Friday, February 13, 2009

A Kosher Reason For Backing Jews

Struggling with the vexed question of why an old liberal Leftie should feel so Jewish all of a sudden, the Orange Party is not alone in trying to unravel the mystery. The answer comes from another liberal Leftie, author Nick Cohen, who's delivered scorching polemics on the mixed-up values of the old Left. Cohen puts his finger on it: "The more the British Left indulges antisemitism, the more kosher I feel."

Cohen's article for the Jewish Chronicle begins in a jocular vein: 
My name is Nick Cohen, and I think I’m turning into a Jew. Despite being called “Cohen”, I’ve never been Jewish before.
But where he's coming from chimes with some on the so-called liberal left: 
My sole interest in Jewish concerns came from being a left-wing opponent of the far Right, and the blood-soaked antisemitic superstitions which turned Europe into a graveyard. When I was young, such attitudes seemed unproblematic. You did not have to be a Jew to oppose fascism; everyone I knew did that regardless of colour or creed.
And that leads into a powerful and forceful argument: 
Today the old certainties have gone because there are two far-right movements: the white neo-Nazi parties that the Left still opposes; and the clerical fascists of radical Islam which, extraordinarily, the modern Left succours and indulges. I am not only talking about Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and their gruesome accomplices in the intelligentsia. Wider liberal society is almost as complicit. It does not applaud the Islamist far Right, but it will not condemn it either. From the broadcasters, through the liberal press, the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, the bench of bishops and the judiciary, antisemitism is no longer an unthinkable mental deformation. As long as the conspiracy theories of the counter-enlightenment come from ideologues with dark rather than white skins, nominally liberal men and women will not speak out.
For Cohen, the experiences of left-wing antisemitism and in particular the BBC's Gaza bias has changed the way he thinks and there is no retreat: 
As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove the Nazism of the 20th.
Politicians keen on pseudo-liberal posturing should take note of that breath of fresh air. Give the boy a kosher sandwich.

Nick Cohen is the author of What's Left: How The Left Lost Its Way.

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