Literary magazine attacked over anti-Israel cover story

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Literary magazine attacked over anti-Israel cover story

Hindu writer says Israel invoking Holocaust to cover up Gaza genocide

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

The Shoah after Gaza
The Shoah after Gaza

A cover story essay in the latest issue of the London Review of Books (LRB), entitled The Shoah After Gaza has been denounced for its attacks on Israel.

The nearly 8,000 word essay, by Indian-born Hindu writer Pankaj Mishra, fails to mention the Hamas murders of 1200 Israelis in southern Israel on October 7, nor the kidnapping of hostages and their use as a bargaining chip by Hamas.

Instead, Mishra writes that “all these universalist reference points – the Shoah as the measure of all crimes, antisemitism as the most lethal form of bigotry – are in danger of disappearing as the Israeli military massacres and starves Palestinians, razes their homes, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, bombs them into smaller and smaller encampments, while denouncing as antisemitic or champions of Hamas all those who plead with it to desist…Israel today is dynamiting the edifice of global norms built after 1945, which has been tottering since the catastrophic and still unpunished war on terror and Vladimir Putin’s revanchist war in Ukraine”.

The writer David Herman notes: “Of course, Israel can seem like the perpetrator, if you never mention those who want to slaughter its people. Israel is not perpetrating genocide. Given the chance, Hamas and Iran certainly would.

“Similarly, Mishra makes no reference to any of the pogroms before 1948, any of the invasions of Israel in 1948 and since, or the expulsions of Jews from every single Muslim country in North Africa and the Middle East. All of this is airbrushed from history. For Mishra it simply never happened. None of it.

“Instead, he writes about ‘the targeted killings of Palestinians, checkpoints, home demolitions, land thefts, arbitrary and indefinite detentions, and widespread torture in prisons seemed to proclaim a pitiless national ethos: that humankind is divided into those who are strong and those who are weak, and so those who have been or expect to be victims should pre-emptively crush their perceived enemies.’”

Pankaj Mishra was supposed to deliver a lecture, based on his essay, as part of a series taking place at the Barbican. But when the LRB placed an advert announcing the name of the talk, the Barbican withdrew. The LRB publicity declared: “A powerful western narrative holds the Shoah to be the incomparable crime of the modern era. But we find our moral and political consciousness profoundly altered when Israel, a country founded as a haven for the victims of genocidal racism, is itself charged with genocide”.

Instead, Mishra gave the lecture at St James’ Church in Clerkenwell, telling the Guardian that “it’s become clear that war crimes have been committed on a daily basis and powerful people who have supported the Israeli regime are doubling down on their untenable position. That breeds a pervasive sense of fear and panic that infects even cultural institutions.”

Writing in the Sunday Times, journalist Hadley Freedman, who says she knows Mishra professionally and personally, said: “Mishra says there is an ‘implicit claim that Israel has the right to slaughter 13,000 children … because it is a state born out of the Shoah’. But I have never — in my many conversations with Jews about the war, and I’m guessing I know more than Mishra — heard anyone imply that. He refers to the most extreme comments from the Israeli right but not from their equivalents on the Arab side, and if you’re going to quote racist nutjobs like Netanyahu and his far-right flunkies, then you have to quote their counterparts, the genocidal maniacs Hamas”.

She added: “It’s hard to imagine the LRB would run a piece saying, ‘It’s ridiculous that gay people, now so successful, still go on about the Aids epidemic,’ or, ‘so boring when wealthy Hindus talk about partition.”’ Because the left-wing intelligentsia only tries this kind of provocative thought experiment with Jews, arguing that other people’s histories are all-defining, but Jewish history is manipulative”.

Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer wrote on Twitter/X: “There [are] plenty of ways of criticising Israel over the war in Gaza, but writing 8000 words lecturing Jews that they are like Nazis and anyway the Holocaust actually wasn’t so special, so they should stop obsessing about it, says more about this pseud than it does about Israelis or Jews.”

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies told JN: “The article published by the London Review of Books contains multiple examples of Holocaust inversion – Jews being told that they are doing to others what the Nazis did to them. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance correctly cites this as an example of antisemitism. The LRB’s eagerness to publish such a grotesquely warped viewpoint utterly disgraces the publication.”


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: