Phyllis Chesler Interviews Carol Gould

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Malcolm Glazer and Manchester United
Last uploaded : Wednesday 8th Jun 2005 at 14:59
Contributed by : Allen Esterson

 

In the interests of democratic debate I request that the message
below (already emailed directly to the Editor) be posted on your "Letters to Our
Editor" webpage:
>
> I cannot let the recent editorial, sub-headed " The purchase of Manchester
United soccer team by a Jewish American has caused outrage across Great
Britain" go without comment.
>
> Of course you contradict the insinuation of anti-semitism in the sub-title
and in a later reference to the antagonism towards the "Jewish Yank Glazer"
by noting that "Russian-Jewish Roman Abramovitch bought and runs Chelsea
soccer team, but his purchase angered few". The clear implication of your
own comment here is that the opposition to Glazer has nothing to do with his
being a Jew. Yet you still insinuate elsewhere that anti-semitism is
involved in this affair. Let me tell you two things (i) I am a keen soccer
fan, and have read some of the newspaper articles, and heard phone-in
discussions on the main British sports radio station, BBC Radio 5, and have
never once heard mention the fact that Glazer is a Jew, (ii) I myself had no
idea that Glazer is a Jew until I read it in your online article, and I
don't suppose the overwhelming majority of Manchester United supporters
opposing the takeover do so either. (Note that, unlike Glazer, Abramovitch
is an obviously Jewish name.)
>
> So your writing "there is something about the combination of 'American'
and 'Jew' that causes paroxysm of rage in Europe these days" in the context
of the takeover of Manchester United gives an utterly misleading impression
to your readers about the nature of the opposition to Glazer's action.
>
> You are also wrong about the "outrage across Britain". Now that we have
the precedent of Premier League clubs comprising mostly foreign players, and
the biggest ones having foreign coaches, and the takeover of Chelsea by
Abramovitch, most people, including fans of other clubs are pretty
indifferent about the affair. The mass outrage comes from Man Utd fans - who
reside all over the UK -- and also no doubt from the viscerally
anti-American types that inhabit the offices of the Guardian. I won't go
into the complicated situation about the relation between soccer fans and
their club, and especially the special case of Man U fans and their board,
but the scale of opposition, while with some certainly having a culturally
anti-American flavour (more to do with the low profile of professional
soccer in the US than political considerations), is much more complicated
than your article implies.
>
> But my main concern is that you have used this occurrence to splash a
headline, with further clear insinuations in the article, that anti-semitism
plays a role in the affair. This is so far off the mark that it indicates
that your antennae for anti-semitism are such that you find it in situations
even when it is non-existent. In a previous editorial (24 January 2005) you
wrote "I am being told tonight in a social setting that 'there is no
anti-Semitism in Britain' by a Jewish friend. 'Britain is one of the kindest
countries in the world for Jews,' say these people." The novelist Howard
Jacobson, allowed a two-page spread in the Evening Standard a couple of
weeks ago to express his vehement opposition to the (now-rescinded) AUT
Israeli Universities boycott, wrote he had not personally experienced
anti-semitism. A Jewish scientist said the same thing on a BBC radio
programme I heard in the past year. I have not experienced it, and I have
not heard of any of my extended family !
> experiencing it in recent times. And not only is the current leader of
the Tory Party a Jew, a leading contender to replace him in the coming
months is another Jew (Malcolm Rifkin). Whatever your own experiences as
reported in your 24 January article (unfortunately conflated with
anti-Americanism, which is certainly more widespread, especially among the
chattering classes), they are neither typical nor characteristic of British
society as a generality.
>
> Please note I'm not saying there isn't anti-semitism in some circles, and
of course there exists common or garden stereotyping of Jews in some parts
of the population, but stereotyping is part of the human condition, and is
applied to most racial/ethnic groups. What there isn't is the wave of
anti-Semitism that you are portraying to your readers. There is, of course,
vitriolic ideologically-based anti-Israel material in the Guardian and
Independent, and to a lesser extent some anti-Israel bias on the BBC, though
rarely in the Times or Telegraph, but that should not be generalized to the
whole population. The great bulk of anti-semitic activity in the UK
currently comes from militant Muslims.
>
> Allen Esterson
England, UK

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