Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

When the personal trumps the political

Posted on: July 14, 2021

If you read my previous post called ‘Violate/Does not violate’, you may see a hostile comment which I left in situ: ‘Gas all fucking Yids.’ They appended the messages ‘Gas’, ‘Gas Joos’ and ‘Gas Lazarus’ to several of my blog posts – including an entirely non-political piece with Kierkegaard in the title – and developed their position with a reference to ‘tax dodging apartheid lovers’. I am well accustomed to the word ‘apartheid’ applied to Israel by the anti-Zionist left. It is not easy to imagine that the person who says ‘Gas all fucking Yids’ is coming from a left wing point of view.

Anyone kind enough to read this may want to say that a racist troll does not have anything as elevated as a political point of view but is just consumed by hate and, in this case, parroting the antisemitic slogans of left, right and wherever they find them.

It is true that racism is not necessarily political, but neither is resistance against racism.

As I write this, the House of Commons is engaged in PMQs, with some lively questions from Keir Starmer, accusing the Conservatives of stirring up racism. Boris Johnson holds up a leaflet from a Labour by-election campaign, hostile to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and thought to be a bespoke argument created to appeal to anti Hindu voters in Batley and Spen.

Thus our Members of Parliament raise their voices to accuse each other of racism: You’re IT, No, you’re IT.

In my opinion, most people hearing of the abuse which came the way of three black members of the England football team would have felt first and foremost sympathy with those players. What can be done? Legislation against online harms? Gestures of solidarity?

Priti Patel called taking the knee ‘gesture politics’ but any sympathetic gesture is welcome when one is on the sharp end of racism, as Daniel Finkelstein pointed out in The Times. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/in-priti-patel-v-tyrone-mings-theres-only-one-winner-9tdbw8lf3

Whatever the origin of taking the knee or the political stance and associations of those who promote it, it is a recognized sign against anti black racism in sport. Yes there are those who oppose racism against people of colour but are comfortable with anti Jewish racism. I am only too well aware of this apparent paradox. On social media I have been called a racist more times than I can remember. How does this happen? I post against antisemitism so it is assumed that I am a Zionist (which is correct) and that Zionists are racists (which is incorrect).This is not of course confined to social media. Black Lives Matter, in common with the far left and the far right, has sometimes shown hospitality to antisemitism in certain milieux.

How then will the minorities who suffer racial abuse manage to come together?

Perhaps only when the personal supercedes the political; when the neighbour is literally the person next door, not the lionized community or nation.

In extremis, we appreciate support and comfort wherever it comes from. When my non-Jewish followers on Twitter declare solidarity with Jews, it feels as if someone put a precious pearl in my hand.

Do some of my followers hold views uncongenial to me, such as support for the previous American Preisdent or approval of the expansion of Israeli settlements or, coming from the left, over-enthusiastic anathematization of the Israeli right wing? Probably. There are limits but if I try to give an account of my red lines, someone will point out the inconsistencies. That would be like the parliamentary debate where each party points out the inconsistencies of the other in opposing racism when what we want is someone who will stand up to the racist bully on the bus or open their door to us when the stormtroopers are coming down the street.

Even the Righteous of the Nations were not necessarily consistent in their righteousness. Nobody is.

4 Responses to "When the personal trumps the political"

Appalling comments to receive Gillian. Nobody can be under any illusions as to whether the intention was to insult or not.

As a left-leaning thinker I’ve never understood the way in which antisemitism is viewed as separate from all other racism. Corbyn plays on that separation, claiming “not have a racist bone in my body”, as if antisemitism wasn’t racism. As if calling for the destruction of Israel wasn’t racism.

Our parliament is design for “yar boo” politics. Most parliaments are laid out in a horseshoe pattern facing the chair. Facing each other like they do in Westminster just encouraged a shouting match. As you put it “You’re IT. No you’re IT.”

I responded but am not sure whether it got there. Let me know if it arrives.

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It did, thank you Keith.

Thanks for letting me know G!

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