I am furious. I am so angry about this. “Zionists” apparently don’t understand history or “English irony”. I have a BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford; Jeremy Corbyn got two Es at A-Level and did not move into higher education, so I think I know which one of us is more qualified to be doling out history lessons. And as for the irony… well, the fact that the most humourless man in British politics, a man with all the comic sensitivity of being hit in the face with a plank of wood, is accusing people of lacking a sense of irony is ironic in itself.
But this isn’t a politics blog and I wouldn’t mention this here were it not for the adjective “English,” which, combined with the statement that British Zionists have “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably [emphasis added] all their lives” leads to the suggestion that they possibly haven’t lived here all their lives, or that even if they have lived here all their lives, they still have the whiff of the shtetl about them. That Jews – and I think the implication has to be that he means Jews, not, say non-Jewish Zionists like Tony Blair – aren’t really English. That we don’t belong. And this is the leader of the largest “progressive” party in the country, the man who could easily be Prime Minister in eighteen months if (when) the Brexit negotiations go wrong, using language more usually associated with the far-right. They don’t belong here. They haven’t lived here as long as we have. They don’t understand us. They aren’t really us. No wonder he’s been praised by neo-Nazi Nick Griffin and former KKK leader David Duke.
This ends up on a mental health blog because of the emotions this brings up in me. Remember what I said earlier this week about not fitting in? Well, now I begin to feel that on an epic scale. The old feeling that, however long we live somewhere, Jews are never quite accepted. That we never belong. As they say, paranoia is when you think everyone is out to get you; Jewish paranoia is when everyone really is out to get you. I don’t think that’s true, I don’t think all non-Jews are antisemites, but I think a lot more of them are than I thought five years ago. I feel a bit frightened. I feel glad that, if things continue getting worse, I can indeed move to Israel (ironically – that word again! – the better Corbyn and Momentum do, the more Jews move from Britain to Israel). But most of all I feel angry.
Anger is a hard emotion for me to deal with. Because of stuff that happened in my childhood that I can’t go into here, anger feels dangerous to me. I admit I get sarcastic with my parents sometimes, particularly when the depression is bad, but when I get really angry, as with my American friend the other week, I stifle it inside myself and burn myself up inside holding on to it. I run conversations or blog posts or comments that I’ve read or that I want to write in my head over and over, I can’t concentrate, my mind races, I want to EXPLODE with all the stuff in my head.
Not this time. I feel fairly calm, or I was until I sat down to write this (I’ve got a bit worked up now). Just coolly, calmly angry and determined that I have to do something to fight the spread of antisemitism in this country and the ‘mission creep’ that lets its spread from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel to dubious anti-Zionism (dubious because why should this one state out of all the dozens in the world involved in some kind of conflict with neighbours be destroyed? Plus I have yet to see a blueprint for its destruction that wouldn’t end in ethnic cleansing or genocide of its Jewish citizens) and then on to foul antisemitism.
And so, I come again to feeling that I ought to be doing a PhD in history, focusing on some aspect of antisemitism. Even before I saw the story, I had been thinking earlier today that it might be sensible to buy a couple of the books I wanted on antisemitism and use some of my time, now I’m out of work, to read them, seeing if I can cope with immersing myself in antisemitism and if they spark questions in my mind that might be fruitful for PhD research. I still don’t know if I have the energy (in terms of depression) or inclination for a PhD, but I really feel that I’ve been given a good shove in that direction.
(Oh, the job interview was OK, but not great. I should know by Wednesday whether I was chosen. Thanks, Jeremy Corbyn, for selfishly relegating my main news to a footnote in my own blog.)