Thursday, December 28, 2023

Brendan O'Neill: Stephen Fry and the rise of woke anti-Semitism

The response to Fry’s Christmas message confirms that Jew hate has returned with a vengeance.

The great irony of the tidal wave of anti-Jew invective that has come Stephen Fry’s way over the past 48 hours is that it has perfectly proved his point. He goes on TV to say we are witnessing a ‘rise in anti-Jewish racism’ and right away there’s a spike in anti-Jewish racism. Even before he’d finished his touching fireside homily on Jew hate, the Jew haters were out in force to ask: ‘Who the f**k does he think he is?’ A Jew on TV? At Christmas? Wanging on about the victimisation of Jews? Vomit emoji. That was literally the response of the army of a*seholes that passes for the left these days, every one of them too dim to realise they were making Fry’s case for him.

Fry made his remarks on The Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4. That’s the non-royal Christmas Day TV sermon, a little witty, a little right-on, in which a celeb is invited to hold forth on a hot issue the monarch is likely to overlook. Normally middle-class radicals lap it up, but not this time, because… oh you know why. The last thing they needed while tucking into their pigs in blankets was a lecture from one of those people who don’t even eat pigs. I swear they were more rattled by Fry than they were when Channel 4 invited then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to give the alternative message in 2008. A literal Holocaust denier? What fun. A Jew concerned about anti-Semitism? Pass the remote.

Fry’s message was fair and benign. You’d have to be a frothing loon to object to it. He ‘came out’ as a Jew. He offered cold, hard facts. Since the Hamas pogrom of 7 October there have been 50 anti-Semitic incidents a day in London, he said. That’s an eye-watering 1,350 per cent rise in Jew-hate incidents. It’s the greatest rise in anti-Jewish racism in the UK since modern records began. He slammed the ‘venomous slurs’ heaped on Britain’s Jews in recent weeks. He made a plea for a return to the ‘decency’ our nation is famed for. And he ended on a note of Kumbaya. The ‘simple truth’, he said, is that ‘we are all brothers and sisters’: ‘It’s naive, but it’s as good a message as any other.’

Imagine hearing that and feeling enraged. Imagine seeing a famously genteel ‘national treasure’ express concern about anti-Jewish racism and shaking with fury. The Fryphobes protest too much. ‘We are not anti-Semites!’, they essentially screamed, in unison, all over the web. How interesting that you assumed Fry was talking about you…

The bile flowed. Lefty X users called Fry a cunt. They accused him of self-pity. One posted a photo of him in an expensive suit sipping tea juxtaposed with an image of an injured Palestinian child, damning the ‘very wealthy… son of a Jew’ for daring to speak about ‘vulnerability’ while Gaza is being bombed. Shorter version: pipe down, Jew.

They misrepresented him, too. This was a sly effort to ‘[smear] opponents of Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza as being motivated by racism’, said rapper Lowkey. What are you on about? Fry expressed remorse over the deaths on both sides of the war. He didn’t say a word about Israel’s critics. Does Lowkey think the daubing of swastikas on Jewish buildings and the smashing of windows in Jewish shops are acts of opposition to Israel? Because those were the incidents Fry specifically mentioned. That Lowkey hears someone condemn literal fascistic acts and thinks ‘Hey, why are you smearing us critics of Israel?’ is more revealing than he’ll ever know.

Another Fryphobe said, ‘We don’t have a problem with Jews, Stephen Fry, we have a problem with genocide and you know it’. Again, who’s this ‘we’? If you see a TV thing about racist attacks on Jewish people and Jewish property and you think it’s a reference to you, you’re telling on yourself, surely? ‘We don’t have a problem with Jews…’ is the new ‘I’m not an anti-Semite, but…’. ‘I’m not an anti-Semite, but the Jews are a tad greedy and controlling, aren’t they?’, said England’s tweed racists of old. ‘I don’t have a problem with Jews, but the Jewish State is a uniquely evil and barbarous entity, isn’t it?’, say their right-on grandsons and granddaughters. Same shit, different century.

Fry was slammed for ‘conflat[ing] anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism’. He didn’t do that. However, the spitting reaction to him rather suggested that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism have merged. How else do we explain so-called anti-Zionists completely losing the plot over a critique of anti-Semitism? I find anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism indistinguishable these days. ‘It isn’t anti-Semitic to criticise Israel’, they say. Yeah, yeah, we know. You know what probably is anti-Semitic, though? Obsessively loathing Israel. Treating it as uniquely murderous. Damning it for its alleged bloodlust. Accusing it of exercising a malign influence over the Great Powers. All the things once said about the Jews – they’re all-controlling, love spilling blood, think they’re better than the rest of us – are now said of the Jewish State. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism in woke drag.

