Guardian columnist criticised for ‘mocking’ Welsh in antisemitism article

Jonathan Freedland. Picture by Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

A Guardian columnist has apologised after seeming to suggest the Welsh are a “peculiar race”.

Jonathan Freedland was writing about Jeremy Corbyn’s foreword to a book by J.A. Hobson, in which Corbyn makes no mention of the book’s antisemitism.

In Imperialism: A Study, published in 1902, Hobson suggests that “men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience … are in a unique position to control the policy of nations”.

In criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to write the foreword, Jonathan Freedland said: “When he speaks of a ‘single and peculiar race’, he’s not talking about the Welsh”.

The article has now been edited to state: “This article was amended on 2 May 2019 to omit a superfluous reference to another minority.”

Jonathan Freedland later apologised.

“‘I’ve written often that when it comes to prejudice, the best advice is to listen to the offended minority,” Jonathan Freedland wrote.

“So in that spirit: a half-line in my latest piece offended several Welsh readers. My fault for wording it badly, so that it seemed to say the opposite of what I meant.

“I’m glad to say the piece has now been amended online and to those readers I offended I say: Ymddiheuriadau.”

Responding to Jonathan Freedland’s original article on Twitter, Huw Williams wrote in reply that it was “a terrible” in an article about “’overlooking’ racism”.

“[It] only serves to entrench prejudice against the Welsh in the reader’s mind.”

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville-Roberts said that it was a “piece of throw-away mockery, with the author content to assume that his readers will condone it”.

“Depressing, given the context of anti-semitism,” she said.


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