UK anti-Semitism at record high

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK set a new high in 2009, the most since records began, according a report released on Friday.


This is from the Jerusalem Post.

The increase in antisemetic acts has been attributed at least in part to the aftermath of the December 27, 2008 Israeli military campaign in Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead

“The increase in anti-Semitic incidents recorded by CST in the early part of last year is deeply troubling and I want to be unequivocal today; I am a proud friend of Israel and welcome a robust debate about how we ensure both a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state existing side by side. The debate is welcome, but no strength of feeling can ever justify violent extremism or attacks and we will stand firm against all those who would use anti-Israeli feeling as an excuse or disguise for anti-Semitism and attacks on the Jewish community,” Brown said.

Comments

  1. #1 Toronto
    February 7, 2010

    The title for this post might be a little misleading, certainly I felt a little mislead. It’s not that “UK anti-semitism is at a record high” so much as “more anti-Semitic incidents were recorded than any other year since recording began”. A less punchy title, to be sure, but an important distinction in my opinion.

    Worrying quote, though, to be sure, and good on Brown for his unequivocal response.

  2. #2 Dan
    February 7, 2010

    One rather odd development in the dynamics of British racism – the English Defence League (for those who don’t know, a collection of anti-Muslim skinheads/racists/football hooligans who stage inflammatory demonstrations outside mosques, generally in the hope of provoking a good old fight) have taken to displaying the Israeli flag at their demonstrations. It’s an extraordinary thing. Ten years ago, these idiots wouldn’t touch it but now they – presumably – feel some kind of affinity with Israel.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    Toronto: Since this is little more than a pointer to an article, I titled the post with something very close to the title of the article.

    But even so, I think that the number of antisemetic acts documented is a reasonable index of antisemitism.

  4. #4 The Chemist
    February 8, 2010

    I think bigotry in any form is absolutely unacceptable. But, I have to point out that Gordon Brown is full of shit when he says he’s committed to “robust debate”. God, I hate politicians.

  5. #5 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    I think that the number of antisemetic acts documented is a reasonable index of antisemitism.

    How can it be reasonable not to doubt that when the source of the information—the “Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain”—is explicitly given as a partisan group and no qualitative description of the allegedly “anti-Semitic” acts is presented?

    What’s more, it is a bit rich for the “friends of Israel” to say that “there is absolutely no place for racism or discrimination of any sort”, when it is Israel that is exactly such a place, if actually independent groups such as HRW and B’Tselem are to be believed. And, lastly, you know that something is up when somebody says that all “decent people” would have to be on his side.

  6. #6 davem
    February 8, 2010

    The statement ‘UK Antisemitism at record high’ is, quite frankly, utter bollocks. It may well be that some politically correct person, somewhere, is compiling statistics that haven’t been compiled before, and they add up to the biggest pile of statistics evah.

    Anto-semitism was far, far worse in the 1930s, in the time of Moseley’s black shirts, and was finally ended by the
    refusal of the people of London to allow him to march through the city.

    What’s new today is the realisation that the mantra ‘Israel Good, Arabs Bad’ ain’t necessarily true, and that the Israelis have broken every UN convention under the sun while beating the shit out of people that own the land the Israelis are stealing. This week it’s the use of white phosphorus bombs. A common rebuttal to anyone arguing against Israel’s policies, is, from certain people, “Oh, you’re just being anti-semitic”. Thus we get one more statistic.

    Want to be discriminated against in the UK? Be a refugee, or an economic migrant from eastern Europe, or better still, be from Pakistan. It’s nothing new, and certainly not unique to the UK.

    I’ll believe the Jerusalem Post on the subject of anti-Semitism when I believe Fox News on the subject of Barack Obama.

  7. #7 Gs of A
    February 8, 2010

    Beattie: Spoken like a true British antisemite.

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    February 8, 2010

    Peter and davem, you realize that the article Greg links to is based on a 36-page report from the CST that pretty clearly defines what an “anti-Semitic incident” is, yes? You might want to take a look at it before making proclamations about the situation, particularly if you don’t want to look like denialists.

    Peter, do you have any data to back up your idea that the CST is inappropriately partisan. It’s quite standard for interest groups to do their own tracking based on police reports.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    The article notes that the veracity of this report is not being questioned and its significance is being acknowledged by a politically wide spectrum of British officials and others. If you read through the comments on that site you see a) very pro Israel Israelis saying the expected things; b) Numerous people complaining about the damn Jews; c) the usual British (but not so much American these days) confusion between people who are Jewish/Judaism and Israel/Isralis.

