Over the years I’ve often myopically associated anti-Semitism with the far-right or Islamist extremists who harbour a special antipathy for Jews. But a new report, Antisemitism Barometer 2019, suggests Jew hatred in Britain is more prevalent amongst the far-left when compared to the far-right. Perhaps this should all come as little surprise, given Corbyn’s Labour is currently under investigation for allegations of anti-Semitism by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). No doubt it’s an uncomfortable truth for Labour moderates to countenance, especially when the only other party to have been investigated by the EHRC is the BNP, which was forced to change their white only membership policy. This isn’t a good look for Labour in the run up to the general election.
The report comes in the wake of the chief rabbi’s unprecedented intervention over Labour’s perceived anti-Semitism and is based on a Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) commissioned YouGov survey of the British population’s attitudes towards Jews in 2018 and 2019. The survey was designed and analysed by academic Dr Daniel Allington from King’s College London and the polling conducted prior to the general election being called. The foreword by CAA’s Chief Executive, Gideon Falter, states ‘Britain stands at a crossroads. This tolerant nation which has long been among the best places in the world in which to live as a Jew is being poisoned by antisemitism, and British Jews are considering leaving the country on a scale unprecedented since mediaeval times.’ You don’t have to be a Jew to fathom the gravity of this statement – after all, history has taught us Jews are often the canary in the coal mine – others soon follow.
The survey results paint an ugly picture, with around 40 per cent of British Jews considering leaving the UK – the majority citing anti-Semitism in politics – and many of them mentioning Corbyn or his party as a reason for doing so. The poll showed that 35 per cent of those who ‘strongly like’ the Labour leader agreed with four or more statements deemed to be anti-Semitic, while 58 per cent of the same cohort holding two or more anti-Semitic views. The results indicate Corbyn’s supporters are more likely to be anti-Semitic compared to supporters of other party leaders. The report states, ‘The leader of the once fiercely anti-racist Labour party is now the candidate of choice for anti-Jewish racists, and 84 per cent of British Jews feel that he is a threat specifically to Jews.’ Legitimate criticism of the government of Israel or India doesn’t make you anti-Jew or anti-Hindu, however the majority of those surveyed said they had witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as a political comment about Israel or Zionism. I guess it doesn’t help matters when Hamas praise Corbyn, or that now famous reference to them and Hezbollah as ‘friends’.
Most troubling of all, the poll showed 38 per cent of British Jews choose to hide their identity (the Star of David and kippah) in public in a hope to avoid anti-Jewish hate. This report coincides with the terrible news of a rabbi getting beaten up whilst his attackers shouted ‘kill Jews’ and ‘fuck Jews’. There’s some anecdotal evidence suggesting young turbaned Sikhs who were targeted in ‘mistaken identity’ attacks post-9/11 chose to cut their hair or wear base-ball caps to avoid confusion with Osama bin Laden. Despite this, most Sikhs I know – baptised or not, remain confident projecting their identity in Britain – even if it’s just the kara (iron/steel bracelet). Indeed, it would be a sad day if we had to consider being inconspicuous for fear of our safety. This appears to be the reality for many Jews.
Notably, CAA aren’t afraid to point to ‘Islamist’ anti-Semitism – a strain which is often overlooked by those invested in the annoying and, at times, sanctimonious interfaith industry.
I guess it’s the actions of individuals like Asma Shuweikh that give us some hope. In a video that recently went viral on Twitter, Ms Shuweikh, a Muslim woman in a hijab, is seen bravely intervening and confronting a man on the tube who is reading anti-Jewish Bible passages to two young boys in skullcaps. The CAA and KCL study shows far-left Jew-hatred has overtaken that of the far-right. But if there’s any good to come of this, it will be from powerful acts of solidarity like this.