Friday, March 09, 2007

Is it cos Levy is a Jew?

Daniel Finkelstein on the Times blog:

Now. Lord Levy.

Yesterday The Times ran this:

Lord Levy’s rabbi, Yitzchak Schochet, said Jews were scared that the inquiry would lead to “one Jew being hung out to dry”.

Firstly, is this true? Yes, I think it is. Michael Levy is respected in the Jewish community for his work for charity and his success in business and politics. And Jews (including me) are saddened that he is in trouble. There is also a feeling of community embarrassment that a prominent and successful Jew should end up as the one in the firing line.

Second, has there been anti-Semitism in coverage of Lord Levy's plight? Well, from time to time, there have been careless headlines (e.g. You've got to pick a pocket or two) and descriptions (bouffant hairdo and so on) that Jews are sensitive about and might have been better avoided.

But, third, is Lord Levy in the spotlight because he is a Jew? Has he been "hung out to dry" because he is the only Jew involved? Is anti-Semitism the cause of the position he finds himself in?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Rabbi Schochet is making a terrible error. If you start hinting at anti-Semitism whenever a Jew is in trouble you undermine the very idea. You make people wary of real claims, ones justified by the evidence.

There's enough genuine anti-Semitism about. And it is difficult enough to make people take it seriously.

1 comment:

William said...

This is particularly interesting as a story - because, in my view, it is partly true. I was listening to Sir Alan Sugar, on the Today program this morning - he is one of Levi's friends. He said that mostly this suggestion was nonsense - except in the case of the Daily Mail - which had been hounding Levi and similarly hounded Asians - The Daily Mail is becoming a racist paper. You only need to look at its treatment of Asylum seekers - or even Arabs. There is a case to answer there - and we should use this summer's media conference as a forum at which to make them answer.