    Peter and Dave, your comments do look fairly denialist. I know a little bit more about each of you than Stephanie does, and I’m willing to toss you under the bus right now as denialists unless I see something convincing to the contrary.

    Yeah, there might be some bias in reporting, but the reporting is about “highest” rates since some time in the 1980s, so there is also a bit of bias/inaccuracy in the critique.

    The thing is that governments are notoriously bad at tracking hate crimes (historically) and it takes organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and to do so. That is probably what we are seeing in Britain.

    Get with the program, guys. Or, at least, read the article before you write it off.

  10. #10 Sigmund
    February 8, 2010

    I think there is a difference of opinion that the number of anti-Semitic incidents officially reported in any one year is the same thing as the levels of anti-semitism.
    In theory the two things might be plausibly linked, but luckily enough, anyone who has more than a superficial understanding of European history will see through this rather obvious mistake.
    I don’t deny for a second that anti-semitism does exist in the UK but is it really worse now than the 12th century pogroms in London and York? Is it worse now than the numerous forced conversions that the Jews of the middle ages had to endure? Is it worse than the discriminatory property and political laws and the anti-Jewish riots of of the 19th century? Is it worse now than the 1920s and 1930s when the heir to the throne, Prince Edward, was a supporter of Hitler? I have a book published by the British colonial office from the early 1930s that wrote in disparaging terms about “the Jew” (oblivious to the writer but rather ominous given the knowledge of what happened in the next decade).
    Nowadays being a public anti-Semite will end any chance of a respectable career in the UK. Yes there have certainly been some despicable attacks on Jews and those responsible should be caught and charged but lets not conflate the support or lack of for Israeli government policies (of which there is a marked difference between the UK and the USA population as a whole) with antisemitism itself. For instance I personally support the state of Israel, albeit the Israel of the pre-1967 borders. I think a two state solution is the only viable option, short of ‘ethnically cleansing’ the occupied territories and deporting millions of Palestinians. A truly democratic one state solution would mean the Jewish population becoming a minority in Israel within a generation – something they clearly want to avoid. I don’t find the current status quo conducive to world peace.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    Sigmund, the answer to all of your “is it worse” questions is no, it is not worse. Nor has that claim been made.

    Read the article. Then come back and make comments that don’t make it look like you are trying to make it look like nothing is wrong.

    Did you now that Washington DC had a record snow fall a few days ago? Has anyone denied that? We had a record warm year last year globally. Is that the warmest year ever on this planet?

    The term “record” refers to across a certain consistent reporting period. It always means that. But only now, in this context, is the word “record” being misread as “ever.”

    Again, read the article.

  12. #12 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Stephanie Z.:
    Peter and davem, you realize that the article Greg links to is based on a 36-page report from the CST that pretty clearly defines what an “anti-Semitic incident” is, yes?

    The CST report says:

    CST classifies as an antisemitic incident any malicious act aimed at Jewish people, organisations or property, where there is evidence that the act has antisemitic motivation or content, or the victim was targeted because they are (or are believed to be) Jewish.

    You realize what ‘circular’ means, yes?

    You might want to take a look at it before making proclamations about the situation, particularly if you don’t want to look like denialists.

    Might I want that now? Perhaps you might want to ask me whether I’ve read it. As to “the situation”, you will have noticed that I commented on Greg’s take on the JP article, not on whatever the situation in Britain actually is or is not. And as to the idea that you should go about warning people not even to want to “look like denialists”, maybe you would deign to produce an actual argument for or against something instead of the bully’s caricature of one that you did.

    As to the actual report, there are quite a lot of disturbing incidents in there, no doubt about that. They amply deserve to be publicised. It is, however, an indication of the CST’s apparent tendency to inflate their case when they prominently include ‘antisemitic incidents’ such as “Free Gaza was written on the wall of a synagogue in Yorkshire”.

    Peter, do you have any data to back up your idea that the CST is inappropriately partisan.

    One thing I think “inappropriate” is to put words into other people’s mouths. When I said the CST was partisan that was a simple statement of fact, as you will have noticed when you read their report: “CST advises and represents the Jewish community on matters of antisemitism, terrorism, policing and security.” What I also think is inappropriate is to present as fact, in the post headline, the findings of a lobby group, where usually not even a non-partisan group such as Amnesty International is, or arguably should be, accorded that kind of complaisance.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    you will have noticed that I commented on Greg’s take on the JP article, not on whatever the situation in Britain actually is or is not.

