Prime and Jews

June 5th, 2008 at 5:15 am by David Farrar

Billboards have gone up promoting a new TV show on Prime called Mad Men, based on a 1960s advertising agency.

A reader has e-mailed me about the billboards, which say:

“Advertising agency seeks clients — all business considered, even from Jews.”

Now my first reaction was that the TV show is lampooning anti Jewish bigotry, rather than targeting Jews. The Borat movie is a prime example of that. So I’m not particularly offended by the billboard.

However upon further reflection I wondered if Prime and its advertising agency would have dared to run billboards saying “all business considered, even from Maoris” or “all business considered, even from Polynesians”. I suspect not.

And as David Cohen points out, were such anti Jewish sentiments ever part of the advertising industry in the 1960s? Like David, I suspect not.

Now as I said, I understand that the adverts are meant to be in the same category as the anti Jewish sentiment done by Borat. However I would make the point that Borat could get away with it, because Sacha Baron-Cohen is in fact Jewish, and because it was so absolutely over the top no-one could take it seriously.

Where Prime is risking trouble, is by the nature of its advertising being on billboards. The average person walking down the street may not get the context. A billboard is arguably the most intrusive form of advertising, and elderly members of the Jewish community may not enjoy seeing such a billboard, as the humour will be lost on them with their real world experiences of living in countries where Jews were banned from many many types of business.

50 Responses to “Prime and Jews”

  1. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,947 comments) says:

    Mad Men is a great TV show. It has already screened here in the UK.

    The show itself does indeed reflect 60’s society. Comments are made by characters in the show about Jews in a negative way.

    All the characters smoke all time as well. Plenty of sexism. Even people smacking other people’s children.

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  2. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,947 comments) says:

    Watch the show and you will understand where the advert is coming from. It’s a brilliant, award winning show. The billboard is lampooning a 1960’s mindset. It’s also specific to the plot of the show in that they do take on a Jewish client and lets just say the ad executives have unique ideas on how to win the client. (i.e. lets fetch up a mail boy from the mail room because that’s that only Jewish people we employ at this firm and we’ll pretend that he’s involved in coming up with the advertising concept)

    Mad Men is a show that is big on character development but not fast in pace.

    The show does give off a perverse pleasure in doing and saying things that just don’t fly in our enlightened time. It was a different time.

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  3. expat (4,088 comments) says:

    Its a shame isnt it when you cant lampoon Maori/Polynesians because of over excited PC glands around and about.

    Anyone else is fair game though it seems.

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  4. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    except taggers in pink vests

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  5. Lee C (2,991 comments) says:

    When are people going to grow up and come to terms with the fact that jews are not funny?

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  6. goodgod (1,347 comments) says:

    Everybody funny. Now you funny too.

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  7. Craig Ranapia (1,499 comments) says:

    And as David Cohen points out, were such anti Jewish sentiments ever part of the advertising industry in the 1960s? Like David, I suspect not.

    OMG, DPF! Next you’ll be telling me The Sopranos isn’t a sociologically accurate depiction of the lifestyles of Italian-Americans in New Jersey and, no matter what Sex in the City would have you believe, the life of a single girl in Manhattan is more than a round of fucking, Cosmos in fabulous clubs and buying a closet full of expensive designer shoes on a freelance writer’s salary. (That’s plausible…)

    I don’t know, or even really care, whether Mad Men is a documentary, but within the frame of the show the casual anti-Semitism flows through the corridors of the Sterling Cooper Agency as casually and virulently as the sexism, racism and homophobia. If my memory serves, one of the central characters is going to extraordinary lengths to conceal his Jewish background.

    BTW, I don’t recall you having anything to say about the rather saucy billboards advertising The Secret Diary of a Call Girl — you know, the ones where, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, a gauzy skirt blows up to reveal a sexy pair of slutty knickers? I’m sure there are many people who “would not enjoy” having this kind of salacious advertising “intrusively” forced upon them. (The show itself has also drawn considerable criticism for it’s unrealistic and “glamourising” depiction of prostitution, but that’s a whole other kete of kai moana.) But I somehow doubt you’d be among them.

    Its a shame isnt it when you cant lampoon Maori/Polynesians because of over excited PC glands around and about.

    Never seen an episode of Outrageous Fortune, expat?
    If you want to be offended, you don’t have to try very hard — but you’ve got to give them credit for being equal opportunity offenders. 🙂

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  8. JC (1,102 comments) says:

    About all I can say is that I was an adult in the 1960s and my recollection of Jews was they were generally admired because of Israel and the way it was dealing to 100 million Arabs in the Middle East. It was the time of best selling books from Leon Uris, of the realisation of the enormity of the crimes against Jews in Nazi Germany and suchlike.

    That mightn’t have been the case in the UK but I feel vaguely resentful that we would import a show, or an attitude that simply wasn’t here.


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  9. BlairM (2,755 comments) says:

    When are people going to grow up and come to terms with the fact that jews are not funny?

    Yeah, people who laugh at the comedy of Mel Brooks, the Zucker brothers, Ben Stiller, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, yadda yadda yadda…. GROW UP!

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  10. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,947 comments) says:

    Mad Men is a US television show. The words are a play on Ad Men and Madison Avenue. The one in New York.

    It’s been screened in the UK already because the UK is part of the civilised world. Where as New Zealand happens to be located at the ass end of the world. Hence the last cab off the rank. QED

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  11. goodgod (1,347 comments) says:

    From now one anyone who uses the word “homophobia” in a post will recieve one karma demerit point from me.

    When are people going to grow up and come to terms with the fact that gays are not funny?

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  12. Craig Ranapia (1,499 comments) says:

    From now one anyone who uses the word “homophobia” in a post will recieve one karma demerit point from me.

    Fair enough — I’ll use “fag-baiting” instead to avoid wounding your delicate linguistic sensibilities. Talk about political correctness gone mad. 🙂

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  13. Murray (8,822 comments) says:

    Play them the Adam Sandlers Hanukkah song Blair.

