Antisemitism, Dissent, and the LSE

The face of “new antisemitism

Every time I think I’m disgusted by my school, it gets worse. I thought we’d reached a low when the London School of Economics voted to twin (my personal conspiracy is that the vote was scheduled on American Thanksgiving so none of the ‘Israel-loving’ Americans would show up) with the Islamic University of Gaza, which was founded by Ahmed Yassin. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also founded a little organization called Hamas.  Aside from hosting Hamas’s R&D program for the Qassam rocket, IUG’s ‘distinguished’ faculty has referred to gays as “perverts” and “morally sick,” and proclaimed the university to be an absolute reflection of Hamas and its philsophy.

Ridiculous as it is, maybe it ends there? Not so fast.

This week it was announced that the school will accept a £1.5 million donation from Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi, the son of Muammar al-Gaddafi. My objection is no ‘sins of the father’ disgust or anything like that. Gaddafi the younger has plenty to answer for himself, such as proclaiming Libya “innocent” for the Lockerbie Bombing, and referring to the victims’ families as “greedy” and “materialistic” in their demands for compensation.

But no, it doesn’t stop there. The LSE rugby team was censured for dressing up as Guantamo Bay inmates and guards. In poor taste? Sure. But the vaguest intimations that the first-year players dressed as inmates were “mimicking Muslim prayer” was enough for everyone to jump into overreactive hyperdrive. Look, I find all these drunk undergrad chicks dressed as hookers pretty offensive myself, but I’m not abut to launch a crusade.

The latent antisemitism seems to have no end. A talk this week on “What’s Wrong with Israel?” A fake ‘Israeli checkpoint’ choking off the main drag of campus. An unbelievable disrespect shown to any speaker whatsoever from Israel. A colleague of mine sums up these displays of “pro-Palestinianism” nicely (hint: they’re actually anti-Israel).

And of course, we come down to the crux of the matter. The only “free” speech is the speech you agree with. I have no common cause with say, pro-lifers, and yet they have an absolute right to push their views just like everyone else. Their display has now come under fire, because someone disagrees. Heaven forbid! They’re not even as in-your-face as the socialist worker’s party club, which features a comrade bellowing out of a megaphone at all hours of the day.

It’s okay to offend some people? But not the ones who might very well want to kill us? Jee-zus. The whole sordid affair seems to echo what Hitchens calls “the cultural cringe of the west.” I’ll quote again from his interview with Michael Totten:

You’ve been around enough to know that someone who showed the symptoms of Major Hasan in the army of Algeria, or Syria, or Tunisia, or Turkey, would have been in jail long before he could have gunned down his fellow soldiers. These countries know very well from bitter experience that you can’t allow zealotry in the army.

We say no, rather than offend Muslims we will allow zealotry in our army. There are those who say people can be made to wear garments that in some Muslim countries are illegal to wear—such as the burkha—because they represent subjection. Some of us think that surely all Muslims do this, but no. What some call our racism or cultural ignorance is, in fact, present in the Western attempt to embrace them.

What’s next, LSE? I know you’re merely echoing the larger trend in Britain and continuing a long, long line of thinking, but it has to stop somewhere. Before it’s too late.

3 thoughts on “Antisemitism, Dissent, and the LSE

  1. While I am no fan of the endless cycle of goading that goes on between the various sides on campus I can’t help but ask why you argue that the activities of the pro-palestine groups are an example of anti-semitism rather than simply based on a misplaced sense of anti-israeli fervour. To instantly associate criticisms and critics of Israel with anti-semitism is as contrived and misleading an assertion as those relating current Israeli policies to those of the Nazis. Also the claim that LSE is a bellwether for growing antisemitism in Britain seems a little odd when the majority of LSE students are foreign. Indeed after a little digging I found the picture on the top of the article is from a protest march in Seattle. Is it not a little disingenuous to put that in an article about antisemitism at LSE?

  2. I will be the first to caution against conflating antisemitism and anti-israelism. You do so at the risk of ‘crying wolf’, basically. And let me assure you, this is not ground on which I tread lightly.

    Yet the unbelievable shrillness and subtle accusations that mimic those of old – the Jews are controlling American foreign policy, that Jews are no better than Nazis (and I hear it both ways: as Jews and Israelis alike) – point to the specter of an antisemitic revival. The fact that supporting Palestine means supporting people with the goal of destroying the Jewish people immediately invalidates the intended message, whatever it may have been.

    As for antisemitism as a trend in Britain, aside from that article I linked to at the end, it’s more of a ‘feeling’, much as it pains me to say it. As an American in London, there’s a distinct air of something oppressive about the debate here.

    Last, with regards to the photograph, you’re right in that it does not necessarily represent a British face. I chose that picture for its impact and the discord between the sign and the smiling face, and as a representative of the new antisemitism. If you were wondering, the other pictures I considered were this New Statesman cover: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NewStatesmancover.jpg, a perfect example of the Jewish conspiracy theories, and this Nazi-Israel conflating sign: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Protests_Edinburgh_10_1_2009_5.JPG. The latter is from a rally in Edinburgh.

  3. I really appreciate your blog and your examination of the disingenuous anti Israeli/anti-semitic attitudes of the intellectual left. I first realized this when the women’s groups of the 70’s began to defend Palestinian women’s plight without recognizing that in Israel women had more rights and a broader place in society. Suddenly, semi socialist Israel was right wing…go figure…

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