He just had to go and open his poisonous gob . . . and just when I’d thought I’d put my Self-Hating Jew series to bed!
I purposely excluded any reference to Gerald Kaufman from earlier posts on Harold Pinter and Alexei Sayle, because I had thought, hoped, that his relative silence on this occasion might be due to his pragmatic assessment that this war – one of self-defence, following eight years of near daily rocket fire – was, indeed, justified. I mean even his “intellectual” bedfellows, in Israel’s doveish Meretz party, were supporting the IDF’s actions this time.
Few opportunists, however, can resist an opportunity. And, true to form, Kaufman was just biding his time . . .
In the House of Commons, on Thursday, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton launched a diatribe against Israel (full Hansard transcript), so irrational and vitriolic – even defiling the memory of his own grandmother – that it took by surprise even those with bitter experience of this hateful, self-hating, excuse for a Jew.
After a lengthy prologue of self-justification, reminiscent of those who prelude their anti-Semitic sentiments with “Some of my best friends are Jews . . .”, Kaufman invoked the memory of his Polish grandmother, murdered by the Nazis in her sickbed: “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.”
The only person guilty of “ruthless and cynical exploit[ation]” is Kaufman himself . . . of his Jewishness, and (seeing as he has little regard for that), even more shamefully, of the memory of his own grandmother. In view of her tragic fate, I suspect that she would have considered a homeland in which Jews could finally defend themselves, following two millennia of persecution by various hosts, a meaningful consolation (if there could be one) for the victims of the Holocaust.
That right of self-defence, however, is the very one that Kaufman, by his wilful perversion of the facts, denies us. If his grandmother had a grave, Kaufman might as well have gone and spat on it.
While Kaufman, 78, a former Cabinet minister, claims to have been “brought up as an Orthodox Jew and a Zionist”, it is incomprehensible that anyone raised with even the most basic of Jewish or Zionist values would have the inclination or insensitivity, not to mention lack of understanding, to make the analogy – as did Kaufman, most despicably, on Thursday – between “the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto” and Hamas “militants”.
Indeed, one doesn’t have to be a Jew or a Zionist to see the absence of any moral parallel whatsoever between the victims of Hitler’s systematic destruction of European Jewry and those killed in pursuit of their declared aim of destroying the Jewish State.
It is most telling that, on Thursday, Kaufman – who once branded Ariel Sharon “a war criminal” (a label which he ended Thursday’s polemic by assigning to the entire Israeli Government) – was keen for the House (and the country) to hear that Yasser Arafat was “a friend of mine”. What a mark of distinction! For someone who read philosophy at Oxford, however, Kaufman employs the most bewildering of moral compasses.
Whilst a student at Manchester University, in the late 1980s, Kaufman, to our immense surprise, answered a call to defend his anti-Israel views to Jewish students at Hillel House. There we lay in wait, all college precocity and naivety, with our clever questions and infallible arguments, to wipe the floor with this “Jewdas”. But, in an awesome display of oratory, Kaufman, without so much as a scratch, left us to wander off to the pub, wondering how we didn’t manage to land even one decent blow. That evening, we witnessed the triumph of rhetoric over truth, presentation over substance, and the skills which the articulate Kaufman has employed in Parliament, to his malevolent ends, so effectively over the past forty years.
In 2002, Kaufman’s BBC film, The End of the Affair, documenting his disillusionment with Israel, was broadcast over Jewish New Year. Kaufman’s arguments were so irrational and full of spite – including that Orthodox Jews were “infesting” Jerusalem (language which Hitler himself would have been proud of), and that Israel’s architectural planners had turned Jerusalem into a eyesore (an argument so ridiculous, even Stevie Wonder chuckled) – that, some days later, on Yom Kippur, he was abused by fellow congregants, even in his most proper and Anglicised of synagogues, St. John’s Wood.
While some British Jews criticized such treatment in a house of worship, I was not amongst them. Only someone so supremely arrogant could have had the temerity to show his face to coreligionists following so ferocious and malicious an assault, not just on Israel but on Jews.
One can only speculate whether the root cause of Kaufman’s self-loathing might have been his lack of acceptance by mainstream Anglo-Jewry (perhaps even more conservative in his native Yorkshire), for the very reason that he is known in Parliament as “Dame” Gerald. Whether mere speculation, or more, Kaufman should at least learn to “mince” his words.
Kaufman is also an outspoken critic of fox hunting, and – knowing that he is often accused of being a self-hating Jew – has seen the irony in being subjected to anti-Semitic taunts by pro-hunt demonstrators.
But, you see, Gerald, there’s the rub – we Jews, like foxes, can run, but we can’t hide. Your lifetime of sycophancy, and attempts to ingratiate yourself with the British Establishment, by bashing Israel, have fooled no one. Those in it, who don’t like you because you are a Jew, like you even less because you are a cowardly Jew.
But, most tragically, Gerald, your Bubbe would be as thoroughly ashamed of you as we all are.