Have I got Jews for you!

The AsaJews are a disgrace, argues David Aaronovitch

May 05, 2016 14:05

Last weekend, as Ken Livingstone was doing the rounds of the broadcasting studios and battle was joined over the question of Hitler the Unexpected Zionist, my online world was invaded by the Asajews. They weren't contacting me directly, the Asajews, but they were being deployed in my direction by a number of Twitter users.

The deployers were what you might call "left Labour loyalists" - people who had stoutly maintained that Ed Miliband was a winner and who are now determined that the world should give Jeremy a chance. I am reasonably sure that none of them was Jewish, but this was Twitter so who can know?

Anyway, this was the gist of what they said. Had I seen - link supplied - this statement/letter in the Guardian, this article on the Open Democracy website or wherever, saying that the whole Labour antisemitic row was an exaggeration by Labour-haters who just wanted a pretext to ditch the People's Tribune? Sometimes sending the link was enough and sometimes - unsubtly and just in case I hadn't got the point - they would add, "are these people antisemitic too?"

The "these people" were the Asajews. I heard quite a few of them on Any Answers last week. "As a Jew myself, I want to tell you that…" And there followed something that would say that the contributor believed that Labour had no antisemitism problem and that the real problem was those who kept on going on about antisemitism when what they were truly objecting to was any criticism of the state of Israel.

My point in this column is not the Asajews themselves, many doubtless noble and some of whom wear their Jewishness very lightly considering how often they bring it out for rhetorical use.

There has long been a round-robinocracy who can be got to sign a Guardian letter at such short notice I often wonder whether they've had a chance to read it first. And I seriously doubt whether the more moderate "justice for Palestinians" wing of the Asajews has any idea what the "Jews Against Zionism" co-signatory wing has been up to in between letters. The first declare that they are a "network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not", and the second say of themselves, in the words of Roland Rance, that "it's an absolute fundamental for my whole political existence that Zionism is not just something I am opposed to - it is my enemy." (The same meeting, by the way, turned up Lenni Brenner of Hitler the Zionist fame, insisting that pro-Israel sentiment in the US is entirely the product of Jewish money.)

Deployment of 'Asajews' borders on the disgraceful

No, my point is what someone thinks they are doing when they archly link me to something written on such a subject by Asajews as though this was itself a decisive argument.

"See," they're saying, "some Jews who agree with me, not you. That proves I am right." And indeed I imagine the Asajews intend this to be the way some non-Jews react. This mentality might be dubbed "Have I Got Jews For You". My correspondents may or may not realise that the far right have been doing this with sects like Neturei Karta or men like Otto Weininger for decades. "You see! A Jew who admits that Jews are appalling," they say. "They're Jews! They should know!"

It's no different to quote an Asajew at me on the basis that this gives authority in itself to an argument. If I were then to get a round-robin signed by a hundred times as many Jews, would this make me a hundred times righter than they are? Would they say, "oh gosh, you have a lot more Jews there than I do, I concede"?

No, they bloody wouldn't. The Asajews used in this way are just a stage army and their deployment, frankly borders on the disgraceful.

May 05, 2016 14:05

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