Hugo Rifkind

Gerald Scarfe isn’t anti-Semitic – but David Ward is

2 February 2013

I’m turning into a Holobore. I can feel it happening, and it’s sapping at my soul.

What a week. It started with David Ward, the Lib Dem MP and anti-Semite. No, shut up. Yes he is. If you say ‘the Jews’ should have ‘learned the lessons of the Holocaust’ and that they clearly haven’t because of their ‘inflicting atrocities on Palestinians’ then you’re ticking every box. And he did say these things. So he is.

It’s ‘the Jews’ that rankles first, obviously. I’m a Jew. Am I inflicting atrocities on Palestinians? Me and Lenny Kravitz and Woody Allen? Oh, you cretin. But as bad, if not worse, is the shameless appropriating of the deaths and the displacement and the piles of shoes and hair for his own shabby political ends.

‘Actually, maybe Israel has learned the lessons of the Holocaust,’ you half want to say to the man, ‘which is why they don’t seek to wipe the Palestinians from the Earth, turning their teeth into jewellery and their skin into wastepaper bins, you hateful bloody dunce, you.’ But you can’t really, because that’s an insane thing to say, and you’d be down in the gutter with him and nobody wins. Nobody wins. I mean, Christ, what did he think he was doing? Does he think the Israelis have never thought about the Holocaust before? Does he think they’re going to read his horrid, eager little website and go, ‘Oh hell! I’ve just realised! That happened to us!’

Although the most depressing thing, probably, is the question of whether he actually knew exactly what he was doing, this man with a marginal seat and a large number of Muslim voters. Whether he was, you know, Speaking Out On Israel and Ending The Silence. And if he was, then the more you shout at him and the more his party tries to censure him (not that the Lib Dems seem particularly bothered), the more successfully he’s done it.

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Where it leads, all this, is an environment where poor Gerald Scarfe gets pilloried for anti-Semitism over a cartoon which wasn’t, even. I mean, sure, any cartoon about Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day is a slip, but when you have an election in the same week… well, who knows? But I’ve seen true anti-Semitism in cartoons, more often than I care to think about, and this wasn’t it. No hooked nose, no Nazi imagery, no Jewish imagery, even. No sense of a shady power broker behind the scenes. Just a man building a wall, with blood in place of mortar.

Sure, you might ask whether Benjamin Netanyahu deserves such depiction, or whether a belief that he does is dodgy in itself. But that caveat aside, a small-nosed Jew doing manual labour is fine in my book.

You just get so used to shouting, that’s the thing. You become the opposite of the boy who cried wolf. More a boy surrounded by wolves, who shouts whenever he sees one coming, and gets so horrified and frightened by the way that nobody seems to care that he starts shouting just the same at anything that vaguely looks like one. You feel yourself grow shrill, and your credibility on such things ebb away. ‘Well he would say that,’ you sense people say, and you want to clarify what you are saying and what you aren’t, and it only makes it worse, because they only end up wishing that just for once you could bloody talk about something else. Instead of Holoboring. Right now, I’m Holoboring. What a week.

Segue to the banal. I’ve always been in awe of that whole genre of sexy -economists. You know the ones. They’re the guys who link a fall in crime to a change in abortion law 20 years earlier, or map out the reasons why, if you call your child Nigel, he’s 17 per cent more likely to be a geography teacher. I admire their brains. They’re like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. They see the code.

This week, I’d like to see one of them unleashed on this moobs business. You know moobs? Male boobs. You can’t just call them ‘boobs’, even though this is what they are, because the Bible says that only women have boobs and if men could have them too then that would devalue the whole concept of boobs in our society and they’d effectively cease to exist. Yes, I think you see what I’m doing there. But anyway, moobs. According to numerous reports, this last year has seen a marked decline in moob operations.

Moob operations are, of course, quite different from boob operations, because whereas women want bigger boobs, men want smaller moobs. Or they did. Between last year and the one before, though, it appears moob ops are down by a fifth. Why?

First theory: mooby men have less money. The double-dip recession is being felt in their double dips. Second theory: in the past year, society has grown a fifth less judgmental and body-conscious. Third theory: there are a limited number of mooby men who care about the situation enough to seek surgery. We’re running out of motivated moobs.

Theory one doesn’t really work for me. We had a recession last year, and we’ve got one this year. Move on. Theory two excites me, but I don’t think it’s true. So, I’m going to go with theory three. Moob surgery looked like a trend, but it was in fact a group. Maybe all weird trends are. Now where’s my book deal?

Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.

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Show comments
  • David Lindsay

    David Ward’s main mistake has been the common one of assuming that the present State of Israel has much connection at all to the Holocaust. Not only is the population within the pre-1967 borders 20 per cent Arab and growing, but the majority of the rest is of Middle Eastern rather than European origin: dark-skinned, linguistically and culturally Arabic, and with little or (overwhelmingly) no connection to the victims of Hitler.

  • SPW

    I’m surprised, Hugo, that you come out fighting under a religious flag. By your recent articles on gay marriage, I thought you had left religion behind e.g. “The whole point of gay marriage, indeed, is to make our society less of one in which people feel these fights (religious) need to be fought.” In fact, some of your writing has been anti-religious, prejudiced against Christiainity. I doubt you care about the reactions of those you offend. Should I care about the reaction your offence illicits?

    Now of course I know the Holocaust and the case for same sex Christian marriage are NOT in the same league!! Please don’t miss the point however; you have dropped and picked up religion to suit your response. What is informing your response?

    • Hugo Rifkind

      Maybe you could benefit from a good hard think about whether the holocaust is really a religious issue.

      Also, I’d challenge you to cite anything I’ve written which is “prejudiced against Christianity”. In fact, I’ve often written extremely warmly indeed.

      • SPW

        Dear Hugo

        First thanks for your reply! My apologies – the very last thing I wanted to do was to be provocative about the Holocaust. I agree the Holocaust was not just a religious issue; I realise my clumsiness in this regard.

        To explain a little my conflating Jewish ethnicity and religion… Being brought up a Christian I am well versed in the scriptural origins of Israel; the calling of a people to become a nation defined by the God they worshipped. In this sense notions of nationality and religion become entwined where usually they would be separate e.g. you might say the UK is not defined by its religion but by its coastline.

