pronounciation. Anxious to add his bit to the Zionists’ ‘anti-Semitism’ attacks on Corbyn before the election, Baddiel created a completely bogus controversy.
Baddiel assertion that he feels no connection with Israel is disingenuous. If that is true why does he refuse to dissociate himself from the actions of a state that claims to act on behalf of all Jews? Labelling such call’s ‘anti-Semitic’ betrays a guilty conscience.
Baddiel says ‘we have no collective responsibility for Israel as Jews.’ So has Baddiel criticised the IHRA which describes Israel as having been ‘conceived as a Jewish collectivity?’ Zionism is, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, the last refuge of the Jewish scoundrel.
Unfortunately Miriam’s response, that Israeli Jews are ‘my people’ misses the point. I feel nothing in common with Israeli Jews. The reason that Jews should speak out is because Israel claims that its crimes are perpetrated on behalf of all Jews.
Channel 4’s decision to screen this superficial tirade of deceptions and half-truths instead of making a serious documentary about racism such as the killing of Chris Kaba, a Black man murdered by the Metropolitan Police, is telling. They would prefer to pander to White Jewish privilege rather than tackle the racism of the British state.
The Labour Party’s decision to reinstate Trevor Philips, a notorious Islamaphobe who believes Muslims are a ‘nation within a nation’ demonstrates that it’s not Jews but Muslims who don’t count.
Baddiel himself is a performing monkey working to a Zionist script. Starmer praises him because he fits in with the ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative. If you question British Jews about support for Israel then that is anti-Semitic but if you criticise Israel that too is anti-Semitic. Such is the hypocrisy of Israel and its perfumed supporters.
Below is an excellent article by Gavin Lewis about Baddiel which is well worth reading. It first appeared on Labour Heartlands.
Black history month, a little modern history: Further Reflections on‘Jewface and Other David Baddiel Racisms’.
By Gavin Lewis
Jewface and Other David Baddiel Racisms (Labour Heartlands, republished JVL), responds to Jewish comic David Baddiel’s self-promoting claims that he and his white ethnic group are ‘uniquely oppressed’, that feature in his contentious monograph Jews Don’t Count, now controversially being made into a tv polemic by Channel 4. It does so by examining the history of Baddiel’s racist provocations against Black people, and the comparative historical Black experience, of white settler oppression.
As sourced in the original article, Baddiel’s career includes, his Guardian article Black men can jump, in which he describes Black men on the basis of natural-sense-of-rhythm and physical primitiveness stereotypes; picking out a Black soccer fan for public ridicule; mocking the ethnic appearance of the footballer Jason Lee using slurs like ‘Pineapplehead ‘and inciting thousands of others to do so – incitements that also resulted in countless copycat abuses of other Black youngsters. Baddiel has never compensated victims or apologised to Jason Lee.
Re-tweeting the article Jonathan Cook, noted that ‘Baddiel has gone from “Blackface to Jewface”, given that Baddiel is not only recorded practising Blackface in mocking Jason Lee, but has subsequently attempted to culturally appropriate the term, as ‘Jewface’. By comparison, comedian Sarah Silverman has – in light of Jewish participation in Blackface – advised her fans/followers, not to repeat this appropriation.
In fact, Jewish actors were also prominent among those chosen to pass as Native Americans in Hollywood productions. Among these Tony Curtis donned greasepaint to play Native American Marine, Iwo Jima flag raiser Ira Hayes in The Outsider (1961), Ann Bancroft as an Apache widow in Walk the Proud Land (1956), Janet Margolin as a Kiowa girl in Nevada Smith (1966).
In response to the ‘uniquely oppressed’ claim the article also cites the numerous white settler societies in which western Jews have prospered, that have simultaneously been hazardous and even most often off-limits to global Black citizens. It also cites the extent pro-Israel anti-Semitism claims have been used to obscure the colonial settler country’s 2014 killings of 2251+ people in Gaza including 551 children, all – as confirmed by the UN – via a bombardment consisting of many thousands of shells. Despite his racist past, Baddiel has been able to reinvigorate his career ridding on the back of this public relations campaign, even as Israel’s crimes against the middle-eastern indigenous innocent, worsen from year to year.
In light of the public response to the article, it is worth going on to explore just how poorly Baddiel and the Israel lobby’s self-serving, ethnic elitist, rhetorical victim strategies compare with a much finer tradition of selfless Jewish artists/activists, embracing equality movements and showing solidarity with the oppressed. Historical reflections also demonstrate the Baddiel/Israel-lobby claims don’t make even much sense in comparison to basic lived sociological reality.