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  14. PhilBest (4,976 comments) says:

    JC, you are right, Israel at one time was admired as the brave little David in the Middle East standing up to hordes of oil-rich Arabs, outnumbered 100 to 1. You can’t keep the most ancient prejudice down for long, though, can you………. Unfortunately, this prejudice IS being IMPORTED into NZ by the MSM, deriving so much as they do from Pommie sources……..The Poms, whose Royal Navy spent most of the 1930’s towing Jewish “boat people” back to Nazi Germany are a disgrace to their own heritage on this issue.

    But I agree with Mr Farrar, it shouldn’t be OK for one race and not for another.

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  15. thehawkreturns (144 comments) says:

    OK I wasn’t an adult in 60’s Britain but I was in 70’s Britain.
    There was no more anti Jewish feeling than anti anything else.
    Monty Python would have been a good bell-weather of the culture
    at the time perhaps. Plenty of gay, Irish, WASP and yes.. even Jewish jokes,
    but without subject matter for a joke you are rendered a socialist, witness
    how often Helen Clark makes you laugh.

    I like being offended sometimes. It makes me think. Maybe we should try it more often
    in NZ.

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  16. expat (4,088 comments) says:

    Craig, no, I have never seen an episode of Outrageous Fortune, thank fuck.

    But the point is made, we’re all big people and should be able to laugh at ourselves.

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  17. Colonel Masters (404 comments) says:

    Unfortunately, this prejudice IS being IMPORTED into NZ by the MSM, deriving so much as they do from Pommie sources…

    I would put it down more to virulent anti-Americanism within the MSM, which then extends to Israel and Jews in general.

    BTW, while flogging PC horses, many people find the term “pom” offensive 😉

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  18. Craig Ranapia (1,499 comments) says:

    Craig, no, I have never seen an episode of Outrageous Fortune, thank fuck.

    Well, you should — it’s a wonderfully written and acted show, and there’s no shortage of un-PC, hellishly dodgy Maoris and PIs along with the mad, bad and dangerous to know Westie white trash.

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  19. expat (4,088 comments) says:

    Craig, thanks but no thanks.

    Along with Bro Town I’d rather read a book.

    Sometimes lifes too short to waste on whats not important.

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  20. Right of way is Way of Right (957 comments) says:

    Umm, Expat, shouldn’t you actually see the programme before you decide if it’s good or not? It’s actually one of the few programmes I take the phone off the hook for.

    Back on topic….

    There has been a resurgence of Jewish Comedy in the US, Adam Sandler is one of the most in your face jewish comedians out there, and it shows in his latest movie Dont Mess with the Zohan. Additionally, many writers in Hollywood are of a semitic origin, so the Borat argument is probably valid.

    Secondly, it’s comedy people. Ask any Jew if he’s heard any good gentile jokes lately. If the Jewish people continue to be able to laugh at themselves and others after the history they have had, it speaks volumes for the resilience of the human race as a whole.

    And while I would laugh at the perceived idiosyncracies of various ethnic and spiritual differences between us all, the more politically correct amongst us would have us say nothing for fear of offending everyone. It’s not the humour that’s destructive, it’s the intolerance.

    Have you ever sat and discussed religion with a Muslim? I have, very enlightening!

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  21. Craig Ranapia (1,499 comments) says:

    Along with Bro Town I’d rather read a book.

    Try Oliver Twist, The Merchant of Venice and The Way We Live Now. You can’t really squint past the reality that Fagan, Shylock and Augustus Melmotte are brilliant characters in fine works of literature and exemplars of poisonously anti-Semitic stereotypes.

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  22. Tauhei Notts (2,362 comments) says:

    I think that, like Shylock, some of the objectors to this billboard will demand their pound of flesh.

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  23. toms (227 comments) says:

    “…the casual anti-Semitism flows through the corridors of the Sterling Cooper Agency as casually and virulently as the sexism, racism and homophobia. If my memory serves, one of the central characters is going to extraordinary lengths to conceal his Jewish background…”

    Actually it sounds like the National Party caucus to me.

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  24. bearhunter (837 comments) says:

    So, humour and Jewishness discussed and it’s all about Adam Sandler and not Woody Allen? Did I lose a generation somewhere?

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  25. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    “BTW, while flogging PC horses, many people find the term “pom” offensive”

    Please, if you are going to use the term SPELL it correctly, it’s POHM, obviously!

    As for the billboard, no point worrying about it now, they’ve been taken down by the ad agency that designed and placed them – at Prime’s insistance. A shame really! There are billboards using language that should not be in line of sight of polite people, (just as some find their vocabulary so small that they have to use such language in places like this blog,) but they don’t get removed (an I’m not referring to the ‘skirt in the wind’ one, which I found quite amusing as did my wife). If there are to be no standards other than those deemed PC, lets have a book of policy on what is and isn’t PC! I somehow think it would keep a whole pile of people wrapped up for years tring to agree what should be published, in the same way it took 2 years for someone to get back to me from the Ministry of Education when I asked for a copy of their “policies” as I was told I had done something that wasn’t in-line with one of them! (The answer, after two years, was ‘sorry, we don’t have such a document’!

    As an aside, don’t you think it is hilarious that there are now something like twice as many ‘policy analysts, senior policy analysts, policy managers and senior policy managers in Welington than there were 12 years ago, and NONE of the ministries can produce a bokk titled (something along the lines of,) Ministry of XXXXX Policy Manual. Wait! I tell a lie! The Ministry of Food does have one (not to be comfused with The New Zealand Food Safety Authority, which does not!).

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  26. PhilBest (4,976 comments) says:

    True, “the hawk returns”, you could be in Britain in the NINETEEN SEVENTIES and not notice undue levels of antiSemitism. But not now. Do you want links to some articles on the subject or do you know what I mean? Blatant AntiSemitism is one thing, but of course, slagging off Israel isn’t QUITE the SAME thing. It just HAPPENS to be a particularly “Jewish” nation and for SOME OBSCURE reason, gets held to impossibly high standards by Pommie, sorry, British, op-ed writers. The more blatant antiSemitism, vandalism of synagogues, assaults on Jews, is happening on a small scale, but still disproportionate to OTHER racism-based incidents. The demonisation of Israel as a nation though, is ENDEMIC.

