Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel

Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel is a very short book, a bit over 100 in the printed version, I read it as an ebook though. I was annoyed by the book as it could have been so much better if it wasn’t for the whole x said on twitter and y replied and then somebody else said something else, while, at the same time, having no idea who x or y are. I did spend a bit of time searching online.
Baddiel is a Jew and he wanted to make the argument that Jews don’t count, they are not seen as a minority ethnic group, but as white. That would have been so interesting, but he got muddled up in his biases and political views, and the book ended up strange to say the least.

For example, he says: “famous footballers pointed out that other words – the N-word and the P-word – were no longer heard at football grounds: so why was the Y-word”. I had to search what “p word” means, a slur for Pakistani people, while Y is yid. As usual, I have no idea why the proper words can’t be used in this context. He is upset that the progressives are unreasonable, but, at the same time he doesn’t feel comfortable using slurs to make his point… that’s very progressive of him.

Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel

I found it funny that for his strong left-wing inclinations (even far-left, as he mentions in the book), he makes the right look great, without intention though:
“But in Britain, recently, Sajid Javid was hailed as the first BAME Chancellor of the Exchequer, despite the fact that Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor Nigel Lawson was and is Jewish” (both Conservative).
Williamson (conservative) expressed “unease about the lack of interest from universities in applying the IHRA’s definition, particularly given the recent general rise in anti-Semitic incidents on campuses”, making the progressive (Baddiel’s words) newspaper The Guardian say that there are more important things, like COVID.
When Starmer (Labour party leader) said that he aimed to eradicate anti-Semitism from the party it “was seen, bizarrely, as a right-wing statement” (quote from the book).

He talks a lot about the labour party and that makes it look really bad. Anti-Semitism under Corbyn was more wide spread than seemed, for me at least. It’s a shame that he spent so much time with twitter and the left instead of engaging with the topics in a wider way.

I would have loved to read more on the BAME (or whatever alternative is viewed today as appropriate). For example, I am white, but from Eastern Europe. Am I a minority ethnic? I don’t like labels and thus identity politics, but I would be interested to know what others think. I was asked if I can read in English more than once (by people who wouldn’t ask a black person that) and also asked, in a friendly manner, how often I “go home” as in go to Romania because UK can’t be my “home”. Is the situation similar to what Jews have to deal with? On top of that the religion vs race debate is still going strong.

I agree with some of his points, like the view on the hierarchy of racisms. For instance, learning about the Holocaust doesn’t make the history of slavery any less important, but this is something Baddiel said that the progressive left is complaining about. Also, slavery is viewed in the west as white people entrapping and selling black people. That is true more or less (black people in Africa were entrapping and selling black people to whites who were then transporting and selling them in the Americas), but it is far from being the only part of slavery, in Eastern Europe, white people were enslaved by Arabs and Ottomans. The history of slavery is not only much longer than that, but in today’s world, there are still people enslaved in all countries, of all skin colours. A more balanced approach in talking/teaching about slavery would mean that the historical issues could be addressed while learning about the current issues too.

Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes-ish
Published by: TLS Books
Year it was published: 2021
Format: Kindle
Genre(s): Philosophy?
Pages: –

About the author: David Lionel Baddiel is an English comedian, novelist, and television presenter. After studying at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School in Elstree, he read English at King’s College, Cambridge and graduated with a double first. He began studies for a PhD in English at University College London, but did not complete it.
Baddiel became a cabaret stand-up comedian after leaving university and also wrote sketches and jokes for various radio series. His first television appearance came in a bit-part on one episode of the showbiz satire, Filthy, Rich and Catflap. In 1988, he was introduced to Rob Newman, a comic impressionist, and the two became a writing partnership. They were subsequently paired up with the partnership of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis for a new topical comedy show for BBC Radio 1 called The Mary Whitehouse Experience, and its success led to a transfer to television, shooting Baddiel to fame.
He has written four novels: Time for Bed, Whatever Love Means, The Secret Purposes and The Death of Eli Gold.
Baddiel has two children, both born in Westminster, London, with his girlfriend, Morwenna Banks.
Website & Social Media Links: –

9 thoughts on “Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel”

  • I heaven’t read any of Baddiel’s books, though I do read some of his tweets when I come across them. My son enjoyed quite a few of his books for children. I don’t think I would want to read this book. Also people who talk about slavery, often forget that the Slavs/Eastern Europeans have been enslaved by the Mongol Tartars for several centuries. And sadly there is a rampant modern slavery.

