Books, Interview, Podcast

PODCAST 54: New York Times Editor Bari Weiss on Her New Book

New York Times editor and opinion writer Bari Weiss talks to Jonathan Kay about How to Fight Anti-Semitism, her new book on the rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S. on the Left and the Right, and what we can do to combat it.

Featured image, Bari Weiss on Real Time with Bill Maher on Youtube.


  1. I feel very uncomfortable with the claims about anti-semitism.

    it is clear that anti-semitism exists, that anti-semitic attacks do occur and that historically this has been the cause of some horrific events but the pdo cast claims that anti-semitism is on the rise in the US, implies it a serious problem in europe, that the british labour party is anti-semitic, that Jews are near the bottom of the intersectional heirarchy of virtue/oppression.

    The first problem is that as evidence of antisemitism being one the rise the evidence given is populist criticism of global elites as detached and callous regarding impacts on ordinary people. Trump is mentioned in this context. The problem is that Jews are not mentioned or criticised at all and DOnald Trump at the moment at least seems very pro-Israel which is difficult to reconcile with teh idea that criticism of elites is really a coded reference to Jews.

    The second problem is my own experience and occasional investigation of accusations of anti-semitism in europe and the UK labour party. I can’t claim that I am an expert or have a wide knowledge of such things but I used to travel to Israel very frequently on business. Some of the experiences there were quite shocking and frightening paticularily when travelling with a colleague who appeared Muslim but was in fact Hindu. Without going into detail Israel is by far the most overtly racist country to whcih I have ever travelled and I have travelled to many, including others in the middle east. It is not justthat racism is accepted but that non-racist attitudes to muslims and arabs in paticular was not socially acceptable. This matters because most of the criticism of the labour party was about the adoption of a code of conduct which defined criticism of Israel as racist as an anti-semitic act. Corbyn the leader of the labour party, and someone I despise as both incompetent and morally deficient, was criticsed as unacceptably anti-semitic for meeting with left wing, anti-zionist jews. The last scandal about the labour parties anti-semitism was precipitated by Chris WIlliams supporting a Jewsih Musician who was prevented from performing. The problem was that this musician has controversial views regarding the use of the holocaust as a tool of political manipulation by Israel. There is an enormous problem when anti-semitism is defined as criticism of Israel as racist or criticism of Israel more than other similar countries when there may be many legitimate or simply serendipitous reasons for that criticism. As far as criticism of europe is concerned then I am sceptical because of a complaint by jewish group I heard broadcast on the BBC two decades ago. The assertion was that the press in europe was increasingly and seriously anti-semitic and the interviewer asked for an example. The spokens said that the worst example was of a cartoon of a young boy with a halo being shot at by soldiers identified as members of the IDF. This it was said was an example of teh blood libel and completely unacceptable. However I had been in Israel and had watched film of a clearly terrified young palestinian cowering and trying to hide himself, as IDF soliders fired and his frantic father trying and failing to rescue him. Now Israel claims he was shot by Hamas to discredit Israel but to outlaw and demonise an attemt to highlight a terrible tragedy by represneting a young boy as an innocent victim using traditional symbology is ridiculous. That this was given as the worst example led me to conclude that anti-semitism in fact was not a problem in the european press.

    Towards the end of the podcast the Bari claims that the BDS campaign demonsises anyone who opposes the campaign as racist and says that jews are just above white males on the intersectionality scale of oppressors as opposed to victims. To me this is the opposite of the truth which is that Jews sit near the tip of the intersectionality victim heirarchy and that the use of victimhood as a source of political strengh and to supress opponents was to a large extent pioneered by supporters of Israel.
    the fact that for isntance criticism of Israel not matched by similar criticism of other countries is taken as an anti-semitic act is an example of this, who would apply such a rule to the US, the UK or any other country?

    The problem with this situation is that there may be a genuine problem with antisemitism but I and I suspect many others treat any such claim with sceptiscism because of its use to smear non-racists who have inconvenient political views. Teh fact that the supposed rise of antisemitism in the US was based on such a flimsy basis of criticism of the rich and elite just reinforces this impression. In europe and certainly the UK as far as I know the 2008 crash has been blamed on bankers and not jews or jewish bankers. I am afraid the pod cast has had the opposite effect to that intended by the author on me at least. I am very sceptical about claims of a rising tide of anti-semitism. That anti-semitism exists yes, that when it exists it should be opposed yes, but an increasing major problem no, and that there are widespread uses of groundless accusations of anti-semitism and an expansion of the definition beyond any reasonable bounds.

    Many discussions are almost impossible because of this. I am for example very uneasy about a holocaust memorial day in Britain because of the danger that this minimises and under plays the danger of such genocides by focusing on the jewish experience in WW2 and thereby gives the impression it was a wholey exceptional and unique event. The sad truth being that it is not which makes guarding against such events more important and they are more likely. Given Britain had no direct involvement in the holocaust and opposed nazism steadfastly even if there have been disputes about tactics there is no need for a specific holocaust memorial in britain as opposed to a genocide day or similar.

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