A new era of anti-semitism

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in the UK and across Europe. Hatred in general ha become more common (witness how Corbyn’s ‘kinder, gentler politics’ has consisted of his supporters abusing not only Tories, especially women and those from minorities, but also female and Jewish Labour MPs, while in Europe anti-Islamic attitudes have become part of the mainstream). It’s a sad state of affairs. But, while the antagonism between Leave and Remain voters or a fear of Muslims following recent terror attacks are, sadly, understandable reactions to events, the hatred of Jews makes none.

Anti-Semitism is sometimes glossed as Anti-Zionism, meaning an opposition to the state of Israel, but that neither justifies nor explains why abuse is targeted at Jews in Britain and Europe. They’re not Israelis and not every Jew is Zionist (nor does a support for the existence of Israel necessarily imply support for its government or policies). Indeed, making life uncomfortable for British and European Jews or outright abusing and attacking them makes no sense if the sole reason is an opposition to a Jewish government in the Middle East: if Jews no longer feel welcome or safe elsewhere, where will they go? Israel! Such behaviour only serves to encourage the very settlement it is purported to oppose.

Of course, some people might be that stupid. It’s also possible some of them subscribe to the discredited Khazar Hypothesis and believe Jews belong neither in Europe nor the Middle East (yet, strangely, they don’t demand the Ukraine make room for a new Jewish homeland, nor do they campaign for the expulsion of Turks from Turkey or recent immigrants from the UK, despite the same argument applying). No, it’s pretty clear that most Anti-Zionism is nothing more than a smokescreen for old-fashioned Anti-Semitism, in the same way that justifiable concerns about migrants committing crimes are used as a fig leaf for racists to justify the abuse of immigrants.

For example, the recent Palestine Expo in London invited South African Islamic preacher Sheikh Ebrahim Bham to speak, a man who has compared Jews to fleas. Not Israelis, but Jews. Unsurprisingly, the Expo was backed by Unite and the National Union of Students, both organisations in which Anti-Semitism is rife. The NUT also backed it and none has shown any contrition for the people they associate themselves with.

I think most people just don’t notice, or don’t care, because they aren’t Jews. But, when Jewish children can’t go to the beach or visit a park without being attacked or harassed, no amount of excused can disguise the fact that something is very wrong in Britain – and things are much worse in Europe. Unless this upsurge in hate is successfully challenged now, we’re merely at the beginning of another terrible era. I’m afraid I don’t feel too hopeful.

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