    I make NO apologies for attacking Britain’s role in the great European anti-Semitism of the 1930’s. This is an ugly chapter in Britain’s otherwise mostly laudable role in history that they are in denial about, and need to confront.

    Colonel Masters, I agree with you, though. If Israel had been a client state of the USSR, and was chummy with Fidel Castro, they would get a lot nicer treatment from the MSM. I was going to say, too, “if they were a soft Socialist utopia”………but oddly enough, they kind of ARE, but this is obviously not enough to overcome the other points on which they stand condemned in the eyes of the MSM.

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  27. Rex Widerstrom (5,113 comments) says:

    You mean this series DPF? It’s up for a Television Critics’ Award. It’s reputedly pretty damned good, IMO (samples here.

    Incidentally, Craig, The Sopranos and Mad Men share the same Executive Producer.

    Everything I’ve heard about it – from within the notoriously jealous and back-biting world of TV production – says it’s a quality show.

    As for Prime’s way of promoting it… well they are battling against the “all TV is crap” attitude that years of exposure to most of what TVNZ and Canwest offer has built up in people’s minds, so I guess they have to do something radical to convince people to switch the idiot box back on, even if it’s simply to see if the show is as offensive as their billboards.

    It might help, however, if some of the billboards had “…all business considered, even from Blacks”, say, so as to make the point a little clearer.

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  28. He-Man (270 comments) says:

    Don’t forget that this is from Prime, who brought upon us the Global Warming Swindle “debate”…

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  29. Grant Michael McKenna (1,166 comments) says:

    The key issue is not what is being advertised but how it is being advertised. To evaluate an advertisement by the product requires an observer to examine each product, and this is both unreasonably time consuming and requires a level of expertise that the average person cannot be presumed to have.

    The show may well be very good, but the advertisement is not. The advertisement is not a creation of the studio that produced the show, and is not to be evaluated as being part of the show; the advertisement stands alone, and should be appraised by the probability of its causing offence taking into account the context, medium and audience.

    Advertising agency seeks clients — all business considered, even from Jews.
    Advertising agency seeks clients — all business considered, even from Māori.
    Advertising agency seeks clients — all business considered, even from Blacks.
    Advertising agency seeks clients — all business considered, even from Socialists.

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  30. labrator (2,464 comments) says:

    … so I guess they have to do something radical to convince people to switch the idiot box back on…

    They could start by broadcasting Prime on freeview! Monopolist wannabes…

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  31. thehawkreturns (144 comments) says:

    Dear Philbest

    I am not quite following why you are seemingly shouting NINETEEN SEVENTIES, QUITE the SAME, HAPPENS etc at me as much of this emphasis is not understandable and I think is plain daft.

    I am not aware that antisemitism is occurring disproportionately in Britain versus anti muslim feeling or attacks. I would welcome any evidence you can provide. Still, given the fact that dear old blighty is now overrun by towel-heads I wouldn’t be surprised. Ooops, have I revealed that in fact I am a strong supporter of Israel and that it seems you may have inadvertently attacked the wrong person.

    Growing up in the 70’s, I was instructed very well at school regarding the antisemitism of the 1930’s in Britain.
    Despite the riots led by the fascists, these loonies were very much a minority that were adequately dealt with at the time
    by peaceful means. I think Sir Oswald spent some time in clink. I don’t see any denial there, then or now, at all.

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  32. Ryan Sproull (7,975 comments) says:

    Optimus Prime is Jewish?!

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  33. bearhunter (837 comments) says:

    I think you also have understand the timeframe we’re talking about. Whereas it’s not acceptable now to rip the piss out of “minorities*” (and I speak as one myself), it used to be perfectly acceptable. My father saw in England the signs on lodging houses announcing “No dogs, no blacks, no Irish” . These attitudes change with time, although not so quickly down here, it would appear. When I arrived here in 1995, I saw a colour chart in a paint shop with a shade called “nigger brown”, while whenever anyone said anything silly it was described as “a bit Irish”. Similarly Scots are still deemed to be mean (a complete myth in my experience**) and Maori generally are still deemed to be dole-bludging idlers. We all know these stereotypes aren’t universally applicable, but people here still use them. So why complain about a line from a show that is based in a time when such attitudes were prevalent overseas?

    * I use the inverted commas because everyone is a minority somewhere.

    **Although that said, I did know one Scots guy who was known as The Blacksmith – every time it was his round he made a bolt for the door….

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  34. PhilBest (4,976 comments) says:

    Dear “thehawkreturns”, good on you for being a supporter of Israel. Sir Oswald was one thing, the Royal Navy towing Jewish “boat people” back to Nazi Germany right up till before the outbreak of war, and Britain refusing to admit that German Jews WERE “refugees” at all, is another. If you don’t know about this, I rest my case. (Not that Britain was alone in refusing Jews refugee status, it just happens to have been THEIR Navy policing the seas).

    And on antiSemitism in England TODAY, you couldn’t do better than to read THIS: Read it and weep.

    November 5, 2007
    Oldest hatred, new mutation By Melanie Phillips

    City Journal, Autumn 2007.

    “In August 2006, as the war in Lebanon raged, a gang of teenage girls confronted 12-year-old Jasmine Kranat and a friend on a London bus. “Are you Jewish?” they demanded. They didn’t hurt the friend, who was wearing a crucifix. But they subjected Jasmine, a Jew, to a brutal beating—stomping on her head and chest, fracturing her eye socket, and knocking her unconscious.

    According to the Community Security Trust, the defense organization of Britain’s 300,000-strong Jewish community, last year saw nearly 600 anti-Semitic assaults, incidents of vandalism, cases of abuse, and threats against Jewish individuals and institutions—double the 2001 number. According to the police, Jews are four times more likely to be attacked because of their religion than are Muslims.

