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Saturday, 31 December 2011

English Antisemitism: In A League Of Its Own?

Mark.UlyseasThis is an updated version of an article which has just been published in the online international magazine, Live Encounters. Editor, Mark Ulyseas is an Indian travel writer who supports Israel and all matters Jewish.

They say the English Premier Soccer League is the most lucrative in the world.  But what of native antisemitism? That’s surely in a league of its own!

While I often warn against seeing antisemitism where it doesn’t exist, I must stress that it is ever-present. This happens both when there are no Jews in evidence – and even when those spouting anti-Jewish hatred have never knowingly met a Jew throughout their lives.

The situation has become increasingly, depressingly, indecently nasty since  Israel’s war in Gaza during December 2008 - January 2009. This, I believe is because it coincided with the start of the world economic recession.

Once again, international  Jewry has found itself the world’s scapegoat for money worries. Yet despite fantastic competition from the likes of  Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain - and most recently Belgium,  British Jew hatred is now like it was centuries ago.

Certainly, it is the worst it has been since the end of World War II and those old enough to remember say it was present even then – barely before the flames of the Holocaust had been doused or the State of Israel was born.

Now it is a fashion accessory for the politically correct and is so much part of the fabric of British culture that it is allowed to fester – most often disguised as anti-Holocaust.Memorial.Hyde.Park.LondonZionism – whereas any remarks about and actions against blacks and other ethnic minorities are confronted without delay.

Some time during 2011, The Jewish Chronicle reported that in 2010 “there were more major antisemitic attacks in Britain last year than in any other diaspora country.”

Anti.Israel.Demo.London.May.2009Using evidence gathered by researchers at Tel Aviv University, The added: Almost one in four attacks which took place worldwide happened in Britain …there were 614 incidents worldwide, 144 of which were perpetrated in the UK … while most European countries have either a strong far-right presence, as in Eastern Europe, or a strong Muslim pro-Palestinian community, as in Western Europe. What is ‘very unique to Britain’ is that is both are strong, and both are perpetrating attacks against Jews.”

As non-Brits, the T.A.U. team co-led by Dr Roni Stauber could not possibly begin to understand the daily reality behind the figures and so the reasons for them.

Jews have lived in England both openly and covertly since the reign of William 1, even possibly since Roman times. Some stayed secretly after the 1290 expulsion initiated by Edward 1 and there was a further ‘mini-expulsion’ ordered by James I. But they started to drift back during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell when their presence was tolerated if not formally allowed.

Today, the mainstream Anglo-Jewish community continues to dwindle because of a low-birth rate and the pull of emigration to Israel and elsewhere. However it is growing rapidly in parts of London and Manchester due to communities made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews which produce large families.

As an aside, I speculate whether the future Anglo-Jewish community will be made up exclusively of ‘Haredim’, left to do battle with their mirror-opposite Islamist opponents. I appreciate that neither side wants to know this, but sadly they  have much –- an embarrassment of riches - in common!

Be that as it may, British attitudes are hardened partly because the population is an island race with a xenophobic distrust of and hostility towards any outsider. These feelings became entrenched, partly through the teachings of the Church and also via brilliantly sketched anti-heroic Jewish figures in English literature which have become integral to the mental landscape of anyone who reads, watches a play or views a movie.

Al.Pacino.Shylock.02I do not necessarily agree that figures like Shylock and Fagin are antisemitic. But they help to explain the society which produced them; made them pantomime villains and so deeply etched a certain version of Jews into the public psyche that the average person may find it hard to distinguish the fictional characters from real Jewish people with whom they may be acquainted. Fagin,Ben.Kingsley


All of which brings me to the utterly nauseating antisemitism which is allowed to permeate the online media and  a request I have made to the current Leveson Inquiry in London.

Lord Justice Leveson (a prominent Jew in private life) is investigating the culture, practice and ethics of the Press following the ‘phone hacking’ scandal in the U.K which reached its height and then closed The News of the World newspaper in July 2011.Lord.Justice.Leveson

There is a huge amount of Jew-hatred allowed in readers’ comment sections in the on-line Press. Sadly, it is far worse in a forum like the Telegraph Online than those with notoriously anti-Israel policies like The Guardian.I simply can’t fathom why. Even the Telegraph’s ‘FAQ’ section doesn’t clear up the mess. It states:

My Telegraph is moderated by a dedicated team of moderators here at the Telegraph who investigate reports of unsuitable material that are sent in by users … We moderate to help encourage free, open and civil discussion. We try to delete as little as possible though some content has to be removed, usually for legal reasons, sometimes for taste reasons and always with the aim of keeping the community running smoothly and minimising conflict …

“… We don’t read the comments before they go live so that discussions here flow freely. Therefore we rely on readers to complain about anything that is offensive or inappropriate …

“The main types of content that we remove are … personal abuse … libellous comments … racist, sexist and homophobic material and comments likely to incite religious hatred. This should be self-explanatory. Generalisations about entire groups of people are never sensible and, in some cases, may be illegal.” (my highlight).

“ …we moderate by responding to complaints from readers …   Many factors are involved in our decision. The words you use and the context in which the comment is made can affect our decision as much as the content itself. However, we accept that moderation is a subjective business.”

So the Telegraph’s policy is confusing, self-contradictory and totally meaningless. If the moderators can’t decide what incites racial hatred then I suggest they need a lawyer to help them. Perhaps Lord Leveson may be their man!

I’ve now contacted the Leveson Inquiry and appealed that it widen its brief in order to deal with the problem. My request concludes thus:

My hope is that the Government's decision to ban online criminals and cyber bullies will be followed by a severe crack-down on internet racism, perhaps under the terms of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.”

I have received a standard reply assuring me: “All submissions are read and considered by a member of the Inquiry Team.  We may contact you to discuss your submission further in due course, if this is appropriate.”

I have a sneaking suspicion I won’t hear from them again. If I’m right, that will be another lost opportunity; another bad day for racial harmony – and another reason for more British Jews to leave the U.K. for overseas.

  • I omitted much more material from this piece when I first wrote it for Live Encounters. I may have opined that physical, thuggish antisemitism reflects a brutish streak in British society which, for example, saw more than a dozen murders during the recent so-called ‘Season of Goodwill.’
  • I could also have trotted out the truism that British anti-Jewish feeling is split largely into the ‘yobbish’ (as above) and the ‘snobbish’. This is where, as another example, the on-going, obnoxious  antics of too many young Conservative Party members is revealed.
  • Their leader, Prime Minister David Cameron must feel heartily sickened every time increasing amounts of such mindless bad-boy behaviour is revealed. He does not shirk from discussing his own  Jewish background and also has many Jewish acquaintances.
  • So, as it was he who first called for this current inquiry into ‘Press Malpractice’, I challenge him to ensure that online antisemitism is  first thoroughly examined and then stamped out for good by Lord Leveson and his team.


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