Letters to the Editor: Racists and antisemites have freedom of speech. So do decent people who are opposed to antisemitism.
We are not talking about people like the late comedian Andy Kaufman or actor Jim Carrey, who are not entitled to use their celebrity to peddle their vile ideas. We are talking about the likes of British historian Tom McCarthy, who recently wrote a piece in The Spectator that accused Jews of using their money to buy politicians. The Daily Mail’s David Cameron, a former Conservative leader, once said that he wanted to deport the “troublemakers” from Britain, but in practice his government only deported some of them.
By accusing Jews of the practice of bribery, McCarthy was merely applying the definition of bribery to the Jewish religion. It’s not a term that has gained popularity with British Jews.
In his piece, McCarthy also compared the Jewish religion to communism and Nazism and said the Israeli government’s policy of settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory is “genocide”. “Israel’s settlement policy is a crime against peace. In the view of the United Nations, it is a war crime. Israel is committing genocide by forcing Palestinians to buy land that cannot be theirs,” wrote McCarthy.
These comments are deeply offensive and have no place in the public discourse. McCarthy has every right to express his views. But it is also the case that we should not take offence at those views.
The American right-wing activist and radio host Glenn Beck has a track record of making outrageous remarks about Jewish people.
Last week, he made a claim that, while he doesn’t think the Holocaust happened, “there is no doubt” that the Jews played a role in the Nazi era. “People don’t realise the Jewish role is what makes that a holocaust. They own it. They control it. They use it to divide us.”
Beck was condemned by the Jewish community. Conservative party leader Andrew Lansley called Beck’s comments “deeply disturbing”. Beck later issued a video apology to members of the Jewish community and said he would no longer promote his views on his radio show.
It is an embarrassment for the Conservative party, and also a shame that Beck is getting airtime on the media. He is a bigot who should be shunned and not given