New UK crackdown on 'antisemitism'
Soon after taking over the rotating European Union presidency in January 2007, the German government announced its intention to extend laws criminalising Holocaust revisionism across the entire EU.
Currently five of the twenty-seven EU countries make questioning the official version of the Holocaust a criminal offence - Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain.
Prof Timothy Garton Ash warned
against proposals to criminalise
The United Kingdom has no such law, and influential voices were raised against the proposal when it was aired by the federal republic's justice minister Brigitte Zypries. Timothy Garton Ash, for example, the left-liberal Professor of European Studies at Oxford, wrote that the Zypries plan might actually stoke antisemitism by prompting talk of powerful Jewish lobbies and double standards:
Citizens of the Baltic states, who suffered so terribly under Stalin, will ask why only denial of the Holocaust should be criminalised and not denial of the gulag. Armenians will add: and why not the genocide that our ancestors experienced at the hands of the Turks? And Muslims: why not cartoons of Muhammad?
Yet on March 29th the British government announced plans which mark a significant move in the direction of exactly this type of Jewish exceptionalism.
The announcement by "race and faith minister" Phil Woolas
was in response to an earlier report by a committee of MPs. Both the announcement and the report focused exclusively on a supposed rise in antisemitism in the UK.
The UK has adopted several laws against "racism" including Race Relations Acts in 1965, 1968, 1976 and 2000, and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act in 2006.
Yet in the case of antisemitism Woolas made it clear that the government aimed to restrict even statements that did not contravene any of these laws:
The Government shares the Jewish community’s concerns over recent manifestations of antisemitism. Apart from what may be criminal acts, I am concerned about the tone of the general discourse.
'race and faith' minister
Anyone in doubt as to Mr Woolas's views on the "general discourse" relating to Israel and the Middle East need only cast their minds back to the Labour Party Conference in September 2002. Woolas was then a government whip, and he applied himself eagerly to the task of whipping doubtful Labour MPs into line to support the Blair-Bush drive for war in Iraq, warning that:
if delegates at the Blackpool Conference showed they were faint-hearted over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, they would be punished at the next General Election.
The official government document launched by Woolas on March 29th is consistent with the standard policy of both Labour and Tory governments. Jews are to be treated as a special case, above the standard pieties about racial and religious discrimination, while trenchant critics of Israeli policy are to be smeared as antisemites.
The Government shares the Jewish community's concerns over recent manifestations of antisemitism. We are specifically concerned about significant indications that, unlike other forms of racism, antisemitism is being accepted within parts of society instead of being condemned. We are also aware that current rhetoric about Israel and Zionism (from the far-right, the far-left and Islamist extremists alike) employs antisemitic motifs that are consistent with ancient forms of hatred towards Jews.
One wonders whether the authors of this paragraph have looked at a single British tabloid in recent years. From Rupert Murdoch's Sun to the Daily Express, owned by Jewish pornographer Richard Desmond, the popular press in Britain has produced an endless stream of hostility towards Islam, while there has been barely a hint of "antisemitism" allowed in such quarters since the 1930s.
By far the major reason for this bias, which extends well beyond those parts of the media actually owned or directly controlled by Jews, is of course the alleged Holocaust, and it is no surprise to see the Holocaust theme picked up in this latest government report.
We recognise that in tackling antisemitism we need to learn from the past. To this end the Government is committed to honouring the victims of the Holocaust and reflecting on the lessons for today's generation. We have pledged £1.5 million to the Holocaust Educational Trust (established in 1988) to educate young people from every ethnic background about the Holocaust. The funding will enable the Trust to facilitate visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp for more than 6,000 students, which translates into two students from every secondary school and further education college in the UK. The visits are part of the Trust's "Lessons from Auschwitz" course for teachers and sixth form students.
The main "lesson from Auschwitz" is of course that any anti-Jewish reaction, or even any criticism of Israeli policy, is a step along the road to genocide.
In addition to the £1.5 million mentioned above, the government pledges £500,000 annually towards the cost of Holocaust Memorial Day. Not to be outdone, the new devolved Executive in Scotland has agreed to spend £750,000 on a Holocaust Memorial Museum north of the border.
Coincidentally, the Council of the Holocaust Educational Trust includes Lord Levy, Prime Minister Blair's chief fundraiser, tennis partner, and personal envoy to the Middle East.
Lord Levy was arrested in July 2006 by Scotland Yard detectives investigating the alleged corrupt sale of honours to Labour Party donors. He was arrested again in January 2007 by detectives from the same team looking into allegations that he had attempted to pervert the course of justice. In July 2007 - reversing an apparent earlier decision to prosecute - the Crown Prosecution Service announced that no case would be brought against Levy or his associates.
Prime Minister Blair with Labour fundraiser
and Holocaust educator Levy
Addressing itself to the specific "security needs of British Jews", the government report
warmly commends the work that the Community Security Trust has undertaken in improving the security of Jewish buildings and places of worship ...The Home Office has therefore already offered to assist the Trust.
Perhaps this reference to the Communitty Security Trust could have been timed better - or perhaps our rulers are just utterly shameless. For it was only a few weeks ago that a CST dinner embarrassed both the government and the Metropolitan Police when it was revealed that Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and Home Secretary John Reid had shared the top table at the dinner with none other than Lord Levy - despite Levy being on police bail in relation to allegations of perverting the course of justice.
Sir Ian Blair previously shared a £140 dinner with Lord Levy at a London restaurant - at the taxpayers' expense.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray commented:
It cannot possibly be right for the head of the Metropolitan Police to be hobnobbing socially with a prominent alleged criminal.
Lord Levy, the British government's
envoy to the Middle East, currently
under police investigation
Support for Lord Levy came from predictable quarters - and the nature of that support underlines the dangers inherent in the exceptional victim status given to Jews over the last sixty years - a status which is further entrenched by this latest government report.
For as criminal enquiries began to focus more closely on Levy and a small group of senior government advisers, Lord Levy's rabbi Yitzchak Schochet did not hesitate to play the "antisemitism" card, denouncing:
blatant nastiness in some of the tabloids and the recent seeming trial by media. ...The Jewish community is becoming increasingly more sensitive that there is one Jew, who has been called the most dynamic Jew in Anglo-Jewry, seemingly being hung out to dry here.