    In the post, I did not provide a “take” on the article. I reported it in a sterile form as possible, including using a form of the original title as the title of the post.

  14. #14 Nelson
    February 8, 2010

    “Free Gaza was written on the wall of a synagogue in Yorkshire”

    I would count that.

  15. #15 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Greg Laden:
    Peter and Dave, your comments do look fairly denialist. I know a little bit more about each of you than Stephanie does, and I’m willing to toss you under the bus right now as denialists unless I see something convincing to the contrary.

    So kind of you to allow me to prove my innocence, Greg. I very much doubt, though, that you know anything at all about me, as should you really. But I’ll bite. Would you share your knowledge with your readers, in order that everybody might judge for themselves what to think of my comments?

    As to the “something convincing”, please see my reply to Stephanie above.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    What I also think is inappropriate is to present as fact, in the post headline, the findings of a lobby group, where usually not even a non-partisan group such as Amnesty International is, or arguably should be, accorded that kind of complaisance.

    Peter! You’ve got it all wrong. First, a headline is a headline, not a fact. Second, this headline is a fact. A watchdog group keeps a record. They (nor I) could care less that you don’t like this record. On this record they have hit a record high. They (nor I) could care less that you think this is irrelevant.

    Peter. I might be wrong, but it appears that you are denyhing the increase of antisemitism in Britain. What does denying British antisemitism get you, exactly? I’m curious about your motives.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    Peter, there are three people on the thread denying British antisemitism to one degree or another. All three hail from traditionally antisemetic countries. This may be meaningless. Or not.

  18. #18 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Greg Laden:
    In the post, I did not provide a “take” on the article. I reported it in a sterile form as possible, including using a form of the original title as the title of the post.

    You may think that is true, but it plainly isn’t. In other posts, you have used question marks and even quotation marks to clarify that you are not necessarily identifying with the statement, e.g. here. That last option would have been more appropriate here as well, I think, if you were really aiming for sterile reporting.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    Peter, while I am inclined to think a report of increased antisemtism in Britain is likely true because it is confirmed by other evidence, I do not know much about this organization. Someone sent me this link, so I posted it without comment for discussion,.

    I’m afraid that when you tell me that I intended something other than I’m telling you I intended, that you are speaking trough your nether orifice. Stupidly. In fact, I regard your comment as an accusation that I am being untruthful.

    I await your humble apology.

  20. #20 Sigmund
    February 8, 2010

    Greg, despite your tendency to engage in petty semantics there is probably a reasonable point behind this report. The old style anti-Semitism of the British fascists has largely been replaced by new targets for their hate (usually immigrant communities with different skin color to the ‘indigenous’ population). Where the vast majority of the new anti-Semitism has arisen is in the growing Islamic community. In the UK these communities are largely of the Sunni branch of Islam and often have mosques funded by the Saudi wahabis – and frequently promote intolerance towards members of other religions. This is certainly a problem, even a growing problem, but one should be clear about the details rather than making it seem that the British as a whole are becoming more anti-semitic. In my experience of living and working in the UK there as very little outspoken anti-Semitism on display apart from those who were Islamic fundamentalists or members of the National Front/combat 18.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    Sigmund, the only petty semantics going on here are in Peter’s head and yours, apparently. EG: This is certainly a problem, even a growing problem, but one should be clear about the details rather than making it seem that the British as a whole are becoming more anti-semitic. … I did not say this, did I?

    I sense that this denialism discussion hs been going on for some time and there are certain expectations.

  22. #22 Stephanie Z
    February 8, 2010

    Peter, how is holding a group of people responsible for the actions of another country’s government on the basis of a shared religion/race not an act demonstrating bias against that religion/race? This isn’t even a religion with a tradition of a central authority. Unless there’s something this temple is doing that isn’t apparent in either the report or your complaint, this is a pretty clear anti-Semitic act.

  23. #23 davem
    February 8, 2010

    c) the usual British (but not so much American these days) confusion between people who are Jewish/Judaism and Israel/Isralis.

    No confusion here. I am openly against Israeli policies and Zionism in general, while not giving a damn about whether people I know are Jewish or not. A 3,000 year-old promise in a holy book does not a property deed make.

