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Gallery of Antisemitism: Example 2

Religious Antisemitism: Judas and 30 pieces of silver

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The phrase ‘thirty pieces of silver’ is a reference to the Biblical Judas (who like the other disciples, was Jewish) betraying Jesus to the authorities, for the sake of this payment, and thus being responsible for his death. Judas’s reported act leads into a stereotype of Jews betraying people for money, and being generally untrustworthy or corrupt.  It is possible that some who use this phrase these days do not realise that it has strongly antisemitic connotations, but these are well-established. Although the phrase is one of the oldest ones quoted in this Gallery, it seems to continue to flourish and has been increasingly commonly seen within parts of the left in recent years. An allied phrase is the ‘Judas kiss’ since Judas identified Jesus to his enemies in the Garden of Gethsemane, as pre-arranged, by kissing him.

We would argue that, even if the phrase is used in a way that is not intended to refer to Jewish people – it should always be avoided. This applies in our opinion to a number of other phrases which do not necessarily directly refer to Jews, but have antisemitic origins, such as ‘cultural Marxism’.

In the example below, it is implied that because then Deputy Leader Tom Watson received some funding for his office from Jewish donors, he was therefore a traitor to Labour. This was part of the ongoing factional dispute within Labour over the extent of antisemitism in the party.

The example below is fairly self-explanatory. Barry Sheerman is a Labour MP. The problem is not that he commented on perceived cronyism influencing Boris Johnson’s House of Lords appointments. The problem is that he picked out two Jewish people who had not even been appointed, and used the terms ‘silver shekels’ (shekels are of course current and historic Israeli currency) and ‘accepting 30 pieces of silver’. He also said “It never entered my head when I was making that comment that the two people I mentioned were Jewish”. We think this highly unlikely, although there is of course such a thing as unconscious racism.

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