Gary Lineker is taking the piss now, isn’t he? He’s had his knuckles rapped by the BBC numerous times for sharing his centrist-dad blather online. For using the public platform gifted to him by us licence-fee payers – on pain of criminal conviction – to advertise his milquetoast views that most people think are bollocks. And yet now, in studied defiance of his bosses, he’s given voice to his most ignorant political opinion yet. To a dinner-party prejudice that isn’t only irritating but will feel genuinely hurtful to many who are forced by law to make Lineker rich. He’s tweeted a link to a video in which Israel is accused of committing genocide against the Palestinians.
This is serious, no? Mr Lineker is a representative of Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC. He is the face of BBC Sport. Did he not stop to think how the Jewish section of the public might feel about his sharing of a clip damning Israel as genocidal? Did it not cross his mind that our Jewish citizens who are compelled to pay his wages might now feel a lesser part of ‘the public’ that the Beeb is meant to embody? The vast majority of British Jews support Israel (if not the Netanyahu government). They consider it ‘the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people’. Call me a contrarian, but I think people paid by the public to provide a service to the public ought not to alienate any section of that public by sharing inflammatory ideological claims.
We can now see how stunningly lacking in virtue the virtue-signallers are. When Hamas fascists launched their pogrom against Israel on 7 October, Lineker said nothing. On the day itself, this bloke who loves to wring his hands over bad things said nowt about the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. He did find time to congratulate Spurs for getting to the top of the league, though. The next day, too, not a whisper. Finally, on 9 October, he said something. Kind of. He tweeted a link to a new episode of The Rest is Politics in which his mates, Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart, talked about the Israel-Hamas conflict. Given his keen interest in events that apparently echo the 1930s – he famously accused then home secretary Suella Braverman of using ‘language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’ – it was striking he had so little to say about an atrocity that really did echo the 1930s.
Yet now Mr Lineker is not so quiet. Now he invites his millions of followers to watch a prof accuse Israel of genocide. So this is the ‘virtue’ of the virtue-signallers: when racist terrorists carry out the worst act of anti-Semitic slaughter of modern times, they go dumb; when the victim of that racist slaughter dares to respond, they pipe up. The inversion of morality taking place here is mind-bending. Hamas is a genuinely genocidal terror movement that frequently gives voice to its apocalyptic racial animus for the Jews and its desire to erase Israel. And yet it is Israel’s war against Hamas that is branded genocidal. The idea that hunting genocidal terrorists is genocide is an act of despicable doublethink.
When you actually watch those 13 minutes that Mr Lineker thinks are worth ‘anybody’s time’, it gets worse. Raz Segal doesn’t only accuse Israel of genocide – he also rebukes those who say Hamas’s 7 October pogrom echoed the anti-Jewish barbarism of the past. Yes, it was ‘horrendous’, he says, but it is ‘not a crime related to the Holocaust in any way’. His reasoning? Well, in the mid-20th century it was ‘powerless Jews’ being killed by ‘one of the most powerful states and armies’ – the Nazis. This time round, we have a ‘very powerful state’ – Israel – being attacked by ‘Palestinians who for decades [have been] under Israeli settler-colonial rule’. So it’s a ‘very, very different context’.
This is one of the most morally vacuous statements I have heard in a very long time. It is proof, surely, of the mind rot that flows from the Western identitarian obsession with power relations. For the truth is that on 7 October it was ‘powerless Jews’ being murdered by a ‘powerful army’. In that pogrom, that moment, unarmed Jews were completely overpowered by a racist militia. Anyone who has witnessed the summary execution of two teenage girls at the music festival, or the bombing to death of an unarmed dad trying to shield his two sons, or the shooting of an elderly Jew in his kitchen, will know that, once again, yes, ‘powerless Jews’ were murdered for being Jews. No, it was not the Holocaust. Hamas, mercifully, is incapable of carrying out such industrial levels of murder. But the idea that ‘powerless Jews’ being murdered by racists in 2023 is entirely different to ‘powerless Jews’ being murdered by racists in 1943 is a wilful delusion born of brains poisoned by wokeness.
And Gary Lineker shares this? This questioning of a belief held by many Jewish people that the pogrom of 7 October echoed – in its murderous bigotry if not its scale – the hatreds of the mid-20th century? That is a new low. As a free-speech absolutist, I will not get behind the chorus of ‘Sack Lineker’ that has risen up today. The clamour for censure is never good. And yet it seems unquestionable to me that Lineker’s behaviour over the past 24 hours finally explodes the myth of BBC neutrality. If the best-known faces of the Beeb can hold forth on the hottest issues of the day, even going so far as to help spread the lie that one of Britain’s key allies is a genocidal entity, then the BBC is not a neutral institution. That’s just a fact.
I think some people still do not appreciate the extent of the moral collapse that has taken place in Britain’s upper-middle classes. That is fundamentally what Lineker’s virtue-signal over genocidal Israel speaks to – a moral rot in influential circles so profound that they cannot even recognise a ‘powerless Jew’ when she is on her knees begging an anti-Semitic monster not to shoot her. We can laugh at Lineker’s desperate need for attention. We can mock his lukewarm takes. We can make fun of his painfully predictable Guardianista stance on every issue. But the moral disorder in bourgeois society that has been brutally exposed by the October pogrom is not so funny.
Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer. This article was first published HERE