Antisemitism as a Joke

This cartoon appears in the December 14 issue (number 1485) of Private Eye.

I don’t find it funny.

Is that because:

  1. It’s not funny.
  2. Antisemitism is never funny.
  3. I’m sensitive about antisemitism, so cannot see the humor.
  4. It’s antisemitic.

I recognize that I may not have the most neutral perspective, so this post is as much a form of enquiry as it is a comment. Do you think it’s funny?

Israel Post Strikes Again!

I have a subscription to Private Eye. Today, I arrived home from work to find that Israel Post had excelled themselves: they had managed to deliver two issues at once. How efficient!

Except, as you will see from the above, their performance was anything but efficient. It’s taken at least four weeks for number 1485 to be delivered. Delivery of number 1486 has only taken three weeks. If only there were a realistic prospect of that improvement continuing…

Private Eye and Israel

Private Eye, the UK news and satirical magazine (issue 1464 of 23 February) has an item about the UK’s Security and Policing event.

“The Home Office has invited some of the world’s most repressive regimes to the UK next month to browse stalls selling surveillance technology and crowd control equipment at a ‘security’ fair it is running.”

You can guess what is coming.

The article later reports that:

“The current list of invitees is secret until March, but in recent years delegates have included such cuddly bastions of human rights as Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.”

This is a nasty dig at Israel. Criticism is all very well, but this is demonization. Private Eye doesn’t like Israel. It may no longer have the institutional anti-semitism of Richard Ingrams, but that has morphed somewhat into repeated sniping attacks like this one, which nobody is going to waste any time trying to rebut, but everybody is going to get used to reading. Slowly, slowly poisoning the well.

Bank on that memory loss

It’s generally accepted that to be a good liar, you need to have a good memory. You cannot rely on records of events, so you need to remember what you represented happened, or was said, or whatever.

Based on the episode of George Galloway, the charge of antisemitism, and the actions of the lawyers acting for him, it seems that practitioners of BDS need a good memory too.

First, a recap, from the Times of Israel:

“A phalanx of lawyers is coming forward on Twitter to offer free legal help after the controversial anti-Israel MP George Galloway threatened to sue upwards of a dozen people over allegations of anti-Semitism. In a letter sent by his lawyers, Galloway has demanded £6,000 ($9280) per person upfront for legal expenses, a threat which one lawyer described as “outrageous.”

Galloway’s lawyers, Chambers and Co, in Bradford, where he is MP for Bradford West, have written to people who used the social media site in the wake of his appearance on BBC’s Question Time last month. The program, which was filmed in Finchley in the heart of north-west London’s Jewish community, erupted when a member of the audience accused Galloway of bearing some responsibility for the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK. Galloway strenuously denied the accusation.

But the fallout from Question Time continued on Twitter with many people attacking Galloway. One was the Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman, who deleted her Tweet on February 10 when Galloway threatened to sue her. However, he is apparently proceeding with his lawsuit and she is now being advised by her newspaper’s lawyers.”

So, Galloway is taking action against those he perceives have called him an antisemite. (I wonder why that might be?) Chambers, his lawyers, rather heavy-handedly (to put it mildly) demanded £6,000 (or possibly £5,000) as expenses. The approach has been drawn to the attention of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and it’s going to be very interesting to see the defense put forward.

Meantime, Private Eye has a piece in its latest issue:


Buy the magazine or get a subscription to read the whole thing! For example, there you will see this cracker of a postcript to the article:

“All should boycott the drug launderers HSBC,” Galloway tweeted furiously last summer, during a campaign against the bank for its closure of certain Muslim groups’ accounts and its financial involvement with Israel. The account into which Chambers wants tweeters to pay Galloway’s “costs” of £5,000 is, naturally… at HSBC!

  1. George says boycott HSBC.
  2. George’s lawyers say pay George damages – to HSBC!

Ha bloody ha!

While this episode is not exactly doing anything to enhance the reputation of George Galloway, it may be that the big losers will be his lawyers. It’s difficult to be sympathetic. I may need to rethink that last sentence. Let’s try again: it’s impossible to be sympathetic. Much better!

Posthaste Mr Postman!

I remain a loyal subscriber to Private Eye magazine. It lights up my day when I see a new issue has arrived in our mailbox. Like yesterday, for example:


There you have it: issue 1381 of 12 December 2014, arriving on 12 January 2015.

The postal service must really slow down at the end of the year. Based on the evidence I have, something is not quite right.  Continue reading

Right royal coverage

Newly arrived in Israel is the latest issue of Private Eye. Their front page coverage of the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first baby – George Alexander Louis – is worth recording for posterity:


Notice the strapline at the bottom:

INSIDE: Some other stuff

What a wonderful antidote to the fawning and fluff from the mainstream UK media.


“I give in.”

From this week’s edition of Private Eye:

Between early 1983 and the end of 1986, Private Eye raised questions about the Polly Peck accounts and dealings in its shares more than a dozen times.

The man behind Polly Peck, Asil Nadir, had previously breached the UK’s Companies Act, and featured in two Stock Exchange investigations. Despite this, the Eye was on its own. The mainstream media bought into the continuing fantasy (ie the lies) until it was too late; the whole shebang collapsed in 1990.

Nadir, after fleeing to Cyprus, returned to the UK in 2010 to face trial. It appears to have been a glorious gamble; a combination of vanity, stupidity, and desperation that went spectacularly wrong. Last month, Nadir was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing £29m. Some details are available here.

As the Eye points out:

Despite the Eye’s warnings, Nadir and Polly Peck remained City and media darlings until October 1990, when a £300m “black hole” in the accounts caused the collapse of a company once worth £2bn. Ironically, that collapse was precipitated by discovery of Nadir’s illegal share deals.

So, far at least four years, Nadir and Polly Peck continued to do damage they should not have been able to do. However, at least followers of Private Eye would have known not to touch the business or the shares with the proverbial barge pole. It’s more proof of the investigative journalism lead that Private Eye had, and still maintains.

The moral of the story? Read Private Eye!

Good guide

From the current issue (1318) of Private Eye:

“Politicians and journalists are always going to mix informally, as well as formally…The guiding principle should be one I applied during my time as a journalist, told to me when I was a financial writer in the 1970s well before the days of FSA regulation. It was described as the Private Eye test: can you defend what you have said or done if it appeared in Private Eye, not that private contacts or conversations should appear in Private Eye, but could you defend yourself if they did. This always seemed to be me [to be to me] a good and workable guide.”

Witness statement to the Leveson inquiry from Peter Riddell, former political editor of the Times. The square bracketed editorial correction is mine.

Although this is Private Eye patting itself on the back, it’s well entitled to do so given the excellent investigative journalism it continues to practice. Long may this heroic work continue.