Posted by: Lister | February 3, 2007

Londonistan

A ‘comment is free’ article in the Guardian, written by Maleiha Malik

Migrants fleeing persecution and poverty settled with their children in the East End of London. As believers in one God they were devoted to their holy book, which contained strict religious laws, harsh penalties and gender inequality. Some of them established separate religious courts. The men wore dark clothes and had long beards; some women covered their hair. A royal commission warned of the grave dangers of self-segregation. Politicians said different religious dress was a sign of separation. Some migrants were members of extremist political groups. Others actively organised to overthrow the established western political order. Campaigners against the migrants carefully framed their arguments as objections to “alien extremists” and not to a race or religion. A British cabinet minister said we were facing a clash about civilisation: this was about values; a battle between progress and “arrested development”.

All this happened a hundred years ago to Jewish migrants seeking asylum in Britain. The political movements with which they were closely associated were anarchism and later Bolshevism. As in the case of contemporary political violence, or even the radical Islamism supported by a minority of British Muslims, anarchism and Bolshevism only commanded minority support among the Jewish community. But shared countries of origin and a common ethnic and religious background were enough to create a racialised discourse whenever there were anarchist outrages in London in the early 20th century.

Most anarchists were peaceful, but a few resorted to violent attacks such as the bombing of Greenwich Observatory in 1894 – described at the time as an “international terrorist outrage”. Anarchist violence was an international phenomenon. In Europe it claimed hundreds of lives, including those of several heads of government, and resulted in anti- terrorism laws. In the siege of Sidney Street in London in 1911, police and troops confronted east European Jewish anarchists. This violent confrontation in the heart of London created a racialised moral panic in which the whole Jewish community was stigmatised. It was claimed that London was “seething” with violent aliens, and the British establishment was said to be “in a state of denial”. East End Jews were said to be “alienated”, not “integrated”, and a “threat to our security” a long time before anyone dreamed up the phrase “Londonistan”.

The part I want to pick up is the reference to Churchill, and a quote of his regarding Jews. It’s already referenced above, and here again more explicitly.

Today the Middle East is the focus of a challenge to American political and economic hegemony, which is being presented as a “civilisational conflict with Islam”. Nearly a century ago, the Russian revolution sent shockwaves through western states and financial markets. Anti-semites argued that Jewish involvement in revolutionary politics was part of a conspiracy by “the homeless wandering Jew” to replace European states with their “Hebrew nation”. Winston Churchill, as secretary of state for war in 1920, wrote an article in the Illustrated Sunday Herald claiming there were three categories of Jews – good, bad and indifferent – and arguing that they were part of a “worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development”.

I looked up more of Churchill’s statement, and it really does have the same flavour as today’s sound-bites against ‘Muslim extremism’. And with the same result, too — it allows the racists to pretend they have a different agenda.

In 1920, churchill wrote a piece called “Zionism versus Bolshevism — A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People. (I can’t find a site I like which includes the whole text. In fact I can’t find the original JSF article. I’m just taking the one I’ve given on trust. At least the link includes the quote below, and I only need to add a very little context).

Churchill begins by praising the Jews, including Disraeli. And says that it was Jews who gave our civilisation Christianity.

Then he comes up with this line:

And it may well be that this same astounding race may at the present time be in the actual process of producing another system of morals and philosophy, as malevolent as Christianity was benevolent, which, if not arrested would shatter irretrievably all that Christianity has rendered possible. It would almost seem as if the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Antichrist were destined to originate among the same people; and that this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for the supreme manifestations, both of the divine and the diabolical.

You see…
He dodges the label of anti-semitism. (Well, I don’t think so. But that was his intent). Racism is easier to sell if it’s re-branded. Then the buyers can pretend they are clean. He gets people all worried about “the Jews”, while at the same time he can pretend he has the moral high-ground because he’s not attacking all of the Jews. But if Bolshevism/Communism was what he feared, why didn’t he simply attack Bolshevism/Communism? Why bring race into it at all?

And, more importantly, why does the same trick work over and over again?

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