        This is not an excuse however and my apology stands.

        Nevertheless you do invite me to cite a few examples of anti-Christian bias in your writings…

        • In this article you blaspheme Christ (not Buddha, Allah, Muhammad, Brahman &etc.)

        • Christians object to homosexual marriage in their churches only because they find it ‘icky’ and have a ‘sheer and shrill distaste’ of it not ‘based on religious conscience’ (05.01.13)

        • Christians shield their antagonism to gay marriage “behind lots of guff about nature and bigamy” (05.01.13)

        These are anti-Christian. Of course, on the subject of gay marriage, you are taking an opposing stance and I hope I am not being churlish! However, the view you present of the church is demeaning and represents a “twist of the truth” (05.01.13).

        PS did you like my comment about ‘moobs’ ?!

        • Hugo Rifkind

          No problem. And, hmm, I see what you mean, but without wishing to be overly controversial, I’m afraid I simply don’t recognise those things (“Christians object….”, “Christians shield…”) as actually being necessarily Christian viewpoints, or that attacking them is necessarily attacking Christianity.

          I mean, sure, you’re talking about some people here, who happen to be Christian. But there are plenty of other Christians who don’t object to gay marriage, anywhere (Rev Giles Fraser, for example) and I’m not sure why you get to be “Christian” and they don’t. Indeed, while I’m not sure my views of Christianity count for much (although I did go to Church twice a week for five years at boarding school), I find it much easier to reconcile the stance of figures like Rev Fraser with the Christian morality I was taught about than I do the stances of those opposed.

          Moreover (and I suspect I’m going on a bit now) I can’t help but thinking that a lot of the people who do object to gay marriage would object to it whether they were Christians or not. So Occam’s Razor prevents me from really thinking that Christianity is truly the issue here, which is why I don’t believe I’m ever attacking it.

          No excuses for the blasphemy, though. And yes, I did like the moobs gag.

          • SPW

            Thanks again for your considered response and at the risk of going on a bit myself…!

            No – I don’t speak for all of Christendom! However I am well versed in the scripture… As such there is no ‘Christian morality’. There is the Mosaic Law, which condemns; there is the Christ who fulfils the Law and removes condemnation in His own body. Outside of Christ we are under the Law and are condemned. In Christ we are under His righteousness and ‘moral’ behaviour then follows, as an expression of gratitude.

            Where the problem lies though is with the subverting of Christian marriage, which on the one hand is an expression of the plurality of the Godhead and on the other is a picture of Christ and His Church.

            As a summary of the two points… I mustn’t judge how anyone else behaves; I was under the same judgement as everyone else! This would be hypocritical. However I am charged with testing doctrine and, as a doctrine, Christian marriage will not stretch to accomodate same sex unions. Paul says it all so much better: 1Cor5:12-13.

            I had to Google Occam’s Razor btw! Thanks for using it though, I have added it to my arsenal.

          • Simeon Howell

            Thanks for apologizing for the blasphemy it annoyed me also…I mean if anything “Mohammed” would have been more appropriate as Muslims generally hate Israel….Some Christians sadly do but many support Israel. To better clarify ‘Bible believing Christian’ is a better use of phrase. You just cant be a Bible believing Christian and accept gay marriage I defy anyone who says they can. Many Anglican Bishops are most certainly not Bible believing.

  • SPW

    Also! It doesn’t matter how large moobs get – you could never suckle a child with them. “Yes, I think you see what I’m doing there.”

  • Damocles

    Just what is the problem with the expression ‘the Jews’ used by David Ward when describing that actions of the Israeli state ?
    Israel loudly proclaims to the world that it is ‘the Jewish state’ and ‘the homeland of the Jews’ wherever they may live in the world. The only people who are able to secure full Israeli nationality are Jewish people so why is it a problem when David Ward describes the actions of Israel as being the actions of ‘the Jews’ ?
    The actions of say, France are routinely described by journalists and others as being the actions of ‘the French’, the actions of the American state as being the actions of ‘the Americans’ so what exactly is the problem with describing the actions of Israel (the self-proclaimed Jewish state) as being the actions of ‘the Jews’ ?
    I think it is all a neat ploy to distract from the real issue which is the disgraceful way that the Israelis treat the Palestinians, the indigenous people of the region.
    Israel is a state formed by colonisation straight and simple. Around the time that the political movement of zionism was created (1897) the population of Palestine was approximately 3-4% Jewish and there was no conflict between them and the indigenous arabs. All the conflict came with the mass arrival of the zionists.
    To show how the Israelis are overwhelmingly not indigenous to that area, of the 13 Prime Ministers that Israel has had since it’s formation in May 1948, only 5 were born locally, and of those 5 none of their parents were.
    Let’s put the focus back on the treatment of the Palestinians shall we, where it really belongs.

    • Hugo Rifkind

      No. Your premise here is completely and evidently wrong, and I think you probably know that.

      The global population of Jews is about 14 million; a surprisingly small figure, thanks in large part, no doubt, to that thing David Ward thinks we should have learned our lesson from. But, of this small figure, considerably fewer than half (about 6 million) live in Israel.

      Other people live in Israel, too. In fact, a smaller proportion of Israelis are Jewish (slightly over 70 per cent) than, in India, are Hindu (slightly over 80 per cent). India, actually, makes a good comparison, because well over 90 per cent of the world’s Hindus live there. Yet nobody would routinely refer to India as “the Hindus” – or at least, not since the Victorians did. So, the word you are looking for which parallels “French” would probably be “Israelis”.

      As to how Israelis treat Palestinians, well, I agree that’s the real issue. So it’s probably best to leave the industrial slaughter of millions out of it, however readily it suggests itself as a means to make a cheap point. Wouldn’t you think?