International Cross-Community Jewish Solidarity
A much more substantial work than this could not adequately represent the extent of Jewish prominence in equality and anti-oppression movements. But it is worth mentioning Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, whose activism included support for the Anti-Apartheid Movement, for CND, participation in Stop the War events opposing Blair and Bush’s Wars, Patron of the Cuban Solidarity Movement, co-founder of Independent Jewish Voices (independent of Israel’s lobby)[iv]and as a signatory forJews for Justice for Palestinians.
Unlike the self-serving actions of Baddiel and the pro-Israel media industry, very little of this was advantageous to Pinter either collectively to his ethnic group, or as individual material gain or career advancement. Pinter’s campaign against the torture of writers in Turkey in which he pointedly confronted the American ambassador with “the reality … of electric current on your genitals” actually got him thrown out of the US embassy’s dinner, along with Playwright Arthur Miller.
Actor Miriam Margolyes is also a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. She began her career sharing the broader societal collectivist socialist sensibilities of Vanessa Redgrave and Frances de la Tour. She is a Jewish Labour member who defended the Party and Jeremy Corbyn against vexatious accusations of anti-Semitism that had been made, for rightwing pro-Israeli strategic political reasons. She told Middle East Eye “you have to be able to criticise Israel”. Once again, particularly in our rightwing McCarthyite media reality, these are not positions that are necessarily personally, career benefiting, or financially enhancing.
Jewish actor, the late Miriam Karlin was a much loved figure in British popular culture. As well as her stage work, she was a hit playing a shop steward in the tv sitcom The Rag Trade (1961-63 & 1977-78) and enjoyed character roles in prestige film productions including The Entertainer (1960) and Clockwork Orange (1971). Packing a lot into her life, Karlin was also a Trade Unionist off-camera, active in Equity and a member of the Labour Party. She was a committed anti-Fascist, a member of the Ant Nazi League [viii]and prominent in protests against Holocaust denier David Irving. She also targeted Austrian politician Jörg Haider over his Nazi sympathies. Karlin was Patron of the human rights group Burma Campaign UK.
Craig Murray recalls her politics and personal loyalty.
“David Aaronovitch had published an article calling me anti-semitic. Miriam was even more furious on my behalf than I was myself, and wrote a letter to the paper (it wasn’t published). But I won’t forget what she said; she said her own mother was an Aaronovich, and that many of their family had been killed in the holocaust, and that those who had suffered would be horrified to see their legacy perverted to a neo-conservative agenda.”
Like Pinter, Karlin protested the Iraq War, like both he and Margolyes she supported Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Her policy demands on behalf of Palestinians, still features on the ‘who-we-are’ section, of the organisation’s website.
It’s worth noting that a lot of this altruistic selfless solidarity by prominent British Jews occurred over the adult period of David Baddiel’s life. Equivalent public activism from Baddiel has been nowhere to be seen. The current pro-Israel ‘hierarchy of victimhood’ has allowed Baddiel the option of playing the social ‘commentator?’ despite his lack of scholarship, activist pedigree, and his reputation having been justifiably torpedoed by his previous racist incitements.
Jewish Black Civil-Rights – Anti-Racism
The inappropriateness of these ‘hierarchy of victimhood’ and ‘uniqueness’ claims are best exposed by the actions of those Jews who have actively combated racism against Black people or supported them in their struggle. Veteran Jewish Cockney actor Harry Landis joined Labour – like Denis Healy and Eric Heffer – after being with the Communist Party. He recalls warmly the times he spent with Paul Robeson, though reflects sadly on his “haunted look”. Doubtless, working-class Landis would not claim to have had things worse than the persecuted great African-American artist-activist.
Martin Luther King in his journals now held by Stanford University recalls fighting an African-American rent strike against exploitative Jewish Landlords in Chicago. However, he juxtaposes this reality with the experience of Jews as “partners in the civil rights struggle”. One such example was Rabbi Israel Seymour Dresner, dubbed America’s ‘most arrested Rabbi’ due to his activism on Freedom Rides (in other activisms he was also a critic of Israeli annexation, and Israel’s PM Netanyahu).
Voter registration activists African-American James Chaney plus Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – the latter two both from Jewish families – were murdered in events later fictionalised in the movie Mississippi Burning (1988).
Despite in that era some elite facilities – golf clubs and the New York Sporting Club (NYAC) – still excluding Jews along with, African-American members, clearly Schwerner and Goodman were not subject to routine segregation. They enjoyed comparatively enhanced economic opportunity and had the vote, yet put themselves at risk anyway. Nor could Jewish activists be accused of merely opposing racism, because of some conscious ‘thin-end-of–the-wedge’ self-interest.
Most of the studies of Nazis using Germany’s 1904 human-experimentation and genocide of the African Herero tribal people of Namibia as a policy model and/or copying segregationist countries, occurred after these activists’ era. And obviously, in opposing segregationist racism, these activists were not like Baddiel, manipulatively placing themselves at the apex of a ‘hierarchy of racism’.
