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Jews Don't Count

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Jews Don’t Count is a book for people on the right side of history. People fighting the good fight against homophobia, disablism, transphobia and, particularly, racism. People, possibly, like you.

It is the comedian and writer David Baddiel’s contention that one type of racism has been left out of this fight. In his unique combination of reasoning, polemic, personal experience and jokes, Baddiel argues that those who think of themselves as on the right side of history have often ignored the history of anti-Semitism. He outlines why and how, in a time of intensely heightened awareness of minorities, Jews don’t count as a real minority.

144 pages, Hardcover

First published April 20, 2021

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About the author

David Baddiel

80 books298 followers
David Lionel Baddiel is an English comedian, novelist and television presenter. Baddiel was born in New York, and moved to England when he was four months old. He grew up in grew up in Dollis Hill, Willesden, North London.

After studying at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree, he read English at King's College, Cambridge and graduated with a double first. He began studies for a PhD in English at University College London, but did not complete it.

Baddiel became a cabaret stand-up comedian after leaving university and also wrote sketches and jokes for various radio series. His first television appearance came in a bit-part on one episode of the showbiz satire, Filthy, Rich and Catflap. In 1988, he was introduced to Rob Newman, a comic impressionist, and the two became a writing partnership. They were subsequently paired up with the partnership of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis for a new topical comedy show for BBC Radio 1 called The Mary Whitehouse Experience, and its success led to a transfer to television, shooting Baddiel to fame.

He has written four novels: Time for Bed, Whatever Love Means, The Secret Purposes and The Death of Eli Gold.

Baddiel has two children, both born in Westminster, London, with his girlfriend, Morwenna Banks.

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Profile Image for Petra left her heart in Miami.
2,405 reviews34k followers
Shelved as '1-tbr-owned-but-not-yet-read'
April 3, 2022
A couple of years ago I had a few dates with an international litigation lawyer who is Black and was head of the Miami Bar Association. He sent me a little video of him hosting a reception. Almost everyone went to shake hands with his deputy, a white man, first. He said not only did he face the usual racism, but also as an Orthodox Jew got a lot of flak from Blacks about being Jewish. Louis Farrakhan and Obama's beloved pastor Jeremiah Wright, have a lot of influence. And there were many whites who simply couldn't believe a Black man could be Jewish.

Jews don't count indeed. Anti-Semitism is in so many little pinpricks which Jews acknowledge, but are used to and they don't hurt. And as we all know, there is no good conspiracy theory about anything at all that doesn't include some evil Jews.

A couple of examples of gratuitous anti-Semitism that were written in a book Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me that was widely castigated for its 'othering' of children by physical descriptions by race, fat-shaming, other physical details, and it's sheer nastiness to children who were neurologically different. These were pointed out by reviews (later edited to include the anti-Semitism, but at that point I was the only person to mention them) and when the furore became public, there were authors and bloggers who took the author to task, but did not mention the anti-Semitism. It either went unnoticed by them, they didn't care or they thought that way themselves.

The two examples were, a boy was described as having the name Marks (a traditional English name, quite ancient, as well as a Jewish one) and having a 'fine Ashkenazi nose' who said he wasn't Jewish. The author couldn't imagine why he was denying his heritage. Maybe because he wasn't Jewish? Are Jews the only people to have big noses? What about Jews with ordinary noses as most Jews, are they not "really" Jews? It's a very eugenics-based, Nazi-propaganda to characterise all Jews as having big noses and anyone who denies that heritage must be lying. Ridiculous.

The other insult was a lot more subtle, which makes it worse when you think about it, because it was likely that few people other than British Jews were likely to pick it up. ie. it felt directed. It was calling a bunch of chatty, curly-haired Jewish girls, 'Becks'. A Becks, a Becky is a materialistically-obsessed Jewish girl with the money to buy the brands, it is a slur. In much the same way as Blacks can use the N word and the rest of us can't, you are skating on thin ice calling a girl that. It has a different meaning to Jews, and non-Jews. In any case, where would an author who taught in schools in deprived areas have met them? Why was this included in the book.? Why were these examples not picked up by the overwhelming majority of the critics of this book, Black, White, Indian, almost all of them and everyone else?

It has become the norm to assume that Jews are all Ashkenazi and white-skinned (there are those who think Jews are not politically White). But there are many, many Jews who are for instance, Malaysian (in my family), Indian (my father was engaged to an Indian Jew before he met my mother!), many African Jews whose practices descend from biblical rather than modern times and well over a million Ethiopian Jews. Being Jewish is not a race, to think so is anti-Semitic. It's a religion. Anyone can become Jewish.

There are religions where you have to be born into it, there is no way of converting, the Parsees for instance. But Judaism is not one of them, it isn't an exclusive religion. It is easy to become Reform or Liberal, but to become Orthodox is difficult. This is because Judaism is not a missionary religion. All monotheistic religions are equal. A Rabbi will say if you want to convert and are Christian for instance, why? Your religion, your path, is the equal to being Jewish.

If you want to get all biblical, there is the story of Naomi, her mother-in-law Ruth, and the farmer Boaz. Naomi was from Moab, Jordan, not Jewish, her husband dead she said to Naomi, the famous "whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God". Once a year, the Story of Ruth is read in the synagogue. Ruth the convert, was - is - held in very high esteem.

Jews have 613 commandments to keep, non-Jews only the 7 Noahide ones. (Noah was not Jewish).
Not to worship idols.
Not to curse God.
Not to commit murder.
Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality.
Not to steal.
Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal.
To establish courts of justice.

It is hard for people from religions that say you have to be of that religion to be 'saved' or have 'eternal life' or go to 'heaven' that there is a religion that doesn't require you to be any of these things, but it is so.

