Amy Winehouse and the fanaticism of the Israelophobes

The defilement of her statue was an act of racial animus.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Culture UK

Not content with pillorying living Jews, now they’re coming for the dead ones. Witness the desecration of the statue of Amy Winehouse in Camden Town in London. Some lowlife covered the statue’s Star of David necklace with a Palestine sticker. Just when you thought woke anti-Semites couldn’t get any more repellent, they go and defile the likeness of one of modern Britain’s greatest cultural icons. And for one simple, chilling and sickening reason – because she was a Jew.

There have been many gross acts of Jew hate in the UK since the Hamas pogrom of 7 October. Posters of kidnapped Israeli kids have been daubed with Hitler moustaches. The word ‘Gaza’ was spraypainted outside a Holocaust library. Jews have suffered a tsunami of ‘hate incidents’. But there’s something about the posthumous racial harassment of Amy that feels especially egregious. It’s the fanaticism of it. For me, it’s the realisation that there are people in London so in thrall to Jew hate that they can’t even walk by a statue of a singer who died 13 years ago without furiously eradicating its Jewish symbols.

The violation of Amy was an act of brazen racial bigotry. It has eerie echoes of a darker past when Jewish institutions and symbols – synagogues, Jewish-owned shops, Jewish gravestones – were frequently set upon by mobs of the hateful. Yes, it’s good that the weapon in this case was a mere peelable sticker, easily removed, rather than stones or fire. But the fact that the thing is happening again, the fact we’re witnessing a return of seething intolerance for outward expressions of Jewishness, should leave us truly cold.

The shaming of Amy the Jew confirms that the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is now so thin as to be virtually imperceptible. The git who put up that sticker no doubt thought he was being pro-Palestinian when in truth he was being anti-Jew. The racist probably thinks he is anti-racist. For all the defensive bleating of the activist class about their ‘anti-Zionism’ being a zillion miles from anti-Semitism, it is everyday Jews who are getting it in the neck on the back of the Israelophobic hysteria these people have whipped up since 7 October.

Indeed, long before the late Ms Winehouse had her Star of David hidden, many British Jews had taken to hiding their Jewishness. The Campaign Against Antisemitism found that 69 per cent of Britain’s Jews say they are less likely to show ‘visible signs of their Judaism’ right now. Kids at the Jewish Free School in London were given permission – for ‘security reasons’ – to remove their school blazer and tie when travelling to and from school. Some Jewish uni students have stopped wearing their kippahs after getting flak from campus leftists. Tell me – if anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism have nothing in common, why are their consequences so unnervingly similar?

That even Amy Winehouse can find herself swept up in the demented moment confirms all Jews are fair game under the regime of so-called anti-Zionism. She was not a devoted Zionist. She wasn’t even especially religious. She once said that, for her, Jewishness was about family, not ‘lighting candles and saying a bracha’. She was a classic secular London Jewess. And yet, she was still a Jew. She still insisted on wearing that Star of David. And so, in the eyes of the identitarian mob for whom Israel is a uniquely wicked state and the Jews a uniquely privileged people, she is suspect. She is problematic. She is a legitimate target, even in death.

The Israel-obsessed left is desperately trying to distance itself from the desecration of the Winehouse statue. ‘Now that is anti-Semitism’, they’re saying. I bet you they wouldn’t be saying this if it had been a statue of a full-on Zionist celeb that had been defiled. For one of the most sinister accomplishments of the Israel-obsessed left has been to divide Britain’s Jewry into good Jews and bad Jews, worthy Jews and unworthy Jews. The good ones are those who publicly renounce Zionism. Who agree to march with the woke to signal their animus for the Jewish State. The bad ones are those who support Israel. Who call themselves the Z-word. They’re branded bigots, racists, ‘supporters of genocide’. When thousands of these bad Jews marched against anti-Semitism in London in November, they were accused of marching ‘for genocide’.

This vile racist sorting of Jews into hierarchies of acceptability is the thing that underpins much of today’s surging anti-Semitism. For all the anti-Israel left’s washing of their hands of the scourge of Jew-hatred, it is their own accordance of moral value to Jews depending on whether they embrace or reject Zionism that arouses suspicion of Jews in general. After all, how are we meant to tell if the Jew we’re face to face with is a good one or bad one? One who has passed or failed the new racial purity test as set by the Israel-obsessed leftish elites? In such a febrile climate of Jew suspicion, it is not surprising that some choose to be wary of them all. Better safe than sorry, no?

It seems utterly unsurprising to me that in a climate in which wariness of certain Jews – the Z ones – is actively encouraged by the activist class, a statue of a Jewess would be assaulted. I mean, a Star of David round her neck? Isn’t that a little Zio? A little too Jew Pride? Under the unforgiving system of identity politics, the good Jew is the Jew that damns Israel and confesses to his own ‘privilege’, and yet here is a likeness of a Jewish lady flagging her Jewish identity? Gross. Attack it. It is a short step indeed from dividing the Jewish people into categories of saint and sinner to viewing all of them as a little sinful.

The truth is that the new anti-Semitism is informed and shaped by entirely mainstream beliefs, most notably the politics of identity. Polls have found that the young in particular have a tendency to view Jews as an ‘oppressor’ class. This foul idea springs directly from the woke conviction that society is made up of ‘oppressors’ and ‘oppressed’, and that where the latter deserve our pity, the former, which prominently includes you know who, deserve only our disdain.

Here’s the truth: when Amy Winehouse’s Russian and Polish Jewish ancestors came to Britain in the 19th century, they would have been viewed as insufficiently white. Yet if Amy Winehouse was still alive today, she would be viewed as too white. From our inferiors to our arrogant superiors, from Untermenschen to hyper-privileged – the reasoning behind racial animus for the Jews may have changed over time, but the consequences of such supremacist suspicion of an entire people remain as dire as ever.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: X.

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Topics Culture UK


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