Have I Got Jews for You

I think I must be a celebrity. Because someone just made a joke about me on Have I Got News For You. I didn’t see this particular programme till later, but I do often watch. And I notice that most of the people they make jokes about must be celebrities because I have never heard of them.

So what did they say? This is it, as spoken by the show’s host Helen McCrory:

Corbyn was defended by Jewish Voice of [sic!] Labour’s Jonathan Rosenhead who said “I’ve been in the Labour Party since 1961 and I’m still waiting for my first experience of antisemitism.”*

Wait, here come’s the punchline. She followed up with

“Well, just Tweet that and await the response!”

It did get the most feeble laugh of the programme. I suspect that was not just because it wasn’t funny. There is also the little difficulty of it not making sense.

Maybe what she was suggesting was that because I was denying the well-known fact that the Labour Party is awash with antisemitism, once this became widely known I would get a right trolling, presumably from antisemites. But hang on – are they really the people who would be annoyed by what I said? Surely not. The trolls wouldn’t be those antisemites at all; it would be Labour’s critics, furious about my unbelievable truth: that antisemites in the Party are passing rare.

So even after going to all this trouble – appearing on Jeremy Vine, becoming a celebrity, learning how to tweet my quote, waiting for the response – I still wouldn’t have had my first Labour Party-related experience of antisemitism. It would be galling.

Now I do know that Jews are allowed to make anti-Jewish jokes. (They have a special dispensation from the Pope.) But these people on the programme weren’t even Jewish. At least they didn’t look Jewish (though of course you can never tell). There’s also an excellent book called That’s Funny You Don’t Look Antisemitic. And they didn’t. But you never can tell.

But anyhow if they aren’t Jewish (or even if they are), I’m curious why they should think it is just fine to tell me (a Jew) what I am allowed to have experienced?

I do have my doubts about the panel members, because there is something of a pattern of behaviour. Elsewhere in the programme, McCrory asked whether the behaviour complained about in the Chief Rabbi’s Times article was antisemitic or anti-Israel. In response Hislop wittily quipped “Well I think they are happily confused by those who want to be both”. But that’s not comedy, its breaking news – the IHRA definition which mixes up antisemitism with criticism of Israel is actually the work of antisemites!

So the BBC goes on its merry way. The received wisdom narrative about Labour antisemitism must be pontificated about by pundits, assumed by programme anchors, expletive-deleted about by Margaret Hodge and now joked about by merry pranksters.

The joke’s on me.


* Yes at least it was an accurate quote – I said it on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 earlier that week, while discussing the Chief Rabbi Mervis’ `hell-fire-and-damnation’ sermon on Jeremy Corbyn.

Comments (6)

  • Richard Hayward says:

    Beautifully nailed!

    Choirboy Hislop, imbued with the pious old school tie culture of a Welby, also, of course, edits a a public school rag-mag that (despite a couple of pages of good investigative journalism) has never, ever, dared to break its essentially establishment frame by taking apart the antisemitism scam.

    That would be too scary!

  • Lyn Smith says:

    Hello Jonathan. Thank you for being you. What a world! For all of the ugliness that people are willfully unleashing in the name of petty political gains, I still believe in the power of words. I still believe the right words at the right time will eventually heal all of our divisions. Your courageous, eloquent contributions are truly inspiring. I wanted to write to say “thank you”, and to give you a “virtual hug”.

  • Janet Crosley says:

    I was embarrassed by that programme as a gentile.

  • JanP says:

    The BBC and Private Eye are listening to anything but the truth. The BBC has had Tory implants but it might be worth having a quiet word with Ian Hislop.

  • ruby lescott says:

    Lyn and Janet, me too.

  • DAVID ROGER says:

    Hislop has some personal mission on this show I’ve noticed to equate Corbyn with anti Semitism . I find these multi millionaire sneerers increasingly smug and self satisfied . They always play safe with Boris and Trump jokes as if they were Swiftian cynics when they are very middle of the road
    They were getting £7000 an hour back in the days of Angus Deaton . God knows what they earn now that might make them anti labour !!

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