Jemima Goldsmith is only a quarter Jewish on her father’s side – but antisemitic mud sticks. From the time of her marriage in 1995 to Pakistani cricketer-turned-PM Imran Khan, Jemima has been dogged by antisemitic attacks. To call someone a Jew is a popular tactic in Muslim countries to discredit politicians – and Maryam Nawaz, who leads her father’s political party, is no exception. This article in the Times contextualises the current spat between Nawaz and Goldsmith by drawing attention to the persecution of Pakistan’s Jews, but wildly exaggerates the remaining numbers. Of 3,000 in 1948, today there are perhaps 10 ‘secret’ Jews, not 800. (With thanks: Lily, Laurence)
Nawaz, who leads her father’s political party, launched into an antisemitic tirade at the prime minister and Goldsmith, the daughter of the late business tycoon, Sir James Goldsmith.
“My son is the polo team captain and is bringing honour to Pakistan. I didn’t want to bring children into it, but the way you’re talking, you’re going to get a fitting reply,” Nawaz said. “He is Nawaz Sharif’s grandson, not Goldsmith’s. He is not being raised in the lap of Jews.”
The comments provoked a horrified response from Goldsmith, who married Khan, the World Cup-winning cricketer, in 1995. The couple, who divorced in 2004, have two sons, Sulaiman Isa, 24, and Kasim, 22.
“I left Pakistan in 2004 after a decade of antisemitic attacks by the media and politicians (and weekly death threats and protests outside my house). But it still continues,” Goldsmith tweeted.
The row has provoked uproar in Pakistan, with partisan supporters leaping to the defence of Khan or Nawaz. Unflattering paparazzi shots of Goldsmith began circulating on Pakistani Twitter, along with references to “Jew kids”.
Like other religious minorities, Jews in Pakistan have faced discrimination and violence over the past century. Hundreds emigrated to Israel when it was founded in 1948, a year after the partition of India created Pakistan.
Islamabad does not have formal relations with Israel in protest at its occupation of Palestinian land. Local media estimate the number of Jews still living in Pakistan at about 800, but the few who openly admit their faith place that number at fewer than 200.
“Pakistani politics at its finest,” lamented a column in the newspaper Dawn. “Our politicians have regressed and instead of attacking their opponents, they’re going after their children.”
Nawaz has refused to back down, responding to Goldsmith’s remarks with another attack on Khan. “You have only your ex to blame,” she said on Twitter.