    • You are so right. People don’t know or forget about white slaves, even if the word slavery comes from Slavs. Modern slavery is something that bothers me a lot. I try to do my best, buying fairtrade (cashew, coffee, chocolate, bananas). With clothes is a bit harder, but I do my best there too and I buy only things I plan to wear for many years.

  • Oops! I’m not sure that I can add anything constructive to the conversation / debate, which your and Kelly have been batting backwards and forwards. I do have to say that I am not a huge fan of David Baddiel anyway, not him personally as I don’t know the man obviously, but his presenting style and humour just isn’t my kind of thing, so I would probably never read one of his books in the first place.

    I don’t really want to enter the fray of the whole race, ethnicity debate, as I have to admit being guilty as charged, in that, if I am speaking to someone and it is apparent that their accent isn’t naturalised English, I do tend to ask where they originally called home, but that has nothing to do with race, it’s purely out of interest and learning about other cultures, and I am sorry if that offends!

    Whilst I don’t agree with anit-semitism, or any other form of racism or persecution, I do have my views on the whole debate around the way the Jewish people treat the Arab settlers in the Gaza Strip, but as we Brits caused much of the rift in the first place, I should maybe wind my neck in about that!

    I do like it when a book can cause such great, good natured debate and conversation! 🙂

    • I didn’t know him before reading the book, but having a debate is always great. I love that some of the books I review stir up conversations.

      You see, asking someone where they come from originally is not the same as “when/how often do you go home”. I’ve had some really nice conversations when people asked where I’m from, asking questions about Romania as they were genuinely interested, about customs, food, history, geography, even education (comparing to UK). Also, it’s not so much about the question but the remarks that so often come with it. I know that sometimes I tend to get defensive, as I was asked so many times when I’m going “home” that I get annoyed. My home is in UK and when I say that I’m from Liverpool I mean it. I had someone laughing when I said Liverpool because I don’t have a scouse accent. That would make anyone feel unwelcome, especially as I lived for a decade in Liverpool.

  • You’ve made so many interesting observations in the process of reviewing this book! Of course I’m sure my opinion on many of these things would be considered totally biased, given I’m a WASP, privileged white woman from the American south, or whatever other label you might want to attribute to me, but….

    Slavery is a topic I sometimes bristle about because many in the world like to point their finger at the US, citing our history of (and continuing problems) with race issues. But as you said, slavery is not just limited to what took place in the US. In some form or another, it’s existed since one culture conquered another and still exists today in other ways. Of course that doesn’t make it right. “Owning” another human being is abhorrent any way you look at it.

    Asking questions of others (where are you from?, “what” are you?, etc.) … I honestly think that’s as much from curiosity as anything for many people, that no harm is intended. I learned years ago not to ask something like that since the US is quite a melting pot. But if someone speaks with an accent (that isn’t from my area… and that could include other parts of the US), I might ask where they’re from originally.

    While it can certainly be debated, I might consider Jews the most persecuted people throughout the history of mankind. (thinking more race than religion)
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    • I think that Jews were the most persecuted people too. This is why I had high hopes for this book, but it is so muddle-up. I think that his far-left wing ideas made him loose sight. Most (all) people both at the centre, regardless if they are right or left, are appalled by anti-Semitism, the far ones are the ones blaming Jews and, again, both far-left and far-right. That’s not new at all.

      It took me a while to understand why people were keep asking me where I’m from. This is not something someone would ask in Romania and it felt very intrusive. I got used to that, but some questions are still inappropriate, like reading or “going home”.

      As for slavery. I am puzzled why the Spanish seem to get off the hook. Why Britons and Americans need to constantly say “sorry” while German companies (who used slave labour during WWII) are ok to own, like my own car, Volkswagen or my own power-tools, some of them Bosch.

        • Aww, yes. Exactly. I know what they mean:
          – Where are you from?
          – Liverpool.
          – Ahem… No, where are you from originally?
          In this case I really feel the need to say: “Africa! Like everybody else, but it was a few hundred thousands years ago.”

          I am annoyed because, many times after that, I hear stupidities like “I voted Remain” or “I agree with migrants coming here to take jobs we don’t want to have”. Oh, dear.

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