Fagin and Blair

(Times-UK) William Rees-Mogg - * Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist includes the anti-Semitic persona of Fagin, a stereotypical Jew portrayed as avaricious, ruthless, and cunning. The Mail on Sunday published two striking photographs side by side. The first is a picture of Barry Humphries actually playing Fagin. The second is a Labour Party poster of Conservative leader Michael Howard, doctored to fit the Fagin image. * We are intended to associate Mr. Howard with Fagin, that is, with a sinister Jewish criminal as seen by anti-Semites. This is part of the Labour pre-election campaign. * There is never any excuse even for mild anti-Semitism; it is a dangerous and virulent poison. The trouble is that anti-Semitism works only too well. There are several times more Muslim voters than Jewish voters; they are part of the target audience. Labour wants to destroy Mr. Howard as a political leader by using his Jewishness against him. They know to a hair's breadth what they are doing. * Of course, any anti-Semitism has been denied; the purpose of the operation is to raise the controversy and then withdraw. But the Fagin image will linger on, and those voters who do not like Jews will have been reminded of their prejudice, by modern advertising techniques and, alas, even by this article. But it is a dirty, dirty, dirty business and it disgraces both the Labour Party and the Prime Minister.

2005-02-01 00:00:00

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