      • Damocles

        My premise here is not wrong, and I suspect that you know that.
        Not all French people live in France, and for any given action by the French government, not all French people agree with the actions of the government of France. So how is it different ?
        Yes other people do live inside the borders of Israel but the only Israeli citizens who are afforded full rights as a citizen are the Jewish ones, a position that has led many to describe Israel as ‘an apartheid state’ (including members of the ANC who fought South African apartheid – like Ronny Kasrills and Desmond Tutu)
        All the ‘movers and shakers’ who shape Israeli politics are Jewish, as are all the Generals etc., who carry out their military policies.
        Any Jewish person no matter where they live in the world, no matter if they (or any of their descendants) have never set foot in the Middle East can claim Israeli citizenship, simultaneously Palestinians who can trace their heritage in what is now called Israel but what was called Palestine until May 1948, who were forced to leave their homeland by the Jewish forces (many still holding deeds to tracts of land in what became Israel) do not even have a right to return to where their families lived for countless generations and they have absolutely no chance whatsoever of becoming Israeli citizens of any description.
        So to describe the actions of the Israeli state as the actions of ‘the Jews’ is exactly the same as describing the actions of the government of France as the actions of ‘the French’.
        So why the howls of indignation ?
        As for your last point.
        I am puzzled.
        Raul Hilberg (surely the pre-eminent Jewish scholar on the Holocaust ?) in his book ‘The Destruction of the European Jews’ estimates (and he makes the very clear point that no-one can definitively know the actual figure) the number of Jews who died as being just over 5 million [page 767](I believe there have been some revisions – downward – since he wrote his book) yet for anyone to so much as question the figure of 6 million typically provokes an hysterical and often violent response.
        Why is that ?
        For anyone to attempt to clarify say, the number of Armenians who died at the hands of the Turks at the beginning of the 20th Century is considered to be just part of the scholarly pursuit of fact and truth.
        Why is there this difference in the way that the numbers in the Jewish Holocaust are treated, and anyone who so much as questions the 6 million figure is routinely described as ‘a Holcaust denier’.
        Presumably Hilberg is a Holocaust denier then ?
        Finally, Jewish is classed (by many Jews) as being both a religion and an ethnicity so the word is appropriate for both.
        (Don’t forget, Israel declares itself to be a ‘secular state’ so your Hindus and India analogy is clearly not appropriate)

        • Damocles

          sorry, I meant to say ‘ancestors’ above not descendants

        • Hugo Rifkind

          Oh I SEE. You’re one of THOSE.

          • Damocles

            Meaning what exactly ?

            What exactly is one of THOSE ?

            You have clearly lost the argument so you are falling back on that old standard. Pathetic and very transparently so.

            Why not try to actually answer the points made ?

            You introduced the Holocaust as a subject to attempt to intimidate me into silence (just as your insults aimed at David Ward are designed to shut him up) – I have merely asked you some very pertinent and very straightforward questions directly related to the (non) points you fired at me.

            Why not try answering them ?

          • folsom1

            Lol,, any argument against Israel is anti-semiticccccc

          • Damocles

            Let me ask you a few more questions on the subject introduced by you.

            What about Joel Brand or Rabbi Weissmandel ?

            It is interesting isn’t it how these people seem to have gradually been written out of the Holocaust narrative.

            According to them (included in Hilberg’s book to some extent) the International Zionist hierarchy were very complicit in the deaths of a substantial chunk of the Jewish people who died in the camps.

            According to Brand and Weissmandel they refused to help their fellow Jews in their hour of need.

            An inconvenient truth for people like yourself perhaps ?

            I suspect that is the real reason you seek continually to ‘close down the debate’ – you are frightened of what might be found.

            You would lose your trump card.

            Of course tact, sensitivity and respect should be shown when engaging in research on such a subject, but I firmly believe that it should be researched like any other historical event.

            And I believe that it will be.

          • Marcus

            A scene somewhere in middle England:

            Teacher: Johnny, did we do your Sunday school homework?
            Johnny: Yes miss.
            Teacher: Now tell me, how was expelled from Egypt by the Pharaoh?
            Johnny: Moses.
            Teacher: Well done. Who else?
            Johnny: The Jews miss.
            Teacher: F@%ng Nazi

          • Hugo Rifkind

            Marcus, that was the Children of Israel. Not sure they were technically Jews til the ten commandments came down. But either way, it was all of them.

          • folsom1

            A truth teller?

        • Marcus

          Guinness book of records says Mao killed between 60-80 million people and Stalin 20-40 million.

          Both regimes were notorious for accurate record keeping.

          Those deniers at Guinness have an inbuilt margin of error over 3 times that of the Jewish Holocaust.
          Of course Holocaust denial will attract Nazis. Does not mean that all people who question it are Nazis? Personally I believe the generally accepted statistic and think most arguments to the contrary are like listening to ‘Grassy knoll’ type nonsense.

          • Damocles

            Not sure that the Guinness book of records would be my first choice when researching such information Marcus.

            What about the millions who died under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia ? Their takeover of that country was a direct consequence of the carpet bombing of Cambodia under the direction of US Foreign Secretary Henry Kissinger.

            Kissinger is Jewish and a committed zionist. He is also lauded by outfits like the Guardian and the BBC News and Current Affairs as a World Statesman.
            It all seems so selective doesn’t it ?

            As someone who has campaigned for the people in Palestine for many years I have come to see that almost nothing the zionists say with regard to that conflict is as they say it is so I can’t help wondering.

            Having said that, I am not wedded to any particular preconceived ideas. I am simply saying that I think it should be open to scrutiny like any other historical event, that is all.

            As for the ‘6 million’, I am simply pointing out that the pre-eminent Jewish scholar Raoul Hilberg doesn’t make the figure even close to 6 million. If anyone wants to disagree well, read his book, don’t take my word for it.

            And people like Joel Brand and Rabbi Weissmandel accused the International Zionist movement of being complicit in the deaths of a large number of the Jews who died in the camps by refusing to cooperate with schemes to get them out and there is compelling evidence to support their version of events.

            The fact that to question anything on this subject causes such a reaction cannot help but arouse suspicion ?

            It is the zionists’ trump card after all isn’t it ?

            (plus it is palpable how they seem to have downgraded all the other people who died in the camps)

            I sincerely hope the Syrian opponents are finally starting to move towards talks. Fingers crossed.

          • Marcus

            I don’t entirely disagree with you. It’s just from what I’ve seen from living in eastern Europe for 6 yrs. I accept the no.
            I was actually supporting your argument with the Guinness book of records stat.
            No one questions their motives for the margin of error in quoting the communist ethnic cleansings.

