Apologising for Nothing

petras-bookNazir Ahmed was suspended from the Labour Party for claiming that a “Jewish conspiracy” was responsible for his conviction for dangerous driving.

This led another Muslim, Usama Hasan, to make a groveling apology in the Guardian for Muslim “anti-semitism”. He says he helps run charities which encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians – on equal terms. He uncritically cites complaints of “anti-semitism” by the Community Security Trust. This organization includes in that category denying the right of Jews to ethnically cleanse Palestine, and the claim that the Israel Lobby is powerful.

The examples Hasan gives show how useless terms like “anti-semitism” are. He apologises for his former view that Jews are over-represented in the world financial system. He implies this analysis is similar to the views expressed in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which range from alleging that Jews introduced democracy into Holy Russia, to alleging that they practice child-sacrifice.

I’ve just mentioned five “anti-semitic conspiracy theories”:

  1. The Jewish media persuaded the courts to convict Ahmed of texting while driving

  2. Jews are over-represented in the global banking system

  3. Jews were responsible for trying to bring Russia into line with the other European countries

  4. Jews sacrifice children

  5. There is a powerful Jewish pro-Israel lobby

Some of these ideas are ridiculous. Some are reasonable. Some are libelous. One isn’t even critical of Jews, unless the reader happens to be a centenarian Tsarist aristocrat.

All the above claims have in common is they say things about Jews. Putting them together under the blanket term “anti-semitism” does not help evaluate them. The only reason anyone would claim they are in the same category is to try to discredit reasonable criticisms by amalgamating them with unreasonable ones.

Obviously, theory no. 4 is highly offensive. But I don’t reject it because it’s offensive; I reject it because it’s false; the evidence for it was manufactured by the Spanish Inquisition.

Hasan concludes “it’s time to ditch conspiracy theories that focus on blaming the other”. No, that’s not a valid criterion for ditching a conspiracy theory. The only valid reasons are that the theory has been falsified, or that it has been superseded by a more economical explanation of the known facts.

There is no need to apologise. I don’t apologise to Germans because I once believed the Allied version of world war II, nor to Ukrainians because I used to think the Russian Revolution had something positive about it. If Hasan thinks he’s made a mistake, he should simply say so. His craven apology is nothing more than obeisance to a more powerful sector of the community than the one he belongs to.

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