The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival is going to hold a debate on anti-semitism, with an interesting line-up of debaters. According to Middle East Online:
The debate, entitled "Anti-Semitism - Alive and Well in Europe?", will host Gilad Atzmon, renowned Israeli saxophonist and devoted opponent of Zionism; Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham; and David Aaronovitch, Orwell prize-winning 'Times' journalist.Gilad Atzmon is a Jewish anti-semite; he writes articles insulting Jews and Judaism as easily as he breathes. The extent of his denial that anti-semitism exists at all can be seen from a bizarre article I quoted in 2006, about Borat, of all things. He pretty much markets his own anti-semitism to make money from forums like this.
The three participants will address pressing questions related to anti-Semitism; whether it is still strongly present in Europe and if the recent Israeli bombardment of besieged Gaza has further fuelled it.
Observers say Atzmon's participation will give the debate an "insider's view" on Jewishness, Israeli strategies and accusations of anti-Semitism.
David Aaronovitch seems like a nice enough guy. He describes himself this way:
These days, when I look in the mirror I see my father's face and when I speak, I hear my father's voice. From somewhere, God knows how, I have inherited a few inflections that Henry Higgins would recognise as being London Jewish. Apart from that, no synagogue, no briss, no Hebrew classes, no bar mitzvah. Yet in the past year ... small things have begun to make a Jew out of me, whatever I think about it.
Too many leftwingers and liberals are crossing the magic line right now. Let me spell it out for you. There is no all-powerful Jewish lobby. There is no secret convocation. Most journalists with Jewish names do not write the things they do because of loyalty to their race or religion. Nor can you simply change the word "Jewish" to "Zionist" and somehow be exempt from the charge of low-level racism. And it's no good wiffling on about your Jewish friends or trying to slip your prejudices past the guards by boldly proclaiming your refusal to be intimidated. There are no Elders and there are no Protocols.
So of the two Jews in the debate, none of them has even the slightest familiarity with Judaism - one is openly hateful towards it, the other is cheerfully ignorant.
Denis McShane - the Gentile - is the only one of the participants who is actually an expert in anti-semitism in Europe.
Often, the selection of "debaters" shows biases more than the debate itself.