Indeed, it wasn’t long before Fry’s message was held up as the sinister handiwork of an Octopus-like ‘Israel lobby’. One post that was liked more than 8,000 times suggested that Fry’s TV lecture showed just how powerful the Israel lobby can be. ‘The producers of Stephen Fry’s controversial Christmas message were members of a Zionist youth group that funnels members into the Israeli military’, said one ‘exposé’. You mean they were Jews, who have been to Israel? Maybe we should make lists of such people, like in the good old days.

Listen, people can pose as ‘anti-Zionists’ as much as they like. But the rest of us must be free to say that if you think an ‘Israel lobby’ controls everything, and you respond to a Jew raising concerns about Jew hate by screaming ‘cunt’, and you loathe the Jewish state more than any other, then it’s possible you’re the other thing. The thing that’s existed for far longer than the modern state of Israel.

I find the casual branding of Fry’s message as ‘controversial’ so striking. And depressing. That it’s controversial now to talk about a massive hike in Jew hate tells you everything you need to know. It was Fry’s description of anti-Semitism as the ‘one acceptable form of racism’ that most rattled the ‘anti-Zionists’. At some deep level, they know he’s right. They know that harassment at synagogues and the battering of Jews are less likely to bother the consciences of them and their middle-class friends than acts of hate against other minorities. Fry’s great crime was to induce feelings of shameful self-recognition in Channel 4’s audience, among the self-styled anti-racists of the professional managerial elites who have been disgustingly silent over the past 10 weeks of surging race hate. They angrily thought ‘Is this about us?’ because they knew it was.

That would be my one criticism of Fry. His only openly political comment concerned the far right, who, he said, love to point out that he’s Jewish. The far right is a menace, for sure. Their Jew hate has become more brazen in recent weeks. But the greatest threat to Jews in Britain today comes not from racist oafs from the 1970s, but from radicalised sections of the Muslim community, their craven apologists in the middle class and a polite society that disguises its suspicion of Jews as criticism of Israel. Confronting both Islamist and woke anti-Semitism is the pressing task of our time. Fry should be thanked for showing us how pressing it is.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

Settler colonial states have a terminal shelf life. Israel is no exception.
Israel will appear triumphant after it finishes its genocidal campaign in Gaza and the West Bank. Backed by the United States, it will achieve its demented goal. Its murderous rampages and genocidal violence will exterminate or ethnically cleanse Palestinians. Its dream of a state exclusively for Jews, with any Palestinians who remain stripped of basic rights, will be realized. It will revel in its blood-soaked victory. It will celebrate its war criminals. Its genocide will be erased from public consciousness and tossed into Israel’s huge black hole of historical amnesia. Those with a conscience in Israel will be silenced and persecuted.
Israel is a pariah state. This was publically on display on Dec. 12 when 153 member states at the U.N. General Assembly voted for a ceasefire, with only 10 — including the U.S. and Israel — opposed and 23 abstaining. Israel’s scorched earth campaign in Gaza means there will be no peace. There will be no two state solution. Apartheid and genocide will define Israel. This presages a long, long conflict, one the Jewish State cannot ultimately win.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous comment directly following Brendan’s essay is a great example of the point being made by Stephen Fry. To think that New Zealand harbours such depravity is frightening.

EP said...

Completely disagree with you "Anonymous" whom I suspect of being Muslim. I believe that Israel will continue, I celebrate their courage and intelligence and humanity in the face of the murderous hideous hordes who mindlessly seek their destruction. I do not wish you well.

Madame Blavatsky said...

Jews typically dress up any criticism of themselves, or really anything short of absolute reverence for their being self-appointed eternal victims of the Goyim, as being "anti-semitic." Having established that the "anti-semitic" bar is so very very low, let's do what O'Neill insists and look at facts:

"He offered cold, hard facts. Since the Hamas pogrom of 7 October there have been 50 anti-Semitic incidents a day in London, he said. That’s an eye-watering 1,350 per cent rise in Jew-hate incidents. It’s the greatest rise in anti-Jewish racism in the UK since modern records began."

Firstly, what is the definition of a "Jew-hate" incident? O'Neill doesn't tell us, and for good reason: a "Jew-hate" incident is anything that a non-Jew does that makes a Jew feel even slightly uncomfortable. For instance, disagreeing with the actions of Jews in Israel vis a vis the Palestinians.

So if there are 50 incidents where a Jew is made to feel disagreed with, then that is a "Jew-hate" incident. Of course, we are supposed to think that a "Jew-hate" incident is something like a Jewish person being beaten up or a swastika scrawled on a synagogue – events that are, in reality, as rare as hens teeth.

Moreover, when 50 incidences of X a day equate to a 1350% increase of X, this means that you obviously starting from an incredibly low normal rate.

