Jeremy Hardy thinks… about unhelpful stereotypes

'Important issues are clouded by irrelevant prejudices'

October 13, 2011
2 min read

Is criticism of Israel informed by anti‑Semitism? Sometimes, yes. Similarly, there was sometimes a racist tone to the lambasting of Idi Amin in the seventies, and a misogynistic element in the hatred of Margaret Thatcher in the eighties. But that doesn’t let any of them off the hook. It just means important issues are clouded by irrelevant prejudices.

On the other hand, class hatred of Cameron and Osborne has some validity, because they went to schools where they had to speak Norman French and wear Elizabethan bee-keeping jodhpurs during Prep, but claim we’re all in this together.

No readily available stereotype attaches itself to Rupert Murdoch. This is a problem for some people. Anti‑Semites insist that he’s Jewish, because the fact that he isn’t slightly spoils their theory that the media is controlled by a cabal of shape‑shifting, Zionist Illuminati, rather than straightforward bastards.

And unfortunately, the Hamas charter appears to have been written by an eight-year-old Nazi, so it is used by Israel as proof that the Palestinians are part of a continuum of savage hatred that stretches back to Goliath.

The cultural fetishism that worms its way into national liberation politics becomes part of the discussion of territorial conflict, along with the reciprocal monstering. I have myself wandered into waxing lyrical about the incredible nobility and hospitality of the Palestinians, and the delights of sampling a simple meal in a refugee camp, as though the fact that people have a way with chickpeas is an essential part of their right to self-determination.

We are all human beings with great qualities and flaws. And one of our greatest failings is our inability to stick to the point. So I’ll finish before I go on a tangent.


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