Wednesday, September 21, 2016

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
Dimi Reider at +972 has a scoop!

Anti-Semitic, white supremacist slogans at Exeter University event

Even the most off-hand displays of white supremacism and anti-Semitism — perhaps especially off-hand, “normalized” displays — are not only deplorable in their own right, but directly affect conversation on racism, anti-Semitism and Israel-Palestine.

Students attending an off-campus Exeter University party on Tuesday were seen sporting t-shirts with anti-Semitic and white supremacist slogans, +972 has learned.

Reports of anti-semitic incidents in the UK have risen by 11 percent in the first half of 2016, according to a recent report by the Community Security Trust, a UK organization providing security guards to Jewish schools and synagogues. Anti-semitism has figured heavily in headlines over the past year, especially in the context of the Labour party leadership race. The incumbent leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been accused of being “too soft” on anti-Semitism among his supporters. The controversy has seen the distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic comments challenged vigorously by figures from the center rightwards, and a mix of soul-searching and recriminations on the Left.

In this context, even the most off-hand displays of white supremacism and anti-Semitism — perhaps especially off-hand, “normalized” displays — are not only deplorable in their own right, but directly affect national conversation on racism, anti-Semitism and Israel-Palestine.

The Tuesday night event, hosted by the local Snow Sports society at the Timepiece nightclub, saw guests use magic markers to scribble slogans and drawings on each other’s uniform white t-shirts. Most scribbles ranged between the bantering and the generically sexist — belaboured innuendos on the word “slope” appear to have been in vogue during the evening — but two rather different slogans stood out: “Don’t speak to me if you’re not white,” and, “The Holocaust was a good time.”

Reider linked to a Facebook page where many photos from the event were published.  The pictures make is obvious that the phrases written on the T-shirts during this party were written by others, not by the wearers, and in fact the wearers may not have known what was written on their backs.

Many of the writings were crude, sexist, homophobic or otherwise obviously purposefully offensive, for example, "Free Herpes Here."

But there were other examples of personal graffiti that crossed the line besides the ones mentioned in the article. At least two party-goers had swastikas on the front of their shirts, so they cannot claim ignorance:

I did not see one photo that showed any anti-Zionist sentiment.

So why, when writing about a party where some of the knowingly offensive graffiti included white supremacism and Holocaust jokes, did Reimer bring up Israel and anti-Zionism? What relationship does it have to a story that references racism and antisemitism? And his linkage was the most important part of the story, according to the +972 editor that used that pull quote as the subheading!

+972 had a scoop: a large university event where students joked about the Holocaust and white supremacism. The story had nothing to do with Israel. But Reimer apparently is upset about antisemites who also hate Israel, because they make all Israel-haters look like antisemites.

As a result, a story about antisemitism must be contextualized to say "hey, we Israel bashers are against antisemitism too! Not only because it is deplorable, but also because it makes us look bad!"

The irony is that if +972 would have reported the story straight, it would have shown the +972 distances itself from antisemitism. By gratuitously  linking the story to Israel, the magazine shows that to some extent, its discomfort with antisemitism is not simply because of how deplorable it is in itself, but because antisemitism's very existence might blunt its own incessant attempts to smear the Jewish state.

Which is, when you think about it, kind of disgusting.

(The story shows that the offensive sayings were discovered by a Palestinian student who witnessed the party and who was sickened by them. She wrote on Facebook, " “Making light of genocide and white privilege is not ‘banter’, you f*** imbeciles." She shows far more moral character than Dimi Reider.)

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