For the second time (the second time that I know of, that is), someone writing in the Independent thinks it is a matter of note that two members of the committee that will conduct the inquiry into the Iraq war are Jewish. On this occasion the person making the point is Oliver Miles:
One is bound to conclude that for Miles balance in this matter relates not only to the views of members of the committee about the Iraq war, and not only to whether or not they are historians (I mean, why on earth not equal representation for pianists and jugglers?) but also to the dispropotionate number of Jews. If not, why does he think this fact worth pointing out? That the Jewish Chronicle has no inhibitions about mentioning it is neither here nor there, since the Jewish Chronicle won't be purveying the innuendo that 40 per cent Jews is too many Jews. And that the Arabic media have no inhibitions doesn't help Miles for a different reason; because the Arab media may well have some such thought in mind. But Miles is unabashed. He's jolly well going to go right ahead and intimate that two Jews is too many Jews.
Rather less attention has been paid to the curious appointment of two historians (which seems a lot, out of a total of five), both strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war... Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism. Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media, but The Jewish Chronicle and the Israeli media have no such inhibitions, and the Arabic media both in London and in the region are usually not far behind... Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.
When those of us who worry about the growth of anti-Semitism in this country express our worry, there's never any shortage of sceptics. 'What, anti-Semitism? Are you sure? Where's the evidence? You're just trying to dodge some perfectly legitimate criticisms of Israel... [etc]' A national newspaper now thinks nothing of giving house room to the proposal that there has to be a 'balance' as regards Jews. And that's not the worst of it. The worst of it is how few people care within the body of opinion - liberal, progressive - that really ought to care, that flatters itself that it is anti-racist. The worst of it is that when Jews protest, making representations to media outlets over broadcast material they think objectionable, then they're charged with engaging in a darkly subterranean and well-funded form of media domination. This charge, too, supposedly has nothing to do with anti-Semitism (despite what it has in common with a very old and familiar anti-Semitic trope); it's merely an effort towards openness and transparency. Yet for Jews to press the issues that matter to them is somehow unacceptable. There has been a precipitate deterioration in public discourse in this area in the last few years. Only those who aren't interested will have missed it. (Via Harry's Place.)