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BOARD CONDEMNS ANTISEMITIC POET

Last updated: 2003-01-13

Once again Oxford poet Tom Paulin has published a poem expressing antisemitic and anti-Israeli sentiments.

In a lengthy poem published in “The Guardian” on 8 January, Paulin sought to rebut claims that his hostility towards the policies of the Israeli government did not amount to antisemitism. But in his latest poem not only does he accuse the current Israeli government of seeking to push the Palestinians into the Jordan following a war in Iraq. He also claims to have been victimised with death threats from the Jewish community following earlier comments in which he called for the killing of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Such threats Paulin described as “the usual cynical Goebbels stuff”.

In a letter published the following day in “The Guardian”, Board Director General Neville Nagler attacked Paulin’s frequent comparisons between Jews and Nazis. He also rejected his claim that Jews automatically label critics of Israel as antisemitic. Such a glib argument seeks to avoid responsibility for Paulin’s offensive rhetoric. Neville Nagler comments: “To claim modern-day Jews are no better than, or different from, the people who murdered six million of our forebears and many millions of non-Jews goes way beyond criticism of Israeli policy and enters the world of demonisation and dehumanisation of an entire people. By calling for the killing of Jewish settlers, Paulin displays a hateful rhetoric. It is this, not his support for a Palestinian state (which many Jews share), that is by any reckoning antisemitism.”