My dad authored That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic in the 1980s—he would shocked to see how relevant it still is todayby Tom Cohen / December 19, 2019 / Leave a comment
Why is That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic being republished?
Antisemitism has become an ever increasing problem. While it exists in the racist right-wing, it has found a home in the so-called “anti-racist” left. Self-described socialists in the Labour Party—and beyond—have denied the testimony of Jews on the Left. Many of the leaders on the left have been mired in controversy and accusations of antisemitism or have refused to deal with it.
This phenomenon is not new. My dad, Steve Cohen, authored That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic in the 1980s to shine a light on the antisemitism he witnessed then. He would be shocked to know how relevant his book has become today.
Why was the book written?
In the 1982 Israel attacked Lebanon. Steve was infuriated. He wanted to write a book full of his condemnation. In the process of researching his polemic, he came across a level of antisemitism that shocked him. The fact it came from the self-described “anti-racist Left” horrified him further. The condemnation changed its focus and That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic is the resulting masterpiece.
Why has it been republished? The book was controversial when it was published. Steve described it as ‘hard to write, hard to read’. But, it captured something unique —his work has stood the test of time. When people on the Labour Left have sought to face up to the problem of Left antisemitism, they have reached for this book. Labour MP Clive Lewis called the book, “A comprehensive but accessible analysis of how antisemitism has historically manifested on the left.” Corbynite Rachel Shabi wrote about how it “still resonates today” and Momentum – the group that formed out of Jeremy Corbyn’s first leadership campaign – tweeted that is was “a must read” with “plenty of lessons for today.” Others have described it as “the definitive book on left antisemitism’ and ‘a fantastic book and a must-read for anyone concerned about antisemitism on the Left.” Is there a problem of antisemitism on the Left? Where ever you come down on the issue of antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, it seems undeniable that there have been incidents on a scale never seen before. Almost every trope…