More than stealing Blackface!
David Baddiel’s repeated historical practices demonstrate he is the antithesis of this Jewish anti-racist tradition; though any direct advocacy for Israel by him is yet to be established. However academic David Miller draws attention to the fact that Baddiel is a former pupil of the privileged Haberdashers fee paying school, whose other alumni have also been guilty of Blackface and ethnic bullying. This Miller attributes to an overt Zionist ideology at the institution.
Whatever the relevancy of the school, the more telling evidence of a shared pro-Israel agenda is the fact that against every tradition of Jewish cross-community anti-racist solidarity, represented in this article, Baddiel’s Blackface to Jewface ethnic exclusive, racist cultural theft, is a public relations tactic, repeated by the lobby.
Jeremy Newmark the disgraced former leader of the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) is alleged to have taken Malcolm X’s expressions house slave and house n*gg*r and rebranded them as ‘court Jew’ in reference to Jewish pro-Palestinian activist Jackie Walker. He also took the ancient uppity n*gg*r slur and changed it into pushy Jew. The sentiment expressed as variants on “only Black people know what racism feels like”– was changed, for the purposes of advocating for Israel in a Guardian column by Howard Jacobson, into “Jews know what anti-Semitism is and what it isn’t.” Items selected for the follow-up letters page material were framed by this misappropriation.
Zionist Guardian writer and former opinion editor Jonathan Freedland took an expression so old it changed from
“I’m not racist some of my best friends are colored,”
“I’m not racist some of my best friends are Negro,”
which evolved over time to
“I’m not racist some of my best friends are Black,”
and now finally in the United States
“I’m not racist some of my best friends are African American”, and spun it as a uniquely a Jewish experience and phrase.
This strategy is not restricted to stealing the Black experience. Put ‘ethnic child-stealing’ into any search engine and a list of sites will be provided, documenting a racist smear historically directed at Gypsy Roma people. The Daily Beast and New Europe returned to this topic a few years ago, followed more recently by Travellers Times. At the height of the 1960s tv western craze, the Barbara Stanwyck series The Big Valley critiqued the racist slur against Gypsy Roma in a double-episode entitled ‘Hide the Children’.
Yet in an era of increased secularisation, if challenged over Israel’s history of killing and imprisoning Palestinian children, Israel supporters as policy, accuse critics of repeating a supposedly unique ethnic blood libel of Jewish threat to children, dating back to the middle-ages.
The same strategy is initiated, if mention is made of the eugenics policy known as the Yemenite Children Affair. Israel’s settlers subjected middle-eastern Yemeni Jewish children to human experimentation. Yemeni-Jewish newborn babies were also stolen to be given to childless settler couples, with the birth mothers told the infants were stillborn. In pro-Israel PR, the Gypsy Roma experience gets sidelined-appropriated in favour of a narrative suggesting western critics who mostly can’t even name the 12 Apostles, have 12th C anti-Jewish blood libels, committed to memory.
Such blatant cultural thefts do have their unintentional amusing sides. When Baddiel was condemned for his Blackface racist incitements he responded by culturally appropriating the term into Jewface. When then condemned for his cultural appropriation, he again simply copied this term and used it to attack a Twitter critic who’d used Yiddish derived idiom – the critic turned out to be Jewish.
Given the original term – schtum – was assimilated from the German stumm meaning silent, Baddiel in stealing other people’s anti-racism demonstrates he can’t differentiate between cultural appropriation and cultural hybridity. Imagine Baddiel having to debate with intellectuals like Paul Gilroy or the late Stuart Hall – this is why Baddiels work is not sent out to academics for review.
Racism and Jewish/Black interracial marriage
The one group of people who know Baddiel’s awful ethnic elitist notion of victimhood to be rubbish are Jewish women that historically have married Black men. When African-American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr converted to Judaism he understandably wasn’t anticipating it making his status any worse – segregation already meant Davis often could not stay at the hotels where he entertained. However, plans for his interracial marriage to blonde May Britt who’d also converted, generated “threats against the synagogue” that had offered to perform the wedding.
Jewish girl Mary Jacobs married her Caribbean husband Jake, in 1948. Jake had come over from Trinidad, for Air Force training to serve during WWII. After announcing her marital intentions her father threw her out of the parental home. She recalled “People would point at us in the street”. And Mary also couldn’t get a roof over her head. By having a Black husband, Mary found that the post-war British landlord prohibition ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs’ now applied to her.
“In effect, mere proximity to Black ethnicity had acted as a sort of taint against the synagogue marrying Sammy Davis and May Britt. For Mary Jacobs having a Black husband actually dropped her social status.
