Sasha Swire’s ‘Jewish Lobby’ trope is so very revealing

But not as she intends, says Jan Shure

Jan Shure www.thejc.com 


So, Sasha Swire, wife of top Tory Sir Hugo Swire, thinks there’s a “Jewish Lobby” and refers disparagingly to its members in her book, Diary of an MP’s Wife. She also refers – approvingly it seems – to a putative investigation into “the Jewish Lobby infiltrating parliament” before noting that “they” (members of the “Jewish Lobby”) will be “cringing with embarrassment.”

What is especially interesting here is that, nestling amid the farrago of trifling political gossip and social tittle-tattle, is a quite open, clear reference to a sinister-sounding “Jewish Lobby” that was not picked up by any of the numerous publications which ran pieces on the book. 

It is close to a month since publication yet despite an avalanche of words on this “wickedly funny” book (as one reviewer called it), not a single newspaper or magazine has noticed Lady Swire’s antisemitic-sounding comments. Or if they noticed, they didn’t think it worth commenting on. That is ironic if you think about it as, according to antisemitic tropes, we Jews “control the media.” 

You’d think we might have ensured at least a little exposure for those antisemitic allusions…But nada, zilch. 

I only learned about them from a pre-Yom Kippur Tweet by JC editor Stephen Pollard, who seems to have been the first journalist to have mentioned them. 

Nor has any review or feature mentioned the book’s pejorative description of Israel’s former ambassador to the UK as “the appalling Mark Regev.” In Swire’s milieu, of course, “appalling” is an all-purpose term of abuse indicating anything from a lack of dexterity with fish-forks to convicted “kiddie-fiddler.” But her use of it at a time of significant sensitivity over the perception of Israel may reveal a deep-seated, um, lack of empathy for Jews.

But then there’s nothing new about casual antisemitism among aristos and the upper middle classes. 

Obviously, I find her assertion about a “Jewish Lobby” chilling, possibly implying acceptance of certain antisemitic tropes. (Again, this is mildly ironic as, according to Wikipedia, Swire’s mother Miloska Vlahović, is of “Slovenian-Jewish” descent). But more than that, I find the whole notion of a “Jewish Lobby” completely hilarious; the idea that the UK Jewish community is sufficiently cohesive (or sufficiently bold or sufficiently rich) to establish a “Jewish Lobby” makes me, literally, laugh out loud. It is almost as funny as the assertion by Corbyn-supporters that those of us calling out Labour over Israel-hate were being “paid by the Israeli Government.”

Lady Swire demonstrates a lamentable ignorance of UK Jewry by suggesting that there is a “Jewish Lobby.” Jewish organisations, such as the Board of Deputies, the United Synagogue and the Jewish Leadership Council are involved in a certain amount of lobbying. And, of course, there’s an Israeli Ambassador who lobbies for Israel, though it’s called “Diplomacy” rather than lobbying at that level.
And then there are single-issue groups such as BICOM (British Israel Communications and Research Centre), and the newly-minted Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), both of which are involved in education and in combating hate. But neither  constitute a “Jewish Lobby.” 

The JC is influential in the community, as we saw when it hit choppy financial waters earlier this year, but a newspaper – even one as assiduous on Jewish issues as this – does not constitute a “Jewish Lobby.”  

Yes, the Jewish community punches well above its weight in media, arts, entertainment, etc, so it often appears there are more of us and that we wield more influence – especially when some high-profile Jew takes to Twitter or TV to declares his or her outrage over something antisemitic.
But that is about it. 

Finally, Lady Swire, if there truly was a “Jewish Lobby,” do you really think that Jeremy Corbyn would have become Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition? Surely, the “Jewish Lobby.” would have ensured Labour’s leader was someone more acceptable; someone who wouldn’t make our community shudder collectively in fear… 

 

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