Graham’s Law

Inspired by Godwin’s Law, I’ve decided to declare a new principle:

As a political row involving any Jewish actors, no matter how tangentially, grows longer, the probability that someone will claim anti-semitism approaches one.

Apparently, for example, the cash-for-honours investigation is now officially anti-semitism. This would be rather more believable were it not for the fact that many of the people being investigated by the police at the moment were being accused of anti-semitism a couple of years ago (the degree to which references to pigs, even flying ones, is genuinely considered to be anti-semitism was put into perspective for me when, walking through the Jewish dominated Golders Green, I saw headlines screaming the allegation on the cover of the local rag, the, um, Ham and High). You can’t make any criticism of Israel without someone, somewhere, making the same accusation.

One point made in today’s Guardian must not be allowed to go unchallenged:

Journalists don’t refer to ‘Christian businessman’ or ‘Protestant businessman’. They only ever talk about Jewish people in that way.

I suspect that Peter Vardy and Robert Edmiston may quibble with that. Jonathan Freedland claims that ‘flamboyant’ is code for ‘Jew’ – I would suggest it is more likely to be code for ‘former Alvin Stardust record producer’. I’m certainly unaware of Lembit Opik‘s Jewish roots (and again, I suspect that calling Lembit flamboyant has more to do with his tendency to turn up to the opening of a paper bag and predilection for celeb gfs than it has to do with his Estonian roots).

The problem is, labelling every criticism of every Jew as anti-semitism is cheapening the term. These claims are in danger of creating exactly the kind of complacency that the people who are so prone to make them appear to be so worried about.

Personally, I find that people lack perspective when it comes to the cash-for-peerages investigation. While selling peerages is clearly wrong and corrupt, it has gone on for decades and it is no worse than giving someone a peerage for loyalty (there is a permanent coterie of brown-nosers which sniffs around the Lib Dem leadership who have a horrific tendency to find their obsequiousness rewarded with a peerage despite making very little financial contribution). Levy and Blair’s greatest crime appears to have been to get caught; and the focus on Levy appears to have more to do with transference due to his affinity with Blair than anything to do with his background.

But lazy allegations of racism risks leading to a guilty man walking free and the public perception that our political system is incapable of curing itself of corruption. So excuse me if I treat such claims with suspicion.

UPDATE: Darn, it looks like Graham’s law is already taken.


  1. Sensible stuff, James. The cheap use of the charge of antisemitism in this case (and elsewhere) is tremendously frustrating to those of us, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, who have any sensible response to the real evil of antisemitism.

    (As for the accusation that only Jews and not Christian businessmen are described with reference to their religion, one has only to do a search of the Guardian website to see this is rubbish.)

  2. Another comment, on a slightly different topic:

    We also need to consider how the term ‘Muslim’ is used to describe people in Britain, in some of the media it is all but a term of denigration in itself. Any response to antisemitism (Judeophobia is a more useful term, I think) needs to go hand in hand with a response to Islamophobia, the major problem of bigotry on religious grounds in Britain.

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