Until the Middle Ages, there was no 'heaven' for Jews, that was cross-fertilization from Christianity. After death there was only Sheol, a place of darkness and silence under the earth where all, righteous and evil go, ie. the grave. But Jews, for whom diversity of opinion and arguing are hobbies rather than sources of dissension and rancour, and for whom there is no ultimate authority there are many who believe all sorts of things about an afterlife. So be it, none of us know :-D

I had an Orthodox Jewish upbringing, so I can write the above, but on reading Sartre's The Age of Reason at 16, gave it all up for reality - existentialism. But Jews are Jews forever even when we marry out and don't believe or practice anything - our roots are of the twelve tribes, so we always say we are one of the Tribe if not the religion.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,917 reviews35.3k followers
May 3, 2021
“Jews Don’t Count”, by David Baddiel, is a short book at only 131 pages, but also a powerful look at anti-semitism — Jews left out, identity politics,
“anyone who doesn’t know, is a politics whereby traditional things that the left and the right fight for about- basically economics - get surpassed by issues like racism and disablism and homophobia.

“Jews are the only objects of racism who are imagined - by racists - as both low and high status. Jews are stereotyped, by the racists, in all the same ways that other minorities are - as lying, thieving, dirty, vile, stinking - but also as moneyed, privileged, powerful and secretly in control of the world. Jews are somehow both sub-human and humanity’s secret masters”.

I agree with the publisher ....
“This is a book for people who consider themselves on the right side of history”.....
A book for Jews and non-Jews.....
.....a short look at Jewish identity, and a look at how racism against Jews continues to be tolerated....(look at the rise of anti-Semitism in recent years)....
David Baddiel focuses on progressive thinkers —social media - Twitter - and those who often think they are ‘not’ racists — but continue to over-look anti-Semitism.
He makes a very convincing argument....
As a Jew myself, it all makes me a little sad.

Profile Image for Chels Patterson.
552 reviews12 followers
February 9, 2021
God! It’s good.

My reading goal in general is to expand my reading to more feminist, queer, marginalized, intersectional fiction and non fiction. This book really hits almost all.

Jews Don’t Count is not just about Jews, not just about Baddiel experience, it is, but the greater idea is what racism does. What identity politics and racism does to society and politics. How by dividing us, evil, (what ever that is) wins. And would work well to inform, examine, bring into question reading about anti-racism. And the quest for a better world free from racism, sexism, and prejudice.

Much of what is state by Baddiel is compared to other forms of racism and Prejudice. For example there are sections focusing on anti black chants of “all lives matter”, casting of white voice actors as Asian animated characters, trans issues, etc. An issue that was raised was racism Hierarchy. Basically the concept of we know a drawing of a Jew with a big noses is wrong, but is it as wrong as a drawing of x,y,&z in the scheme of things. Or that Jews can hide, unlike visible minorities.

The idea of Jews being both lowest of the low, and the people that control everything is explored in very interesting ways. As well as the issue of Right and Left in politics and what it means to identify as Jewish.

What was interesting to me, was the idea of whiteness. Are Jews protected by whiteness. Baddiel even goes into the stories and attempts to change Jesus in to an Arab, Egyptian returning Jesus to his original route before he was baptized white. Instead of him just being Jewish and therefore not white.

Baddiel, does get into Israel. And explains well the difference between an ethnicity and a citizenship but that is a short part of the book. And is interesting in what Baddiel considers “his Jews”.

The author also bring up with humour the question of why people get upset when Jews bring up hitler when explaining the racism or prejudice against Jews.

It’s an easy book to read, it has just enough depreciating humour comedic levity but is still serious and powerful when it needs to be. The book is short, and has plenty of literary, historical, political, and contemporary examples that anyone can read without knowing too much about a given subject. Baddiel being English, the book has a UK based examples like Dalh, Corbin, and football, but you won’t be lost reading about it.

It is a book however, that a whole course could be built upon.

133 reviews
March 10, 2021
David Baddiel would like for this book to stimulate the conversation about antisemitism, something which is sorely needed. Despite being a prominent topic in the news, the nature, components and causes of antisemitism have been far too neglected in national media. Antisemitism manifests in all sorts of pernicious ways and often goes unnoticed or excused by people who do not consider themselves racist. If Jews Don't Count can help create an environment where these discussions are more widely held, it will have achieved a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately, I don't find that the book is a particularly useful contribution to this conversation, despite occasionally engaging passsages. It is far too vague at defining any of its terms; it often makes alarming generalisations and conflations; it misrepresents a good number of people and events, putting words in people's mouths (worse, reading thoughts in their minds); it attacks strawmen; it does not engage with literature on antisemitism and antiracism, preferring Twitter; worst of all, its analysis of "progressive" antisemitism extends only to the "socialism of fools" explanation, but only half grasps it and fails to consider further theories.

If David Baddiel had thought more carefully about the subject, this would be a very different book. Not only because it would have allowed for a more persuasive argument that progressives need to do more to identify and fight antisemitism, but also because he would have avoided a number of dodgy remarks. It feels utterly unneccessary and quite unpleasant for him to name certain people who are undeserving targets - and even appear to shame some of them, especially Jewish people. This he does in a section on a "deeply self-loathing" Jew; later, he feels the need to name a particular public figure who he saw naked and noticed was circumcised as he wonders why some are "very, very keen to disavow" their Jewish heritage.

