By Jack Telford
#GMABlog #antisemitism #Judaism #UK
The recent murder of four innocent people in a Jewish supermarket in Paris has brought an unwanted reality into the public eye once again; the rise of anti-Semitism. Attacks across Europe on the Jewish community – such as the shooting of four people in a Jewish museum in Brussels last year and the 2012 murder of the same number in Toulouse – have brought fear and uncertainty to the minority group.
Whilst many believe that this discrimination is cut off from Britain, recent figures suggest that anti-Semitic behaviour is on the rise in the UK, with July 2014 marking the nation’s highest ever recorded levels of anti-Semitism.
The organisation illuminating this worrying trend, The Community Support Trust, found in their Anti-Semitic Incidents report that there were 36% more anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2014 than the corresponding time in 2013.
The abuse recorded was nationwide and ranged from social media comments and graffiti, to face to face threats and physical violence. A Hitler hashtag emerged on Twitter in 2014, whilst many Synagogues received threatening letters from anti-Semites.
Much of the abuse towards Jews has been triggered by Israel’s 2014 assaults on Gaza, codenamed ‘Operation Protective Edge’, which killed around 2,100 Palestinians. In many cases, British Jews have been scapegoated for Palestinian people’s suffering.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism – a UK-based Jewish grassroots organisation – published a report this month finding worrying discriminatory trends in British people’s beliefs, such as that one in four British adults think that Jews chase money more than other British people, and 18% say Jews think they’re better than other people.
The report also illustrates the fear amongst British Jews, with the finding that seven out of ten Jews feel that the Jewish community has to protect itself because the state doesn’t protect it enough.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, spoke last month against the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK, calling upon British people to re-double their efforts to defend Jews against discrimination. May echoed the thoughts of many in Britain in saying that:
“I never thought that I would see the day when members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom would say that they were fearful of remaining here.”
The fight against anti-Semitism is taking place online, too, with a blog named ‘How to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic’ receiving mass support. The blog includes advice such as ‘don’t claim that anti-Semitism is eradicated or negligible,’ and ‘don’t say “The Jews” when you mean Israel’. The blog can be read below:
Global Minorities Alliance calls upon the world community to support Jewish people at this vulnerable moment, and ensure that anti-Semitism has no place in the UK or elsewhere. GMA’s Chief Executive, Manassi Bernard, commented that:
“If you take a look back through history you can see that Jewish people have repeatedly persecuted, stereotyped and marginalised, and have not been allowed to live in peace. They are British citizens, just like anyone else, and should be allowed to practice their faith – or even just walk down the road – without fear of retribution. Given that the Holocaust is still in living memory, the people of the UK should see that their ignorance and discrimination is forming part of a continued cycle of anti-Semitism which has no place in a modern, forward-facing country.”
Anti-Semitism in the UK undermines our fundamental notion of tolerance and pluralism and causes unnecessary fear in innocent British people. It is the job of the world community to show that Jews are welcome and safe within our countries and to vehemently oppose those who would oppose them simply because of their faith.
Jack Telford is Global Minorities Alliance’s Media and Investigations Volunteer. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.