Thursday, August 03, 2006

Scottish Anti-Semitism


George Szirtes in his blog entry of 2.8.06 (On Apologising) linked to an article in The Scotsman on Mel Gibson’s anti-Jewish remarks on being arrested for drunk driving. But the issue isn’t so much Gibson. Even the sherriff who arrested him (who is Jewish) felt that the booze was talking. We can think of Mel Gibson whatever we like.

However, the real issue is on the comments board at the bottom of the article. I wouldn’t have thought there was much anti-semitism these days among Scottish people. I would have thought it to be a non-issue. Of course, people may be angry about what the Israeli Government is doing in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, and it’s fair enough that these issues are vigorously debated. But the idea that people in Scotland hold hostility towards Jews, just because they are Jews, wouldn’t have struck me as realistic these days.

The comments have shown me otherwise. As examples:

Given the punishment the Jews are currently handing out to their neighbours I would feel that some dignified silence might be in order but we'd never get that from a jew…

pity they [the Lebanese] aren't as rich as the jews as then he [Mel Gibson] wouldn't have to grovel.

Mel only said what a lot of Europeans think about the Jews; that they start a lot of wars.

It must be embarrassing for the Americans to be dominated by the Jews in their own country. Fortunately in Europe although there are a lot of Jews we're not affected by them.

That said, what is really more offensive: [Mel Gibson] risking the lives of others by drinking and driving, or voicing an unpopular opinion about Jews?

That’s quite shocking, I think. There is racism is Scotland, which erupts in violence sporadically between white Scots and the large Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi community, and in some tabloid-fuelled hostility towards asylum-seekers, but I had honestly never before even considered that people still held these kind of views in Scotland against Jews. I can only hope they are a tiny minority, but they made up a significant proportion of those who entered opinions in the comments box.


Harry said...

Is it just me or is the byline on that article - 'Gary Gentile and Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles' – a bit peculiar? I mean surely that isn't just the Scotsman's idea of a joke?

Anyway. I'm always slightly surprised by anti-semitism in the UK just because Jews are such a low-visibility minority, but I guess that's never stopped anyone.

I was waiting for a haircut a while back and the barber was talking to his customer about Tottenham Hotspur (which is of course stereotyped as having lots of Jewish supporters). And they said something like:

"You'd think one of those Jewish billionaires would come in and give Spurs lots of money."
"Ah, well, they wouldn't, would they, because they're Jewish."

I was absolutely staggered, especially since they didn't appear to be more than half-joking. So I pointed out that Roman Abramovich is Jewish., which in retrospect wasn't ideal because while it argues against the idea that Jews are tight, it doesn't do much to dispel the idea of 'those Jewish billionaires'.

C. E. Chaffin said...

I'm surprised at how polite and well-written the comments are. Then I'm a Yank; over here we're all equal or I'll kick your ass.

Rob Mackenzie said...

"Anyway. I'm always slightly surprised by anti-semitism in the UK just because Jews are such a low-visibility minority, but I guess that's never stopped anyone."

That was my reaction exactly, and your story is yet another example.

C.E., at the link you'll notice that some comments (not the ones I've replicated) have been deleted. We can only imagine what they might have said...

George said...

Thanks, Rob. Worth people noticing. Nothing too serious but it's interesting how they come out of the woodwork at certain times. Apropos of harry, there is no winning that one because the rules aren't made that way.

Rob Mackenzie said...

It just makes me wonder how many there are in the woodwork. Hopefully, not many.

I enjoyed this from Nonna Gorilovskaya at

Given that "Mel Gibson has asked the Jewish community to help him heal his burning anti-Semitic tongue", she recommends, "long-term remedies like 10,000 hours of dancing the Hava Nagila." There are other suggestions too.

Rob Mackenzie said...

That exact link is at Nonna Gorilovskaya

George said...

Thanks for Nonna link. I was not too exercised by Gibson's drunken little diatribe and wouldn't have mentioned it but for the Scotsman comments.

Very nice rondeau by the way.