More introspection and research may also have led him to reflect on aspects of (anti-)racism he clearly hasn't grasped, such as colourism and intersectionality, and might have caused him to understand exactly what it was about him being in blackface that people found problematic instead of giving an inadequate apology. He may have been able to use a different framework than the reactionary one he often adopts, often with the same language and arguments that are used to attack anti-racism (he at least has the good sense to attempt to disown "cancelling" and "woke" even though he still uses them).

Instead, it is a work that feels like a voice memo someone transcribed from his phone: a stream of thoughts - certainly some interesting ones - but none of the clarity or depth that should go into a published book which wants to make a helpful contribution to how we think of antisemitism. What he wrote may be a starting point for him to understand and talk about the terribly pernicious presence of a vile bigotry even in those who may otherwise have a good understanding of racism. But it certainly isn't as clear, developed or anti-racist as a published work on the subject ought to be.

To his credit, Baddiel has agreed to change parts which substantially misrepresent Ash Sarkar's views - I only hope he is prompted to re-evaluate the rest of the book in the same way.

PS: Should anyone find this review and wish to explore better publications on the subject, I would recommend the following as starting points
- Brian Klug - his article for Vashti is good for understanding antisemitism in the Labour party: https://vashtimedia.com/2020/08/17/ho...
- April Rosenblum's short pamphlet The Past Didn't Go Anywhere: https://www.aprilrosenblum.com/thepast
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68k followers
March 14, 2022

Fortunately the days of Swastikas on storefronts and Jew-baiting at cocktail parties are mostly past. Or at least only a few obviously mad people would defend the doers. But that doesn’t mean that Jews have been liberated from a sort of anti-Semitic Jim Crow intended to keep them in their place. This is what David Baddiel’s (according to him, the best known person in Britain for being Jewish) book is about - the spruced-up, toned-down, but unmissable hatred of Jews. Once you become aware of it, you can’t miss it.

The new anti-Semite is a kinder and gentler racist than his forbears. He knows that berating the Jew, much less kicking him, is generally counterproductive to the cause, which, of course, is to create a feeling of superiority. Catcalls of ‘Christ killer’ or overt hostility might provoke a public reaction that looks bad and feels bad. So the anti-Semite has developed a new strategy: ignore the Jew. Just don’t acknowledge him at all. Act as if anti-Semitic racism just doesn’t exist, and really never has.

This new approach has real functional merit. Jews get the message, so the anti-Semite gets his buzz. And unlike traditional methods, there’s nothing overt to criticise. Obviously any complaints, for example by a Jew like Baddiel, are a consequence of over-sensitivity (and of course Jewish paranoia). The proof lies only in the negative differences in the attention paid to others not in positive action. These differences are what Baddiel slowly and softly reveals, the undercurrent of hatred of which only the victim is aware.

It’s a kind of horse-whispering really. Like the modern cowboy, the modern anti-Semite knows that Jews are intelligent, social creatures. Getting such animals to conform requires subtlety and lightness of touch. Body language not harangues establish dominance. Slight but decisive nudges are then all that is necessary to remind the animal of whose in charge. Once a horse is under saddle it has essentially lost its identity as a horse and, and accepts and is accepted in its servile position among human beings.

The successful Jew-whisperer is then able to minimise the importance of the growing number of overt acts - the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, the harassment of Jewish neighbourhoods, and indeed the killing of Jews in their synagogues. The anti-Semite can claim these are isolated incidents that involve religion not race (this inverting the causality used by the Catholic Church to distance itself from its anti-Semitic pedigree).

Baddiel provides dozens of factual examples to make his point. These are necessarily anecdotal. One in particular I find irresistible. I think it appropriate to end my remarks with it:
“… in July 2020, following the general questioning around race and ethnicity provoked by BLM, the Archbishop of York, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell said, in the Sunday Times, ‘Jesus was a black man’.

If you don’t think that comment profoundly offensive, you’ve made Baddiel’s point for him. Jew-whisperers are everywhere.

Postscript 10/02/22: A community forced to patrol the streets to keep people safe: https://digitaleditions.telegraph.co....

Postscript 14/03/22: https://apple.news/A6YMy26xOQSamR2gjF...
Profile Image for Neil.
12 reviews7 followers
February 2, 2021
A challenging, powerfully argued polemic against the way antisemitism is often dismissed or minimised by those claiming to be progressive and anti-racist. It wasn’t a comfortable read but one which, I hope, will be impossible to ignore.
Profile Image for Will Bowers.
26 reviews3 followers
April 9, 2021
Overall, this book is an incredibly mixed bag that makes some excellent points sometimes, and veers quite firmly into 'yikes' territory at others. This book could have a much tidier and coherent point if it brought up intersectionality.

Instead of intersectionality, the media concept of "Schroedinger's White" is discussed (that is that Jews are both white and not white; it depends on the observer and their agenda), which reduces the rich discussion surrounding identity that has been happening for decades.

Discussing from a perspective of intersectionality makes Schroedinger's White make more sense; for many Jewish people, they pass as white so can collectively benefit from political whiteness. However, ethnoreligiously, they are Jewish, and this makes them a target of hate crimes, and as a minority group should be included in the BAME umbrella.

I want to make it very clear that overall, this is a book worth reading. I do agree that people with more left-leaning political views tend to conflate Jewish people and the state of Israel. I certainly agree that antisemitism is taken less seriously than other structural prejudices, which is something we all need to be vigilant of.

Antisemitism needs collective action to stamp it out, which means questioning it whenever we see it happening, and not brush it off. Voices like David Baddiel are important, as awareness to others' lived experiences can help shape views and policy in future.

Another gripe is Baddiel's fairly patronising discussion of "progressives' sacred items" that they will defend with the slightest provocation. Sure, many people find the 'correct' talking points so they can feel like they're on the 'good' team. But for those who aim to learn about the rich history and complexity of various struggles, the 'sacred items' point is undermined.

