Death of Harold Pinter: One Less Uncomfortable Jew

By Melchett Mike
December 26, 2008

I, for one, won't be spending a second mourning the death of Harold Pinter, the English Nobel Laureate playwright, who died of cancer on Wednesday, aged 78.

Pinter, a Hackney-born Jew, was an outspoken critic of Israel, quoted as saying that "Israel's injustice to the Palestinians is an outrage" and "the central factor in world unrest". He championed Israeli traitor Mordechai Vanunu, and signed a boycott of Israeli products and tourism.

Pinter liked to portray himself as an original thinker and critic of accepted ideas, but, to my mind, he was anything but. A Jew by birth and no more, Pinter was a puppet of the trendy, Israel-loathing, intellectual left, who was happy to use his birthright and fame – and to be used – to inflict maximum PR damage on Israel and, as a consequence, on Jews the world over.

If Pinter, or any of his fellow signatories to Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices, would have spoken out against Palestinian terror outrages, called for an end to the perpetual bombardment of Israeli towns, and for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gideon Shalit, with the same vigour and intensity that they have criticised conditions in Gaza (which the Palestinians have, to a large extent, brought upon themselves), one might have taken him and them more seriously.

To label Pinter and his ilk self-hating Jews is not to say that they are Jew-haters. There is a difference. They are Jews, clearly so uncomfortable in their own skins, that they continually go out of the way to be accepted by the non-Jewish "Establishment". To prove to anybody who will listen that they are "not like all the others" (and not represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbi). That they are different. Better even.

And, as a Jew who could not be prouder of his heritage, of which the State of Israel is an intrinsic part, they have always sickened me to the very core. These Jews do more damage to their own than the Ken Livingstones and George Galloways of this world ever could.

Moreover, Pinter's rabble-rousing diatribes against the US ("a bloodthirsty wild animal"), its administration ("a bunch of criminal lunatics"), and George W. Bush ("a mass murderer") – and even against his own Britain ("pathetic and supine") and Tony Blair ("a deluded idiot" and "hired Christian thug") – were far from what one would expect from a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and rather more akin to the crude rantings of an East End barrow-boy.

Pinter's widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, has said "He will never be forgotten."

He will be by me.


East End Walks

Sat, 12/27/2008 - 20:57

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I will mourn the loss of a person who contributed significantly to understanding the human condition and the interplay of power and oppression through his dramas, but who also found time to stand up again and again for human rights the world over, especially for writers being mistreated by oppressive regimes.

He didn't make a big song or dance about taking his political stances "as a Jew" - though I think it is feasible that a sense of his family's history as Jews under Tsarist oppression and his childhood within an impoverished Jewish working class community helped to put him on the side of the underdog.

There were occasions where he was invited to comment on the Israel/Palestine situation. On those occasions he expressed support for the Israeli peace movement coupled with a desire for the Palestinians to enjoy the same rights of citizenship and self-determination as Israeli Jews did.

You describe Harold Pinter as a "Jew by birth and no more". Presumably you mean he wasn't a regular shul-goer. On the other hand you get some Jews who are regular shul-goers but don't give a damn about any other people's human rights. I tend to judge Jews most by their attitudes to the world at large which may or may not align with levels of religious observance. And by that yardstick, Pinter may have been abrasive but was a good human being who cared for the human rights of others and helped us understand the world. Koved zayn ondenk.

Melchett Mike

Sun, 12/28/2008 - 09:08

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No, I didn't mean that "he wasn't a regular shul-goer" (neither am I!). I meant that his words and actions showed a contempt for his roots.

I support peace too, and the rights of Palestinians. But Pinter's stance was so anti-Israel, as to be without any sense of balance or objectiveness.



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