          • Damocles

            I understand Marcus.
            I was just questioning the rigour of sources like the Guinness Book of Records (and sources like Wikipedia) I just feel that one needs to dig a bit deeper for reliable information. Though I am not necessarily saying that they are wrong.
            I find Norman Finkelstein’s book ‘The Holocaust Industry’ very interesting and informative.
            I find Israel Shahak’s book ‘Jewish History, Jewish Religion’ very interesting and very informative.
            I found the BBC series (made by CTVC) by John McCarthy ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ (shown once only at around 1.30am on BBC2 about 10 years ago) very interesting and informative. etc., etc.,
            Anyway, I must get on.

        • folsom1

          Agree 100%!

      • Matt Pryor

        Actually Hugo, for people who are interested in how Palestinians are treated, their first priority should be to examine how countries such as Lebanon and Syria treat them. How they are treated under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas should be a major cause for concern too – but of course it’s not.

        I suspect that for people like “Damocles” the well-being of Palestinian Arabs is not the issue – Israel is the issue.

        • Damocles

          I have been to Syria have you ?

          A myriad of different groups lived perfectly happily side by side in Syria.

          I absolutely loved the Syrian people (of course not every one of them !) but they were just so friendly and welcoming and there was little sign (especially in Damascus) of the divide between men and women that can be all too common in Middle Eastern states.

          The women were very confident and not afraid to talk to you.

          It literally hurts me to see what is happening there.

          To think that we (as a nation) are supporting the likes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar over Assad’s people. How bizarre.

          Syria was light years ahead of somewhere like Saudi Arabia in terms of things like women’s emancipation.

          Syria did need change (so does the UK !) and I remember seeing an interview with President Assad where he acknowledged that things needed to change but that things cannot change overnight.

          Sitting eating ice-cream in a Gelateria in the main Souk in Damascus you could have been in Paris – a lovely experience.

          If security was tight in some ways, though we never experienced it, one mustn’t forget that they border the nutter state. Having the masters of car-bombings, political assassinations and dirty tricks as neighbours would cause any state to ‘batten down the hatches’ to one extent or another.

          The current carnage is not driven by forces from inside Syria – there was genuine dissent but this was latched on to by the West (USA, Israel, UK, France, ..) and stoked up and stoked up by pouring in money and armaments via countries like Saudi Arabia.

          Anyone who believes that this was all done out of concern for the Syrian people is living in dreamland.

          The only people who have consistently talked sense on this are the Russians (and much more quietly the Chinese)

          The Syrian people should decide the future of Syria not The West.

          I really hope the carnage stops soon.

      • Marcus

        ‘The Hindus’. Is that offensive? Does using that phrase to refer to Indians mean you support their persecution?
        How do you refer to a group of practicing Jews in say Iceland?
        ‘The Jewish religion practitioners’?

        • Hugo Rifkind

          Well.. yes. Or “Icelandic Jews” maybe. Unless you think they are members of the Jewish race first and Icelandic second. And I really hope you don’t.

          • Marcus

            Well done Hugo for there in lies the rub.
            You see I really hope they don’t consider themselves Jews first and Icelandic second.

          • Hugo Rifkind

            Well, I hope that, too. But I also think there’s a big difference between how people choose to identify themselves, and how others have the right to identify them.

            I think there are only about 50 Jews in Iceland, anyway. So you could probably just call them by their names.

          • Marcus

            Disagree entirely with you first paragraph; but agree entirely with your second.

  • Matt Pryor

    Hugo, reading this article on Saturday gave me a ray of hope. On behalf of other gentiles in the UK who don’t hate Jews or Israel (which I hope is still a majority of the population) thank you for speaking out about this. You’re certainly not a “Holobore” and if you are then the world needs more of them. Thanks again.

    • Hugo Rifkind

      Matt, thank you. Likewise.

    • Swanky Yanky

      Beautifully said, Matt, and seconded.

  • JonathanHoffman

    Hugo – great article – thank you

    Note Nick Clegg’s ‘relativism’ – some people have told him he’s gone too far in discplining Ward so he’s satisfied he’s done enough. Nothing of course to do with Ward’s tiny majority and the demographics of Bradford East…..

  • Yisrael Medad

    but why does it appear (at least, to my thinking) that such Judeaophobic remarks and sentiments are so … natural there? So much so that even you view a perversive view of reality (the wall, Hugo, has not killed anybody, for sure during its construction, but rather was put in place due to horrific Islamist suicider-bombers who also kill Jews, especially civilians [the Fatah/Hamas terrorist organisations are probably unique in all national liberation resistance movements’ history, targeting 99% exclusively non-combatants]). Actually, that imagery resonates with Jews with a more traiitonal education background as the Midrash records Pharoah using Jewish children in the construction the Hebrew slaves were forced to do. See: . I guess, though, that that is just a cultural thing that could be overlooked there in England.

  • Col_Blake

    @ Matt Pryor. So are you arguing that just because others who should care about the plight of the Palestinians don’t do so; that gives a licence to the so called IDF – acting as the agents of the Jewish State – to kill men’ women and children with impunity just about any time they feel like it? When was the last time that the Syrians or Lebanese bombed Gaza or unleashed their War-Dogs on the civilian population. When was the last time that either country built illegal settlements on Palestinian land, demolished their houses, destroyed their crops and stole their land on the pretext that God Himself assigned the lease on the land in perpetuity to their ancestors 5000 years ago?
    Sure enough Ward should have chosen his words more carefully. It is ludicrous for anyone not to acknowledge the fact that there are many; many Jewish people who abhor the policies of successive Israeli Government’s policies regarding the Palestinians as much as the rest of us. It is equally ridiculous for anyone to try to argue that those in the Israeli Govt. responsible for formulating foreign Policy, and those who implement such policies are not cognisant of the terrible events in Jewish history, and to a greater or lesser extent, driven by such memories.

    • Swanky Yanky

      Israel is a modern democracy in a sea of hostile medieval regimes, trying to defend the tiny sliver of land it managed to to find, after the Nazis’ nearly successful attempt not that long ago to wipe its people off the Earth. Get a grip.

