After the poor TV performance of the Labour leader last Tuesday, when he was interviewed, or rather grilled, by Andrew Neil, the Corbyn devotees went commando on social media. One particular comment posted on Twitter struck me, partly because it was retweeted several times and partly because it was really, really stupid and anti-Semitic. "Labour's struggle with anti-Semitism
is not helped by the fact that the BBC has a lot of Jewish journalists, from Nick Robinson to Laura Kuenssberg on BBC news" In case you didn’t know, Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC journalist, is not Jewish. That comment made me think of the old story of the anti-Semite who listed all the crimes committed by Jews throughout history and is especially incensed for the sinking of the Titanic. A Jew who overheard this, pointed out that the Titanic sank because of an iceberg. And the anti-Semite replies that Rosenberg, Goldberg, Iceberg... they are all Jews, aren’t they! We Jews are so used to facing anti-Semitism, that we have even developed a specific sense of humour, to turn into fun what is actually racism. As funny as the joke may be, these kinds of comments must not be taken lightly. It is scary to realise that out there, there are respectable English citizens, (and we don't know how may), who genuinely believe that "the Jews" control the media, the BBC etc. and that the proof of such is the nonsense that Laura Kuenssberg is Jewish when she is not. Nonsense built upon nonsense. But we must face a sad truth: those people really believe to this nonsense. They actually believe that Jews always bend the rules to help each other, and therefore every time a Jew achieves anything, it is because he or she is playing dirty tricks at the expenses of the goyim. I have been personally exposed to these sorts of rumours several times, be it when a Jewish street vendor puts the first pair of Armani jeans on the market stall, or when (at the opposite side of the social ladder) a Jewish academic is given a tenure, it is never, never, because the Jew is talented or smart. There is always the lobby at work, even for a pair of blue jeans, or a grant for research on Early Modern Italian history. And if you ask the person who wrote that comment, or anyone among the many who have retweeted it, why Laura Kuenssberg has become the first woman political director of BBC news, the answer will be not that she is particularly talented. No, she is there, at the political desk of the BBC because she serves the interests of the Jewish lobby, that is of Israel, the Rothschilds, the Elders of Zion, all you members of Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue, and of course me, the Rabbi. Blaming those who achieve anything in life, while you do not, is a universal human inclination, and one is not an anti-Semite merely because of indulging in these sorts of thoughts. But one should ask why we Jews and no other communities or ethnicities, are constantly targeted with this suspicion, of always bending the rules in order to help each other, and to do so because some secret directive forces us to act unanimously. By the way, whoever thinks that the Jews act unanimously and without discussion have never been to a Jewish meeting! Plain nonsense, again. But the questions still remain. Why do we Jews have such a role in the fantasy of the anti-Semites? Why do they believe in a Jewish conspiracy and not, say, in a conspiracy of Italians. Which does not exist, but everyone knows what the word mafia means! Or a Sikh-led conspiracy? Sikhs also, like us Jews, are a religious minority and tend to marry inside the group, or at least this is the expectation. Why is there this obsession with Jewish conspiracies and why are the anti-Semites obsessed with the Jews? I think the answer has to do with morality. The belief in the existence of a conspiracy, places you on the side of the good guys. You might not be particularly brilliant, nor particularly smart, perhaps not so lucky, or not so intelligent... you know, the kind of insecurity everybody has. But if you tell yourself that you are not part of the conspiracy of the evil people, those who always bend every possible rule at their own benefit, what a boost for your self-esteem. You feel good, just and moral. The others are evil and bad. And is the explanation why they get by and you struggle. Because they are evil, and you are good. This self-representation, this story that people tell themselves, and then become anti-Semitic, may sound very simplistic, and it is simple. But it is also told and retold in different versions and can become incredibly sophisticated. Think of international politics. Why do the Palestinians fare so bad? Is it because their leaders are incompetent, religious fanatics, or wannabe oligarchs who divert in their own pockets the incredible amount of international aids their people are supposed to receive? Of course not. Palestinians are good and moral, and their enemy, Israel, is supported by the over powerful and ruthless Zionist Lobby. Morally evil bankers so well connected to every Government in the world and with free access in the board room of every corporation, plus (and here I am getting envious) supported by unanimous Jewish consensus. One would like to be less pessimistic and assume that such a nonsensical set of legends and prejudices can be defeated, through education and the introduction of more reasonable explanations of social dynamics. Unfortunately, it does not work this way, and the anti-Semitism is not going to disappear from the UK, from Europe or from the Western World. The Rabbis read the clash of the radically different personalities of Esau and Jacob as a prefiguration of this historical phenomenon. Esau hated his brother well before the moment when Jacob acquired the birth-right and was therefore one of the first anti-Semites in human history. He was also, frankly speaking, an idiot, who gave away something very precious, (although immaterial), for a bowl of soup, only because he did not understand what this birth-right entailed. Truly, Esau was stupid, and Jacob was smart and resilient. Perhaps this is true. Perhaps nowadays anti-Semites are all impulsive and stupid and short-sighted as Esau was, and ultimately, they cause their own defeat, like Esau did. The problem is that Esau did not have a Twitter account, had no access to social media like today’s anti-Semites have. And this makes things more complicated.