Baddiel's anger and frustration are righteous and justified, but care must be taken at how the anger is directed. Near the end, he discusses how JK Rowling was 'attacked' on Twitter as if it came out of nowhere. People are fighting back against JK Rowling, who has money and influence which she is using to paint trans people as 'confused' or 'predators', and has the support of institutions. Don't make her seem like the victim.

In summary, excellent points are made, and Baddiel's exasperation is clear. However, fighting for recognition does not mean the struggles of others need be diminished.
Profile Image for Sleepless Dreamer.
847 reviews211 followers
May 21, 2021
Articulate with just enough humor, David Baddiel argues that antisemitism does not receive the same acknowledgement and awareness of other forms of racism. It is not taken seriously by progressives who claim to care about making the world a better place.

I appreciated much of this book (or more like essay). Baddiel does a great job of describing the way antisemitism has two levels: Jews are simultaneously perceived as all-powerful but also as weak. This dual perception leads to progressives abandoning Jews, as they (mostly) unintentionally fall into the idea of Jews as powerful, as strong capitalists, as part of the oppressors, rather than the oppressed.

Baddiel also frames the way antisemitism is not just the blatant "Jews are evil" forms of alt-right antisemitism (or the "let's throw an elderly Jewish woman off a balcony while calling her satan and not punish the murderer, what the heck, France). There's also the more subtle and subversive forms, the exclusion of Jews as an ethnic minority, the view that there's a hierarchy of important anti-racism causes and that antisemitism is low on that list. There is more leniency towards it within cancel culture.

Through this framework, Baddiel analyzes several cases from the media and recent events. From the erasure of Jesus as a Jew to the way non-Jews mimic Jews in media, he shows that the the exclusion of Jews is prevalent. We are not used to thinking of Jews as a minority deserving of the same defense as other minorities. When Jews do speak up, their experiences are often ignored, especially as so many non-Jews feel they are capable to inform Jews what antisemitism is (and isn't).

Despite being Jewish, reading this book made me realize that I also don't see antisemitism as a big deal. My kneejerk response is to go "nah, Jews are fine, antisemitism isn't really a thing", even though I know it very much is. For example, the idea of Jews deserving any kind of affirmative action strikes me as so weird, despite the fact that Jews have been historically wronged by such systems like the Jewish and Black quotas of American universities. As an Israeli Jew, I often feel I lack an understanding of how antisemitism works in daily life (man, I'm probably the first Jew among all my ancestors who's able to say this).

I hope this book doesn't get an echo chamber of readers as I suspect it will. I'd like this book to become part of the canon of "woke" books but it's likely that it'll just be something Jews read, unfortunately.

Of the 117 pages of this book, there was one page that I vehemently disagreed with. I recognize that this isn't the important part of this book but I intend to complain about it now extensively. Cause hey, as a Jew, it's my responsibility to bring up my opinions, nitpicking is like 85% of the Talmud.

Baddiel rightfully points out that it is wrong to presume Jews must have opinions about the Israeli government. It is antisemitic to expect Jews to stand up for Palestinians more than you'd expect others to do so. However, while making this point, Baddiel does something that is increasingly common among the progressives: he denies the Judaism of Israelis, or at least, of Israeli culture.

The thing is, Jewish Israelis are Jews. No less Jewish than other Jews. We aren't diasporic, we aren't into Seinfeld, we don't care about bagels, we don't frame our Judaism as merely tikkun olam but we're just as Jewish and it's frustrating to see how easily Israelis get their Judaism stripped away. We carry the same Jewish history as Diaspora Jews. We share the same trauma, even when it is not convenient to acknowledge.

As such, we are connected to Jews across the world. We are part of the same Am. So yes, even if we put aside Israel being the nation-state of Jews, Baddiel does have something to do with a Middle Eastern country so far away. Not on the governmental level but as a people. Just as Baddiel recognizes his connection to American Jews, Polish Jews, Argentinian Jews, etc. Shouldn't he care about the welfare of Israeli Jews in the same way he cares about the welfare of American Jews?

Frankly, I think this ties in to how It's comfortable to perceive Jews as weak and witty intellectuals. It's less comfortable to see Jews as buff innovative jerks but even such Jews can experience antisemitism, as we've seen in the last two weeks. The heated conversation about the definition of antisemitism pinpoints precisely this. There are attempts to deny Judaism from Israel, to suggest that calling out antisemitism is "policing the experiences of Palestinians", that being antisemitic towards Israelis is fine.

This ties down to a bigger problem in the book- the exclusion of Jewish diversity. Israel doesn't feel Jewish because Israel is more Mizrahi while both British and American Judaism have significantly more Ashkenazim. Not to be an American Jewish progressive but this book is very centered around the experience of Baddiel, as a British Jew. This is perfectly fine as obviously he writes from his own perspective and experiences. However, a sentence or two on how limited this perspective is would have been good. It is important to realize that Judaism is vast. Issues like the Holocaust do not reflect the lived experiences of all Jews.

This could have been an opportunity for Baddiel to discuss the way Jews perceive race (or, in other words, every time someone says the phrase "Jews of Color" or "white Jews", a rabbi cries). The way Jews fit into the racial discourse is becoming an increasingly important topic, especially as Anglo Jews discuss the racial biases within the Jewish community. How do we, as Jews, both recognize and mark our own perceptions of race while also acknowledge the lived experiences of members of our community?

