The secret to the effectiveness of “cancel culture” was how it appealed not to mankind’s cruelty but to its infinite reservoir of laziness. Getting large numbers of people to care a great deal about something is harder than convincing most people to go on not caring.

Which is how it became the case that the only real “book banning” epidemic in Western publishing was brought about by convincing people to self-censor. There were two main ways this was done in the publishing industry. In one, the writer would finish the manuscript and the industry would get cold feet after finding out that, to take a real world example, the author of a book with main characters who are black was Filipino. The lesson for the writer: Just don’t write the book to begin with, and save everyone the time and effort. In the other method of squelching books, Amazon would delist a book already for sale based on some ever-changing grievance standard that suddenly sparks a protest. This time the lesson is for the publisher: Just don’t accept books on such topics in the first place.

It has been the case for some time that this Sovietesque approach to killing art was being applied to Jewish creators. That went into overdrive after Oct. 7. I explained in January how that affected television writers and producers, and then in February how it was being carried out against musicians and writers.

Now we have a chillingly banal story of what this looks like from the inside of the publishing industry, via the Telegraph. “A very well-known literary agent of great repute and associated with books that one would immediately recognize said that he is having difficulty with his Jewish authors or writings on Jewish subjects because he just finds that much of literary London is now a no-go zone for Jews,” relayed writer and publisher Stephen Games. “He said there is no point putting proposals up to commissioning editors as they just are not interested.”

Lest anyone try to claim this is about Israel-related books or authors—as if that would be acceptable either—the piece reports out the story of Gillian Freedman, a 67-year-old Jewish woman who, along with her husband, owns and operates a small farm in rural Bedfordshire. Freedman wrote a book titled Jews Milk Goats, about maintaining a Jewish life while living on a farm.

Pretty wholesome stuff, right? Well, not to the magazine editor who spiked a review of the book on the grounds that Jews are too controversial now. This quote from that editor, sent to the columnist who wrote the review, is among the better descriptions of our post-Oct. 7 reality you’ll find: “In the current, rather febrile, atmosphere I think we need to give a wide berth to anything which references Jewish people and Judaism. It just isn’t worth the hassle that will ensue.”

Nowhere in there does it say anything about Israel or Zionism. Because none of this is now or ever was about the democratic politics of a country in the Middle East. But that last line explains why it’s been so easy for mainstream cultural, educational, and political institutions throughout the enlightened West to simply close the door on anything or anyone Jewish. It just isn’t worth the hassle.

This is why the pro-Hamas demonstrators and activists do what they do. Because they can’t say “don’t serve Jews.” But they can and will make your life hell if you serve Jews.

If you live in Europe, as all the subjects of this particular story do, you know this doesn’t stop at a negative Yelp review. Why risk being labeled “Jew-lovers” or “Jew-lackeys,” as the Germans used to phrase it? It just isn’t worth the hassle.

The hassle, if it isn’t clear by now, is the point. The entire strategy of alienating Jews from polite society relies on cowardice. What few Americans and Brits realize is that their major publishing houses are already in line. They didn’t have to be pushed very far. Indeed, the speed with which the machinery of Jew-baiting came together after Oct. 7 is a reminder that old habits die hard. And there are few habits older than this.

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