Column JN from Jenni Frazer Oct 16 2016
Readers may be familiar with the term “mansplaining”, wherein men seek to explain to women just what it is about the world they don’t understand — pretty much anything that emanates from Donald Trump appears to be mansplaining.
I wonder if we can agree on the expression “Jewsplaining”, in which non-Jews prescriptively tell Jews what they should think, learn, or feel about themselves and the community in which they live.
I was forcibly reminded of Jewsplaining this week in two instances: the now notorious UNESCO vote (which apparently wasn’t a UNESCO vote at all, but a vote by governments) about the non-link between Judaism and the Holy Places in Jerusalem; and some of the responses to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry on antisemitism.
Let us examine the UNESCO farrago first, in which just six countries voted against, including, honourably, the UK, and a shocking 26 abstained, allowing the 24 countries which voted in favour to carry the day. The resolution, in case anyone needs reminding, disregards Judaism’s historic connection to the Temple Mount and casts doubt on the link between Judaism and the Western Wall.
Abstention, I was taught in debate classes in the sixth form, is a solution for which one reaches when it has proved impossible to make up one’s mind one way or the other. But this resolution was not a matter of a nuanced case being presented, to befuddle the fine thinkers of such as France or Italy. This was about as factual a situation as it gets: is there, or is there not, a direct link, stretching back centuries, embodied in Jewish literature, between Jews and the Temple Mount?
Bluntly, I am afraid, this is not an issue where there is doubt. Those who decided to abstain are as much signed up to a lie as those who voted in favour.
But now we are witnessing a flurry of Jewsplaining as those who “didn’t mean to offend” are desperately back-pedalling and finessing their excuses for having voted as they did. Too late, mates: you called it wrong, wrong, wrong.
We move on to the Commons Select Committee’s inquiry on antisemitism, whose highlight, for me, was the conclusion that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn simply does not get all the furore about antisemitism. I have been saying this for months, that Corbyn, viscerally, thinks all the fuss about antisemitism is just that, a fuss; so it was a delight to read the Select Committee’s belief that “despite his proud record on fighting racism, the committee is not persuaded that Mr Corbyn fully appreciates the distinct nature of contemporary antisemitism, and the fact that it is perfectly possible for an ‘anti-racist campaigner’ to express antisemitic views”.
In response, Corbyn perfectly illustrated this conclusion by issuing a long, whining and self-justifying Jewsplanation. He spoke at the 80th anniversary of Cable Street, you know. Oh, you didn’t know? How could you have missed it?
Corbyn then brought out the current response du jour about antisemitism. “Politicising antisemitism – or using it as a weapon in controversies between and within political parties – does the struggle against it a disservice.” Ah, the source of “weaponising”, another fave anti-Zionist/antisemitic word.
How foolish of we Jews not to understand that Corbyn’s Jewsplanation knows better.