Poison pens on our tax money

My wife and I were leaving shul the other night, when a boy cycled past us. “Dirty Jews”, he yelled, as he sped off. Nothing new there, of course. Such shouts are par for the course for Jews today, as they have always been.

As he departed into the distance, I wondered what had given rise to his hatred of Jews.

And then it dawned on me: perhaps he’d been reading the London Review of Books.

The LRB, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a self-consciously intellectual journal; a fortnightly collection of essays and book reviews by some of the most eminent, left-leaning bien pensant writers.

You know the type: in the 1980s they referred to “Thatcher” rather than “Mrs Thatcher” and had sun dried tomato and wild rice salad dinner parties to raise money for the Sandanistas. In the 1990s, they called Tony Blair a Thatcher clone and worried the real Cuba would disappear when Fidel Castro died.

And now they devote themselves to attacking Israel, patting themselves on the back for identifying what they call the striking parallels with the Third Reich.

The current issue of the LRB, however, takes the breath away. The cover consists of a quote from John Mearsheimer (author of a shoddy book claiming that powerful Jews who operate behind the scenes have hijacked the US) asserting that “The two-state solution is probably dead”. The main piece is headlined: “Israel’s lies”. And then, to put that into “context”, are commentaries from Tariq Ali, David Bromwich, Alastair Crooke, Conor Gearty, Eric Hobsbawm, R W Johnson, Rashid Khalidi, Yitzhak Laor, Yonatan Mendel, John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Gabriel Piterberg, Jacqueline Rose, Eliot Weinberger and Michael Wood.

Every single piece — every one — is pure Israel-bashing, with not a word conceding that Israel had any case.

And here’s the rub. If the LRB was a journal like any other, free to stand or fall by its appeal to readers, we might not like it but, in a democracy, it would be entitled to its stance.

But it isn’t. It is subsidised, to the tune of £20,000 a year, by the Arts Council. We are paying for it. We are working and paying our taxes to fund the outpourings of poison from the LRB.

So here’s a suggestion: write to Alan Davey, chief exective of Arts Council England, at 14 Great Peter Street London SW1P 3NQ, and tell him what you think of your money being used like that.

    Last updated: 2:38pm, February 5 2009