June 20, 2019

House of Lords 2019.06.20


Motion to Take Note
Moved by
To move that this House takes note of the incidence of anti-Semitism worldwide.
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who are speaking in today’s debate, which is the second on anti-Semitism within a year in your Lordships’ House—perhaps evidence that this is a light sleeper, to borrow a phrase. Of course, I am not Jewish, but I co-chair the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, and anti-Semitism is a denial of such freedom. I am also a professing Christian who attends Protestant churches but has Catholic lineage.

When first preparing for this debate, I was struck by the origins of the word “anti-Semitism”. To use “ism” makes it sound to ordinary people like an ideology or a religion such as Hinduism, pluralism or capitalism. Of course, “Semitism” relates to the Semite people, who, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, include,

“Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, Hebrews, some Ethiopians and Aramaean tribes”.

Modern usage does not include all those people, but it does definitely tell us that what we are talking about is hating people, not a religion or an ideology. That is a vital distinction that enables us to maintain freedom of speech. But the use of “ism” was deliberate, as the term was first used in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr to make the anti-Jewish campaign seem more reasonable, rational and perhaps more like the European Enlightenment. It is a great shame that the term has stuck as it is anything but rational. I fear that using “anti-Semitism” today could make it seem like a concern of the liberal elite.

My initial instinct is supported by the recent survey by the Jewish Chronicle that fewer than half the people in Britain know what anti-Semitism means, so using the substance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition—“hatred of Jews”—makes things simple and clearer, and I commend it.


slurp said...


“At this time, a Hamburg journalist, Wilhelm Marr, issued a sensational pamphlet, “The Victory of Judaism over Germanism” (1879), calling for the defense of the “vanquished” against their “conquerors.” It is through the writings of this Jewish renegade that the term anti-Semitism was coined, “expressing antagonism to the social and political equality of Jews.” The pamphlet of this otherwise obscure writer fell on fruitful soil. It harmonized with the raging national jingoism that had mounted skyhigh with the unification of Germany and that had aimed at the creation of a unified racial and religious body of German citizens.”

"Source: Jewish Reference Book: B’nai B’rith Manual
Edited by Samuel S. Cohon
Cincinnati, Ohio
pp. 287-88


"About 2005 only one copy showed up in UK library searches and someone at the old libertyforum went to the Bodleian and posted a scan. I haven’t read any of Marr’s stuff. Most vintage antisemitism is weak."

--- end of quote

Red Orchid said...

"National Governments must pool their authority. The world is watching us here in the UK as to how we deal with online harms. Our leadership is important as a nation that respects free speech within the law. Generally, our law makes an important distinction between the hatred of ideas, philosophy or opinions, and words or actions expressing hatred of people. Our law applies to everyone and should be so enforced. I have a quote:

“I have some Jewish friends, very good friends. They are not like the other Jews, that’s why they are my friends”—

these are the words of the Prime Minister of Malaysia at the Cambridge Union a few days ago, and the audience laughed. Is this what we expect of a visiting Commonwealth Head of Government—that he should think this is appropriate, and lawful? I will use an analogy to force home the point: “I have some black friends, very good friends. They are not like the other blacks, that’s why they are my friends”. This is unacceptable. UK law and its enforcement have to get ​this right, stamping out safe spaces for hatred. Obviously, we have the Metropolitan Police talking to Jo Brand. We have to get the enforcement right; we have to do this together. So I ask my noble friend the Minister: what mechanism will be used supranationally to bring ISPs to book? Is it on the agenda of the G20? I am not hopeful that the United Nations really has the clout to deal with this."

This well-informed man is pouring cold water on the request by (now who would that be) to prosecute three Russians and one Ukrainian for the downing of MH17. He was reported on MSM saying that the claims were ridiculous.

The Jews are Semites. I think it's time for the Arabs to call the Jews anti-Semitic.