    Israel has behaved appallingly to the Palestinians, and there is a backlash against this, which unfortunately affects innocent Jews in the UK. But here in the UK, it’s barely a blip on the news horizon compared to gay-bashing, eastern European bashing, muslim-bashing and paki-bashing, all of which are worse. I don’t condone any of them either.

    Let’s have some perspective here – we’re not marching towards death camps, or even returning to the 1930s.

    Peter and Dave, your comments do look fairly denialist. I know a little bit more about each of you than Stephanie does, and I’m willing to toss you under the bus right now as denialists unless I see something convincing to the contrary.

    With respect, all you know is my email address and country of origin. I stand by my statement. Most ‘incidents reported to us since 1984′ does not make it ‘a record year for anti-semitism’. If you’re looking for a record year, try 1290.

    All three hail from traditionally antisemetic countries.

    WTF? Unless I’m mis-reading Jewish history, there has been anti-semitism everywhere they’ve settled. Until the mid 17th century, Britain wasn’t a good place to be if you were Jewish, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

    This may be meaningless.

    It is.

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    davem, I’m not sure we are very much in disagreement about anti-xism being bad, but the fact is that records are records and in all cases that record highs or lows or averages are referred to, they are contextualized by the limits of the record at hand. Claiming that a record high number where the records are kept since the mid 1980s is obviagted by horrific things that happened centuries ago is exactly the same argument that climate change denialists make about global warming in relation to the earth’s climate 80,000 years ago.

  25. #25 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Stephanie Z.:
    Peter, how is holding a group of people responsible for the actions of another country’s government on the basis of a shared religion/race not an act demonstrating bias against that religion/race?

    Even if we were to grant you the first part of that sentence, why shouldn’t we call that kind of thing just what it is: discrimination. How can it help the cause of trying to eliminate actual antisemitism when that accusation is made at the (relative to harming, or threatening to harm, actual people) drop of a hat?

  26. #26 Stephanie Z
    February 8, 2010

    Peter, now you’re just redefining words. Anti-Semitism is a subset of discrimination, not something different.

  27. #27 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Greg Laden:
    I’m curious about your motives.

    My first priority really is the safeguarding of rational thought, Greg. Because that is what keeps people from doing things they know are wrong—if history is any guide in these matters. Especially in the defense of worthy causes—like trying to fight extremism in general and antisemitism, among other things, in particular—we must hold fast to our standards. Not any means are justified because we believe to be pursuing noble ends; we might be wrong, for one thing, and we will not stoop to the level of those who would try to sow dissention and hate, for another.

    Protecting people from, and alerting the world to, injustice is a worthy cause if there ever was one. But you should know as well as I do that injustice to some can be used by others to further their own agenda. We should be careful to avoid being made a part of that. And it was with that in mind that I said a headline in quotation marks would have been the more neutral, and more prudent, way to handle this story.

  28. #28 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Stephanie Z.:
    Peter, now you’re just redefining words. Anti-Semitism is a subset of discrimination, not something different.

    Maybe that is what Greg meant when he talked about semantics. But surely you would agree that there are certain distinctions between different words (and ideas) that are important, would you not? And perhaps that to insist that everybody agree that X simply is a subset of Y would be a little dogmatic? What I am saying is that there is a useful and valuable distinction to be made between discrimination and antisemitism: unfair discrimination as such, while to be condemned and sometimes harmful, usually is not dangerous; antisemitism very definitely is dangerous.

    Using a word connoting a distinct danger when there is very probably no danger, I think, would be irresponsible. Like crying wolf, it desensitises, where the opposite would be desirable.

    Can you at least see why I think a distinction ought to be made in this way?

  29. #29 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    I’m glad we are all moving towards being on the same page with this.

  30. #30 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    Does that mean that the accusation of antisemitism denial no longer stands, then? :P

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    It probably does mean that. This discussion overlaps with a topic I’ve been mulling over lately that involves atheism, religion, and firing squads. I’ll be writing something up on it as soon as I’ve got a few other things cleared. I’d be interested in your view on the topic.

  32. #32 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Greg Laden:
    Claiming that a record high number where the records are kept since the mid 1980s is obviagted by horrific things that happened centuries ago is exactly the same argument that climate change denialists make about global warming in relation to the earth’s climate 80,000 years ago.

    I think that isn’t quite right, Greg. The argument of the climate denialists is valid: there have been much warmer periods in the not-too-distant past, and humans have been able to survive them. Except that they’re conveniently overlooking the rather inconvenient fact that man-made climate change will be a heck of a lot faster, and that will indeed be extremely dangerous to countless millions of people.

