Anthony Julius on the return of Anti-Semitism
As a young man I thought that Anti-Semitism had been thoroughly discredited as a result of the vile crimes of the Nazis and was well on the way to joining other forms of racism on the rubbish-tip of history.
Sadly it has been apparent for some years that racism is making a comeback and indeed, that Anti-Semitism, like a canary in the coalmine, is one of the first forms or racism to rise when racism begins to increase. (In Britain when there is an increase in racism it seems that prejudice against Jews picks up first and racism against Muslims soon follows.)
We need to combat this and everyone involved in politics should take a lead. I am very proud of having persuaded the former Cumbria county council to adopt the International Holocause Remembrance Alliance'a working definition of Anti-semitism which you can read about here ...
and doing so in a non-partisan way which was able to be passed nem con with cross-party support.
I find it tragic that the terrible events in the Middle East, which are a disaster for Jews and Palestinians alike, have had dire effects on community relations in this country. There has been a vast increase in anti-semitic incidents directed against British Jews. Equally unacceptable, there has also been an increase in prejudice and incidents of hate against Musims.
Everyone in Britain is responsible for their own conduct. No British citizen or community is responsible for the actions of a foreign government or group, or should face hatred whipped up against them because of foreign actors, whatever we may think of that government or of what those people have done.
It is a problem around the world. Here is a photograph of the doors of a synagogue in Canada which had been attacked with a Molotov cocktail exactly a month after the 7th October atrocities
There is a particularly powerful article on the subject of the rise of Anti-Semitism in Britain over the last month by Anthony Julius in The Times.
It begins as follows:
"At the university where I teach in London, the local branch of the lecturers’ union has just passed a motion calling for “intifada until victory!” The university’s Jewish studies department notifies students of lecture venues by text, for fear of disruption. Students at Jewish Society lunches are protected by security guards. Jewish students stay on campus for only as long as they need to, and then leave. The general sentiment is, better to conceal all signs of their Jewishness.
Since the October 7 massacres in southern Israel, there have been 988 antisemitic incidents in the UK. There were 47 assaults, 66 cases of damage and desecration to Jewish property, 106 cases of direct threats to Jews, 767 cases of abusive behaviour and two instances of mass-produced antisemitic material. These are the recorded incidents, as of last Friday; the actual number of incidents is higher."
Julius rightly in my opinion identifies part of the problem we face, an issue for all of us and not just as it affects prejudice against Jews, as, quote,
"... a deeply tribalist politics in which utterly different standards are applied to political friends and political enemies. A ready credulity, a willingness to believe any story, even if patently false, if discreditable to one’s enemies or creditable to one’s friends. And the reverse, a ready incredulity, a refusal to believe any story, even if patently true, again determined by whether of friend or enemy."
"an unembarrassed embracing of the most absurd simplifications of any political dispute, which is then cast as melodrama, the wholly good confronting the wholly wicked, pure victims at the mercy of demonic aggressors."
The article would normally be behind a paywall, but the Times website is currently offering a free trial so you should be able to read the whole thing by clicking on the link below, and I recommend it.