When the British Labour politician Peter Mandelson was ennobled (made a member of the House of Lords) recently, one lord was reported to have described his new peer as “a quintessential Jew.” It isn’t clear whether or not that was meant as a compliment. Let’s assume not. Mandelson is not Jewish in any way orthodox believers, or most other people, would recognize. He has a Jewish-sounding name because his father was Jewish. That’s it. So if he is the “quintessence,” on what remote periphery of “Jewishness” are the people who actually practice Judaism?
That, of course, is beside the point, as anyone familiar with the intellectual contortions of anti-Semitism knows. Anyone unfamiliar with that prejudice, or who thought it was a purely historical artifact, should read Denis MacShane’s Globalizing Hatred: The New Anti-Semitism. MacShane, a British Labour Member of Parliament and former minister, doesn’t deal specifically with Mandelson-baiting, but he would recognize the warped thinking behind it. Mandelson’s ostensible non-Jewishness is exactly what sets him up as the perfect stereotype: the furtive puppet-master; the Svengali; the “Prince of Darkness”; slippery, a bit too clever, dishonest.
There is a long tradition of British parliamentary old boys being snide about Jewish parvenus. Tory (Conservative party) grandees in the early 1980s issued a collective harrumph at Margaret Thatcher’s promotion of Leon Brittan, Nigel Lawson and Michael Howard (“More old Estonian than old Etonian” in Harold MacMillan’s famous dig). MacShane treats that sort of chatter — “dinosaur Tory anti-Semitism” — briskly. He is more concerned about a resurgence of overt and vicious treatment of Jews, including a rise in violent crimes against them. This is no speculation. MacShane presents ample evidence of increased hostility in nearly every country with a large Jewish community — and in those without one, too. In Japan, for example, there is a brisk trade in pamphlets purporting to expose a plot by Jewish financiers to control the world.
The sinister global conspiracy is one of the oldest and most pervasive tropes of anti-Semitism. In the first half of the 20th century, that generally meant presenting the Jews as responsible for Bolshevism. In the 1950s the UK Foreign Office suspected that the new state of Israel was a Soviet puppet. Meanwhile, the Kremlin was conducting a purge of “rootless cosmopolitans” — code for Jews. Israel is now generally regarded as an American proxy. Or, rather, the US is judged around the world to be controlled by Jews, through the “Israel lobby.”
MacShane devotes some time to deconstructing that particular idiom. American Jews, he points out, are entitled to call on their government to pursue a certain policy. There are two reasons why that might look pernicious: first, if it is assumed that the government in question exercises no critical judgment of its own — that the “lobby” is not a supplicant to power but the hidden source of it; second, if it is assumed that the policy request is unquestionably repulsive. Both assumptions in the case of the US alliance with Israel are false. Both, when applied to the influence of Jews, reek of anti-Semitism.
There are lots of features of US policy that foreigners, and plenty of Americans, think are misguided. But only with Israel do critics seem to assume that the White House loses all rationality and takes dictation from some extraneous, parasitical force. If the “Israel lobby” was all-powerful, MacShane notes, it might have done something by now about Washington’s solid alliance with Saudi Arabia, which is the chief exporter of an ideology explicitly dedicated to the destruction of Israel and of the Jews.
MacShane looks at the set texts of radical jihadi Islam and finds them full of abuse of Jews. He observes that the idea of an aggressive Jewish conspiracy is not a marginal strand in Islamist radicalism, but the essential premise. An ideological edifice of murderous hatred towards Jews is being erected in communities around the world and yet many people think anti-Semitism is something that once happened in pre-war Europe. Worse, many left-leaning, liberal intellectuals seem to think that anti-Israel rhetoric is one of the more reasonable bits of the jihadi agenda — that on Zionism, at least, the terrorists have a point. Except that, by Zionists, al-Qaeda means Jews and its reason for hating them is that they are conspiring to control the world. Any complicity with that notion was anti-Semitic in the 1930s and it still is.
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
It’s impossible to write a book entirely in the Taokas language. There are only about 500 recorded words in the Aboriginal tongue, whose speakers shifted to Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) generations ago while preserving certain Taokas phrases in their speech. “When I first started recording the language around 1997, I really had to jog the memories of the elders to find anything,” says Liu Chiu-yun (劉秋雲) a member of the Taokas community and a language researcher. The Taokas last month unveiled a picture book, Osubalaki, Balalong Ramut the community’s first-ever commercial publication using the language. The lavishly illustrated book
Certain historical statues have been disappearing in Thailand, but they are not effigies of colonialists or slave owners torn down by protesters. Instead, Thailand’s vanishing monuments celebrated leaders of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in Thailand, who were once officially honored as national heroes and symbols of democracy. Reuters has identified at least six sites memorializing the People’s Party that led the revolution which have been removed or renamed in the past year. In most cases it is not known who took the statues down, although a military official said one was removed for new landscaping. Two army camps named after 1932
Jason Ward fell in love with birds at age 14 when he spotted a peregrine falcon outside the homeless shelter where he was staying with his family. The now 33-year-old Atlanta bird lover parlayed that passion into a YouTube series last year. One of the guests on his first episode of Birds of North America was Christian Cooper, a black bird watcher who was targeted in New York City’s Central Park by a white woman after he told her to leash her dog. A video capturing the encounter showed the woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), retaliate by calling the police