    Every synagogue service and Jewish communal event now requires guards on the lookout for violence from both neo-Nazis and Muslim extremists. Orthodox Jews have become particular targets; some have begun wearing baseball caps instead of skullcaps and concealing their Star of David jewelry.

    Anti-Semitism is rife within Britain’s Muslim community. Islamic bookshops sell copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the notorious czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; as an undercover TV documentary revealed in January, imams routinely preach anti-Jewish sermons.

    Opinion polls show that nearly two-fifths of Britain’s Muslims believe that the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target “as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East”; that more than half believe that British Jews have “too much influence over the direction of UK foreign policy”; and that no fewer than 46 percent think that the Jewish community is “in league with Freemasons to control the media and politics.”

    But anti-Semitism has also become respectable in mainstream British society. “Anti-Jewish themes and remarks are gaining acceptability in some quarters in public and private discourse in Britain and there is a danger that this trend will become more and more mainstream,” reported a Parliamentary inquiry last year. “It is this phenomenon that has contributed to an atmosphere where Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to abuse and attack than at any other time for a generation or longer.”

    At the heart of this ugly development is a new variety of anti-Semitism, aimed primarily not at the Jewish religion, and not at a purported Jewish race, but at the Jewish state. Zionism is now a dirty word in Britain, and opposition to Israel has become a fig leaf for a resurgence of the oldest hatred.

    Anti-Semitism has continually changed its shape over the centuries. In the Greco-Roman world, it expressed itself in cultural hostility, resentment of the Jews’ economic power, and disdain for the separate lives that Jews led as the result of their religious practices, such as dietary laws and refusal to marry outside the faith.

    Adding fuel to these pagan prejudices, Christian theology accused Jews of deicide and held them responsible for all time for killing Christ, a position that effectively associated them with the devil and, crucially, laid the blame for their suffering on their own shoulders.

    Later, medieval Christianity attempted to usurp the Jewish heritage through “replacement theology,” which claimed that Christians inherited all the promises that God had made to the Jews, who were to be eliminated through either conversion or death. These ideas underlay medieval Europe’s regular anti-Jewish pogroms, which consisted of massacres, forced conversions, and torchings of synagogues.

    Theological anti-Semitism’s themes reemerged in the next mutation: racial anti-Semitism. This ideology held that, on account of their genetic inheritance, Jews were the enemies of humanity—a demonic conspiracy whose malign influence could be countered only by removing them from the face of the earth. Nazi Germany tried to do just that, killing 6 million Jews between 1933 and 1945.

    And now, in Britain and elsewhere, anti-Semitism has mutated again, its target shifting from culture to creed to race to nation. What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people. First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear.

    For the presentation of Israel in British public discourse does not consist of mere criticism. It has become a torrent of libels, distortions, and obsessional vilification, representing Israel not as a country under exterminatory attack by the Arabs for the 60 years of its existence but as a regional bully persecuting innocent Palestinians who want only a homeland.

    Language straight out of the lexicon of medieval and Nazi Jew-hatred has become commonplace in acceptable British discourse, particularly in the media. Indeed, the most striking evidence that hatred of Israel is the latest mutation of anti-Semitism is that it resurrects the libel of the world Jewish conspiracy, a defining anti-Semitic motif that went underground after the Holocaust.

    Take the much-abused term “neo-conservatives,” which has become code for the Jews who have supposedly suborned America in Israel’s interests. In the Guardian, Geoffrey Wheatcroft lamented the fact that Conservative Party leader David Cameron had fallen under the spell of neoconservatives’ “ardent support for the Iraq war, for the US and for Israel,” and urged Cameron to ensure that British foreign policy was no longer based on the interest of “another country”—Israel.

    In the Times, Simon Jenkins supported the notion that “a small group of neo-conservatives contrived to take the greatest nation on Earth to war and kill thousands of people” and that these “traitors to the American conservative tradition,” whose “first commitment was to the defence of Israel,” had achieved a “seizure of Washington (and London) after 9/11.” According to this familiar thesis, the Jews covertly exercise their extraordinary power to advance their own interests and harm the rest of mankind.

    The New Statesman took a more straightforward approach in 2002, printing an investigation into the power of the “Zionist” lobby in Britain, which it dubbed the “Kosher Conspiracy” and illustrated on its cover with a gold Star of David piercing the Union Jack. The image conveyed at a glance the message that rich Jews were stabbing British interests through the national heart.

    The British media accuse Israel of a host of crimes. The Guardian published a two-day special report painting Israel as an apartheid state, ignoring the fact that Israeli Arabs have full civil rights. Another Guardian article, by Patrick Seale, portrayed Israel’s incursions into Gaza as a “destructive rampage.” Dismissing or ignoring the rocket attacks, hostage-taking, and terrorism that those incursions were trying to stop, Seale concluded instead that Israel “deliberately inflicts inhumane hardships on the Palestinians in order to radicalise them and drive the moderates from the scene.”

    When the National Union of Journalists, joining a number of other academic and professional groups, voted last April to boycott Israeli goods—a move that it has since reversed—one of its members, freelancer Pamela Hardyment, described Israel as “a wonderful Nazi-like killing machine backed by the world’s richest Jews.” Then she referred to the “so-called Holocaust” and concluded: “Shame on all Jews, may your lives be cursed.”

    The British media uncritically regurgitate Palestinian propaganda even when it is demonstrably false. In April 2002, many outlets labeled Israel’s assault on the refugee camp in Jenin a “massacre” with thousands dead; in fact, some 52 Palestinian men had died (of whom the great majority were terrorists), along with 23 Israeli soldiers. In last year’s Lebanon war, the media propagated manifestly false Hezbollah claims of Israeli massacres that later proved to have been staged.

    During the same war, the Guardian published a cartoon depicting a huge fist, armed with brass knuckles shaped like Stars of David, hammering a bloody child while a wasp representing Hezbollah buzzed around ineffectually. The image suggested that Israel was a gigantic oppressor, slaughtering children in brutal overreaction to Hezbollah, a minor irritant.

