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In Paris, a pro-Palestinian rally featured rioters attacking a synagogue and businesses in the Sarcelles district. Local residents reported chants of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews”. Participants in a Berlin demonstration recited anti-Jewish slogans such as “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”. Molotov cocktails were thrown into the Bergische synagogue in Wuppertai. Fearing vandalism from a gathering protest, a Sainbury’s shop in London removed kosher food from its shelves. Bricks have been thrown at British synagogues and rabbis assaulted. According to the Sunday Times: “About 100 hate incidents have been recorded by police and community groups this month – more than double the number that monitors would usually expect.” Deiter Graumann, President of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, declared: “These are the worst times since the Nazi era.”
Colin J Appleby (@CJ_Appleby) August 16, 2014
Whilst hate incidents against British Jews have more than doubled, the overall level of anti-Jewish sentiment in Britain and the rest of Europe are harder to track. This surge in hate incidents may be partially due to improved reporting rates, particularly for verbal abuse coming through social media.
The Pew Research Center published their study of seven European Union countries, including Britain, conducted before the 2014 European elections. The survey asked about perceptions of three minority groups in their country: Roma (or gypsies, for UK respondents), Muslims and Jews. The central estimates were that 50% of Brits had an unfavourable view of gypsies. In comparison, 26% of Brits had a critical view of Muslims, and 7% held an unfavourable perception of Jews.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also tracks levels of anti-Semitism across many countries. The ADL asks citizens eleven statements about Jews. If the responder says ‘true’ or ‘probably true’ to six or more of these statements, then the ADL classifies that person as anti-Semitic. The ADL estimates 8% of British adults hold anti-Semitic opinions. In particular, 27% of Brits agreed with the statement that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Britain” and 19% believe “Jews have too much control over the United States government”.
There are severe disparities between the ADL’s methods and the Pew Research Center. The ADL says 38% of French adults have anti-Semitic beliefs, including 51% of French responders agreeing “Jews have too much power in the business world”. Pew’s survey found only 10% of French people had an unfavourable opinion of Jews.
In Britain, anti-Semitism is a point of convergence between the political extremities of the far-left, radical Islamism and far-right.
The Palestinian plight is seen as a long injustice and a prime matter for universal human rights. Israel is called an “Apartheid state”, and focussed on for a campaign seeking boycotts, divestments and international sanctions. Further leftwards, Israel – or Zionists, in the misused lexicon – is then accused of historical anti-Jewish motifs, such as conspiratorial control and foreign subversion, and Jews are accused of dual loyalty and complicity in “genocide”. Jewish organisations are also slurred as encouraging or fuelling anti-Semitism.
(Video: Alex Wickham)
The primitive anti-Semitism of Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories are at the pulsing heart of far-right ideology. Former British National Party leader Nick Griffin wrote the conspiratorial booklet ‘Who are the Mind Benders?’, detailing supposed Jewish influence. Islamist anti-Semitism follows similar theories. Sir Jonathan Sacks, then-Chief Rabbi, said in 2006:
These myths [the Blood Libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion] have achieved a new salience, especially in the Middle East. At times they have had murderous consequences.
A 2005 Populus poll of 500 British Muslims found 46% agreed that the Jewish community in Britain “are in league with the Freemasons to control the media and politics” and 37% replied that British Jews were “legitimate targets as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East”.
Whilst opposition to Israel’s policies and actionable hatred towards Jews are logically distinct, the spike in anti-Semitic attacks around Israeli military operations demonstrates an overlap. Anti-Semitism exists in the exiled shades of British politics, but it is necessary for political activists for confront the hatred towards Jews that is fomenting in the dark. The greater distrust towards Muslims, gypsies and other groups should also be highly concerning. British should be a light of tolerance for the world, but now that light is dimming.