  • Marcus


    Some people conflate being Jewish and Israel’s controversial foreign + domestic policy. These people are Jewish and gentile. Some like this connection (zionist and American religious right) and some don’t: eg: Guardian + some Muslims.
    Now if you are genuinely saying that all of the later are antisemites and thus are in favour of the holocaust then you will always be crying wolf.
    There are precious few people who think the gas chambers were a good thing. There are many who do not like the fact that Jewish people tend to support Israel’s domestic and foreign policy just because they feel a racial/religious affinity with Israel, based on a book written by men about a big fairy in the sky who chose 1 tribe of semites as his favorite, made people live in whales, drowned people en mass and doesn’t like the crown of human heads.

  • Jimbo2010

    Let’s have a look at what is or isn’t racist/anti-semitic:

    1) The Israeli Occupation of the West Bank – racist

    2) The settlements – racist

    3)The Apartheid Wall’s route carving through the West Bank – racist

    4) The blockade on Gaza – racist

    5) The cartoon of Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times – not racist nor anti-semitic but vitriolic criticism of the policies of the Israeli government and Netanyahu.

    6) The government of Netanyahu – the foreign minister lives in a settlement and Netanyahu supports the retention and expansion of the settlements – racist.

    7) The phrase Jewish state (instead of Israel) to refer to a 75% Jewish state and 20% Palestinian Arab state – racist

    8) The comments of David Ward – probably unintentionally and mistakenly racist. As a twice visitor to Auschwitz it is very unlikely that he is genuinely anti-semitic. But he should have chosen his words more carefully.

    9) The continual insistence that Palestine recognises Israel right to exist (which it did in 1988) whilst not insisting on Israel recognising Palestine’s right to exist – racist

    We could go on forever but there are more important things to worry about i.e. world peace, social justice, human rights and a nice cup of tea.

    • Hugo Rifkind


      I don’t disagree with most of that, although I think you’re being a bit too kind to David Ward.

      But I wonder, would you also consider the Holocaust itself to be racist? I suspect you probably would. And yet, it doesn’t seem worthy of a mention on this little list of yours. If this was a column about, say, the policies of the Israel state, that would be fair enough. But it isn’t. It’s explicitly about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. I don’t defend the Israeli state at all. Nor, in the case of most of the above, would I.

      I don’t make this as a combative point, I promise. Probably, you feel the Holocaust is so obviously racist that the point is hardly worth making and, unlike some commentators here, you don’t sound like an unreasonable or particularly hate-filled person. But a response to a column about the Holocaust which gives a litany of the crimes of Israel in place of mentioning the Holocaust at all frankly makes me very uncomfortable. I suspect it would make an awful lot of Jews very uncomfortable.

      I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, but I really hope you understand why it is the result.

      • Jimbo2010

        Yes, of course the Holocaust is quite possibly the worst racist event in human history in terms of numbers. It was industrialised murder.
        It wasn’t mentioned in th elist because it’s almost too obvious. Being the most racist event in history. It seemed to be too obvious.

        That said I don’t think I was being too kind on David Ward. I don’t know him but what he said was a fairly common error especially amongst older members of the public.

        I mention the crimes of Israel because that was what the politician in question was attempting to talk about but foolishly put it in the way he did.

        But there are some valid points to be made.

        I would say anti-semitism is not the rise but declining. The really big issues of racism today are islamophobia and anti-roma prejudice. Hence the direction of the EDL and other far-right groups.

        The reason people conflate the Holocaust and Israel is a more complex one than simply anti-semitism. It is for a number of reasons. a) Would Israel exist had there not been the Holocaust? Hard to say. Immigration waves or Aliyahs were happening but not on such a huge scale. So possibly not.

        b) What the American-Jewish writer Norman Finklestein has written about. A number of controversial ideas around exploiting the events by the Israeli government but coming from a jewish writer hard to describe as anti-semitic.

        c) the concept that a country founded by refugees also created refugees is noticed.

        These are very difficult topics. Yes I move to talk about Israel because that is an issue of today. The Holocaust is the horror of the past. Never to return. Although genocides have returned in other places such as Rwanda. Maybe we should have a Genocide Memorial Day to remember all genocides including the Armenians.

        What can we learn from the Holocaust, Racism is evil. That is obvious. But perhaps it is to always to be vigilant for cruelty by governments all over the world whatever their colour or religion.

        As to Israel which is spoken of because that was the land of refuge for many survivors of the Holocaust.

        I support a two-state solution and abhor racism of all kinds.

        I think for there to be peace the Holocaust should be remembered by the Palestinians. But the Nakba must similarly be remembered and learnt about by the Israelis. It needs to be a two-way remembrance.

        Also maybe we should expand our definition of what is anti-semitism to include all the semitic peoples including the Arabs.

        We only learn from the greatest or vilest acts of evil in history by attempting to stop racism in todays world wherever it comes from.

        Hopefully that made sense.

      • Simeon Howell

        You really should disagree with most of what he has said.

        • Jimbo2010

          Because it goes against your belief in colonialism?

    • Simeon Howell

      1) Not occupied land – disputed land=not racist

      2) Refer to point 1

      3) Not an Apartheid wall..It is in fact a protection wall to stop Palestinian terrorists from blowing up Israeli children

      4) It is a partial blockade, which is in place for a reason, refer to point 3..not racist

      5) Not Anti Semitic.. debatable, misleading and insensitive..undoubtedly

      6) Netanyahu might live in disputed territories which were annexed illegally by Jordan but as they are disputed he has a right to live there.

      7) This is a nonsense Israel by definition is a Jewish state it is not racist there are elected Arabs in the Knesset. It was racist kicking out Jewish people from Arab lands.

      8) David Wards words were anti Semitic as this article makes clear

      9) Obtuse…Palestinians hate Israel and wish to wipe Israel off the map. Israel does recognize Palestine (though historically speaking there is no state of Palestine ) but does not want to be blown up by them

      We could go on forever but why? You have bought the lie already

      • Jimbo2010

        Yawn – and you are clearly a zionist and neo-colonialist that will excuse almost anything.

        1) Of course it is occupied. The Occupation is illegal in international law and contravenes numerous UN rulings. It is colonising someone else’s land and therefore racist.

        2) Refer to point 1.

        3)Untrue – the Apartheid Wall carves through Occupied Palestine and therefore was not built with protection in mind but the stealing of more land.