    It was reminiscent of an earlier cartoon in the Independent that showed a monstrous Ariel Sharon biting the head off a Palestinian baby, which won first prize in the British Political Cartoon Society’s annual competition for 2003. By showing Jews killing children, both cartoons employed the imagery of the blood libel—the medieval European calumny that sparked many massacres of Jews by claiming that they murdered Gentile children and used their blood for religious rituals.

    The BBC, despite its claims of fairness and honesty, is just as marked by hatred of Israel, and much more influential. It reported the Lebanon war by focusing almost entirely on the Israeli assault upon Lebanon, with scarcely a nod at the Hezbollah rocket barrage against Israel. Its reporters blame Israel even for Palestinians’ killing of other Palestinians.

    Last December, in a briefing for other BBC staff, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen wrote of the incipient Palestinian civil war in Gaza: “The reason is the death of hope, caused by a cocktail of Israel’s military activities, land expropriation and settlement building—and the financial sanctions imposed on the Hamas led government.”

    Some media websites publish readers’ anti-Semitic comments. On the Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog—which does try to remove some of the more offensive remarks—one reader wrote: “Because of their religious teachings whenever Jews have had power they have used it to persecute non-Jews—from the extermination of Amalek to the killing of Christian converts, to the oppression of medieval peasantry in Poland to the Palestinians today.”

    A message board on BBC Radio Five Live’s website published a reader’s remark that “Zionism is a racist ideology where jews [sic] are given supremacy over all other races and faiths. This is found in the Talmud.” Though the site reserves the right not to post messages that are “racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable,” it refused to remove that posting, which apparently “did not contravene the house rules.”

    Another force propagating the new anti-Semitism is the institution at the heart of the old theological version: the Church, which has reverted to blaming Jews for their own suffering and accusing them once again of a diabolical conspiracy against the innocent. Although Britain is in many ways a postreligious society, it still sees the churches as custodians of high-minded conscience and truth. And those churches are viscerally prejudiced against Israel.

    The Church of England is especially unfriendly; one might say that it is the Guardian at prayer. In a lecture in 2001, the archbishop of Canterbury’s representative in the Middle East, Canon Andrew White, observed with concern that propaganda accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and of systematically “Judaising” Jerusalem had assumed great authority within the Church of England. The Church, he said, was undergoing not just a spell of Israel-hatred but also a revival of theological anti-Semitism.

    One major influence here is radical Palestinian Christian theology, such as that of Canon Naim Ateek, which revives the imagery of Christ-killing in order to claim that the Palestinians are the rightful inheritors of God’s promise of the Land of Israel. Another is the prominent Reverend Stephen Sizer, who has said that Israel is fundamentally an apartheid state, that he hopes that it will be “brought to an end,” and that Christianity has inherited God’s promises to the Jews.

    Sizer agrees with another leading Anglican, Reverend Dr. John Stott, that the idea that Jews still have a special relationship with God is “biblically anathema.” And Colin Chapman’s book Whose Promised Land?—hugely influential within the Church—likewise says that God’s promises to the Jews now pertain to the Christians, adding that violence has always been implicit in Zionism and that Jewish self-determination is somehow racist.

    Small wonder, then, that Christian aid societies regularly represent Israel as a malevolent occupying power, distorting Jews’ historical claims to the land and making scant reference to the sustained campaign of Arab terrorism against them. A 2005 report by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network—which underpinned a short-lived move to “divest” from companies supporting Israel—compared Israel’s security barrier with “the barbed-wire fence of the Buchenwald camp.” Jews were apparently like Nazis—and because of a measure aimed at preventing a second Jewish Holocaust.

    Last Christmas, several Anglican and Catholic churches replaced their traditional nativity tableaux with montages of Israel’s security barrier, carrying the unmistakable message that the Palestinians were the modern version of the suffering Christ being crucified all over again by the Jews. And earlier this year, the Catholic weekly The Tablet revealed that almost 80 percent of British Christians polled did not believe that Israel was fighting enemies that were pledged to destroy it.

    Like the media and the churches, Britain’s political and academic Left is making common cause with Islamist radicalism. The Islamists oppose the Left’s most deeply held causes, such as gay rights and equality for women. Yet leftists and Islamists now march together under such slogans as “We are all Hezbollah now” during rallies protesting the Lebanon war, and even “Death to the Jews” outside a debate over whether Manchester University’s Jewish Society should be banned.

    In 2005, London’s far-left mayor, Ken Livingstone, illustrated this unholy alliance by publicly embracing Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the cleric who endorses suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq. In the same year, he asked a Jewish reporter who approached him after a party, “What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?” When the reporter said that he was Jewish and that the remark offended him, Livingstone likened him to a “concentration camp guard.”

    After a government panel found that Livingstone had brought his office into disrepute, the mayor challenged the finding in court, where a judge ruled that his remarks were not anti-Semitic. But the Community Security Trust found that a number of perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks mentioned those comments. And John Mann, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, was in no doubt: “If you have people like the Mayor of London crossing the line . . . then it gives a message out to the rest of the community. That is why antisemitism is on the rise again—because it’s become acceptable.”

    Livingstone is not the only leftist politician “crossing the line.” In 2003, Labour backbencher Tam Dalyell claimed that Tony Blair was “being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers.” Liberal Democrat Jenny Tonge, whose party honored her with a peerage after she sympathized with suicide bombers and compared Arabs in Gaza with Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, told her party conference in 2006: “The pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party.”

    Even a distinguished general told me, without a shred of evidence, that Rupert Murdoch had ordered the Times, which he owns, to limit its opposition to the Iraq War “on the instruction of the Jewish lobby in America.” Furthermore, claimed the general, George Bush had invaded Iraq because “he had Ariel Sharon’s hand up his back.” Moreover, a number of institutions and professional groups have tried to launch boycotts of Israel: academics, journalists, architects, doctors, public-sector unions, and again the Church of England. Many of these have not succeeded, but they have served to remind the public that Israel is a pariah.

    Given these views, widespread in the media and among political and intellectual elites, it’s no surprise that many Britons believe that global Islamic terrorism is the result of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians—or that hatred of both the Jewish state and Jews in general has become increasingly acceptable among the population. As a woman said to me conversationally at dinner one evening: “I hate the Jews because of what they do to the Palestinians.”

