The Responses to Stephen Fry’s Christmas Message Shows The Need For It

In case you missed it, Stephen Fry delivered this year’s alternative Christmas message on Channel 4. And it was one for the ages.

One would think speaking of his pride in being Jewish, speaking out against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and race hatred, and wishing people of all stripes peace and love is an eminently decent message to convey for Christmas.

Unless you are an actual antisemite. Then you will respond to this message like many of those we are seeing online, a sample of which I have included below:

These responses reaffirm the rise of Jew hatred and the need for his message itself.

Those claiming Stephen somehow conflated antisemitism and “anti-Zionism” are doing the conflation themselves. Stephen mentioned a rise in antisemitism following the events of October 7 and Israel’s response, giving actual examples of it, including the breaking of shop windows, the spray painting of swastikas on Jewish properties, and the closing of Jewish schools due to threats. This is clearly a manifestation of Jew hatred. He does not mention people marching peacefully for “Palestine,” for example.

And it is not like Stephen has a track record in being staunchly pro-Israel. Quite the opposite, actually.

Stephen Fry waded into the debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Thursday with a tweet praising a “brilliant” essay that compares Israel to a Jew who embarrasses other Jews in the eyes of gentiles and justifies their “persecution and hate”.

The Jewish actor and author, 63, tweeted a link to an essay by Jewish American writer Benjamin Moser recalling a trip to Hebron describing it as “the worst place in the world”.

The piece accuses Israel of committing “ethnic cleansing” in the West Bank city.

“In Hebron, I saw a racial tyranny that was not only not over: it was actively getting worse. I saw ethnic cleansing happening in real time, house by house, block by block,” it says.

Elsewhere in the piece, Mr Moser writes, “It’s hard for me to think of the State of Israel as anything but a shanda fir di goyim,” which he explains as “a Jew that embarrassed the Jews, and thus justified Gentile persecution and hate”.

“You walk down the street in Hebron. You see people stealing people’s homes because they belong to a different race. And why? In order to build an ugly condo for someone from New Jersey,” he writes.

Mr Moser is the author of several award-winning biographies. His latest about the life of Jewish writer Susan Sontag won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017.

Mr Fry said his Hebron essay was “quite brilliant, as Benjamin Moser so often is.”

“Aside from being a wonderful piece of writing in itself, it has clarified so much for me,” he wrote. 

Mr Fry has in the past been critical of Israel, backing in 2008 a letter published in the Guardian in which signatories said they would not be celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary.

He tweeted in 2014 that while he didn’t support Israel “as they’re behaving now,” he believed in its right to exist.

But he is also anti-boycotting Israel, as evidence by his signature on a 2019 open letter opposing calls to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. He also said in a tweet the same year that he stood with broadcaster Rachel Riley after the anti-racism activist spoke out in the row over antisemitism in the Labour Party. And he recently signed on to the #NoHostageLeftBehind campaign, which encourages no rest until all hostages held by Hamas are free.

All of this means he is persona non grata among the rabid Israel-haters aka antisemites of the world, despite being highly critical of Israel. Because speaking out against Jew-hatred and supporting Israel’s right to exist and Israeli civilians’ right to safety is just a bridge too far for them.

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