Don’t Be Anti-Semitic (left-wing edition): A Board Game

After dinner entertainment by David Schneider

RULES: * (almost all of these apply to the right-wing edition as well)

GO BACK 3 SPACES whenever you say anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in Labour and it’s all smears to bring down Jeremy Corbyn. The party leader himself now admits it exists, so is Jeremy trying to smear Jeremy, in an attempt to bring down Jeremy? Yes, many on the right are weaponising it, but if it was rooted out there would be nothing to weaponise.

GO BACK 3 SPACES if you say: “Yeah, but the Tories are worse…” You may have a point (see our companion games “Don’t Be Islamophobic” and “Windrush-ian Roulette”). But how low are you setting the bar if you’re saying the left is better than the Tories? Either you believe in zero tolerance of racism or you don’t.

Similarly if you quote the survey of anti-Semitic attitudes in Britain published by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research last year, which found that the prejudice is no worse among Labour voters than among the wider population. Surely the left should be better than society at large? Again, either you believe in zero tolerance of racism or you don’t.

GO BACK 4 SPACES If you say: “Yeah but what about [insert other minority that suffers prejudice]. They have it worse!” Do you have a league table of groups facing prejudice, with Jews at the bottom? Time to repeat the chorus: either you believe in zero tolerance or you don’t. 

GO BACK 3 SPACES If you can’t talk about anti-Semitism without invoking Israel/Palestine. You may well be angry that charges of anti-Semitism are sometimes used to shut down criticism of Israel-but it’s just as bad to use Israel/Palestine to shut down criticism of anti-Semitism. The makers of this game felt so let down when Ken Loach, in an interview at the Labour party conference earlier this year, seemed unable to simply condemn Holocaust denial but instead slid straight into talking about Palestine. You can condemn anti-Semitism AND Israeli atrocities. Incidentally, those who say criticising Israel is automatically anti-Semitic should also  GO BACK 3 SPACES. It’s not. (See next rule)

HAVE AN EXTRA TURN if you use the term “Israeli government” or “Israeli state” or “Benjamin Netanyahu” instead of “Zionists” to criticise actions of the Israeli government (or state, or Netanyahu). This shows you understand that not all Jews, or even all Israelis, support the actions of Netanyahu’s government. We would hope that this would help insulate you from those who accuse you of anti-Semitism simply for criticising Israel. If, however, you judge Israel more harshly than you would other nation states, you must MISS TWO TURNS. Miss TWO MORE if you conflate “Jews” and the actions of the Israeli state.

GO BACK FIVE SPACES if you think every Jew has to condemn Israel’s actions. Would you do the same to every Muslim when an Islamic extremist commits a terrorist atrocity? (If yes, you may again prefer our companion game: “Don’t be a neo-Nazi”). Also, GO BACK FIVE if you tell British or other diaspora Jews that Israel is their country or throw Israel’s attitude to [insert any subject here] at them. They may well have zero interest or affinity with Israel and in any case you’re travelling along Anti-Semitism Route 1: that the loyalty of Jews lies elsewhere.

MISS A TURN if you use the term “Rothschild”. What are you? A 1905 Russian pogrom organiser, convinced that the Jews control international finance? At least update your prejudice and refer to Soros or something. You may hate the evils of capitalism but capitalism ain’t the same as Jews. JC himself (Corbyn not Christ) quoted August Bebel, former chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, who described left-wing anti-Semitism as “the socialism of fools”. It’s the same with the media: “mogul” may sound like a Yiddish word but it’s not. We do not run the media, unless Rupert Murdoch’s real name is actually Rafi Mandelbaum. Which brings us onto…

MISS A TURN if you believe there’s a Jewish conspiracy (even if you call it a “Zionist” one). Jews may do well in certain fields but that doesn’t mean they work together for a common goal. It’s like the old Jewish joke about the Jew stranded on a desert island who built two synagogues: the one he prayed in and the one he wouldn’t be seen dead in. Jews always disagree: two Jews, three opinions. There is no conspiracy. The makers of this game are well-connected Jews: we’d know if there was a conspiracy. We’d be invited. So GO BACK THREE SPACES if you were one of those who signed an open letter saying “a very powerful special interest group” lay behind the #EnoughIsEnough demonstration against anti-Semitism in the Labour party, held outside parliament earlier this year. And yes, we’re aware of the Al Jazeera documentary in which someone who worked for the Israeli embassy in the UK plots to further Israel’s agenda but it’s a long way from that to asserting that “Blairite MPs” are in the pay of Israel.

OK, we need to talk about Kenneth (Livingstone). I’m afraid you must MISS A TURN if you’re still defending him. Anti-Semitism, however unwitting, is often revealed not in a single outrageous remark but in a drip-drip-drip of smaller observations. Such is the case with Ken. It’s not just Hitler-supported-Zionism-gate, it’s all the other comments over the years: the implication that the Jewish community won’t vote Labour because they’re now wealthy (what, all of them?) or that “a real anti-Semite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel, they hate their Jewish neighbour in Golders Green”, as if it’s totally fine to hate all the Jews in Israel. He may have spent his life fighting racism, but there are only so many times you can put such comments down to someone simply misspeaking before you have to conclude they have a problem with Jews and must

HALVE THE NUMBER ON THE DICE/DREIDEL if you think you can hide behind the term “Zionists” when you actually mean “Jews”. You’re fooling no-one. The term “Zionist” is incredibly complicated. It could be applied to someone who simply believes that Israel has the right to exist yet utterly condemns Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Which is why the makers of this game prefer to use more precise terms (Israeli government, supporters of Israel, etc), especially given that the Z-word has been hijacked by exactly the same people who are constantly having to MISS TURNS in this game.

MISS TWO TURNS if you think Jews bring it on themselves or love being victims or want special treatment. Would you say that of any other minority that points out prejudice? Jews don’t want special treatment, just equal treatment. If you think they’re asking for more than other minorities, it’s because you want to give them less.

GO BACK 8 SPACES if you try to deny anti-Semitism by saying Jews aren’t the only Semites. The term anti-Semitism has an accepted meaning nowadays so stop hiding behind semantics to deny bigotry. Be anti-semantic not anti-Semitic.

GO BACK 10 SPACES if you say it can’t be racism because Jews aren’t a race. They’re certainly seen as a race by anti-Semites. The Gestapo defined Jews by bloodline (i.e. in racial terms) so again, stop hiding behind semantics to deny bigotry. And just to remind you to try the game “Don’t be a neo-Nazi” if you also find yourself saying “Muslims aren’t a race so I can’t be racist against Muslims”.

MISS A TURN if it makes you uncomfortable that we just mentioned the Nazis, or if, when anyone talks about Jewish suffering in the Holocaust, you feel you just have to point out that others suffered too, or that there have been other genocides. We know. We just happen to be talking about Jews just now.

MISS THE WHOLE GAME if you deny the facts of the Holocaust. I mean, where do we even begin?

And MOVE FORWARD 3 SPACES every time you listen to what Jews are saying without getting defensive, mentioning Israel, or saying it’s all smears. This is exactly what’s needed to sort out this mess.


This game appears in the Summer ’18 issue of Jewish Quarterly.


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