        4) It is still a blockade of many essentials. It is done to provide just enough to avoid starvation but no more.

        5. It is not insensitive to criticise a political leader.

        6. No Netanyahu lives in Israel his foreign minister from an ultra-right party Avigdor Lieberman lives in a settlement in stolen land. He is most definitely racist.

        7. Israel is 75% Jewish and 25% not Jewish. It is racist to ignore the 25%. Does Britain call itself the Protestant State? Does Indian call itself the Hindu State? No. It is insensitive and racist to use tis term.

        8.That is a matter of opinion. I think it was misguided and possibly racist but I have read at least one letter from a Jewish person writing to a newspaper saying it wasn’t.

        9. Not even slightly obtuse. Israel was recognised by the PLO in 1988. It is well documented. Israel has never formally recognised Palestine’s right to exist.There is a state of Palestine as has been recognised by the UN. There was British Mandate Palestine, Roman Palestine and it was referred to as Palestine through most of its history. Israel has never recognised Palestine officially. Many Israeli extremists want to colonise the entire lands of Palestine and wipe it off the map. This is a far greater likelihood than the opposite.

        Indeed we could go on forever and you have bought the lie already.

        • Simeon Howell

          Yawn you are clearly a raving gaurdian reading lefty and not in possession of some key facts.

          1) It is not occupied territory. The areas you call occupied were initially part of the British mandate given as a Jewish homeland. Annexed by Jordan (West Bank) and Egypt (Gaza) when the war ended in 1948. Between 1967-1979 Israel recaptured these territories. In 2000 Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and parts of the west bank in return for peace.. nevertheless Israel continued to suffer terrorist attacks No Palestinians made claims to these territories until Israel captured them in 1967 in a defensive war. The PLO “Does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza strip or the Himmah Area” Article 24, PLO Covenant, 1964.

          2) Refer to point 1

          3) There is No land to steal as such it is a Protection wall.

          4) There is no starvation in Gaza they have shopping malls there as big as any in the U.K. It is only a partial blockage I reiterate. Essential supplies still get through to Gaza, also Egypt has direct access to Gaza for any supplies Gaza my require.

          5) It is when done over the Holocaust memorial period. It is when the insinuation is a perverse one which implicates more that Netenyahu.

          6) It is Disputed land he has every right to live there. If anything your position is racist by saying he doesn’t!! So Arabs can live in Israel but Jews can’t live in the west bank?? Come on!!

          7) As I mentioned before the 25% are not ignored. To be Jewish is not purely a racial thing it is a religious thing also. To be Jewish is unique. One can be Indian and be catholic/Hindu/Muslim. To claim to be Jewish and call yourself Hindu is an oxymoron. Anyway why on earth would Britain call itself a Protestant state??? what a stupid comparison!!

          8) We will have to agree to disagree

          9) Ok Palestine is a Roman term used to subjugate the Jewish people and erase all memory of the Jewish nation after the fall of the 2nd temple in 70AD. The British Mandate for Palestine was for a Jewish homeland.

          “We Arabs , especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement…we will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home..our two movements complement one another” Emir Faisal, a leader in the Arab world,1919.

          “It is manifestly right that the scattered Jews should have a national centre and a national home and be reunited, and where else but in Palestine, with which for 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?” Winston Churchill, 1921.

          Jews were referred to as Palestinians before 1948.

          “Who can challenge the rights of the Jews in Palestine? Good Lord, historically it is really your country.” Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi Mayor of Jerusalem, 1899.

          1996 PLO votes for amending its charter to eliminate clauses calling for destruction of Israel. Charter unchanged in public documents, as of 2007.

          From 1937 to the Present day including the Armistice agreement of 1949 and the Unilateral Disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank Israel has searched for Peace with the Palestinian people, who I personaly feel deeply sorry for, they are a manipulated and used people, used by people as pawns against Israel. “Since 1948 Arab leaders haveused the Palestinian people for selfish political purposes. This is criminal ” King Hussein of Jordan 1960.

          “All the Arab countries want to keep this problem looking like an open wound” Ana Liria Franch, regional representative in Cairo for the UN High commissioner for Refugees, 2003″

          You Sir Bought the Lie.

          • Jimbo2010

            And you Sir are a raving colonialist and the reason why there is no peace in the Middle East.

          • Jimbo2010

            Simeon, you state:

            Point 1) “The areas you call occupied were initially part of the British mandate given as a Jewish homeland.”

            It was NOT British land to give away. The land was already settled in by Palestinians. The British had NO right to give any of the land away.

            It was because of racist sentiment in Britain that the Jews weren’t allowed into this country. They should have been alowed to settle in Britain.

            They also promised that the land would be shared by both peoples. This promise was not kept.

          • Jimbo2010

            I suggest you read Shlomo Sand. The Palestinians are the indigenous people of Palestine and some may even be descended from the Jews of the Biblical era. It is their land being stolen on a daily basis.

          • Jimbo2010

            You also say in point 1: “In 2000 Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and parts of the west bank in return for peace.”

            No the point of withdrawing from one part of Palestine was to increase setlements and colonial occupation in the West Bank. This has been proved to be the case by the actions of the Israeli government at the time and since. Also by withdrawing from the most politically extreme part it could be used politically to maintain the nationalist vote at home. It helped to portray the indigenous Palestinians people as extremists and could also be subject to military attacks more easily without a settler population.

          • Jimbo2010

            You call the Apartheid Wall a ‘Protection Wall’. That would only be true if it was built on the internationally recognised border. It does not. It carves though the area of remaining Palestine taken by Israel in 1967. It is a colonialist wall. It is built to perpetuate a racist Occupation.

          • Jimbo2010

            9) You say the British Mandate of Palestine was a Jewish Homeland. This is historically untrue. The Manadate was to protect the peace after WW1 and ran from 1922 to 1948 when the British left due to Jewish terrorism from groups such as the Stern Gang and Haganah. A number of British soldiers were killed and Britain decided to leave. The Stern Gang could be said to be similar to Hamas in their aim of an independent homeland and used similar methods.

          • Jimbo2010

            You Sir have bought the lie and if you defend the Occupation then you defend racism and colonialism.