    That and the fact that ‘record (adj)’ actually can mean ‘at a higher level than ever achieved before’ makes davem’s criticism seem at least a little less than absurd.

    Speaking of facts:

    Second, this headline is a fact.

    Even on your own terms, it isn’t. You say the CST keep records, and their records show an increase; yes, but they cannot measure “antisemitism” directly, with a tape-measure, can they? What can be said to be at a record high is ‘antisemitic incidents counted by the CST’. But your headline does not say that.

    And I don’t think this is nit-picking either. This is the fundamental difference between data and interpretation of data, than which few things are more central to scientific literacy.

  33. #33 Peter Beattie
    February 8, 2010

    » Greg Laden:
    This discussion overlaps with a topic I’ve been mulling over lately that involves atheism, religion, and firing squads.

    Any more you can give away? :)

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    Granted, number of instances may not equal a particular mode of measuring antisemitism, but it is also perfectly reasonable to say that at the social level antisemtism is the collection of antisemetic acts (not thoughts or attitudes, but acts) and thus a number of acts is a measure of it (uncorrected for kind of act, of course). That is not semantic.

    Drunk driving can be measured by number of people who crash and are found to have been driving drunk. It isn’t really a measure of drunk driving, because there could be all sorts of people driving drunk but skillfully at one period but not another.

    A temperature reading from a thermometer is not a measure of ambient temperature. BUt it is a proxyindicator. If the thermometer is deployed incorrectly or poorly calibrated, the data are bad. I have a thermometer at my house that measures the temperature on the open porch. It is slightly warmer than the actual ambient temperature. But when it says -10F I know it’s cold, when it says 20F I know it’s warm (by Minnesota standards).

    I would just make the point that if one’s first reaction to “Antisemitism is up because there are more antisemitic events” is primarily to question the meaning of the measurement, etc., one could simply be a stickler for validity of measurements (in which case this kind of question can be asked dozens of times daily about all sorts of thigns) or one could be distracting from the argument.

    I have this argument with students all the time. In arcaheology no one can ever say anything without there being a question, so it is easy to end up wiht a groom full of graduate students who refuse to admit that any statement can be taken as likly.

    SO, I give a pop quiz. There is a question with several possible answers. Multiple choice. Everybody writes down the answer on a piece of paper and folds it, handing it in. IF and only if everybody gives the same exact answer, I buy two pitchers of beer. Otherwise, you’all buy the beer.

    No one has ever failed that test. I’ve bought a lot of beer.

    The number of antisemitic acts is the highest since that organization has been collecting data, some 30 years. This is a proxy for overall antisemitism, It is a meaningful number and one to be concerned of.

    Or, you can argue that since the numbers are not perfectly demonstrated to be controlled and correlated, that it might mean the opposite.

    But no beer for you.

    Selective demand for perfection is the hobgoblin of the denialist. You are telling me that you are not a denialist. I believe you. Mostly.

  35. #35 wereatheist
    February 8, 2010

    I don’t think writing “free Gaza” on a synagogue wall makes sense.
    Preferably this should show up on a mosque wall.

    Greetings from your ugly German

  36. #36 wereatheist
    February 8, 2010

    Clarifying: the only oppression/repression in Gaza comes from the fundie-led authorities.
    Random muslim communities elsewhere are not responsible for this.
    Unless they’re symphatizing.

    Greetz from Germany

  37. #37 SLC
    February 8, 2010

    Re Davem

    What’s new today is the realisation that the mantra ‘Israel Good, Arabs Bad’ ain’t necessarily true, and that the Israelis have broken every UN convention under the sun while beating the shit out of people that own the land the Israelis are stealing. This week it’s the use of white phosphorus bombs. A common rebuttal to anyone arguing against Israel’s policies, is, from certain people, “Oh, you’re just being anti-semitic”. Thus we get one more statistic.

    Ah gee, the Government of Israel is accused of behaving in a beastly manner towards Palestinians. Mr. Davem has not the slightest notion of beastliness. The Palestinians should thank their lucky stars that the late and unlamented Syrian dictator, Hafaz Assad, is not the Prime MInister of Israel. Mr. Assad, when confronted with terrorist activities emanating from the Syrian City of Hama, similar to the terrorist activities that emanate from the Gaza Strip into Israel, had the town surrounded by several hundred artillery pieces and subjected it to a 2 day bombardment that killed upwards of 20,000 people. By contrast, the Government of Israel is condemned for killing some 1300 Palestinians in 3 weeks. This was dubbed Hama Rules by Tom Friedman in his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem. Now that’s beastliness!

