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Monday, June 29, 2020

On Nigel Farage's anti-Semitic dog whistles

Just when we had got the popcorn out and were settling down to watch the latest row in Labour over anti-Semitism, following Keir Starmer's decisive action in sacking a member of his shadow cabinet, another one pops up, this time on the political right, to underline how these appalling conspiracy theories plague both wings of the political spectrum.

If the Corbynite left cannot see the damage these tropes are doing in undermining the Jewish community (and the Labour Party) then perhaps they will pause for reflection when they realise that those on the right are also using them.

For those who still doubt that the article retweeted by Rebecca Long-Bailey contained an anti-Semitic trope, then it is worth reading this Channel Four fact check article.

The Guardian reports that Nigel Farage has been condemned by the UK’s main Jewish groups and MPs for repeatedly using language and themes associated with far-right anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, something for which he has been previously criticised.

They report that the Board of Deputies of British Jews said Farage’s airing of claims about plots to undermine national governments, and his references to Goldman Sachs and the financier George Soros, showed he was seeking to “trade in dog whistles”.

The Brexit party leader, who has been criticised for agreeing to interviews with openly anti -Semitic US media personalities, was also condemned by the MPs who co-chair the all-party group against antisemitism:

Much of Farage’s most recent use of such themes has been connected to the Black Lives Matter protests, and his belief that dissenting voices are being silenced.

In a tweeted video message this month, Farage said the UK faced “cultural Marxism”, a term originating in a conspiracy theory based on a supposed plot against national governments, which is closely linked to the far right and anti-Semitism.

In the same message, Farage said companies who pulled TV adverts from rightwing TV shows were being pressured by “Soros-funded organisations”. George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and campaigner, is a regular target for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Farage had made the same claim about Soros three days earlier in an interview with the far-right news website Breitbart.

In a recent opinion piece for the Newsweek website, Farage talked about “unelected globalists shaping the public’s lives based on secret recommendations from the big banks”. Goldman Sachs was the only bank he mentioned by name, echoing another common theme from far-right anti-Semitism.

Writing in a separate Newsweek column, Farage said Black Lives Matter was made up of radical socialists trying to destroy nationalism, “oftentimes funded by globalists”, another term linked to such ideas.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that works for the safety of Jewish people in the UK, summed it up: “This is not the first time that Nigel Farage has used language that evokes anti-Semitic conspiracy codewords, but the deeper problem is that this search for scapegoats will keep requiring new enemies and new excuses, moving the national debate into more polarising and dangerous places.”

Both left and right are guilty of this sort of behaviour and it is time that they woke up to the real damage that they are doing in continuing it.
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