Australia/Israel Review

Scribblings: Lessons from a non-Jewish victim of antisemitism

Oct 27, 2021 | Tzvi Fleischer

Eddie Marsan in the new BBC series “Ridley Road” (Source: BBC)
Eddie Marsan in the new BBC series “Ridley Road” (Source: BBC)

Eddie Marsan is not a Jew, but he does play one on TV. And his lack of any actual Jewish background has not protected him from becoming a victim of antisemitism. 

Marsan plays Soly Malinovsky, the Jewish leader of an anti-fascist underground movement known as the 62 Group, in the new BBC series “Ridley Road”, which began airing on Oct. 3. It is a fictionalised version of real events which occurred in Britain in 1962, when the 62 Group successfully disrupted the efforts of the far-right and antisemitic National Socialist Movement.

Marsan recently published images of a series of antisemitic tweets attacking him which he received after the series began airing. He stated on twitter; “F**k me, this is relentless, all I did was play a Jew, I dread to think what would’ve happened if I was actually Jewish.”

Many of the tweets attacked him over supposed Israeli misdeeds. One said, “you are a crap actor and I’ll never watch shite with your Apartheid loving bake in it.” Another said, “Why does the BBC do so many programmes favouring the Zionists ‘return’ and so few favouring Palestinian’s Right of Return?”

Marsan made an important point in response, writing: “did a series about British Jews facing antisemitism, nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. But if you think they’re linked you probably think one justifies the other & the irony is, that’s exactly why Ridley Rd got commissioned.”

He’s dead right. Social media is full of trolls who think it is okay to target random Jewish individuals over Israel’s supposed misdeeds against Palestinians – or even non-Jews they think might be Jewish. This is clearly antisemitic – yet some deny this, insisting if it is about Israel, it cannot be antisemitic. But let’s just change the ethnicity – imagine you heard about someone targeting any person with a Chinese name for abuse on social media for the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party? Or random Muslim individuals for the actions of Islamic State? How could anyone possibly deny this is racist?

Yet many, particularly on the far left, defend such behaviour. As Marsan noted, “Antisemitism gives the myth that it’s punching up to some mythical all-powerful Jewish elite… so quite often, young people are taken in by antisemitic tropes on social media… They don’t see it as racism, they see it as anti-capitalist.”

Social media has facilitated and encouraged an explosion of antisemitism – and as Marsan noted, a growing tendency to justify or excuse it. Much more clearly needs to be done about it. It’s just a pity that it takes a non-Jewish victim of antisemitism to point out how bad things have become. 


Hamas’ Ethnic Cleansing Conference

As this column has illustrated in the past through both polls and public statements by Palestinian leaders, many Palestinians consider the only acceptable end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be the “ethnic cleansing solution”. This involves not two states for two peoples, or even one state for both peoples, but Palestinians controlling all the land from the river to the sea, and all or most of the Jews there being killed, expelled or leaving. 

Representatives of both the Islamist Hamas in Gaza and the “moderate” Fatah party which controls the West Bank have expressed expectations that the land will be cleansed of Jews. However, Hamas has just made its support for such ethnic cleansing more or less official by sponsoring a conference in Gaza which sets out plans for such ethnic cleansing once all of Palestine is “liberated”. 

The Sept. 30 conference was titled “Promise of the Hereafter – Post-Liberation Palestine” and sponsored by Hamas’ leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and attended by senior Hamas officials. 

The final communique of the conference said that “In dealing with the Jewish settlers on Palestinian land, there must be a distinction in attitude towards [the following]: a fighter who must be killed; a [Jew] who is fleeing and can be left alone or be prosecuted…; and a peaceful individual who gives himself up and can be [either] integrated or given time to leave… Educated Jews and experts in the areas of medicine, engineering, technology, and civilian and military industry should be retained for some time and should not be allowed to leave.”

The document also said the new government in Palestine, “must put their hands on the data regarding the agents of the occupation in Palestine in the region and [throughout] the world… using this information we can purge Palestine and the Arab and Islamic homeland of the hypocrite scum that spread corruption in the land.”

In other words, anyone considered a fighter will be killed, other Jews will be allowed or encouraged to flee or possibly allowed to stay if they surrender and promise to be “integrated.” However, educated Jewish experts will not be allowed to leave and instead be forced to serve the new regime. 

Moreover, anyone deemed an “agent of occupation”, whatever that means (anyone who served the Israeli government or army in any role, perhaps??) must be “purged”. This is a bit unclear, but certainly suggests bad things will happen to them. 

It’s clearly a formula for a form of ethnic cleansing – and Hamas is being completely open about it. And yet there are still people going around insisting Hamas is becoming moderate. 


The ABC gets smart

The ABC Board, led by Chair Ita Buttrose, deserves kudos for its decision to establish an inquiry into the network’s very problematic complaints procedure. It’s a welcome move, but also a smart one. In addition to concerns expressed by AIJAC and other Jewish groups, the ABC has been under fire for blatant journalistic malpractice in the “Ghost Train” documentary, pushing hard on unprovable claims against conservative politicians, and other serious problems. 

Hopefully, the inquiry will recognise that the only way to restore a measure of faith in our national broadcaster is to establish a complaints procedure which is genuinely independent and external – which is not the case with the current system.


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