A week of Jew-baiting and Israel-bashing in Londonistan

Jun 22, 2019 by

by Melanie Phillips:

Sometimes, a chilling reality is illuminated not so much by what someone says but by the laughter that it provokes.

At the Cambridge Union debating society on Sunday, asked why he’d made a point of associating Jews with money, the Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, replied: “I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends.”

At which a great gust of laughter swept across his audience. They thought this swipe at Jewish people was funny.

In London this week, I took part in an Intelligence Squared debate before a hostile audience of 950 in which the former Israeli MK Einat Wilf and I were proposing that anti-Zionism was antisemitism.

When I observed that the Israelis go to unique lengths to avoid killing civilians in war and that the ratio of civilians to fighters whose deaths they cause is at least three or four times better than in any other country, the audience laughed derisively. When I said Israeli Arabs enjoyed full civil rights, the audience laughed again in disbelief.

It reminded me of the moment on BBC TV’s Question Time show in 2001, when I pointed out to a venomous audience that Israel was the only democracy in the Middle East. The audience laughed in scorn.

To be a proud Jew in Britain now is to feel oppressed inside a mirrored universe in which truth and lies have been reversed and what was once thought beyond the pale is now standard discourse.

Mahathir Mohamad has a long record as a virulent antisemite. Bitterly criticized for giving him a platform, the Cambridge Union defended itself by saying the laughter had emanated from Mohamad’s own delegation and critics should watch the whole discussion rather than a clip out of context.

But the whole discussion was much worse. For Mohamad made one antisemitic comment after another with only the most feeble of pushbacks.

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