Splitting Jews by their skin color is something that Ashkenazim in the US do often but Israeli Jews simply don't (here's 12 minutes of Israeli Jews being confused about race). It would have been good to see Baddiel weigh more on how Jews exactly fit into the conversation, rather than simply going, "the Nazis saw us as an ethnic group so we're an ethnic group". We can't ignore that POC experience racism but we also can't ignore that Judaism has never been about skin color. How does Judaism fit into these modern day concepts?

To conclude, this is a good book. If you don't know anything about antisemitism, I think this is a really fantastic introduction. It's lighthearted and easy to read but still makes several excellent points.

What I'm Taking With Me:
- Not to be overly pedantic but in this essay, Baddiel claims that he doesn't support "religion being the basis for statehood", and yet, throughout the book he repeatedly claims that Jews are an ethnic minority, that antisemitism is racism and not religious intolerance. So which one is it, David?
- Let's be honest though, I do so many cliché Jewish mannerisms, the problem with Zoom is that no one sees how much I talk with my hands.
- I wish I could also make arguments by using tweets, like who needs academic articles?
- I appreciated how he pointed out that Jews are basically seen as the villian of their generation which is why it changes. For white supremacist, Jews are the inferior race, sneakily controlling things. For the left, we're the rich white ruling class, the establishment. Israeli Jews become colonizers and oppressors, imperialists from Europe because that is the worst thing to be.
- Also, the way Jews are usually seen as hidden. The "scary" thing about Jews is precisely that they can hide in plain sight, that there's no way to spot them "controlling the world".

I've spent much of the last week pissed off at the Israeli government so reading this book now wasn't the best idea as I don't need a reminder that antisemitism is very real, in addition to the sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, religious intolerance and general prejudice that's gaining power in my country.

I'd say this book is more like 4.5 stars but I'll round up because it's an important topic. Review to come!
8 reviews
February 12, 2021
If you don’t think this book is for you then this book is for you. Read it.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,713 reviews638 followers
September 27, 2022
This book is part of a larger journey I set for myself more than half a decade ago. It had become clear that I hadn’t re-evaluated my perspective on the many facets of racism…and that this was a handicap in understanding what was currently taking place. One of the earliest reads along this path was Waking Up White by Debby Irving
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Another was How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Author Baddiel puts forth a real challenge in questioning why racist acts against Jewish people should be treated differently than other racist acts. He pulls together a very comprehensive list of ways in which that is happening from rationalizations about the current frequency of antisemitic acts to the dismissal of the genocide experienced in Europe in the 20th century. He observes: “Indeed, from some progressive quarters I perceive in recent times not just that antisemitism doesn’t matter very much, but that, as a concern, it’s been tainted; that it’s become, as it were, their—the other side’s—racism, the one they care about …”

Baddiel throws enough at the reader that it is a challenge to consume it all, but his strength is specific examples and statistics. In succession he tackles:
The trope that Jews are too well-off to be concerned with any racism directed toward them;
The trope that Jews are white so there can’t be anything related to racism;
The argument that Jews are not a “race” so there can’t be any racism;
The argument that other racisms are more important; and,
It has already been recognized and that there is nothing new.

"But for those who do, still, think yeah, yeah, enough already, I said earlier that being white was not just about skin color, but about security. That’s what white privilege represents. White really means: safe. How safe do Jews feel right now?"

If you are up to reading about 100 pages of his thoughts, I believe that it would be hard to come away dismissing it all. I couldn’t. Thus for shear thought-provocation, I give it a very high rating.

Profile Image for Trish.
1,874 reviews3,381 followers
March 9, 2022
Holy Schlemihl!

Full disclosure right at the start: this is an essay penned by a Jewish author about modern-day anti-semitism and how Jews are usually not considered in any discussion about any form of discrimination.
People are cancelled for homophobic comments or racist views, but if the same people said something anti-semitic before, nobody cared. And yes, there is proof. A LOT. Some of these examples - not just the number, but how hard-hitting they were - was staggering. It hurt to read. And I'm not Jewish.

One would think that people had learned their lesson from history. But maybe denying and/or forgetting the fact that the Allied Forces had an ample amount of anti-semitism in their countries, too, and didn't join forces to defeat Hitler and the Nazis to save the Jews is part of that problem.

Personally, I can see anti-semitism being on the rise everywhere. However, how much it has been present ALL THE FUCKING TIME is heartbreaking (and, to some extend, surprising even). Thus, I consider this essay absolutely essential in the conversation about any form of discimination.

So much prejudice still exists or has been slightly transformed into a more modern take and all of it is not only indefensible but also idiotic. Not every Jew is rich for example. They are simultaneously regarded as sub-human and secret masters which makes it OK to hate them, apparently. We're also talking about nonsense like them drinking blood (yes! today!) and pulling the strings everywhere in the world.

So many people claim they stand against any forms of phobias and -isms and yet Jews are always left out on the lists of people that need protecting or are even outright attacked by those same people who claim to be against any form of discrimination. We see (hear) this in speeches made by politicians as well as actors accepting awards; we see it in Tweets (that one by John Cusack was horrible); we see it in what every-day people call "blind spots"; we see it in physical attacks on boys wearing the kippa on the streets; we see it in every form of literature (that example of Alice Walker was making me sick); we see it in other forms of art such as music or movies or theater plays; we see it in sports.

Some say that because Jews are white, they are privileged and aren't allowed to complain. Many have apparently internalized that and don't admit to being Jewish. Just think about that. How deep the fear of attack (and not an unfounded fear by far) must be for that to happen. In today's society. And then these same suffering people are told they don't get to complain - justified with prejudice bullshit.

On top of all that, there is a hierarchy of verbal offense that the author nicely illustrated as well (the n-word vs the p-word vs the c-word vs slurs targeting Jews).

