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The Guardian’s Strange Response to Antisemitism

I have to confess, I’m genuinely nonplussed by the response of the Guardian Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott, to “that” Deborah Orr column.

You’ll remember that Deborah Orr in which she opined that the large number of Palestinian terrorists released by Israel demonstrated the belief that:

the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.

Deborah Orr later “apologised” for employing “badly chosen and poorly used” words.

Chris Elliott does appreciate that mocking the Jews as The Chosen People has, for centuries,been the favourite taunt of anti-Jewish racists:

Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

However, there are two odd features to Chris Elliott’s analysis.

First, this is why Chris Elliott believes that it is important that the Guardian does not host antisemitic rhetoric:

But reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant to ensure our voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished.

Note: the concern is for the Guardian’s influence. Nowhere in this article does Chris Elliott say that  The Guardian should not propagate anti-Semitic material because it is wrong to do so and harmful to our society. But perhaps he thinks it is such an obvious point, that it doesn’t need to be made explicitly. Who knows.

Which brings me onto the second point. The Guardian now appears to admit that it is antisemitic to use the phrase Chosen People falsely to attack Jews as supremacists. And here is Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children:

tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.

That play is online, in print and video, at the Guardian’s own website.

Chris Elliott, of course, is happy to exonerate Deborah Orr from using an antisemitic meme which has “historically” been used by anti-Jewish racists:

I have been careful to say that these examples may be read as antisemitic because I don’t believe their appearance in the Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of antisemitism: they were inadvertent. But that does not lessen the injury to some readers or to our reputation.

However, in the case of Seven Jewish Children, the Guardian was well aware that the primary criticism of the play was that it portrayed Jews – not “Zionists” – celebrating the deaths of non-Jewish children, which they then justified by reason of their supposed “Chosenness”. They pretended agnosticism, and concluded: “Judge for yourself”

So, having finally admitted that mocking Jews as the Chosen People is racism: why does the Guardian continue to broadcast this antisemitic play?