For 22 years, Hadley Freeman wrote for the British newspaper the Guardian, one of the world’s most influential English-language news outlets—and also a hotbed of obsessive anti-Israel sentiment. Freeman, having just stepped down from the publication, reflects on her experience as a Jew ensconced in a bastion of the British left. What strikes her most are the responses she received from non-Jewish leftists whenever she expressed concern about the takeover of the Labor party by the anti-Semitic politician Jeremy Corbyn and his acolytes. She lists five characteristic comments:
1. “I don’t think you should write about anti-Semitism because you obviously feel very passionately about it.”
2. “What, exactly, are Jews afraid of here? It’s not like Corbyn is going to bring back pogroms.”
3. “Jews have always voted right so of course, they don’t like Corbyn.”
4. “It’s not that I don’t believe that you think he’s anti-Semitic. It’s just I think you’re being manipulated by bad-faith actors. So let me explain why you’re wrong . . . ”
5. “Come on, you don’t really think he really hates Jews.”
All of the above were said to me by progressive people, people who would proudly describe themselves as anti-racism campaigners. And yet. When Jews expressed distress at, say, Corbyn describing Hamas as “friends,” or attending a wreath-laying ceremony for the killers at the Munich Olympics, or bemoaning the lack of English irony among Zionists, we were fobbed off with snarky tweets and shrugged shoulders.
A lot of illusions were broken, and I lost a lot of respect for a lot of people I thought I knew, but it turned out I didn’t. Not really. Not at all.
More about: Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Guardian, Jeremy Corbyn