The Board of Deputies have made it all-but-official: If you are not anti-Arab, you are automatically anti-Semitic

June 1, 2018

by Martin Odoni

The notorious outgoing President of the British Board of Jewish Deputies this week made perhaps the most ridiculous public statement of his entire, lamentable career. The eternally right-wing Jonathan Arkush, speaking to the eternally right-wing Daily Telegraph, claimed,

“Delegitimising the state of Israel is antisemitic. [Jeremy Corbyn] was a chairman of Stop the War, which is responsible for some of the worst anti-Israel discourse. If he shares the prevalent discourse about Israel, then that view is unquestionably antisemitic… [The BDI] will not accept a discourse which denies the existence of their own land to the Jewish people. I think we are all entitled to some clarity on his real views about Israel.”

This remark is either a cynical smear, or a call from the heights of deranged paranoia. Arkush and his allies in the Zionist (important; not Jewish) community keep levelling charges like this at the Labour leader, among many others on the left of the party. But each time, they put precious little meat on the bones of their accusations. There is never a coherent explanation from Arkush as to what Corbyn has really said that is so objectionable, examples are few-and-far-between, and what quotations are offered are usually taken out-of-context.

Arkush also said that Corbyn’s Labour has British Jews wondering: “Do we have a future here?” Not for the first time, and probably not the last, I find myself wanting to ask the Board, “When were you going to ask me before speaking for me?” Because I am one Jew who has never wondered whether I have a future here at all, and no one has ever asked me if I have.

Arkush also stated quite concretely that Corbyn holds ‘anti-Semitic views’, but again offers no specific examples to that effect, just more generalised grumbles about Corbyn’s history of criticisng Israeli policies.

More particularly, Arkush’s leading attempt to imply that Corbyn has a history of ‘delegitimising the state of Israel’ is an outrageous lie. Corbyn’s associations with the Stop The War coalition reveal not a shred of evidence of that; Stop The War are frequent critics of Israel, beyond doubt, but they have never argued particularly for its destruction. (And no, before anyone comments with the familiar urban myth, Stop The War did not publish an article four years ago literally demanding a war with Israel. The often-cited article by Professor Richard Falk was arguing for non-military action against Israel.) Stop The War question the decision to create Israel, and the process by which it happened – especially the much-under-discussed role of Zionist militancy in the mid-1940s – but that is quite different from wanting the country to be destroyed. The coalition, like most critics of Israel, want to see the country reformed with full rights for all Palestinians on an equal footing with all Jews, be it by a one-state or two-state solution. Condemnation of policy is quite different from condemnation of existence.

Arkushleep

So on examination, Arkush’s protestations are not against the way anyone in the Labour Party or Stop The War treats Jews at all. He objects instead to the way that the left will not endorse Israel’s treatment of Arabs. The refusal to approve the repeated slaughters of Arabs is anti-Semitic, according to Arkush.

The only conclusion we can draw from Arkush’s rant – probably his last before rightly stepping down as the Board’s President – is that he sees Israel/Palestine in the most childish of binary terms. He thinks that people can be anti-Semitic, or they can be anti-Arab. (They can also, perhaps, be both.) But as far as Arkush is concerned, it is not possible to be neither. So if you are not anti-Arab, you have to be an anti-Semite. That is how dimensionless Arkush’s reasoning skills are.

I have written numerous times before about the subconscious anti-Semitic mindset required to weaponise anti-Semitism allegations, reducing Jews from human beings to mere tools of disputational convenience – even when the weaponiser is Jewish. So if the Board as a whole endorses Arkush’s remarks, then the Board of Jewish Deputies is now an anti-Semitic organisation.

7 Responses to “The Board of Deputies have made it all-but-official: If you are not anti-Arab, you are automatically anti-Semitic”


  1. Arkrush is demented , where the zionist army and government make atrocities they will get criticised
    There you go Arkrush stick that where the sunn don’t shind

  2. Peter raditedu Says:

    I am confused I was appalled at the shootings recently by the Israeli Army does that make me anti-Semitic?


  3. […] This remark is either a cynical smear, or a call from the heights of deranged paranoia. Arkush and his allies in the Zionist (important; not Jewish) community keep levelling charges like this at the Labour leader, among many others on the left of the party. But each time, they put precious little meat on the bones of their accusations. There is never a coherent explanation from Arkush as to what Corbyn has really said that is so objectionable, examples are few-and-far-between, and what quotations are offered are usually taken out-of-context. {The Board of Deputies have made it all-but-official: If you are not anti-Arab, you are automatically…} […]

  4. James Ritchie Says:

    A very interesting article that should be widely shared. Thank you.


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