  • Mark Startin

    Hugo, you have written a powerful piece. I had earlier made some slight defence of David Ward on ‘The Times’ website as the honest and decent man that I remember. Whilst I knew that his opinions were wrong I perhaps hoped he retained some element of decency.

    On reading your piece I realise that I must resile from that opinion. I accept the force of your comments; there are some matters on which there can be no compromise.

  • stefano666

    Congratulations, Gerald!!! You talk the truth about Zionist mobster .

  • stefano666

    Western double standard: Mohammed cartoons = freedom of speech ! Israel cartoons = “hate speeche”

    • Damocles

      Well said stefano666
      I completely agree
      (PS When I went to Cuba a few years ago I loved the people)
      Good luck to you

  • Simeon Howell

    Unfortunate use of the holy name “Christ” in your otherwise good article, why resort to offending a group of people who largely (though not all) support Israel? Uncalled for…I mean if you said “Mohammed” it would be offensive to many but at least it would make sense. Muslims generally speaking hate Israel. Jewish people it seems are not the only group of folk who are a walk over.

  • jan z polski

    Jews were in power in Bolshevik Russia and now they control Jewnited States of America. You should demand some responsibility from those who sit on a high perch, don’t you?

    • Eliezer Gruen

      And they are still in control of Poland, right?

      • jan z polski
        • Eliezer Gruen

          Nice trick. The clip is clearly snapped from a speech about real estate. Very sad, that even now you are looking for scapegoats on which to lay your own failures.

          • hans bans

            It’s 13 of Febraury. Hasbara pays on 10th, doesn’t it?

          • Eliezer Gruen

            When does the neo-Nazi party payroll come? Go to Iran, they’ll love you there.

          • hans bans

            The World as such prefers Iran over Israel and I don’t beg to differ.

  • Eliezer Gruen

    The cartoon is Judeophobic not because it uses not Nazi imagery, but rather the mediaeval blood libel imagery. Myriads of Jews lost their lives in the name of those libels, including accusations of ritual slaughter of Christian children to use their blood in the baking of the matzos, or the desecration of the Host were common. Just because Netanyahu has a “small nose” doesn’t mean he does not fit the stereotype of the “evil Jew” – a modern-day Judas. But let us consider the premises of the cartoon. The cartoon claims that Israel is perpetrating genocide through building the anti-terrorist wall (or the settlements). This is blatantly false: the Middle-East conflict is one of the least bloody conflicts in the history of the world, and certainly the region. It also assumes – wrongly – that Judea, the birthplace of the Jewish people, must be Judenrein. The denial of the right of the Jewish people to build in their historic homeland compounded with the accusation of genocide is truly anti-Semitic, especially coming from a Briton, whose country bears full responsibility for the White Paper, banning Jewish emigration to Palestine during the Holocaust, which could have saved millions of Jews from the ovens of Auschwitz.

    • jan z polski

      The chosen nation is by definition always right and never to blame for a n y t h i n g in last 3000 years. Particularly, when you are on Hasbara payroll.

      • Eliezer Gruen

        I forgot, Jews are to blame for e v e r y t h i n g in the last 4000 years (why stop at 3000?), including Christianity, Islam, Humanism, Modernism, Post-Modernism, Communism, Capitalism, The Atomic Bomb, the Theory of Relativity, Psychoanalysis, and the price of cigarettes. The kind of boorish anti-Semite you represent gloated when Polish Jews were sent to the concentration camps, even though Nazis considered you an Untermensch just as well. You are probably living in my grandmother’s house.

        • hans bans

          More then 100000 jews were saved by Polish Catholics during German occupation despite a threat of imminent death if caught. Even this ridiculous arrogant from ADL, Abraham Foxman, was saved by Poles. Many Polish families were literally burned alive for helping their jewish neighbours. Your ignorance and ingratitude is beyond the pale. As for my house, it was obviously taken over – stolen – by soviet jews, and family was exiled to Siberia also by soviet jews. Your grandmas house is quite likely on Lower East Side my dear Shylock.

          • Eliezer Gruen

            Yes, some Jews were saved by Polish Catholics, but more were not – there were over 3 million Jews in Poland before the war. In my family, no one survived, although we know of a family friend that was saved by hiding in the attic with a help of a Pole. Obviously, those righteous Gentiles that risked their lives to help Jews were a tiny minority. One thing you cannot accuse me of, is ignorance. Many Jews were murdered by Poles when they came back from the concentration camps to reclaim their houses. It became so intolerable, the remaining Jews, except for a few thousand that were the members of the Communist party, left for Israel in the early 1960s. This is the sad story of Poland, despite 600 years of loyalty by Jews, even now some scum blame their ineptitude and fault on the non-existent presence of Jews. My grandma’s house is in Bialystok, you fool.

          • hans bans

            Sad story of Poland might be that some
            jewish half-wits are spreading disinformation out of pure spite. As for
            Bialystok, nobody is waiting for you and it’s a good news.

            What you call “tiny” minority were hundred thousands of Polish
            Catholics who

            risked their lives for the people of a different faith – something almost
            unthinkable for a talmudic flock.

            To remind you: 6 milions of Polish Citizens died in IIWW, less than half of
            them were Jewish, so your emphasis on jews is extremely tactless and in a way
            racist. Of course you can assume – you seem to make it implicitly in your posts
            anyway- that a life of a jew is worth more than a life of a non-jew, but that
            is something people of impartial ethics don’t endorse.

            As for jewish loyalty (sounds like dry water) we all remember your stab in the
            back when Soviet Union invaded our eastern territories, and we remember who
            shot Polish officers in Katyn Forest.

            We also remember who installed Soviet rule in the 40s and 50s and who was
            responsible for torturing and murdering of thousands of Poles.

            To recapitulate: read and think more, and watch less Holocaust Industry cinema.



