Popular English writer Auberon Waugh reminisces about how he discovered that the Board of Deputies was monitoring him too
From an article published in The Jewish Chronicle, August 4, 1995
London, August 4, 1995
MORE than 20 years ago, I was writing a weekly column in the New Statesman -- in those days it was an intelligent, even quite witty, magazine, which anyone might have been proud to write for -- when I told a Jewish joke.
[. . .] The poor editor, Anthony Howard, was used to receiving letters of complaints about my column -- that it lasted 22 years must been seen as a measure of his fortitude -- but, on this occasion, he was deluged by letters cancelling subscriptions and demanding refunds.
[. . .] A few years later, I was appalled when an illustration to my diary in Private Eye became the subject of a bitter attack by David Pryce-Jones. The illustrator was Nicholas Bentley, whose drawings for Belloc's "Cautionary Verses" I had much admired as a child.
[. . .] David Pryce-Jones was in the process of writing a book about Unity Mitford, the Nazi sympathiser, and saw himself as the Simon Wiesenthal of upper-class England, denouncing those who had been associated with the Fascists in pre-war England.
But his attack on Bentley was unjust, and it man have coloured my attitude to the entire anti-defamation movement -- though I do not think I had any other trouble on that front during the 16 years I wrote a regular column in Private Eye.
[. . .] A slighty plumper figure by then, I was staying at a health farm in Northants trying to lose weight, when I met a pleasant young woman, similarly engaged. She belonged to quite a famous Jewish family and we made friends.
She worked for the Board of Deputies in some capacity, and, towards the end of the week, told me she already knew about me, as a known or suspected anti-semite.
[. . .] There is always something alarming about the idea of a secret file, which you have no right to inspect or quarrel with.
What could have been on it? My friend half said that she would look it up and tell me, but I never heard. No doubt the file has passed from hand to hand, been communicated in whispers and barely discernible twitches of the eyebrow wherever rich and powerful Jews congregate.
Perhaps it explained why my autobiography never found an American publisher -- some junior clerk in the New York office of the Anti-Defamation League simply marked a few passages in blue crayon, photocopied them, and my fate was sealed [. . .] but that way madness lies.