Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

The Last Word: March Madness

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Jeremy Jones

 

Julius Caesar, in Shakespeare's script, was warned he should "Beware the Ides of March". People living in Sydney, in 2015, had reason to beware the Ideas of March.

Miriam Margolyes kicked off events on the ABC television programme "Q&A". She began by asserting, "People don't like Jews", and then claimed this dislike was due to the identification of Jews with a series of alleged misdemeanours of the State of Israel.

Unlike the performer, the people I mix with are not antisemitic, bigots or other varieties of grubby racists. While some people may dislike some other people, and some individuals disliked may be Jews, it is not because they are Jews.

If she chooses to associate with vile individuals who both spout and justify hatred, that is her business, but to generalise about humanity based on a self-selected sample is the sort of thing that, in most other circumstance, the host of "Q&A", Tony Jones, would call you out on very quickly.

Margolyes followed this up by leaping into the saddle of the high horse of immorality - from where she blamed the victims of racism for racism. Other panellists had probably rarely encountered such vile claptrap and seemed a little overwhelmed by her stupidity, which she seemed to think meant they were overwhelmed by her argument.

No person who has put even a few minutes into researching historic antisemitism or its contemporary varieties could give her pronouncements any credence whatsoever, and it is to "Q&A's" shame that she was accorded more dignity than would have been guests advocating any similar scurrilous misinformation.

Within days of Margolyes' antisemitism-justifying, reports emerged of the Hizb ut Tahrir Islamic cult's anti-Jewish rhetoric at Sydney events. Advocating eternal struggle until Jews are "defeated", with justification phrased in terms which were part of the antisemitic lexicon for many centuries before the foundation of modern Israel, the group now finds itself the subject of a complaint under New South Wales anti-discrimination laws. However, some "mainstream" Muslim figures in Sydney seem to think that they are simply misguided youth.

While Hizb ut-Tahrir's cultural reference points are Islamist, brandishing banknotes in the face of a Jewish person with whom you are engaged in a heated argument evokes a different sort of anti-Jewish imagery.

The thugs of "BDS" (which equates to Bullies, Defamers and Slanderers of Israel) are generally, correctly, open to suspicion that they are antisemitic or at best facilitate antisemitism, but even they would rarely be captured on video waving money in the face of a septuagenarian.

But at Sydney University, in the course of the disruption of a lecture on the subject of protecting civilians during warfare, a "Peace and Conflict Studies" Professor, Jake Lynch, did just that.

Times may have changed, but in the days when I sat on panels at Sydney University dealing with disciplinary issues, the individuals who disrupted the lecture would have faced action and anyone behaving the way Professor Lynch did would have a very serious case to answer.

Not far from that university, a week or so after the mob and Lynch had their exploits recorded, a previously little known entertainment venue gained notoriety by refusing a booking to the Jewish student group Hillel, as the students' attempt to commemorate the Nazi Genocide and express their views on issues of identity, were seen as facilitating the agenda of Forces of Evil.

I suppose the theatre representative, the university anti-intellectual protestors and Hizb ut Tahrir are all part of Miriam Margolyes "People".

May I suggest that her people should speak to my people - my people who oppose racism, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance. If her "people" close their mouths and open their minds, it is possible they will learn something.

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