Marie van der Zyl’s JC article

I read Marie van der Zyl’s recent article in the JC  (‘Saying ‘all lives matter’ belittles a genuine call for equality’)

She uses several arguments not supported by the evidence and potentially damaging to the UK Jewish Community.

First she asserts that in America there is ‘clear and systemic racism against black people’. America had a black President for eight years, there have been black Supreme Court Justices, black Secretaries of State and any number of black Professors. Her statement is unevidenced. There are many reasons for inequality besides racism.  Particularly when antisemites accuse Israel of being ‘systemically racist’, we are surely right to expect the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to be more careful as regards such accusations. Labour under Corbyn was systemically racist as was apartheid South Africa. Most mainstream commentators and academics would not agree that the United States should be bracketed with these two.

Second, Marie disparages those who say that ‘all lives matter’; she claims that it belittles their call for equality. That response itself belittles those Jews who – whilst caring about injustice – are unwilling to endorse the rallying cry of a movement which is deeply antisemitic. M4BL had a specifically anti-Israel platform until as recently as 2017.  It accused Israel of practising systematic discrimination and bought into the ‘apartheid lie’. A BLM leader has suggested that Zionism is a white supremacist movement. And of course the concept that ‘all lives matter’ is core to our religion and to the Torah. Caring for example about the three gays murdered in Reading last week does not in any way render concern for BAME inequality any less. There is no hierarchy of inequality of opportunity!

Third, in response to complaints about antisemitism, Jeremy Corbyn inevitably belittled the complaints by responding that Labour was acting ‘against antisemitism and other forms of racism’ – mendaciously and disingenuously suggesting that antisemitism in Labour was no worse than other racisms. It is completely wrong to assert – as Marie does – that the quid pro quo of our anger at Corbyn is that we shouldn’t say ‘all lives matter’. Antisemitism in Labour was sui generis and exclusive; inequality of those of Black African or Black Caribbean ethnic groups is clearly neither of those things.

This isn’t the first example of inaccuracy from Marie. In December she signed a letter in the JC criticising Melanie Phillips for something she didn’t do(deny the existence of anti-Muslim hatred).

Marie called out Rebecca Long-Bailey for insufficient due diligence before she went into print.  She too has a responsibility to make sure that what she writes – or what is published in her name – is accurate.

Addendum: For anyone who does not believe Black Lives Matter is shot through with antisemitism …

blm uk june 2020

Black Lives Matter UK has raised over £1 million in three weeks from over 34,000 donors. None of them knows how their money will be spent. BLM UK is not a charity so they have no guarantee of accounts or an Annual Report.  This is what they stand for: “We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world. “ Incredible.


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