In a week when 200 academics have come out (anonymously) in support of antisemitic lecturer David Miller, David Baddiel seems to be onto something with his new book Jews Don’t Count.
I say book, it’s more an extended essay (123 pages of large print) in which the comedian makes the case that in progressive circles, antisemitism is not considered a form of bigotry to be taken as seriously as anti-black racism, transphobia and the other prejudices that the left rightly challenge wherever they rear their ugly heads.
These are not easy discussions but they are important ones, so easily batted aside by those who claim issues of antisemitism somehow detract from “more serious” kinds of racism, and by well-meaning Jewish people who want no part in such distractions. And Baddiel has no interest in comparing the effects of discrimination on different minority groups. His point is that Jews are such a minority, and yet are consistently omitted from self-described anti-racist discourse.
Baddiel offers many examples of this “Jews don’t count” phenomenon, mostly taking place on Twitter (which does make the book feel insular at times), but also from real-world events and his own experiences as a secular public figure uncommonly vocal about his Jewish identity. The book’s speedy publication makes it up to date if lacking in rigour (in one instance Baddiel quotes a headline without citing the newspaper it’s from), but as a polemic Jews Don’t Count is convincing, amusing and concise.
As someone who is both Jewish and on Twitter, often at the same time, the essay mirrors a lot of my own thoughts and causes reflection on others. What really resonates is the pain Baddiel describes from seeing these concerns dismissed by our would-be allies in the fight against racism. We expect it from the right, for whom ignoring ethnic minorities is like shooting foxes in a barrel, but when the progressive cause appears to exclude Jews it doubles our anxiety for the future.