  38. #38 wereatheist
    February 8, 2010

    Looks like this thread could become interesting, like as in that famous chinese curse, but I have to sleep now :( It’s 1:35am here.

    Good Night ( or good afternoon, elsewhere) from G

  39. #39 Greg Laden
    February 8, 2010

    Peter [33]: I just posted it!

  40. #40 Stephanie Z
    February 8, 2010

    Peter, I’m always suspicious when someone gets more worked up about the language than the problem its describing. Of course there are gradations. There are gradations and complications within any grouping. I don’t understand why adding more words to separate parts of the same problem should be of primary importance. Kind of like I don’t understand, “Well, uh, we’re not approaching the Nazis,” or, “It was them,” as a first response or why someone would focus on a group working with the Jewish community and leave out that they work with the police. There are lots of things I don’t understand on this thread, but rather than having someone explain them to me, I’d much rather see the focus return to the problem.

  41. #41 Peter Beattie
    February 9, 2010

    » Greg Laden:
    I might be wrong, but it appears that you are denyhing the increase of antisemitism in Britain.

    I’m afraid this is the crux of the whole debate. Somehow you seem to think that an antisemitism-increase denier is somehow morally inferior, is on the slippery slope to antisemitism, or otherwise dangerous. That, of course, would be absurd.

    On the basis of the data presented by the CST, it is plainly reasonable to doubt any sweeping conclusions about actually dangerous tendencies in British society as a whole. There is no indication in the CST data that the higher number of reported incidents corresponds to more individuals involved in them; the report itself says that much if not all of the increase can be attributed to Israel’s war on Gaza; the report notes that the number of violent incidents has gone down relative to all incidents reported; and it appears that, compared with figures for other minority groups (cf. e.g. the Stonewall School Report 2007), the number of incidents in the CST report is actually very low.

    All of this seems to indicate that, while each incident is one too many, the situation is neither particularly serious, nor getting more serious, in terms of British society as a whole. Which is why I said—and I haven’t seen any arguments to persuade me otherwise—that an alarmist headline like “UK anti-Semitism at record high” (especially without the quotes) is irresponsible.

  42. #42 Peter Beattie
    February 9, 2010

    » Stephanie Z.:
    I’m always suspicious when someone gets more worked up about the language than the problem its describing.

    Always? I doubt that. Certainly when you think the problem is not terribly serious, you would not get suspicious like that. And as I explain in #41, I have seen nothing to convince me that it is terribly serious, again: in terms of British society as a whole.

    Also, you probably wouldn’t get suspicious if you knew you were speaking to somebody professionally trained in, and involved with, the use of language and critical thinking. Since you couldn’t know that, a brief assessment of probability would seem to have been in order, and even taking any and all published data on antisemitism in Britain at face value it still seems a few orders of magnitude less likely that you are actually confronting an antisemite rather than, say, a journalist.

  43. #43 Stephanie Z
    February 9, 2010

    Nope, Peter, still suspicious. Just as I’m suspicious of using two reports with very, very different methodologies to engage in oppression olympics. Telling me someone is trained in critical thinking is different than demonstrating they’re using their critical thinking skills in evaluating a particular situation.

  44. #44 Peter Beattie
    February 9, 2010

    » Stephanie Z:
    Nope, Peter, still suspicious.

    The tell me, what would allay those suspicions? And what exactly is it that you suspect?

    I have repeatedly said that I would change my mind as soon as relevant data and/or arguments came to my attention. What would change yours?

    Just as I’m suspicious of using two reports with very, very different methodologies to engage in oppression olympics.

    Nice spin. Nothing substantive, just a little jab at my motives. And I thought that “skeptics generally understand that they can’t read minds”.

    Of course the two reports are different, but at least they’re data. I said explicitly they made it appear plausible to say that there are orders of magnitude of difference between anti-X and anti-Y incidents. This does not prove anything, but it is suggestive. If you have any data at all to offer, please do so. But simply impugning somebody’s motives, which you have no way of knowing, is kind of a conversation-stopper.

  45. #45 Stephanie Z
    February 9, 2010

    What would allay my suspicions? Not arguing that anti-Semitism is less of a problem because the proportion of violent crimes went down when the number of violent crimes increased 41% over the prior year.