I could go on and on and on. The gist of it is this: this is a highly erudite look at Jews really being left out of any necessary conversation about discrimination, phobias and -isms. I have actually googled a few examples - not to check if he was making this up (I had no reason to doubt him) but because I wanted to see how much worse it really is (the essay, of course, only scratches the surface) and boy, it was even worse than I had feared.

We need to talk about this. We need to change this. Equality is not like cake: just because you give one group more equality doesn't mean you have to take that same amount away from another group. There is no finite amount of equality so we need to include all or none.

My hope for the future is that we will talk about this more, make more people aware, and stop this horrific practice once and for all.

P.S.: Apart from the point he poignantly made with this essay, I must say that I like the author a lot. I haven't yet read any of his other books, but I like his outlook on life and society. I especially valued his input about cancel culture and how impact is now more important than intent (how things are taken is more important than how they were meant, the talked-about people are more considered than the talker) and his musings on this development.
Profile Image for Morgan .
793 reviews131 followers
December 14, 2021
The title of this book is nothing if not provocative! The title made me angry and I wanted to read it in the expectation that I was sure to give it a 1-star and write a scathing review about the book and the author.

How wrong can I be???

This is a small book with a BIG message. It is a book that offers the reader ‘food for thought’. It
made me think about ideas I had not considered before. Ideas that are valid and worthy of contemplation.

The author is English and writes from a British point of view but the idea of ‘identity politics’ is the same wherever you happen to be.

I’m so glad the book title annoyed me enough to pick up the book because it made me stop and THINK!
Profile Image for Stacey B.
287 reviews65 followers
June 16, 2021
Jews Count
At 131 pages, this book looks at the politics of antisemitism in the category of "progressive movement". It speaks to what defines it, and what is excluded and included .
The author uses some humor thank goodness, as he shows examples of what "identity" racism is-
showing how this type of antisemitism plays a major role.
Quite a timely book, no?
Most who read this book can relate to an example or two given which triggers the famous phrase, the " ah-ha moment". Recognize the seriousness here and note what's missing.. which is why this book was written in this particular style.
There is a review below dated 2-15-21 in which the book was given two stars-
I do understand his line of thinking, but not for me to judge.
In being fair- that review as it pertains to antisemitism as whole, stands on it's own.
Profile Image for Sam Hailes.
10 reviews14 followers
July 27, 2021
Anti Semitism is a significant and growing problem in our world today. Tragically, those who share my faith - or claim to - have been some of the worst perpetrators. And Baddiel’s charge that anti semitism has flourished in “Christian culture” should give us all pause. His book identifies many recent examples of high profile people - usually on Twitter - getting it terribly wrong on anti semitism. I’m pleased this book exists. I think it will do a lot of good.

So why the two stars?

Mainly that upon identifying the problem (those on the Left who have adopted an identity politics mindset may care deeply about racism but have a blind spot on anti semitism - ie “Jews don’t count” when it comes to victims of prejudice) he suggests the solution is widening the scope of identity politics to include Jews. My view is different. What if it’s identity politics itself that’s the problem?
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,909 followers
March 9, 2022
A very sharp critique of modern wokeness right here.

Oh? What? You mean this is a Right-Wing diatribe and anyone caught reading it is an absolute anti-semite?

Lol, no. Let's break it down directly.

This is a criticism of all identity politics that include all manner of every minority, whether racial or identity, that seems to forget that one little group is always left out: Jews.

And David Baddiel writes a sharp, fact-based essay that demonstrates, without a doubt in my mind (also because I've been observing the growing shitstorm for years) that anti-semitism IS on the rise and Jews DO need protection. They are not a "protected" minority. The handful of rich does not unilaterally represent the entire population. And yet, the assumption is still as strong as hell that they're all Fagans and masters of the worldwide shadow cabal, that they are, as a whole, responsible for all bad things in our world, or that they suck the blood of infants or whatever other stupid bullshit keeps being said about them all the way from the middle ages, through the atrocities of the 20th century, or now.

Here's the thing: Jews ARE left out of almost every conversation about racism or identity politics, especially when it comes to the rising tide of violence and hate crimes being perpetrated against them. And this goes way beyond the Holocaust Deniers, although they are a massive symptom of the miasma, or BS about George Soros (strawman for Jewish hate just because he's rich), or the unspoken (and sometimes spoken) assumption that JEWS JUST DON'T COUNT AS PEOPLE.

Truly. This essay is worth reading. It should be an eye-opener. Just because some people are perceived as being better off, socially, doesn't protect them from hate crimes or assholes talking about Jewish Space Lasers. In fact, they are set aside as unworthy of help even more than ever. Being Jewish doesn't mean you're an Israelite, for example. And normal people from any country OUGHT to be treated decency and civility, as a human right. Unfortunately, this is not the case and it is getting worse.

I don't say this because I'm Jewish. As a matter of fact, I'm not. I don't say this because I subscribe to any particular creed at all, politically, ideologically, or whatnot. I just believe that injustice should not stand.

This is injustice and a turning of a blind eye to something that none of us with beating hearts should EVER allow to happen. We should never allow ANY subset of humanity to fall into a sub-human category. Period.

Let's not forget history. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This is f**king atrocious.
Profile Image for Dave McKee.
168 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2021
Racism is wrong, that much should be taken for granted. There is no form of racism that is worse than the other, right? I just assumed so.

David Baddiel, who has been a comedy hero of mine since I first watched The Mary Whitehouse Experience in 1990, challenges this assumption. In fact, he challenged a lot of my assumptions.

