Boris Johnson wrote an entire book about a flagrantly antisemitic 20th century MP it has been sensationally revealed. The book, which is glowing in its reverence, is openly on sale on Amazon.
The offending book, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, was published in 2015 and made the Sunday Times bestseller lists. While there is no suggestion Mr Johnson is himself antisemitic, you have to question the judgment and selective blindspot that the Conservative MP might have for Churchill, not to mention ingrained prejudices of those on the right.
Churchill’s opinions on Jews were often contradictory, praising the Jewish people in one moment and blaming communism on “international Jewry” the next. Churchill seemed to have been yet another adherent to the new Jewish world order conspiracy, stating that Bolshevism was “a worldwide conspiracy” dedicated only to “the overthrow of civilization and the reconstruction of society”. He saw Judaism as a threat to the British empire, telling David Loyd George that Jews were “the main instigators of the ruin of the Empire” and they were “a leading part in Bolshevik atrocities”.
Perhaps the most shocking example of Churchill’s antisemitism came in 1937, 2 years after the German Nuremberg laws, Winston being asked to write an article for the American magazine Liberty on the subject of “the Jewish problem”.
“The Jew in England is a representative of his race. Every Jewish money-lender recalls Shylock and the idea of the Jews as usurers. And you cannot reasonably expect a struggling clerk or shopkeeper, paying forty or fifty per cent interest on borrowed money to a “Hebrew bloodsucker” to reflect that, throughout long centuries, almost every other way of life was closed to the Jews; or that there are native English moneylenders who insist, just as implacably, upon their ‘pound of flesh'”“Winston Churchill”
While written by his ghostwriter Adam Marshall Diston, Churchill had no issues with the content and, after having it rejected, continued to attempt to sell it. The article was a shocking act of victim-blaming the Jews for their own persecution, repeating stereotypes surrounding money lenders and usury.
Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for writing the forward to a new edition of JA Hobsons classic Imperialism, Hobson now being portrayed as a virulent antisemite.
The sad fact is that prior to the Second World War, real antisemitism was so prevalent in our society that it would have been more uncommon to find an individual who wasn’t antisemitic in some way. The ideas of “Jewish world conspiracy” were rampant in both politics and academia and crossed party lines.
Many “great” individuals and thinkers of this age show levels of what we would consider antisemitism, yet we do not highlight it as a weapon to throw at those who appreciate their work nor throw their ideas into the dustpan of history because of it. There is a huge difference between supporting the ideas of JA Hobson and encouraging Mein Kampf and while we should certainly be aware of prejudices and highlight them, those prejudices frequently do not define their work, this being the key differing factor between what remains of value and what deserves our denigration.
Hobson’s ideas and works have been widely praised and are widely respected, taught in universities and quoted by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the past, yet now they are but a tool for another day in the ongoing debunked false antisemitism crisis engulfing Labour.
We do not criticise biographers or writers who speak glowingly of Winston Churchill, nor do we criticise devotees of Disraeli of whom the historian David Cesarani credits with “almost single-handedly invent[ing] the lexicon of modern racial anti-Semitism”. The examples of antisemitism amongst public figures prior to the Second World War are too numerous to even contemplate putting into print here.
The question that must be asked is why now? why, after a hundred years of Hobson being knowingly on sale and being taught, are his views highlighted now? is it really through any genuine interest in battling the scourge of antisemitism, or is it merely another attempt to smear and denigrate Jeremy Corbyn? Why not criticise Blair or Brown who enthusiastically quoted Hobson?
The selective outrage surrounding the issue is telling not for who is getting the full force of pro-Israeli ire, but for who isn’t.