One of the many privileges of editing the JC is that my postbag helps me to sniff out the various “on trend” and “so last season” themes doing the rounds.
For a while it seemed as if there was one group that had almost disappeared from view. But I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that they’re back.
The AsAJew has returned.
You know who I mean. “As a Jew, I am disgusted by…” or “as a Jew, let me say how much I disagree with…”.
The AsAJews only ever come from one side of the fence: anti-Zionist, pro-boycott and anti-anti-antisemitism. Have you ever heard anyone say: “As a Jew, I must say how much I support Israel’s right to exist”, or “As a Jew, let me state how much I disagree with the idea of a boycott”?
This time round it’s David Ward, the LibDem MP who can’t resist antisemitic tweets, who’s brought the AsAJews back.
Whatever the issue, the letters follow a rigid template. They begin with the issue at hand. Then they state the view of the “Jewish establishment”. That’s followed by the “AsAJew” version of events.
So now it’s “David Ward tweeted…blah…distinction between criticising Israel and antisemitism…blah…Jewish establishment attack him…blah…want to shut down all debate…blah…don’t speak for all Jews…blah…AsAJew let me say that I admire Mr Ward’s refusal to be cowed by their attempts to paint all critics of Israel as antisemitic…”.
It could just as easily be boycotts. “BDS gaining ground…appalling how Israel’s defenders tar all critics with the label antisemite…AsAJew I am disgusted by Israel’s policy and urge a boycott.”
The AsAJew badge is the fulcrum around which their entire case is made. Mainstream Jewish opinion is overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, opposed to boycotts and intolerant of casual, let alone deliberate, antisemitism.
So they can’t speak on behalf of Jews as a whole. They need a device to break free of the double whammy of bad evidence and no support within the community of which they claim membership. That device is their AsAJew status. It grants them special authority to be listened to by non-Jews. “AsAJew I support a boycott.” In other words, “My AsAJew status means you non-Jews should pay extra attention to my words and so I’ve now given you the freedom to boycott Israel”.
Indeed, they imply, it’s precisely because they are a minority that they should be accorded special status, because theirs is the voice of real Judaism, unlike the Jewish establishment. They alone are ethical, pure and moral in their outlook. They are untainted by Zionism.
They’re entitled to their view, of course.
But since they base their entire case on their status AsAJew, I always want to ask them just one small question.
AsAJew…when were you last in shul?