I am middle aged, male, middle class(ish) and white. The very epitome of white privilege. I don't consider myself a racist in anyway shape or form and don't get me wrong, reading this didn't make me feel like one, what it did was challenge my assumptions.

An example would be that a show I Iove, Friday Night Dinner. It is about a Jewish family. I assumed all the actors were Jewish, because they just 'looked Jewish' (only one of the four is actually Jewish). In future, I will be more measured and more careful before making conclusions.

Baddiel relates a story of sitting in a production meeting about a show needing some ethnic diversity and chosing not to point out that he is Jewish as the overwhelming response who have been "yeah, so". This left me (not for the last time in the book) feeling like I was having my eyes opened.

Another interesting point he makes is the connnection between being Jewish and religious, the two are not mutually exclusive, so why do we assume they are?

If this book wasn't written by one of my comedy heroes, then it would be very unlikely I would have read it. Which underlines just how important it is that he wrote it in the first place, as I am sure I am not the only one.

Witty, challenging, well argued and important.
Profile Image for Ed Venables.
14 reviews2 followers
April 12, 2021
Progressive hand-ringing about the exclusion of Jews from the identity politics power-grab hierarchy. Probably important to read if you believe in all that nonsense. But if you think, as I do, that antisemitism is more than just another form of racism, and rather a uniquely pernicious prejudice, one that persists, even flourishes, across the political spectrum, then there's not much to this, beyond some unsurprising examples of how astonishingly bigoted, ignorant, and unpleasant left-wing people can be.

However it was rather funny.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,693 reviews280 followers
February 19, 2021
This essay was very interesting and make you think and glad that Baddiel has written this book as he challenges the way racism in regard to Jews has been marginalised and ignored. think this book is a must read
Profile Image for Daniel Sevitt.
1,146 reviews95 followers
April 11, 2021
On the one hand, Baddiel and I have a lot in common. He's a few years older than me and a lot smarter, but we're both North West London Jewy Jews. We went to the same school and watched the same TV shows. On the other hand we have very little in common. Baddiel remains a lone, noisy Jew in a country that has never been truly hospitable to Jews of any volume, while I moved to Israel where my noisy Jewness barely even registers.

His outstanding polemic with a clearly defined hypothesis that #JewsDontCount covers some fine ground, but I wish he had made room to develop his ideas further. The nature of this brief piece is that he makes a point, supports it with a tweet and then we've blown through to the next point almost before we've had a chance to wrestle with what we've learned.

I hate to criticize a book for the things not in it, but this felt like a really good pub rant leaping from topic to topic trying to hit all the beats before the barman rings the bell. Other tiny cavils are that it's very British. Again, that's terribly unfair. Baddiel is British. His experience is of Britain and British antisemitism. I've just been out of the UK for long enough to see what a parochial and petty form of Jew hate the UK enjoys. It's all about microaggressions because being British is all about microaggressions. That's not me minimizing or excusing British antisemitism, I'm just pointing out how ordinary it is and how unsurprising I find it that most British people don't see it. I'm totally on board with the reality that for many people in Britain Jews don't count, I just made my peace with that over 25 years ago and chose to bring my kids up in a country where they do. I'd worked out that Jews didn't count back when David was writing the words to "Three Lions."

My final (and silliest) qualm is that this is very much Baddiel's book. He's a terribly sharp and smart fellow, but we spend just a bit too long re-litigating the Jason Lee story, even if his point about how it is used against him is valid, and way too long re-litigating some of his Twitter spats. There is so much good stuff here about Jews being Schrodinger's whites and the difference between clear antisemitism and how the notion of Jews not counting actually manifests, but I wish he had been able to expand the POV beyond his own framing.

It's an important book, and he is the right person to have written it, but I hope it heralds more academic, more comprehensive, more universal work on this subject in the future that leans less on tweets and more on data.
Profile Image for &#x1f336; peppersocks &#x1f9e6;.
1,181 reviews13 followers
December 26, 2022
Reflections and lessons learned:
So many elements covered in such a short book - identity politics, hierarchy of racism, inverse racism, levelling of hatred from left and right, and what aboutery. An excellent but depressing summary of the line between acknowledging difference whilst being respectful which has seemingly disappeared in indifferent politicking and social media in the last ten years - another nod to the absolute lines between readings of good and bad. Also useful distinction for the terminology for me.

Dec 22: Re-read - no impact lost
February 9, 2021
I strongly reccomend this book to anyone committed to being anti-racist.

A direct, clear and illuminating account of antisemitism as it is experienced by Jews. I have been paying attention for some time as I have a Jewish partner, but Baddiel's book challenged and engaged me. We all have more to learn, thank you David for teaching me!

Profile Image for Ralph Ferrett.
110 reviews12 followers
February 5, 2021
This is a superb polemic text; clearly written, brilliantly argued, with the wit you'd expect from an accomplished comedian and writer; but underpinned with a sense of righteous anger throughout.

The central thrust of the book, that Anti-Semitism is treated differently on the left, than other forms of racism is inarguable. He shows time and time again with examples of how this works; illustrated best with the section on Jewface and the different reaction to non Jewish actors playing caricatures of "Jewishness" compared to the reaction to white actors playing other BME roles.

This was without doubt for me an uncomfortable read. My self image, as a "Right on" soft left Trade Unionist, is very much as a progressive on "the right side of history". Frequently when reading this I was made to feel uncomfortable about things I'd thought or said, and why. Truth be told some of what Baddiel is describing here applied to me.

This has been a hot potato on the left over the last few years. I know from talking to people with whom I disagreed on Labour Anti-Semitism that many of those defending Corbyn, and Labour against even the possibility of Anti-Semitism just didn't, couldn't, understand where it was coming from; and that therefore it must be a bad faith accusation. To those people I'd implore you to read this book, and to do so with an open mind.