    So acceptable has the new anti-Semitism become that many left-wing Jews promulgate the idea that Israel is a racist or apartheid state, demonize those Jews who seek to defend it against slander, and claim that because they are Jews themselves, their words cannot be anti-Semitic—despite the fact that throughout history there have been Jews who have turned on their coreligionists.

    One of the most conspicuous features of British anti-Semitism is that the British deny its existence. The Parliamentary inquiry received only a muted response. Both Mann and Richard Littlejohn, a journalist whose TV program on the subject aired in July 2007, encountered people who, when discovering their concern about anti-Semitism, said: “Oh, I didn’t know you were Jewish.” But Mann and Littlejohn aren’t Jewish.

    As Littlejohn noted, the implication was that no non-Jew would ever identify anti-Semitism, and therefore that anti-Semitism was generally a figment of the Jewish imagination. When I proposed to write a book about it, I was turned down by every mainstream publishing house. “No British publisher will touch this,” one editorial director told me. “Claiming there is anti-Semitism in Britain is simply unsayable.”

    Many Britons deny the resurgence of anti-Semitism because they think of it as prejudice toward Jews as people and believe that it died with Hitler. The argument that attitudes toward Israel may be anti-Semitic strikes them as absurd. But consider the characteristics of anti-Semitism. It applies to the Jews expectations applied to no other people; it libels, vilifies, demonizes, and dehumanizes them; it scapegoats them not merely for crimes that they have not committed, but for crimes of which they are the victims; it holds them responsible for all the ills of the world.

    These characteristics remain precisely the same in today’s hatred of the Jewish state. Israel is held to standards expected of no other nation; it is libeled and vilified; it is blamed both for crimes that it has not committed and for those of which it is the victim; and it is held responsible for all the world’s misfortunes—most recently, Islamic terrorism.

    So the Israel boycotts that have broken out in Britain are intrinsically anti-Semitic. The boycotters do not seek to cut ties with any other country, however tyrannical or murderous. They blame no other country for populations that have been displaced through war or other upheavals. And they expect no other nation that has held off its mortal enemies to defer to those aggressors and accede to their demands.

    Britons also tend to suspect that Jews use the charge of anti-Semitism to divert attention from Israel’s crimes. This is why, for so many in Britain, the suggestion that anti-Semitism is enjoying a renaissance seems not only false but sinister. Outraged to be accused of peddling bigotry, they begin to hate those who level that charge—who, they conclude, are part of a conspiracy against truth.

    Thus Jews who seek to defend Israel find themselves in a trap. By complaining that attacks on Israel are anti-Semitic, they become examples of the supposed Jewish tendency to play the anti-Semitism card to suppress legitimate debate—and provoke yet more of the very prejudice that they are trying to combat.

    Such Jews find themselves in a situation that Kafka could have scripted. The Economist hosted a 2004 debate in London proposing that “the enemies of antisemitism are the new McCarthyites” because they were trying to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel. And at that debate, a former Conservative higher-education minister and a member of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding stated that any British Jew who supported Israel’s policies was guilty of “dual loyalty.” I myself, on the BBC’s Question Time in 2001, was accused of dual loyalty for the same reason.

    Insofar as Britons are forced to acknowledge a rise in anti-Semitism, they assume that Jews have brought it on themselves because of Israel’s behavior. There is certainly a link: whenever Middle East violence surges, as in the 2006 Lebanon war or at the height of the second intifada, physical attacks on British Jews surge, too. Since violence in the Middle East invariably consists of attacks on Israel to which it is forced to respond, the appalling conclusion is that the more Jews are murdered in Israel, the more Jews are attacked in Britain.

    Not all Britons who oppose Israel are anti-Semites, of course. Many are decent people who hate prejudice. Indeed, that is why they hate Israel—because they have been taught that it is like apartheid-era South Africa. Profoundly ignorant of the history of the Jewish people and of the Middle East, they have been indoctrinated with one of the Big Lies of human history. And it is because of their very high-mindedness that the better educated and more socially progressive they are, the more likely they are to spew Jew-hatred.

    But why has this poison seeped into the British bloodstream? Why has the country that was once the cradle of the Enlightenment values of tolerance, objectivity, and reason departed so precipitately from its own tradition?

    For one thing, Britain has always had an ambivalent relationship with the Jews. Medieval England actually led the European charge against them. The blood libel is thought to have originated in twelfth-century England; and in 1290, after numerous pogroms against its Jewish citizens, it expelled them altogether. It was not until 1656 that, for a variety of economic and religious reasons, Oliver Cromwell allowed Jews to return to England. Though they subsequently flourished there, a measure of social anti-Semitism persisted until the Holocaust.

    Britain’s role in the creation of modern Israel is also a factor in British antagonism toward the Jewish state. In the early 1920s, the League of Nations entrusted Britain with the administration of Palestine, holding it responsible for “placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.”

    For almost three decades, the British tried to evade that obligation in order to appease the Arabs. The Jews of Palestine thus found themselves fighting the British as well as the Arabs, a fact that caused lasting resentment in Britain. Public opinion recalls with undimmed bitterness the Jewish terrorism of that period, such as the 1946 destruction of the British headquarters at Jerusalem’s King David hotel. Arabism is still the default position at the Foreign Office, where sympathetic diplomats are dubbed “the camel corps.”

    But a subtler reason exists for Britain’s embrace of the new anti-Semitism. After the Second World War, the radical Left set out to destroy the fundamentals of Western morality, but its campaign played out very differently in America and Britain. In America, it resulted in the culture wars, with conservatives, many churches, and sensible liberals launching a vigorous counterattack in defense of Western moral values—and, as it happened, Israel.

    Exhausted by two world wars, shattered by the loss of empire, and hollowed out by the failure of the Church of England or a substantial body of intellectuals and elites to hold the line, Britain was uniquely vulnerable to the predations of the Left.

