Death of Harold Pinter: One Less Uncomfortable Jew

I, for one, won’t be spending a second mourning the death of Harold Pinter, the English Nobel Laureate playwright, who died of cancer on Wednesday, aged 78.

Pinter, a Hackney-born Jew, was an outspoken critic of Israel, quoted as saying that “Israel’s injustice to the Palestinians is an outrage” and “the central factor in world unrest”. He championed Israeli traitor Mordechai Vanunu, and signed a boycott of Israeli products and tourism.

harold-pinter6Pinter liked to portray himself as an original thinker and critic of accepted ideas, but, to my mind, he was anything but. A Jew by birth and no more, Pinter was a puppet of the trendy, Israel-loathing, intellectual left, who was happy to use his birthright and fame – and to be used – to inflict maximum PR damage on Israel and, as a consequence, on Jews the world over.

If Pinter, or any of his fellow signatories to Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices, would have spoken out against Palestinian terror outrages, called for an end to the perpetual bombardment of Israeli towns, and for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, with the same vigour and intensity that they have criticised conditions in Gaza (which the Palestinians have, to a large extent, brought upon themselves), one might have taken him and them more seriously.

To label Pinter and his ilk self-hating Jews is not to say that they are Jew-haters. There is a difference. They are Jews, clearly so uncomfortable in their own skins, that they continually go out of the way to be accepted by the non-Jewish “Establishment”. To prove to anybody who will listen that they are “not like all the others” (and not represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbi). That they are different. Better even.

And, as a Jew who could not be prouder of his heritage, of which the State of Israel is an intrinsic part, they have always sickened me to the very core (I belong to a third, hybrid category, if you like: self-hating Jew haters). These Jews do more damage to their own than the Ken Livingstones and George Galloways of this world ever could.

Moreover, Pinter’s rabble-rousing diatribes against the US (“a bloodthirsty wild animal”), its administration (“a bunch of criminal lunatics”), and George W. Bush (“a mass murderer”) – and even against his own Britain (“pathetic and supine”) and Tony Blair (“a deluded idiot” and “hired Christian thug”) – were far from what one would expect from a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and rather more akin to the crude rantings of an East End barrow-boy.

Pinter’s widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, has said “He will never be forgotten.”

He will be by me.


26 responses to “Death of Harold Pinter: One Less Uncomfortable Jew

  1. Is there a difference between a self-hating Jew, a Jew who projects his dislike of being born Jewish onto Israel and Jewish anti-semites?

  2. He was right, you are wrong. It is that simple.

  3. I agree with your 4th paragraph emphatically however.

  4. John Wilson,

    “You are wrong but I agree with you”


  5. I too am a proud Jew, but I can understand Jews who in some parts of the world or in certain circumstances hide the fact that they are Jewish. I think it’s tragic of course that it should come to that, but I completely understand it. It’s a sad reality of the world we Jews have always lived in. Before making Aliyah to Israel from Australia, which is a relative haven for Jews, even I experienced one or two occasions in my time where I preferred to keep the fact that I was Jewish to myself, only because declaring it proudly may have posed a threat to my physical safety. Judge this action as you might, but I think it’s unfair to deliver such a judgment until you have been in such a situation yourself.

    But for a Jew to actively preach against Israel, the lifeblood of the Jewish nation (hence there is no difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism) is to speak out against your own kind “on purpose”, and therefore one of the most pathetic and revolting expressions of cowardice I can think of. It’s also futile, because a Jew by any other name (yes, even “Pinter”) is still a Jew. To non-Jewish anti-Semites, it’s irrelevant whether a Jew openly “loves” or “hates” his brethren, he’s still a Jew. If Pinter would have lived in Nazi Germany around 70 years ago, he would have seen this attitude in action.

    What Pinter also failed to realize in his crusade against Israel, is that no one respects a traitor. Even if the object of one’s betrayal is one you don’t particularly care for yourself, traitors are by nature weak and disloyal, both traits that beckon only disrespect no matter how it might be disguised by others who only disguise it to further their own cause, and not because they hate all Jews “except this one”.

    In the end, the most important thing we leave behind us is our legacy. Those who knowingly and purposefully promoted hatred in their lifetime, as Pinter did, are never admired for it or remembered fondly, if at all. To those who are unaware of Pinter’s political mantra, he may be remembered as a celebrated playwright. But to those who shared his religion (I was going to say “faith” but obviously that would be inappropriate in this context), heard his speeches or read his damaging and misguided commentaries on Israel’s battle to defend herself against her enemies, he will be remembered only for his extremism and hypocrisy. Far from a proud legacy in my mind.