    Hell, treating anti-Semitism as a problem at all, something to be addressed, instead of hammering away at the idea in every comment you post would be a very good start.

    And saying you’re engaging in oppression olympics says nothing about your motives for doing so. It simply says you’re engaging in the fruitless exercise of comparing two groups that have it rough to determine who has it rougher. It’s fruitless because it doesn’t say either group doesn’t have a problem that needs solving. So why would you do it?

  46. #46 Peter Beattie
    February 9, 2010

    » Stephanie Z:
    Hell, treating anti-Semitism as a problem at all, something to be addressed

    It seems you do not see what you do not want to see. Here is what I said in different comments in this thread:

    As to the actual report, there are quite a lot of disturbing incidents in there, no doubt about that. They amply deserve to be publicised.

    How can it help the cause of trying to eliminate actual antisemitism

    Especially in the defense of worthy causes—like trying to fight extremism in general and antisemitism, among other things, in particular

    antisemitism very definitely is dangerous

    on the slippery slope to antisemitism, or otherwise dangerous

    each incident is one too many

    All of these say that there is a problem and that I support addressing it. What is interesting is that, since I suppose you have read the comments, you think that’s not enough. Well, that’s tough, especially as you would be expecting me to assume something as a premise (‘antisemitism is a substantial problem in British society as a whole’) that you haven’t yet taken the trouble to present even one iota of evidence for. No rational person should expect me to do that.

    And, if I may add, you haven’t addressed any of the other points I raised. Should I assume that you are not interested in discussing them?

  47. #47 Peter Beattie
    February 9, 2010

    » Stephanie Z:
    And saying you’re engaging in oppression olympics says nothing about your motives for doing so.

    My impression was that you were implying that I was trivialising oppression …

    It simply says you’re engaging in the fruitless exercise of comparing two groups that have it rough to determine who has it rougher. It’s fruitless because it doesn’t say either group doesn’t have a problem that needs solving. So why would you do it?

    … which seems to be exactly what you’re saying. To which I took exception, as that isn’t what I’m doing. At the very least I didn’t intend to, and I don’t see any indication to suspect that I might have been. Which is another thing to which I take exception: reading things into other people’s words that cast them in a negative light. Dan Dennett has written about that somewhere that it’s not a nice thing to do, and he’s right.

    As I said explicitly, the Stonewall School Report seems to suggest, by way of comparison, that antisemitism, as abhorrent as any antisemitic or even anti-Jewish incident is (is that strong enough?), that the alarmist headline “UK anti-Semitism at record high” is irresponsible.

    Maybe an analogy helps. Sharks (at least some of them) are dangerous to people. Anybody being killed by a shark is a tragedy. If somebody found out that deadly shark attacks at a country’s beaches had risen by a considerable percentage, that might be reason enough for looking into the probable causes. But given the very low absolute number of shark-related deaths, as compared to, say, the number of car-accident deaths of people driving to the beach, I still hold that a headline “Shark deaths at record high” would be alarmist and thus irresponsible.

    You may certainly try to change my mind about that, but please try to use arguments. By the way: what would change your mind?

  48. #48 Stephanie Z
    February 10, 2010

    Peter, an “alarmist” headline, which I don’t concede that this is, is only irresponsible if it has some kind of consequence. I’m not sure what you expect me to change my mind about, but if you want to argue that the headline requires more attention than the anti-Semitism, as you’ve given it here, you’re going to have to show that it has consequences that outweigh the benefits of noting that a troublesome problem is increasing.

    You’ve presented combating homophobia as though it were a competing interest (thus, oppression olympics). It isn’t. Xenophobia can be addressed as a general issue, without requiring that the various groups affected by it compete for anyone’s attention.

    Now, since we’re discussing mind-changing events, how prevalent would anti-Semitism have to be before you think a jump this large would merit a headline?

  49. #49 Peter Beattie
    February 10, 2010

    » Stephanie Z:
    Xenophobia can be addressed as a general issue, without requiring that the various groups affected by it compete for anyone’s attention.

    Agreed. Which is exactly why I object to people pretty much unthinkingly granting any particular grievance an exceptional status that goes way beyond what can be justified with data and arguments. You will notice, for example, that you still haven’t produced either for your claim that antisemitism is indeed a “troublesome problem” in British society as a whole. (Which is what the headline suggests.)

    You have also been unwilling to even acknowledge that a relative “jump this large” might well not be significant if the absolute numbers are very low. (Which was the explicit point behind the gay comparison, which you conveniently chose to ignore, I’m afraid, to push your silly “oppression olympics” point.)

