The victim card

February 18, 2024

The victim card

Dear All,


Two recent controversies in Britain illustrate how very useful the anti-Semitism accusation can be. They also show how the mainstream media is complicit in spreading a false and hysterical victimhood narrative.

In one case, student bodies and citizens demanded that the authorities discipline and act against a chaplain who had gone to Israel and served with the Israeli Defence Forces and had made remarks about Israel’s aggression being ‘moral’ and justified. In another case, a Labour candidate, who looked set to lose in a by-election, was accused of anti-Semitism and was ousted from the race, leaving Labour not having to face a humiliating defeat. This also enabled the incitement of Islamophobia (the candidate was a Muslim).

Rabbi Zachariah Deutsch was a chaplain for six universities, including the University of Leeds. Student groups at Leeds accused him of participating in genocide. Their accusations were not merely about them feeling ‘threatened,’ the accusations were based on Deutsch’s own social media content. In various videos Deutsch defended his decision to join the Israeli army’s war actions in Gaza. He spoke about people not knowing the “real story of what’s going on in Israel over the last thousands of years and over the last hundreds of years” insisting that “no one could deny that Israel is dealing with this war with the utmost morality and good ethics.”

Close to 30,000 people have been killed in Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. This includes more than 10,000 children. Entire families have been obliterated, children maimed and orphaned. This includes people who have died in pain, buried under the rubble after Israeli bombing, or whose bodies have rotted at various locations because the Israeli army simply bombed or shot paramedics trying to reach them.

Families that are still alive are now close to starvation and children are without clean drinking water. When some Gazans went out in fishing boats to try to catch some food, they were shot and killed by the Israeli army. This is apparently “utmost morality and good ethics.”

Obviously, it is neither moral nor ethical, but what is truly shocking is the position taken by sections of the British media on this controversy. Papers like the Telegraph, the Mail and the Jewish Chronicle have played the victimhood card, depicting the Chaplain as a persecuted person who had been forced to go into hiding because of prejudice and rabid anti-Semitism.

He and his wife have been described as having received death threats. The onus of blame for the whole matter has been placed on those calling for his resignation. They have been painted as villains and he as the victim. BBC also turned the story into one of victimhood with a report that “police had launched a hate crime enquiry after graffiti appeared on a building for Jewish students at the University of Leeds.” The graffiti didn’t say anything about killing or harming anybody from any ethnic or religious group — it simply said “Free Palestine.”

Activists have pointed out that somebody who has joined another country’s army to take part in indiscriminate killing and destruction, which the International Court of Justice has stopped just short of declaring a genocide, should not be employed by an educational institution; especially, not in a role that includes counselling or advising students.

The victim card

Many have also pointed out the double standards involved in this case as compared with that of Shameema Begum, the British teen who left the UK and became an ISIS bride and whose citizenship was revoked by Britain. Meanwhile, Deutsch can go and fight and support a military force which seems to be committing atrocity after atrocity in Gaza and whose soldiers gleefully publicise and laugh about their actions even as they loot houses, threaten children and bomb hospitals — and still be employed in a pastoral role at various universities…

This is a classic example of how the media can completely subvert a story by spinning it a certain way. The media behaviour has made somebody who has fought for a foreign army in a military action which has completely violated all rules of war or principles of humanity into a persecuted person who is blameless and is being hounded by evil Muslims and ‘Jew haters.’

The depiction is surreal and should perhaps be a case study for all journalism schools.

The second case in which anti-Semitism accusations have proved useful involve the accusations made against the Labour candidate in the Rochdale by-election. Labour has lost a lot of support over its stance on Gaza and many councillors and members have resigned from the party over this.

The Labour candidate in Rochdale, Azhar Ali, was in danger of losing to the independent candidate, the former Labour MP and firebrand, the outspoken George Galloway and voters were being openly hostile to Labour leaders and candidate because of the party’s support of Israel and lack of interest in pressing for a ceasefire.

Then, last week, the candidate was accused of anti-Semitism because of his comment that Israel had allowed the October 7 attacks by Hamas in order to provide a pretext for invading Gaza. As usual, criticising the actions of the Israeli state was conflated with prejudice and hatred for Jewish people and so the Labour party “withdrew their support for him.”

Effectively, this means that Labour withdrew from a contest in which it appeared they would be badly humiliated. Apart from managing to avoid this humiliation, Labour has also reiterated party leader Keir Starmer’s ‘loyal to Israel’ credentials and has pandered to the Zionist element in the party. Plus, they have managed to insert ‘anti-Semitism’ as an issue into the contest and use this to indirectly discredit Galloway.

The media has played a very evil role in subverting facts and news and furthering agendas of hatred and polarisation. Israel remains unrepentant about its actions and insists that the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of hospitals, universities and schools is just ‘self-defence.’

When we see photos of the bodies of children with shredded legs hanging from walls, Israel tells us “the children were terrorists.” Ambulance workers rushing to help a child whose family was killed in front of her were “also terrorists.” The Western media continues this lie when it refuses to even name Israel in its headlines.

Palestinians are not killed or bombed, they just die. Bombing and sniper fire are referred to as explosions and shooting. It’s like spontaneous combustion and as somebody commented that this is like saying the people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks “died in explosions.”

We must never lose sight of how this spin and manipulation of the narrative is being used to further divisions and hatred. People must hold not just politicians but also journalists accountable.

Best wishes,

Umber Khairi

The victim card