Analysis: The antisemitic libel is back again

They may sometimes lie dormant, but antisemitic slurs never go away. Whatever one’s view of the BBC and Sky’s decision not to broadcast the DEC appeal — and there are good arguments on both sides — the most disturbing aspect of the past week has been the readiness of mainstream public figures to adopt the most basic antisemitic themes to explain why they oppose the decision.

It’s The Jews, you see. They run the media. They have the power. They have the control. And it’s about time someone stood up to them.

Or, in the most pernicious and widespread libel which has been doing the rounds over the past few days, they are so influential that, even without the Jews having to utter a word, the gentiles in editorial positions in the media do their bidding because they fear the consequences of upsetting Jews.

On Tuesday, for example, the Evening Standard devoted two pages to ‘revealing’ the real story behind the BBC’s behaviour: its executives are in “a complete white funk” because of “pressure applied by Israel and its supporters”.

The paper then found an obscure Swedish academic who exposed the secret instructions given by BBC bosses: “The message is: don’t antagonise the Israelis”. Quite how that explains Sky’s refusal to show the appeal is not explained. I suppose the Elders of Zion never thought about satellite TV when writing their Protocols.

The health minister, Ben Bradshaw, trotted out the same theme on Any Questions: the BBC “has to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally”. The BBC has been bullied by the Israeli authorities. And Tony Benn told a demo that the BBC “would never be allowed to broadcast any message from Jesus. Because Jesus told us to love our neighbours and if the Archbishop of Canterbury read the Ten Commandments it might upset the Israeli government.”

And yet every word — every dot, every comma and every letter — of their remarks is a lie. A libellous, antisemitic, dangerous lie. No one — not the Israeli Embassy, not the Board of Deputies, not anyone in any remotely communal Jewish capacity — asked the BBC not to broadcast the appeal. They didn’t even drop a hint.

So when Labour peer Lord Lipsey, writing in The Times this week, refers to “the corporation’s craven surrender to the Zionist lobby”, it’s not just important that he is corrected on the facts, it’s critical that the pure antisemitism of his ‘Zionist lobby’ remark is pointed out.

We are, rightly, loathe to use the label ‘antisemitic’ , which if wrongly applied is a vile traduction. But just because in many cases criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, it does not hold that such criticism is never antisemitic. And the baseless lie of this week’s comments is simply the latest regurgitation of a centuries old allegation of nefarious Jewish influence.

    Last updated: 3:56pm, January 29 2009