In a surprising u-turn, the Jewish Defence League along with other more ‘moderate’ right wingers have recently come out in support of the type of cultural boycott many of them have spent recent years condemning as prejudiced. On Monday night Jewish protesters gathered in huge numbers at New York City’s Lincoln Centre for a rally against an Opera they hadn’t seen – John Adam’s ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’. The extremist JDL were out in force and, presumably inspired by the violent gun crime of the very opera they refuse to watch, to recruit ‘Jews with Guts’ to be armed with guns and ‘truthiness’ for vigilante street patrols. They were also handing out Holocaust inspired yellow stars to fellow protesters – a fashion that never quite took off in New York’s Zara franchise.
Anyone who has ever been to an opera will know there is plenty to protest about. They are often rife with misogyny, the ticket prices and seating stratification are blatantly classist, fat ladies always have to go last and you are never allowed to cough. Add to this Adam’s daring to portray Palestinians as human beings, and it is no wonder these angry Kahanists are clamouring for boots on the ground.
A far right group with a modus operandi of historical irony and violent racist attacks, it is not surprising that the JDL have taken this new zeal for cultural boycott a few weapons too far. This is the second major incident in recent weeks in which the group have aggressively attacked the arts and culture usually thought of as so central to modern Jewish society. On Saturday the 20th of September, in an act of unbridled self hatred, two senior members of the London Jewish Defence League stormed the stage at the Tottenham Palestine Literature festival, physically assaulting and hospitalising its organiser, and launching a violent attack on a time honoured Jewish tradition: literature.
The JDL have promised that this incident and this week’s recruitment drive mark the beginning of a ‘War on Thinking’, for which they claim to have the unspoken support of a number of Jewish community leaders. ‘If the Jewish community think and read too much, they might start to understand that a lot of our politics is pretty stupid and simply put has just gone wrong’ said a JDL spokesperson. So far, no one else has published comment on the attacks.
The mother of one of the attackers, concerned with her daughter’s violent behaviour, believes that her personal hatred of books came from the disproportionate number of waterstones vouchers she received on her batmitzvah. Despite her parents attempts to correct this mistake with iphones and ugg boots, a further ordeal in later life allegedly concerning the’Twilight’ saga turned her into “a frothing wildebeest of anti-intellectual dissension,” and put her firmly on the road to fascism.
The Board of Deputies has rushed to stress that the JDL are a fringe group and not representative of the Jewish Community as a whole, many of whom still enjoy both words and thinking, and have excellent spelling. Daniel Danielovitch, CST Head of Special Operations Community Security Trust has emphasised that this seemingly islamophobic attack in fact threatens the Jewish Community as well, and has issued the following warning from his Bat Cave in Finchley: “Whilst this incident was clearly an attack on Palestinians, bookism is bookism, and when books are under attack, so are Jews. We are asking readers to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, and to split infinitives and abbreviate words to txt spk until further notice.” When questioned about the connection between the attack in London and the protests in New York, he hastened to remind us that Hitler liked Wagner.
Book shops operating in Golders Green, East Finchley and Stamford Hill have been warned to close before sunset and keep their shutters locked. However, after careful consideration, the main Jewish newspapers are not considered vulnerable and will continue to print as usual.
When asked to comment, Simon Bollard of the Jewish Monacle said, “The Jewish Monacle takes a bi-partisan position when it comes to literature, and reading in general. It is not the job of newspaper editors to condemn or support the destruction of reading materials. Please stop intentionally misquoting me.”