The outrage directed against Kevin Myers’s depiction of women, Jews and money in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times was inevitable. At first glance, there appears little to learn from an easily recognised old-fashioned antisemitism, but dig deeper and its shabby prejudices help us to understand the language that is all too commonly used about Jews, Zionism and money, across the political spectrum.
Myers’s squalid example of blatant antisemitic language was swiftly dealt with but the premise of Jews and money and cunning remains rampant.
The antisemitic association of Jews with money is deeply embedded within British literature and culture. It is also a fundamental component of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including those that employ the word “Zionist” where the word “Jew” once appeared.
This goes back to Jews being blamed for selling out Jesus (money-changers in the temple, Judas’s 30 pieces of silver) and the notion of them bearing responsibility for his killing.
Since then, the Jews, money and cunning theme has been essential to accusations of Jewish power, manipulation and conspiracy: whether it is Nazi accusations of Jews causing two World Wars, the popularity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion throughout the Muslim world, or the way in which the word “Zionist” is routinely used and abused within far-left circles.
The continuity between these overlapping anti-Zionisms and old-school antisemitism is stark and simple. “Zionism” derives its wealth from Jewish money. “Zionism” derives its cunning from the same Jewish street-smart that enables Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman to earn more than non-Jewish women.
It is all very well then to condemn Myers, but there are immeasurably more insidious forces using the same language and age-old myths.
These forces, whether Islamist, far right, far left or New Age, are not trying to give some bizarre compliment about how much they admire Jews. Rather, they use it as antisemites always have — as a means of explaining the hidden hands that run the world, as a means of excusing their own failure, while also justifying their own hatred of Jews, or, now, of “Zionists”.
Kevin Myers came and went this week. The rest of it remains.
Mark Gardner is communications director of the Community Security Trust