Over the years white women – many of whom are Jewish – who chose to be wives and mothers in Black mixed-race families have had to heroically contend with an entire vocabulary of racist sexualised abuse that would be vilely inappropriate, even if applied to modern sex-workers. Another form of heroism often forced upon these mothers occurs in instances where they find themselves in public transport, social spaces etc, where racists are spouting their nonsense. In these situations, mothers would often try to protect their children from the fact hatred exists in the world against them, by using their very bodies as a physical shield. Would white Jewish mothers subscribe to a ‘hierarchy of victimhood’ that excluded their own mixed-race children?
As the landlord housing prohibition demonstrates in post war Britain arguably the most oppressed white ethnic group was actually Irish Catholics. Just as there is no UK phenomenon of Jewish BLM-type deaths at the hands of the police, also nothing like the practice of Irish suspects dying from state collusion and loyalist death squads, has been replicated in the Jewish community. Nor have the beatings and fit-ups exampled in the Birmingham Six, and Guildford Four injustices been repeated among UK Jews. One reason the Baddiel/Israel-lobby narrative is media-pushed, in comparison to Black and Irish experiences, is because it would require confronting, state, police, foreign-policy, institutional societal and capitalist participation in oppression. Instead this narrative supports the continued manifestation of western power, in the expansionist, colonial example, of Israel.
Conclusion Baddiel’s Straw-man racism
Words like bias, prejudice, and bigotry have long existed. Superseding these, the term Racism was subsequently invented to describe the societal structural condition of people-of-colour who in various combinations, were once owned and colonized; whose original lands, culture, languages, and more were taken by force; and who, in modern society, have little or no collective institutional or financial power to combat their ghettoization in, predominantly, the lower reaches of Western class systems. The term’s specificity makes it difficult for Baddiel to repeat his Blackface-to-Jewface-type cultural theft of this experience, so he has created a straw man argument about this just being about ‘Jews having money’.
The easiest way to rebut this is straight comparison. If Baddiel as a boy had exchanged racist and anti-Semitic slurs in an argument with a Black child in a local play area, any adult intervening would most likely have blamed the Black child. On their way to their respective homes, the Black child has the greater risk of stop-&-search. When Baddiel goes on to his fee paying school, the Black child goes to a state school. Here unless blind marking is practised, the child will likely never be given the benefit of the doubt in coursework. Getting strip-searched at some point in the Black child’s school career is not out of the question, nor is the possibility of having to fight school racists.
Baddiel will go to Cambridge. The Black youth will likely be failed by the education system or if lucky enough to make it to university, it will be a former Polytechnic. As Baddiel gets into his career, the Black individual will experience lesser employment opportunities, less likelihood of getting pay increases or promotions. The Black individual is more likely to be failed by the health services and treated as a scrounger by the welfare authorities and media. Periodic police stop-&-searches and potentially even death at their hands, will be the Black adult experience.
Historically there were also certain forms of segregation that uniquely applied to Black Britons. From boxing’s earliest 20th C legalisation, working-class Jewish fighters like Jack ‘kid’ Berg enjoyed success. By comparison for many decades Rule #24 would demand that a boxer must have two white parents. Writing in the Empire News, Hugh Cecil Lowther (Lord Lonsdale) of the National Sporting Club, explained the legality of boxing was made conditional on having no ‘inter-coloured contests’, following talks with Winston Churchill at the Home Office. Dick Turpin – older brother of future world Champion Randolph Turpin – finally became the first Black British champion in 1946 after the prohibition on Black title participation was lifted.
Martin Luther King mentioned exploitative Jewish Chicago landlords in his journals. Jackie Walker mentioned Jewish participation in the slave trade – easily evidenced by the Jewish Museum in the former slave economy of Jamaica, and by the mirror-cracked copy of the religious mythology of the Jewish colonial class that is Rastafarianism (one section of Rastafarianism is the 12 Tribes of Israel). The opportunist neoliberal right will suggest repeating this is some sort of slur. All it means is that at certain historical times, when presented with racial, class and economic privilege some Jews will opt to commit the same offences as other white ethnic groups.
Given this reality, only makes the fact that Jews have continuously punched so far above their weight as human rights activists, all the more praiseworthy.
Sadly instead of these numerous Jewish anti-racists Ch4 and our corrupted media market Baddiel.
For complaints, Ch4 Commissioning Editor is Shaminder Nahal
& Complaints/Contact Ch4 https://www.channel4.com/4viewers/contact-us
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gavin Lewis is a freelance Black British mixed-race writer and academic. He has published in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States on film, media, politics, cultural theory, race, and representation. He has taught critical theory and film and cultural studies at a number of British universities. He is a member of the British trade union Bectu.