Welby should check his facts before uttering inanities
Mazel Tov, Justin Welby! You’ve done it again. I don’t mean the picture of you against the Western Wall in Jerusalem with Chief Rabbi Mirvis. Your Twitter groupies are killing themselves trying to string together 140 characters and come up with a slogan for a picture worthy of a caption competition!
Okay, they have had their fun. Now it is time to get serious. Your Grace, let me wish you another Mazel Tov for yet another Welbyism. Here’s what you said in your speech at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum: ‘Within European culture, the root of all racism, I think, is found in anti-Semitism.’
I spent ten days doing an advanced course on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism at Yad Vashem. We had some of the world’s best academics lecturing us in Hebrew, French and English. There was one lesson they were constantly trying to drill into our thick heads: Don’t compare anti-Semitism to other forms of racism.
But that’s just what Welby has done. He takes a priceless Fabergé egg, places it on a heap of hen, duck and ostrich eggs. Then he turns to the media and proclaims: “Fabergé eggs are at the root of all other eggs!” I can’t think of an Archbishop of Canterbury in living memory who knows so little but talks such a lot. Welby has a whole squadron of spin doctors. Why can’t he appoint one good research assistant? Why does he not check his facts before uttering his inanities?
Jews are not a race! Hasn’t Welby read his Old Testament? ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite’ (Ezekiel 16: 3). Ruth, one of Judaism’s most revered women, is a Moabite! Israel’s origins lie in the Exodus, and this great movement in the history of freedom is comprised of ‘a mixed multitude’ who ‘went up with them’ (Exodus 12: 38). Using sociological theories, scholars like Norman Gottwald explain how local Canaanites banded together with the Hebrews and rebelled against the ‘statist’ regime of Canaan in favour of a more ‘egalitarian’ people that would become the nation of Israel and, after the exile, the Jewish people.
I spent another ten days as a volunteer with the Israeli Defence Forces at the Kerem Shalom army base on the Israeli-Gaza-Egypt border. I’ve yet to find such a dazzling array of Jewish race, language, or skin colour. I was able to chat in Marathi (my wife’s mother-tongue) with female Jewish soldiers whose parents had made aliyah from Mumbai! Of course, they also spoke fluent Hebrew. The officer with me in my task—building a fence on the Egyptian border—was a fun-loving, dark-skinned Ethiopian Jew—just as the Bible might describe him!
Anti-Semites hate Jews because Jews are Jewish.
I was warned that the food at Kerem Shalom was ‘basic army food’ and that I should escape and seek out a good Irish pub in Tel Aviv on Shabbat! Guess what? The food was a multicultural feast gone mad—with eye-watering spices from Yemen waltzing alongside Ashkenazi Bublitchki to pacify the palate of Russian and Ukrainian Jews in the camp. What unites Jews is a common religion and common loyalty to the land of Israel—not a single race. Welby’s fantasy about Jews being a race probably comes from watching Fiddler on the Roof five hundred times!
Welby’s speech does grave injustice to campaigners against anti-Semitism. It damages the Fabergé egg. I’m not saying other eggs are not valuable. I’m saying you can’t break a Fabergé egg and hen, duck and ostrich eggs and tell the world you’re going to make a Fabergé omelette. Anti-Semitism, European, Leftist or Islamic, is sui generis.
‘Until that (anti-Semitism) is expelled from our culture there will be a root, a tap root, for all racism, all discrimination, all cruelty, because of the nature of the human being in our culture,’ pontificates Welby.
Please, not more left wing drivel, Your Grace! You can eliminate all racism, discrimination, cruelty from a culture, but still hate Jews. European and American leftists are stoutly against racism, discrimination and cruelty. Yet, leftism remains diabolically anti-Semitic. Islam is racially inclusive. Islam, although dominated by Arabs, is not a race-based religion but welcomes people of all races. Sadly this has not restrained Islam from its ferocious anti-Semitism--somewhat debunking the Archbishop of Canterbury’s confused contention that anti-Semitism is the root of racism. In fact, the Koran say that Allah turned Jews into apes and swine! These were most likely Arab Jews who opposed Muhammad when he went to Medina. They were not Ashkenazi Jews!
Oh, and by the way, can Welby offer empirical evidence for his claim that anti-Semitism is the root of all racism? Indians can often be horribly racist. African students at Indian universities complain of appalling racism—because they are black. The matrimonial columns in Indian newspapers are full of ads soliciting brides of ‘fair complexion.’ But India was one of the few countries to welcome Jews when Europe was hounding them out. Israeli-Jewish soldiers who have completed national service flock to India for their gap-year and are very well treated! You can be racist and philo-Semitic or anti-racist and anti-Semitic. Or you can be both.
‘It is also clear that anti-Semitism is not ethnic or racial prejudice, though it obviously shares certain features with them. Anti-Semites persecuted Jews for the same reasons Romans persecuted Christians, Nazis tortured members of the Resistance, and Soviets imprison dissidents. In each instance, the group is persecuted because its different beliefs represent a threat to the persecuting group. This hatred must be understood as being very different from a prejudice.’
The quote above is from one of the best analyses of anti-Semitism in a book called Why the Jews: The Reason for Antisemitism by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin (the latter is an Orthodox rabbi). Anti-Semites hate Jews because Jews are Jewish. Antisemitism is an inevitable consequence of Jewishness. Please, Justin. Do give your spin doctors a day off, grab a bottle and a pipe, curl up in your hammock and read this book before you write your next speech on anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, try cooking a yummy Anglican omelette minus the Fabergé egg.
(Originally published in The Conservative Woman).