    The institutions that underpinned truth and morality—the traditional family and an education system that transmitted the national culture—collapsed. Britain’s monolithic intelligentsia soon embraced postmodernism, multiculturalism, victim culture, and a morally inverted hegemony of ideas in which the values of marginalized or transgressive groups replaced the values of the purportedly racist, oppressive West.

    Further, people across the political spectrum became increasingly unable to make moral distinctions based on behavior. This erasing of the line between right and wrong produced a tendency to equate, and then invert, the roles of terrorists and of their victims, and to regard self-defense as aggression and the original violence as understandable and even justified.

    That attitude is, of course, inherently antagonistic to Israel, which was founded on the determination never to allow another genocide of Jews, to defend itself when attacked, and to destroy those who would destroy it. But for the Left, powerlessness is virtue; better for Jews to die than to kill, because only as dead victims can they be moral.

    And this general endorsement of surrender feeds straight into a subterranean but potent resentment simmering in Europe. For over 60 years, a major tendency in European thought has sought to distance itself from moral responsibility for the Holocaust. The only way to do so, however, was somehow to blame the Jews for their own destruction; and that monstrous reasoning was inconceivable while the dominant narrative was of Jews as victims.

    Now, however, the Palestinians have handed Europe a rival narrative. The misrepresentation of Israeli self-defense as belligerence, suggesting that Jews are not victims but aggressors, implicitly provides Europeans with the means to blame the destruction of European Jewry on its own misdeeds. As one influential left-wing editor said to me: “The Holocaust meant that for decades the Jews were untouchable. It’s such a relief that Israel means we don’t have to worry about that any more.”

    It is no accident that Jews find themselves at the center of Britain’s modern convulsion. Today’s British prejudices rest on a repudiation of truth and a refusal to defend Western moral values. And it was the Jews who first gave the West those moral codes that underpin its civilization and that are now under siege.

    If British politicians were to start speaking the truth about Israel’s history and defending Jews publicly, they might help stem the new anti-Semitism. Likewise, British Jews—who, unlike their American counterparts, are almost totally silent for fear of making things worse—need to put their heads above the parapet and start telling the truth about Israel. But for Jews who had allowed themselves to believe that they were truly at home in Britain, the new anti-Semitism is the end of an idyll.”

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  35. PhilBest (4,976 comments) says:

    And more recently:

    The universities’ witch-hunt against the Jews
    By Melanie Phillips
    The Spectator
    Wednesday, 28th May 2008

    “Today, the Universities and Colleges Union is discussing whether universities should single out Israeli and Jewish scholars for active discrimination.

    Yes, you read that correctly. The UCU is debating a motion which not only raises the spectre yet again of an academic boycott of Israel but demands of Jewish and Israeli academics that they explain their politics as a pre-condition to normal academic contact. The motion asks colleagues

    to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating… the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions… Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.

    The implication is that, if they don’t condemn Israel for the ‘occupation’, or practising ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel’s door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won’t be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted. The views they are being bludgeoned into expressing as a condition of their employment are based on lies, distortion, propaganda, gross historical ignorance, blood libels and prejudice. And this in the universities, supposedly the custodians of free thought and inquiry in the service of dispassionate scholarship.

    What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Israelis and Jews alone who are being singled out for this treatment. No other group is to be barred from academic activity unless they hold ‘approved’ views; no state-run educational institution controlled by any of the world’s numerous tyrannies is to be ‘grey-listed’. The UCU’s own rules state that it

    actively opposes all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.

    Well, various Jewish groups in the Stop the Boycott campaign have obtained a legal opinion from two QCs which states that today’s motion constitutes harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination on grounds of race or nationality. It says:

    If the Motion is passed it would expose Jewish members of the Union to indirect discrimination… Additionally, the Union faces potential liability for acts of harassment on grounds of race or nationality. The substance of the Motion may also involve the Union in becoming accessories to acts of discrimination in an employment context against Israeli academics…No doubt, if such Israeli academics speak in favour of the Palestinian viewpoint they will be immune from further action; if they are against it or possibly even non-committal they and their institutions are to be considered potentially unsuitable subjects for continued association…

    The Union will accordingly be adopting a provision, criterion or practice which will put Jewish members at a particular disadvantage compared to non-Jewish members. That is because Jewish members are much more likely to have links with Israeli academics and institutions than non -Jewish members. To require Jewish members to act consistently with the Motion (if passed) would be to impose a professional detriment upon them as Union members which is based on their race. If they acted inconsistently with the Motion, we infer that they would also be subject to disadvantage or sanction under the Union rules or practices — an alternative detriment. We do not see how any such detriment would be justified as pursuing a legitimate aim. No proper Union purpose is promoted by imposing this detriment on certain members. Thus the Motion will have the effect of indirectly — and unlawfully — against Jewish Members of the Union.

    The opinion is thus unequivocal. Today’s motion breaks the law; it breaks the UCU’s own rules; it is prejudiced, discriminatory and unjust towards Israelis and Jews. But the motion also notes legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful

    In other words, two fingers to the Jews. Such is the disgusting and terrifying state to which Britain’s intelligentsia has now descended.”

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  36. JC (1,102 comments) says:

    It’s a funny thing.. we all know that parodying religion doesn’t make more people affectionate of it or encourage people to take it up. We know that lampooning politicians doesn’t make us admire them any more, and joking that men think with their cocks hasn’t done much for male primary teachers either..

    So why would we think that a comedy involving Jews would do much for them?

    I know this all seems totally uptight and humourless but satire, comedy, lampoons and parodies along racial lines are essentially put downs unless there is plenty of balancing material that shows a race in a good light. The Irish spring to mind.. for all the lampoons, there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t have a view that the Irish are redoubtable fighters, sportsmen, academics, poets, writers and statesmen. Not so the Jews.. apart from a brief period in the 1950s and 60s it’s been over 2000 years of hatred and contempt with little attempt to recognise their enormous contribution to civilisation.. and don’t think it’s had no effect; demographers have worked out that such an enterprising race would not be 14 million today but 100 million without the repression, massacres and put downs.

