The latter occurred in a pub in a middle class area of London. A highly intelligent upper-middle class gentleman had arranged an exhibition of local artists' work (including his own) there, and I ended up in a long conversation with him. I told him I was Jewish because we were discussing the use of religious images in art. The man, who described himself as a lapsed Catholic, said he had refused to hang a painting by another artist because it contained images of women in burkas and he said he felt this would be offensive to Muslims. I asked him why he felt it would be offensive and how such an attitude was consistent with the fact that his own displayed artwork contained graphic nudity. His only response was to say that he felt that it was not his job to offend Muslims. Perhaps feeling that the conversation was at this point getting too serious he decided to tell a joke. It was about a landlord having problems with some tenants in his flat and the police being called, leading to the following 'punchline':
Police: "Who are the occupiers?"When I told him that the 'joke' was not only completely unfunny, but deeply offensive because it perpetuated a false stereotype about the Jewish nation he said he was shocked. "How could you possibly be offended by that joke. It was on a BBC show".
Landlord: "The Israelis of course!"
He did not realise the irony of his remarks and the fact that he had just made it clear how far he would go out of his way never to offend a Muslim, while thinking nothing of offending a Jew. In the subsequent conversation he asked if I was born in the UK and when I told him of course I was born in London, he said in that case I had no right to be offended by a joke like that.
The second example is from the Editorial here in yesterday's Evening Standard.
|Evening Standard Editorial, 24 April 2013|