Words by book editor, Angelika Skora
This book has been around for a few years now, and when it first hit the shelves, it wasn’t easy to miss. The black and white cover with massive lettering stating ‘Jews Don’t Count’, really catches your eye. Which I’m sure is exactly what the author was hoping for. I was immediately drawn in, I read the blurb, skimmed through some reviews, and headed for the tills with the book in hand. I was intrigued to say the least.
It is a short book, consisting of just over a hundred pages. A quick read, easy to do in one sitting, or a brief listen of the two-hour audiobook (narrated by the author himself). It is an informative book about why ‘Jews Don’t Count’- specifically in the world of identity politics, ‘progressiveness’, and within circles of people who consider themselves on the right side of history. Baddiel addresses the political blind spot that avoids, forgets, and completely erases antisemitism from conversations within leftist and progressive spaces. Giving examples ranging from everyday behaviours that we wouldn’t even take notice of, to the use of derogatory terms in football chants without anyone batting an eyelid or famous names being outwardly antisemitic without reaping any consequences.
It is a brilliantly written, easily digestible book. In which David Baddiel tackles Jewish stereotypes, such as the assumption that all Jews are privileged and well off, and how these presumptions contribute to the spread of antisemitism. He masterfully tackles issues, some you may be aware of, and others not, and he takes them apart and explains to the reader, and argues for, the reasons why we should be more switched on and fight for the recognition that the Jewish community deserves. He wants to reclaim the word ‘Jew’, from being seen as an insult or derogatory term, which only gained this negative undertone at the mouths of anti-Semites, and he wants it to be used to describe who he is. A Jew.
The book references Twitter frequently throughout its pages, which I found incredibly clever, as this is the platform where all debates of right and wrong happen in our modern society. And Baddiel’s use of it is undeniably skillful. By including background stories with the involvement of this chaotic social media platform, he uses it to reiterate his point that antisemitism is in fact often overlooked and even ridiculed.
“History is not the past. Its effects live in the present” is a quote from the book that I’d like to leave here, as it encapsulates the essence of what the author is trying to pass onto the reader within his writing. The effects of the Holocaust are still very much here, and David Baddiel wants the world to know that Jews are still affected by this every day, and it should be an issue that is spoken about louder.
If you, reading this, consider yourself on the right side of history then I suggest that you pick up this brave, at times funny, and perhaps controversial piece of writing. You must approach this book with an open mind and allow yourself to be challenged. You may disagree with Baddiel, but even if you do you should carry on reading, and I think you will be surprised and certainly in awe of his intellectual takes and transparency.
Picture credit: Tom Barnes/ Channel 4