Even if you still continue to disagree; you might, I'd hope, end up with a better understanding of "why".

I mostly read nerdy genre fiction; this is a reminder to me of how much I enjoy well argued polemics; and that doom-scrolling on the internet, and web articles isn't actually a substitute for long form writing.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Profile Image for Amy Khan.
50 reviews
February 10, 2021
I've often felt highly uncomfortable with the acceptance of anti-semitism in society and couldn't work out why it sits okay with so many people. Baddiel does a great job of writing the societal issue with anti-semitism in a translatable and immensely readable book. I finished this in one setting, wore my throat out quoting long passages to my housemate and feel I have a much clearer understanding of anti-semitism now.
Profile Image for Monica.
149 reviews8 followers
April 14, 2021
+ Conversational/easy to read polemic
+ Eye-opening - if you don't already know that anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in European culture
+ Felt like a passionate/genuine/personal perspective - and therefore valuable
- Twitter-centric (and consequently deals in extremes. Baddiel himself admits that Twitter is 'not the real world', but most of the book takes place there)
- Stylistically dull - lots of so-and-so said this thing on Twitter and so-and-so replied
- Superficial (not as academic as I was expecting/doesn't question many basic assumptions)
Profile Image for Goatboy.
174 reviews62 followers
December 10, 2022
Voraciously read in one night. Really helped me better put into words the feelings and thoughts I've tried to express to my non-Jewish friends related to my at-most-times-low-level-yet-always-present worries about antisemitism and how so many in the world (sadly including many who should be natural allies) assume Jews are over inflating any danger they/we/I may feel. Perhaps some of this is getting better in the last few weeks as the blatant antisemitism of Ye and Trump and Fuentes has made the news. And yet I still think many people believe it would never happen again and certainly not here in America. Even a cursory reading of history shows how easily this becomes untrue in so many places and times.
Profile Image for Shelly.
85 reviews
February 9, 2021
Hard to describe...

This is a really good read. I say a good read because reading about racism isn’t enjoyable; however, it is necessary. David Baddiel has written a clear and concise analysis of how anti-semitism has clearly been accepted and ignored and yet, even though we know where that path leads, it is rife amongst many factions.

I used hard to describe as the title of this review because what he has written is good, it’s truthful and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t believe anti-semitism has been allowed to rise and who doesn’t believe that people with very public profiles have not fed and nurtured anti-semitism; without consequences.

I think also why I read this is because I just don’t get it: anti-semitism. I don’t understand those who accept it, deny it or as DB says “use whataboutary” to shift the focus away from it. I will conclude my review with this, I am not Jewish, I am an agnostic mixed race woman who was fearful watching the rise of anti-semitism because I think if we accept anti-semitism from anyone; we all begin our journey on the slippery slope. Read the book, open your eyes and let’s stop giving a platform to people who perpetuate hate.
Profile Image for Lewis Wood.
18 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2021
There are some large parts of this book that I didn’t agree with. A lot of the points about the hierarchy of minorities seem to be pitting different forms of activism and racism against each other, in a space where we should be working to help each other’s causes. I think it’s clearly written from a point of passion where it perhaps could have used a bit more research and evidence instilled within it.

But when I finished this book just now, I had to go upstairs and have a little cry. Baddiel manages to sum up the weird in between nature of the Jewish experience in a way I’ve not really read before. Being white but also not really, being a different race but also not really. It’s a lot of the things I’ve felt for my entire life and it felt incredibly important to read on the page, for perhaps the first time. Baddiel manages to pinpoint the experience of growing up feeling different to those around you but without ever really feeling like you can talk about it.

I would really implore anyone who considers themselves anti-racist to read this book, if not just to learn a little bit more about the Jewish experience
Profile Image for Claire.
488 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2021
A vital but flawed essay. Baddiel's hypothesis is that anti-semitism is seen as a "lesser" form of racism by many of those on the British left is indubitably true - as borne out by the events of the past few years. He's incredibly powerful when talking about the personal impact of anti-semitism on his life and the lives of British Jews. Where he's on much shakier ground is in his characterisation of white privilege, and I feel like his understanding of the concept comes almost exclusively from arguments on twitter and op-eds in the guardian - he appears to see privilege as a binary state. A more nuanced and intersectional approach, as well as a willingness to engage with the idea that structural inequality is a thing (for Jews as for other minorities) would have improved this no end. I do however think that that it's an important read and I hope that it triggers the re-evaluation of how Jewishness is viewed by those on the progressive left that Baddiel rightly calls for.
Profile Image for emma.
230 reviews22 followers
May 13, 2021
This book was incredibly informative. It exposed and revealed 250+ years of antisemitism that has managed to embed itself across the world ranging from Dickens to Dahl to the House of Lords to TV shows and to Jeremy Corbyn. Baddiel writes an emotive and necessary book that everyone should have on their bookshelves.
Profile Image for Plagued by Visions.
182 reviews437 followers
December 10, 2022
A light, unanchored book not written in the powerful, clear, and extensive language of antiracism and racial justice, but in a dodgy and incomplete form full of inaccuracies and fallacies.

With today’s antisemitism being this burgeoning, ugly mass that threatens to overtake, I was hoping for this book to be a guiding light, but it instead barely functions as a conversation starter, opting for a highly subjective view—a subjective view having the possibility of being extremely powerful in a work like this, of course. However, the subjectivity comes through more as half-guesses and ignorance than anything substantial and mobilizing.

My advice is to read How Jews Became White Folks by Karen Brodkin instead.
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