    I know that I, like Mike, won’t be giving him much thought after this comment has been posted.

  6. “abducted Israeli soldier Gideon Shalit”

    = Gilad

  7. so, if a jew states they disagree with what the state of israel does against the palestinians – they are in some way anti-jewish? I think that is a one sided way of seeing things if that is what you are saying mike.

    It is possible to argue for the right of self determination for jewish people as it is for palestinians.

    It is also possible to condemn individual terrorism of hamas and state terrorim of the israeli state as I do…

    The way forward? Unity of the working class in the middle east – inc jews and palestinians…

  8. Is that law school “Paul”? Two years debating such matters in the canteen . . . are we going to agree now?!

    If a jew ALWAYS “disagree[s] with what the state of israel does against the palestinians”, in spite of all the reasons and/or evidence to the contrary, then, yes, I would argue that he has issues with HIS Jewishness (as I wrote above, a “self-hating Jew” rather than a “Jew-hater”).

    As a proud Scouser, Paul, imagine if one of your former childhood mates, who has now “made it” in London, continually slags off EVERYTHING about Liverpool and his (Scally 😉 ) roots . . . wouldn’t there come a point when you would start to question his motives?

    I am also in favour of self-determination for the Palestinians. It is Pinter who had a totally “one sided way of seeing things”. If he would have been a little more evenhanded, I wouldn’t have had a problem with the guy.



    PS What is “working class”? 😉

  9. working class – go back to Marx dude – you’ll find it all there!

    Yes it is I, Paul from Law School.

  10. There you go again, someone has an opinion you don’t like, so you attack the person. Get some lead in your pencil and destroy arguments.

    “Pinter was a puppet of the trendy, Israel-loathing, intellectual left”

    And who are you a puppet for, one need only take a second to wonder….. if you assume anyone with an opinion must be a pupper.

  11. Achilles,

    The use of “personalities” such as Pinter by definition brings in a “personal” aspect (see my reply to your comments on my more recent “Jew for Sayle” post).

    I regret that you appear not to approve of my conclusion.

    melchett mike

  12. Lumpy’s is the only sensible comment, thus far.
    Madonna does some kaballah, but it does not make her Jewish, and she cannot speak as a Jew. Pinter had Jewish parents, but the only use he had for his DNA was to promote hatred of it. Pinter could promote his pro-terrorist ethnic cleansing views, but he also cannot speak as a Jew. Not now, at least. I hope he was cremated, it will prepare him for his afterlife.

  13. Daniel Bentley

    Question – having seen a few of Pinter’s plays – the first or 2nd or so were interesting but the umpteenth – I saw one here in Canada a year or so ago – had no new insight- it was a flogging of old nothing. If you compare Beckett, despite the constant theme in Beckett each new piece had something surprising and fresh about everything dismal. I think in the end Pinter was frustrated because he realised he had become a parody and a fraud. Forgettable – absolutely.

    PS excuse my typos

  14. plaintain1

    Excellent article. I am not Jewish but from an African background, and I am always fascinated by ‘marginalised’ people who suffer from an inferiority complex and how it places them in situations that they don’t belong to. With regards to Pinter, I wonder if his ‘self-hatred’ had anything to do with the fact that he left his Jewish wife for an Upper Class catholic and chose to discontinue his relationship with his son. Thanks

  15. Harold Pinter was right. This nonsense about “self hating jew” does not change that truth.

  16. But it’s not nonsense. Pinter totally cut himself off from all his jewish roots and family. He was embarrased by being jewish and this was a great way for him to ‘purchase membership’of the British Liberal Elite by showing his anti-zionist/jewish credentials. Whatever his views (and I disagree with him totally) he was a world class cock.

  17. The problem I have with most of the responses and indeed the article itself is that they confuse being Jewish with being Israeli. Israel is a recent political contruct whilst Jewishness goes back thausands of years. Pinter saw Palestinians and Jews as human beings first. Defining him as a self hating Jew shows, IMHO a pretty limited concept of what it means to be Jewish. He simply refused, like some people, to view Israel as a sacred cow and in that respect surely he did Israel a favor?

  18. Thank you for your comment, Tim. Your diagnosis of my “problem,” however, is off the mark: I certainly do not “confuse being Jewish with being Israeli”.