    Frankly, a rerun of a 1960s programme with racial overtones is unlikely to give a better view of Jews.. just the reverse, and maybe its a thousand or two years overdue for a long running documentary simply titled “The Jews”.. because it’s one of the greatest stories never told.


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  37. Southern Raider (2,107 comments) says:

    The billboards according to Stuff have been removed, but there is still 26,000 copies of Time Magazine with a two page ad inside the front cover still in circulation.

    With Borat and Seinfeld everyones knows they are Jewish and will make fun of themselves.

    With this ad it is not obvious what the point is and it is written in such a way as to be offensive and raise the profile of the show. Even the Prime TV boss admits that DraftFCB have a history of pushing the boundaries.

    The issue is about perception and the average Kiwi has know idea what or who a Jewish person is, but they are fed all this crap and build up a mental image of a money hungry, child killing Christ killer.

    If it is not acceptable to change the word Jew in the ad to any other culture or community group then why is it being defended as comedic license?

    PhilBest there is also the kid in Paris that was beaten to death for being a Jew. Antisemitism is on the rise again in Eastern Europe as well. Most of the Middle East are fed bullshit by their Govt’s. Even the ex-Mayor of London was an anti-semite.

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,113 comments) says:

    Bearhunter recalls:

    I saw a colour chart in a paint shop with a shade called “nigger brown”

    You think a paint colour might cause a bit of consternation, take a look at the hand-wringing that went on over the name of the E.S. “Nigger” Brown Stand in Australia.

    The fellow was known as “Nigger” Brown to all and sundry – apparently because he had fair skin and blonde hair as a child (this was the 1920s).

    Ironically, local Toowoomba Aboriginal people voted that the nickname “nigger” should stay. I can’t recall how the whole saga ended, but I think the name remains today.

    P.S. Don’t ask me to explain Australians – they call gingas “Bluey” for goodness sake. Too much XXXX if you ask me.

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  39. Southern Raider (2,107 comments) says:

    A quick history lesson on why this isn’t funny. People have very short memories.

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  40. Southern Raider (2,107 comments) says:

    For a quick history lesson and why this isn’t funny search the word “pogroms” in wikipedia.

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  41. Zippy Gonzales (470 comments) says:

    Jesus, Jews don’t have a monopoly on persecution complexes. If Mohammed can get his head around those cartoons, Jehovah can stick it with post-ironic advertising. It’s this sort of gripe that reinforces stereotypes.

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  42. Zippy Gonzales (470 comments) says:

    BTW, link has moved

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  43. Craig Ranapia (1,499 comments) says:

    Actually it sounds like the National Party caucus to me.

    Actually Mr. Semmens, I’ve found the members of the NP Caucus I’m acquainted with a damn sight less obnoxious and bigoted than you.

    And ambling along K Road today, I had this billboard ‘imposed’ on my attention: ADVERTISING AGENCY SEEKS ART DIRECTOR — ATTRACTIVE TO MEN, NOT ATTRACTED BY MEN.

    Oh dear… so I guess Prime aren’t only a pack of Jew haters they really despise teh gayz too. (Though they must love the lezzies, considering they poached The L Word… 🙂 )

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  44. tom hunter (7,713 comments) says:


    As Kimble said the other night – and much as I appreciate the info – just put one link and let the spam filter process it. Quit the FUCKING CUTTING AND PASTING!!!


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  45. valeriusterminus (254 comments) says:

    Oh Philbest
    You are as verbose as Plaut.
    Do not forget that Balfour was British. Those Zionists revealed by the 51 documents of L. Brenner were both grateful and appalled by the succour of ear by Balfour to Weizman. Yes a Promised Land – but a Promised Land for “all” Jews, oh a connundrum!
    We don’t want those down-bred diluted Euro-Ghetto dwelling Khazars claiming right to the Promised Land!
    We don’t want the “Jewish problem” exported from Europe to the Promised Land!
    Hey NSP can you help?? – We do have mutual ground.
    Hey Britain – please keep the status-quo – can’t let any boatloads of refugees into your Mandatedland unless they have been through the Sorting Hat.
    Hey Hitler we just Wannasee your plan for this Grand Sorting Hat. – what you call it? is that a Capital h?

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  46. Craig Ranapia (1,499 comments) says:

    With Borat and Seinfeld everyones knows they are Jewish and will make fun of themselves.

    Uh… wait a moment, Southern Raider, Sasha Baron-Cohn isn’t black or Kazhakstani so by your logic, aren’t his two most famous characters (Ali G & Borat) racist?

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  47. toms (227 comments) says:

    “…I’ve found the members of the NP Caucus I’m acquainted with a damn sight less obnoxious and bigoted than you…”

    What, they say thank you now when you sell them your watermelon?

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  48. Stanley (1 comment) says:

    Folks, you must be kidding me. Prime’s attempt to slide off this monumental ‘snafu’ by putting it down to an “error of judgement” is pathetic. Where’s the apology for the offense caused? Prime and their ‘big daddy’ Sky TV don’t give a rats, unless there is a ratings point or a dollar to be gained. Imagine the furore if either TVNZ of CanWest had erected such objectionable billboards? In the case of TVNZ, there would have been questions in the House. But not these overseas owned wide boys. They get a free pass.

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  49. Raymond Luxury Yacht (7 comments) says:

    Bravo! The marketing department at Prime will be ‘high-fiving’ themselves into the ground. Their blatant undestimation of the racial tolerance of New Zealanders has unwittingly led to even greater exposure for this programme. Corks will be popping at lunchtime today! Some peon will probably claim that it was his/her intention all along…

    Prime are clearly out of touch with the Kiwi public. But is this really a surprise? Let’s not forget that Prime’s owners, the venerable Sky, have already made viewing sport an elitist past-time too.

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  50. jasminek (1 comment) says:

    hi ,
    im jasmine the girl who got beaten up for being jewish,
    i never thought there were so many cruel people in the world but ever scince the attack i have realised that anyone can change things around even if you all do a small bit can make the world a better place.

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