Is racism Levy’s middle name?

Curious dead horse flogging from Lynne Featherstone yesterday, which I’m rebutting here in a vain attempt to stop yet another conspiracy theory gaining ground:

But there is one point that has struck me as valid – why do we keep on being told Lord Levy’s middle name? It’s Abraham – and so telling us his middle name in a news report emphasises, deliberately or not, that he’s Jewish.

All a bit rum. I’m very loathe to leap to the assumption that people in the BBC and elsewhere in the media are being deliberately anti-Semitic, and I’d like to think that even a charge of inadvertent anti-Semitism can be explained away, but I’m stumped for a decent explanation for the repeated use of “Abraham”.

As I pointed out on her comments, the explanation is pretty mundane. Look up Levy in Dod’s and you’ll find his full name listed as “Michael Abraham Levy”. I suspect it is listed in the same way in Who’s Who. Levy has control over both of these entries. Ruth Turner is certainly not listed in the former, and, given its snootiness regarding ordinary people without titles, lots of money or a high profile media career, presumably not included in the latter.

Journalists, being lazy working to tight deadlines, rely on such sources to quickly find out biographical information about people. In short, if you choose to have yourself listed as “Michael Abraham Levy,” then you are bound to find people call you “Michael Abraham Levy.” If Levy preferred to call himself “Michael Levy,” that would be a different matter, but he doesn’t.

But the most bizarre thing about this claim is that the man is called Levy, which is about as Jewish a name as you can get. If you’re intention is to make him ‘sound’ Jewish, why would you emphasise Abraham, a prophet recognised by the Christian and Islamic traditions? Should we now be restricted to calling him Mike, just to make sure we don’t offend anyone?


  1. I don’t think your explanation really works James. Why would journalists be looking up Michael Levy’s name in the first place – after all, he’s a very well known person (and so with a very well known name)? It’s not like looking up, say, the Prime Minister of a Third World country where a UK journalist might not know their name.

    And the references to him being Jewish are made much more often than references to any of the other people in the cash for peerages affair being Catholic or Protestant or atheist or any other religion.

    Why are we often told Levy’s religion but not that of Turner or Yates or the other figures?

  2. Yates isn’t under investigation. What is Ruth Turner’s religion, do you know? We can guess from her first name that she’s Catholic, but does anyone actually know?

    Google “Michael Abraham Levy” and you find that all the top responses are profiles. So are all the examples that Lynne points out. People who write profiles (usually the lowliest flunky who happens to be in the room at the time) will turn to things like Dod’s in the first instance. And again, I put it to you that Michael Abraham Levy is what the man himself WANTS to be called. At worst, they are just being polite.

    To expand on what I wrote on Lynne’s blog, if Levy is a special case here due to his Jewishness, then why do I get 169 results when I google “Peter Keith Levene”, 298 results when I google “Anthony Paul Lester” or 56 results when I type in “Alexander Park Leitch”? According to your theory, the more famous a person is, the less likely people are to refer to their middle names. Lord Lester is easily the most famous of those three peers, yet his full name (including his ultimate in very Christian middle names) is quoted more than the others.

    Speaking of the Prime Ministers of Third World Countries, when I Google “Anthony Charles Lynton Blair” I get 21,400 responses. Numerous ones make reference to his father and son’s distinctly Jewish-sounding name Leo. Coincidence or further evidence of a conspiracy?

    Be careful what you are saying here Mark. If you are correct, then there must be a grand anti-semitic conspiracy going on that most major newspapers and the BBC are in on. This is skirting dangerously close to “Princess-Diana-invented-a-time-machine-so-she-could-blow-up-the-Twin-Towers-and-kill-JFK” territory. Do you actually have any proof, or are you just claiming that the circumstantial evidence speaks for itself? This is an extremely serious accusation you’re making.

  3. Not a grand conspiracy, but rather bad habits – just as it used to be far more common than it is now for black people to have their skin colour pointed out in non-relevant critical contexts than for white people. I think it’s good that those habits have been changing.

    What you’re doing James is constructing elaborate and exaggereated straw men to obscure this. The only person touting a conspiracy is yourself. There are lots of reasions why lots of people might do something without it being a grand conspiracy. That’s the sort of dodgy argument that you’d go to town on if someone tried in on you I’m sure 🙂

  4. Mark, you still haven’t explained how Abraham is any more Jewish a name than Ruth, nor have you satisfactorily explained why it is so wrong to refer to Levy by his middle name since he has made it clear (which he has) that that is what he prefers.

    Making comparisons of using his middle name with referring to skin colour is unbelievably crass, and demonstrates quite how lopsided this debate has become.

    The bottom line is, not only is there evidence of a conspiracy, there isn’t even any suggestion of a cock up. Yet you seem pretty determined to suggest that there is. Given the potentially explosive nature of what you are saying, one is entitled to ask why?

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