    Did you not read the following paragraph, or merely not understand it?

    “If Pinter, or any of his fellow signatories to Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices, would have spoken out against Palestinian terror outrages, called for an end to the perpetual bombardment of Israeli towns, and for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, with the same vigour and intensity that they have criticised conditions in Gaza (which the Palestinians have, to a large extent, brought upon themselves), one might have taken him and them more seriously.”

    And, while you are correct in thinking the modern State of Israel (relatively) “recent,” my guess is that you could do with brushing up on your history of the Jews in this land.

  19. Brilliant article and you are absolutely correct on all points.

    My only small quibble is in your 6th paragraph, where I think an extra hyphen would help – i.e. “self-hating-Jew haters” instead of “self-hating Jew haters”.

    A “self-hating Jew hater” could mean a person who hates Jews but also hates himself – and I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant.

    “Self-hating-Jew haters” might be clearer.

  20. Robert Haymond

    Self-hating Jews like Pinter are characterized by a need to identify with the enemy or oppressor in order to “save themselves” from the sacrifices to be made by the rest of the clan at the hands of the Gentile world. This psychological mechanism can be understood as an extension of the (now well-known) Stockholm Syndrome. In the end, however, that selfsame world will continue to despise Jews no matter their political affirmations and will be considered anti-Israel (read: anti-semitic) for convenience. In fact, because they will eventually be seen as low level traitors, despicable in their way, they will be loathed not only by Jews but by the Gentile world and with good reason all the more. I can’t help but think about Kapos when I think of people like Pinter. Heinrich Heine, who did not despise being a Jew but thought it might be more profitable to convert in order to advance his career noted towards the end of his life, in apparent regret, that it (conversion) did not help him one iota. People like Pinter, Illan Pappe, Neve Gordon and Noam Chomsky, etc., do the Jewish community a devastatingly amount of harm but after 1,500 years of Jew hatred by non-Jews, since the establishment of the Catholic church, we have inculcated what now appears to be a genetic sense of fear and self-loathing.

  21. I believe it is lazy to dismiss Jewish people as ‘self hating Jews’ if they are not Zionists and against policies of Israel. I believe a democracy needs a voice of dissent and dissent should be met with intelligence, not censored and dismissed.

    Now for Pinter: Pinter wrote some great literature. What have you done so great? Pinter doesn’t give a flying fuck if you remember him or not. And btw? I met him on several occasions and know that he beat a man up at Sloane Street underground station for a comment against the Jewish people. He was NOT a self hating Jew and he had more brains and humanity in his arse than most people do in their heads.

  22. Not being a Zionist is one thing; vicious, robotic criticism of everything Israel does quite another. Pinter did more damage to “the Jewish people” than that nobody in Sloane Square Underground.

    “he had more brains and humanity in his arse . . .”

    Perhaps that was Pinter’s problem. Either that or he was Welsh.

  23. I do not believe that Pinter was ‘robotic’ and I know that Pinter chose his words carefully for he knew the power of them. As tough as this is to bare, he meant what he said and cared deeply. I am proud that Pinter was Jewish, and so was he.

    I have no idea what the ‘Welsh’ racist slur is about (?) and I am saddened that you take offence to people (albeit one of our own) dissing Israel yet you are happy to dis Wales. Welsh people. This is not a silly joke. I take it strongly what you say and your nationalism to the detriment of other cultures makes me sad.

    I wish you well.

  24. I am only teasing with the Welsh thing, Sara. Because I sense that you are a Taff (am I right?!) Though perhaps you can now understand how I, as a Jew living in Israel – and one who doesn’t make it his priority to kiss up to Gentile lefties/luvvies – was similarly offended by a loathsome sell-out like Pinter.

  25. I apologise if I sound facetious, but – Sara – what is the relevance of the name of the underground station in which Pinter abandoned his famously acerbic tongue for primitive, pugilistic aggression? Did they happen to meet there, or did he (Pinter) drag him (the nameless wretch) there for the effect of duffing him up in a “Jews need not apply” district of London? And, if you do insist on being specific, it is Sloane SQUARE station. Are you sure it was Harold PINTER and not some other Harold of your acquaintance?

  26. Samir S. Halabi

    A masterpiece par-excellence.
    With Jewish-brethren like the late Harold Pinter and the rest of his ilk, there would be no need for enemies of our Jewish nation.

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