Here's my own version of Prime Minister's Question Time:
In light of his unexpected - and I must say not terribly well-advised - pronouncement that shouting the word 'Yid' is not racist, unless there is a hatred element attached to it, would the Prime Minister tell me if he thinks the following phrases are racist...
"Why are Jews so good at holding on to their money?"
"Presumably you won't be taking Christmas and Easter off since they don't mean anything to you."
"Stop going on and on about Auschwitz, it was ages ago and it's boring now."
"You lot think you're better than us don't you?"
All of those have been directed at me in one-on-one conversations in the past year and when you read them in print they all have a whiff of anti-semitism about them. Perhaps more than a whiff. The problem is, they weren't relayed with any anger or underlined with venom. They were, believe it or not, just part of conversations with supposedly intelligent people.
As they were being spoken I didn't consider that I was being subjected to racist abuse, it's only now that my perspective has changed. Now that the Prime Minister has said it's OK to say the word 'yid' as long as there's no hatred attached to it.
The problem is, anti-semitism isn't always clothed in hate. Bigotry isn't only the preserve of the frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics. Racism isn't just practised by thugs.
In his interview with the Jewish Chronicle, David Cameron responds to the Football Association's decision to prosecute any fan chanting 'yid' at Tottenham games thus: "You have to think of the mens rea (guilty mind). There's a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as yids and someone calling someone a yid as an insult. You have to be motivated by hate. Hate speech should be prosecuted - but only when it's motivated by hate."
So if I call my friend Raj a Paki, it's OK is it? He's my friend after all and it's a term of affection. Next time I tease the owner in my favourite Chinese restaurant about his inability to say 'Hello' properly, he won't mind, right? Hey, why don't I use the phrase 'towel-heads' more often, it's only a joke after all? Maybe we should call for ITV to apologise to Ron Atkinson, the football commentator who called someone a 'lazy n***er' not because of his hatred of black people but because it was just a warped phrase that was part of his outdated lexicon. He wasn't motivated by hate.
From my discussions with Jewish friends who support Tottenham Hotspur, whose fans are known as the 'Yid Army' and Arsenal who probably boast more Jewish supporters than Tottenham do, most of them never shout the word 'Yid'. They don't join in with the chants because the word is still repulsive to many of them. Listening to it is still uncomfortable.
They don't want to 'reclaim' it as some have preposterously suggested in a perverse form of self-justification. Just as a black man would recoil in horror at some blinged-up whitey greeting them with a: 'Yo, whassup my n***er', Jews don't want people from outside the religion to be encouraged to use the Y-word.
What most people like David Cameron - who has never come close to racism in his life unless, presumably, it was an unwise addition to the raucousness of the Bullingdon Club - don't realise is that racism is not always fuelled by hatred. It is fuelled by ignorance, often displayed by the most intelligent people.
What a pity that a man with a First in PPE can't see that.Suggest a correction