Tag Archives: anti-semitism

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?

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.