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Does Judge Ockelton Know What Anti-Semitism Is?

There’s a curious line in the Salah judgement, on which I’d be interested in readers’ views.

At Point 44, the judge says:

In the course of the hearing before us, as before the First-tier Tribunal, there were suggestions that the CST may be over sensitive in its detection of anti-Semitism (in the sense of anti-Jewish rather than generally anti-Semitic attitudes): but whether or not that is so, the Secretary of State is clearly entitled to consult CST and take account of its advice.

Focus, for the purposes of this discussion, on the phrase in bold.

What does it mean?

Is the judge perhaps suggesting that there is a distinction to be drawn, perhaps between “anti-Semitism” (a political doctrine) and common-or-garden, ad-hoc, normal dislike of Jews?

No, I don’t think that’s really it.

Might the judge believe that “anti-Semitism” means “hatred of Semitic people”: and therefore encompasses both anti-Arab and anti-Jewish racism? This is a claim which is commonly made, invariably by those who seek to divert attention from anti-Jewish racism, particularly when emanating from Arab and Muslim sources.

as in:

“Raed Salah is a horrific anti-Semite”

“But how can he be – as an Arab he is a Semite himself! In fact, isn’t the worst form of anti-Semitism practiced by Jews, who have committed a genocide of Palestinians… etc.”

Only people who know nothing about the history and use of the term “anti-Semitism” believe that it might apply to anything other than Jews. For a start, the term “Semitic” is a description of a family of languages, including Hebrew: first and foremost. It is only secondarily applied to people who happen to speak those languages.

Moreover, it isn’t hatred of the speaking of Semitic languages which motivates anti-Semites. It is hatred of Jews. We don’t say that the attacks on Mandeans in Iraq (who speak a Semitic language) are “anti-Semitic”. Indeed, we only use the term “anti-Semitic”, because it was coined by Wilhelm Marr, who established a League of Antisemites to campaign for the expulsion of Jews from Germany. The term was a euphemism. Marr might have easily called his organisation the “Anti-Rootless-Cosmopolitan League”: it would still have been an anti-Jewish organisation, not one directed at the likes of Noel Coward.

None of this would surprise.

This is, after all, a judge who apparently believes that it isn’t a crime to fund Hamas in the UK;  and that the oldest antisemitic trope of all, the blood libel, which has been used to inspire anti-Jewish violence and murder for a thousand years, shouldn’t be grounds for banning.