It is a shame that attitudes toward Jews as a group have taken a sharp downturn since the ethnic cleansing in Gaza began a couple of months ago, but let's get real: the reason for the attitude is the actions of particular Jews, nobody else. I don't care what Stephen Fry has to say on the matter, and he should really tell it to Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF, not the people of Britain.

Ray S said...

Anonymous @ 11:40
Wow, some hate speech right there.
Yes, you probably are Muslim, and unaware of all the history around Israel and Palestine.
I suggest it would be useful for you read history, include everything BC.

Madame Blavatsky said...

Anonymous at 11:40am
I agree completely, just like the other time I agreed completely when I called you out for similarly ripping off a Chris Hedges article verbatim. Hedges published that article (titled "The Death of Israel"), among other places, in the Unz Review a week or so ago. If you are going to plagiarise, then at least acknowledge the fact.

Anonymous said...

There is such a thing as evil. The actions of Hamas fit in this category. Historically acts of evil have triggered non-proportionate responses because of the sheer horror they engender. Retaliation is often devastating with extensive residual damage.
It is very hard to believe that the population of Palestine (as with the German population in the nineteen-forties) was unaware of what was going on and what the intention ultimately was.
I am not saying the toll being taken by innocent Palestinians is not a tragedy, I am just saying that history tells us that when evil happens, and a population is complicit, or silent, the results can be devastating and widespread.
There is no doubt in my mind that anti-semitism is fueling much anti-Israel sentiment at present.
This should cause concern throughout the West. Once Judaism is dealt with, should this be the case, Christianity is next, once Christianity is dealt with, atheism will be next ... on the path to a pan-Islamic State.
Of course, evil is denied by the left because its acceptance means there is such a thing as moral good, and this is the last thing the left (and the far right) want to hear.

Robert Arthur said...

To blame Jewish descended people everywhere for the acts of Israel would be like blaming the Islams in Christchurch for the Islamic atrocities committed in Paris, Scandinavia and many places else.

Ribro90 said...

The comments by M.Blat and others prove the validity of SF's case. What they are saying is that Isreal has no right to retaliate against Hamass aggression. Hamass and the Palestinians who celebrated in the streets after the Oct 7 attack brought this against themselves.
Hamass consistently use schools, mosques and hospitals as terrorist bases. They are cowards who hide behind children to protect themselves, they shout out their determination to exterminate all Jews but portray themselves as the victims.
No country in the Islamic world will accept them as refugees because of the insane hatred they bring with them.
20 years ago I saw the vile hatred they broadcast on their children's TV. They are the modern reincarnation of Hitler's youth and the only solution is to bomb them into submission and start again.

Anonymous said...

There will be no two state solution - the current Israeli leadership will not permit it. Palestinians are persecuted by Hamas - they are not complicit or silent or cooperating. They are petrified of Hamas - who take no enemies. Palestinians are victims of Hamas as much as Israel is. So saying they sort of 'deserve this bombing, starvation' is just wrong. Israel wants the Palestinians out and off their own land. Don't listen to Israeli rhetoric (groomed for US ears) just look at their actions. So weird that Palestinians who have always lived in this country now will be forced out. I agree the bar to call something anti-semetism is way lower than what is considered anti-muslim or anti-arabic. Any language is scrutinized constantly for a whiff of ánti-semetism'. It is over the top and just a way of bullying public discourse. So it goes underground. Reasonable people see injustice and horror no matter how the media frames it and they come to their own conclusions.

Rob Beechey said...

What ever happened to “They are us”? Has it now become “They are us providing that they are not Jewish.

DeeM said...

Poor old Stephen. Most of his woke mates have turned on him. That's what happens with the Left these days.
Step out of line from the official wonky, makes little sense, hypocritical position on every social and current affairs issue around, and they eat their own.

Maybe Stephen will reconsider his membership of this elite group. Though I doubt it.
He'll probably debase himself, apologise profusely and beg to be let back in. After all. it's cold out here in reality land.

oneblokesview said...

Tribalism is getting worse.
For or against seems the only alternative?

I am reminded when Russia invaded Ukraine after Ukraine kept bombing the Donbaaaas.
It was all anti Russia. Ya ya Ukraine.

When Israel invades Hamas after Hamas killed Israelis
Then it was all anti Palestine. Ya ya Israel.

As the opinion has changed in the UKrainian conflict. Its now Zelensky is an idiot and Ukrainians are dying needlessly.

So the opinion is changing in the Middle east.
Its now
Netanyahu is a war criminal/ Genocide initiator.
This expressed as support for the Palestinians.

Needless to say both conflicts have generated huge amounts of emotional propaganda from Ukraine and Israel (interesting that both are outrageously supported by the Biden Administration)