    Put another way, since we seem to agree on conclusions and (at least some important) arguments, we would have to disagree on our premises. I haven’t seen any data and/or arguments to suggest that antisemitism specifically is a troublesome problem in British society as a whole; you do seem to know of such data and/or arguments, but so far you haven’t shared them. If you want to move the discussion forward, that would seem the place to do it.

    Much of the rest of what you said about my comments, though, I’m afraid, is not much more than reading your point of view into them, if you didn’t ignore them altogether. Repeatedly. If you’re not interested in discussing them fairly, then I’ll move on to more fertile ground.

  50. #50 Allen
    February 10, 2010

    The argument for antisemitic feelings in Britain come from only two sources: A handful of zionist or Jewish web sites and one Jew who loudly proclaimed this on a blog somewhere. That is very flimsy evidence, and in the absence of anything contrary I will assume that the British people (specifically the Christian British people, obviously, because the Jewish British People wold be anyway) are opena and welcoming and accepting and tolerant. This is from what they are taught in their own society to be.

  51. #51 Stephanie Z
    February 10, 2010

    Actually, Peter, I asked you what it would take for you to say that anti-Semitism is a problem worth being addressed in a headline. Risk of shark attack is about 1 in 60,000,000 annually in the U.K. Assuming a single victim per reported anti-Semitic crime, since I can’t determine how many crimes targeted entire synagogues, risk of that is about 1 in 300. Per Stonewall’s hate crime report published last year, risk of a reported anti-homosexual attack, reported or otherwise, is about 1 in 5. Where is the cutoff for treating something as a societal problem and reporting about it in newspapers?

  52. #52 Allen
    February 10, 2010

    I would suggest to you that one in five is much more important than one it several hundred. Homosexuals are more obvious in their behavior so there would be more frequency of attacks on them, and people can make a reasonable case that homosexuals can have a negative “effect” on society. The Jews are not having a negative effect on society, thus the lower level of “social adjustement.”

  53. #53 Stephanie Z
    February 10, 2010

    Allen, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say here, but I will point out that Peter has already conceded that the interests of those fighting homophobic attacks and those fighting anti-Semitic attacks are not at odds. The question is not whether anti-Semitism is more important. The question is at what point it becomes important enough to deal with seriously. And by seriously, I mean report on trends in a newspaper without having someone accuse you of irresponsibility.

  54. #54 Allen
    February 10, 2010

    I am sure you will think I am dumb, but why would one case of anti semitism be reported by the news? If it never happens, one case would be very newsworthy. if it happened every day by everybody, it would not be newsworthy.

    Still, that was not my point. My point is that there is a reason that anti-homosexual acts are more likely, people do not want their children to see homosexuality and emulate them. British people are mainly Christian and there is not a risk that the children will witness jews and change their mind about their religion but there is a chance that impressionable young will change their attitude about shat is normal in sex.

    therefore the anti semetic actions are becausethe jews are innocent, if misguided in religious terms.

  55. #55 Peter Beattie
    February 10, 2010

    » Stephanie Z:
    And by seriously, I mean report on trends in a newspaper without having someone accuse you of irresponsibility.

    That preposterous statement means you either will not or cannot read. I have said explicitly and repeatedly that every incident deserves publicity, but that this particular headline is irresponsible specifically in its suggestion of something alarming going on. I have also said that the CST report concludes that the war in Gaza played an important role, so obviously one example of a headline backed by the actual data might be “CST: Anti-Semitic incidents increase in 2009, mainly due to Gaza”.

    This actually looks very much like the typical antivax, ID, or religionite discussion. How ever much those trying to argue with rationality bend over backwards to accommodate the ideologues, try to meet their terms, and be nice, it’s never enough. Because they will not be satisfied until you subscribe to their particular tenet(s) of belief. In this case, it looks like until I accept the a priori premise that antisemitism is a substantial problem in the UK, you will still be “suspicious”. Well, too bad. Since you won’t or can’t justify your premises, nobody should be bullied by you to justify their skepticism about them.

  56. #56 David
    February 10, 2010

    this particular headline is irresponsible specifically in its suggestion of something alarming going on.

    Why do you not think this is alarming? Of course it is alarming. On what do you base your standards? I will take a wild uninformed guess that you are not a Jew.

  57. #57 Stephanie Z
    February 10, 2010

    Peter, which premises have I failed to justify to your standards?