          • Eliezer Gruen

            OK, I see that you are a pure anti-Semite, very sad, but I’ll give you a benefit of the doubt and assume you never met a Jewish person in your life and were indoctrinated with this rubbish by your village elders. No Pole was killed as a result of a policy of systematic extermination, finalised by the Nazis at the Wannsee conference in the form of the Final Solution. Jews were the middle class in Poland for 600 years were loyal to the szlachta who were not anti-Semitic and it was the Catholic church that incited the peasants against Jews, blaming them from everything from blood libels to poisoning the wells. Jews were not responsible for the Soviet regime, which also destroyed Jewish way of life and Judaism. Yes, there were many renegade Jews that joined the revolution – as a reaction to anti-Semitic Czarist policies that kept them in the Pale of Settlement for hundreds of years – but by the mid-30s the Communist party leadership was entirely cleansed of Jews, with only one Jew remaining – Kaganovich. So you theory doesn’t work – Jews were victims of communism as much as any other group. If you had any national pride, you should be proud Artur Rubinstein, Henryk Szeryng, Roman Polanski, Janusz Korczak, Bashevis Singer or your country’s Noble prize winners, half of whom are Jews.

          • Hanss Bannss

            No one dismisses the fact that Wagner was a great composer, but german nation has shown numerous times to be a existential threat to peace and prosperity in Europe. Similarly, a couple of prominent artist (Rubinstein was indeed a great pianist who on the first UN session played Polish anthem) don’t change the general conclusion, that jews as a collective turned out to be treacherous and unthankful lot. If it’s inductive reasoning, then I have to say we’ve experienced it painfully in Poland. Talking about extermination: you are a blatant liar if you claim that Poles weren’t targeted. AB aktion, Katyn forrest, massacres of Krakow’s and Lwow’s professors and transportations were acts of deliberate ethnic cleansing. More than 2 million of ethnic Poles were killed in the course of II WW (in german concentration camps, executions, in gulags, in Warsaw uprising etc.) and you jews didn’t help – quite the opposite. From this perspective it’s difficult to understand your narcissist victimhood. Others suffered no less. This inflated jewish self-centeredness is vulgar and ridiculous. On the other hand I understand that it is instrumental for extortion business. Wheels of Holocaust Industry have to spin, providing sufficient level of moral outrage, with historical truth as first casualty.

            Returning to the question of Jewish Communism and apparatus of terror in Poland:

            Soviet advisor to ‘Polish’ MBP Nikolai Sielivanowski noted in the report to People’s Commissar of Interior Lavrenti Beria dated October 20, 1945, ‘[…] In the Ministry of Public Security are employed 18.7% Jews, 50% of the managerial positions are occupied by Jews. In the 1st Department of the Ministry 27% are Jews. They occupy all managerial positions. In the Personnel Department [human resources] – 23% are Jews, in the managerial positions – 7 persons. In the Department of Functionaries (special inspection) – 33.3% are Jews, all occupy important positions. In the Health Department – 49.1% are Jews, in the Finances Department – 29.9% are Jews’.

            In 1949 the USSR ambassador to Poland, Viktor Lebiediev wrote: “[…] in the MBP, beginning with the deputy ministers, throughout the department managers, there is not one Pole, all are Jews .”

            In closing, I’d like to say that I fully understand that resorting to ad hitlerum reduction is easier than taking a look in the mirror but please… no one wants to listen your broken record.

          • Eliezer Gruen

            Us, treacherous? My grandparents were proud “Poles”, except, they weren’t called Poles by you, Hans. They couldn’t go to university because only Christians were allowed there, and they had no intention to convert. Your “figures” about Jewish successes under the Soviets are false, but even were they true, why do you blame a minority for actions of the majority, which were certainly not Jewish? As a typical dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite, you are prepared to blame the Jews for everything from Capitalism to Communism. But you can’t have it both ways. Remember, the Western civilisation is a product of Jewish culture or reaction to Jewish tradition. Even secularism really originates with Spinoza, a heretic Jew. If you were a thinking individual, you would realise that either you have to reject your own culture, which is rooted in Judaism just as well, or embrace it. If you were a good Christian, you would never blame Jews for your troubles, because your “god” would have been sent to the gas chambers, and he would have been lucky not to have you as a neighbour. I don’t think the righteous gentiles that saved Jews would have written what you have. You are not one of them. And it is a shame.

            Oh, I have a good read for you: Tadeusz Slobodzianek’s “Our Class” (Nasza klasa).

  • John Matthews

    As we are now in the midst of the 70th anniversary of the holocaust camps liberation, this staggeringly stupid comment from David Ward has come under the spotlight again, and this was one of the better (and more humorous) responses to it. But what also comes strongly to light here is how the two most outspoken British MPs on the subject, David Ward and George Galloway, both represent heavy Muslim populations in Bradford, and how badly this reflects on that population as a whole.
    It surely can’t be an accident of fate that the two main politicians speaking as such both represent heavy Muslim constituencies; after all, it would defy the odds that two politicians so dumb and lacking in knowledge of both holocaust and Israeli history were unlucky enough to land in neighbouring constituencies, so we will give them the due grace that this is not about idiocy or lack of knowledge, but purely engineered for their specific audience – in other words, a lie; or at the very least a selective truth which leaves out any counterbalancing factors which might inconvenience the specific message they wish to put across. After all, they wouldn’t be the first politicians to lie for gain (some might say that’s part of a politician’s job description), and they won’t be the last.
    But I don’t think they’ve for a moment thought about how badly this reflects on the Muslim population of Bradford as a whole. It’s almost as if they assume this is what their audience wish to here, which then by extension pre-tarnishes that audience as holding the same tunnel-vision Jew denigration over Israel to the extent that even minimizing the holocaust (while at the same time maximizing the Palestinian plight so that the comparison doesn’t seem totally laughable) is seen as par for the course.
    But what Ward suggests is ironically the opposite of what probably happened. He asks how can the Jews, within only a few years of the holocaust, turn to treating Palestinians in the same way? What Ward neglects to mention is that in 1948, it was the massed Arab armies, representing some 150 million people, vs a rag-tag bunch of Israelis numbering 5 million. They saw it as a very fight for survival, which it was .The encroaching Arab armies were also making the same blood-curdling threats as the Nazis that they were going to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth or drive them into the sea.
    So, yes, memories of the holocaust did play a part in what happened in 1948, but not in the way Ward suggests; Israel was then very much the underdog and to them this was a replay of what had happened in WW2; a last chance for survival and to make a safe homeland, if you will. Ward conveniently leap-frogs 40 years of history to suit his own ends, and at the same time labels a whole community either as similarly racist in their view of Jews/Israel or similarly dumb in buying into this selective view of history.

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