This post originally appeared on Socialist Unity
7 February, 2008
As regular readers of this blog will know we have taken a strong line against anti-Semitism, and particularly have sought to expose the anti-Judaic bigotry of Gilad Atzmon.
There is a divergence of opinion of how significant anti-Semitism is as a political influence in British society today. My own view is that it is marginal but showing worrying growth. The danger is it can become socially acceptable.
In September 2006, a parliamentary enquiry heard of a sharp increase of attacks on Jews since the war in Lebanon had started. The Times reported Mark Gardener of the Community Security Trust saying: “In July, when the conflict in Lebanon began, we received reports of 92 incidents, which was the third-worst month since records began in 1984.” In 2000 the monthly average was between 10 and 30 incidents. … The July incidents “were more dispersed than usual … It is usually a small number responsible for a large number of attacks, but these were very widespread across the country and included graffiti attacks on synagogues in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The attackers, when visible, are from across society, he said. “When it’s verbal abuse, it’s just ordinary people in the street, from middle-class women to working-class men. All colours and backgrounds. We hardly ever see incidents involving the classic neo-Nazi skinhead. Muslims are over-represented.” In hate-mail to senior Jewish figures, ordinary Jewish people were being blamed for the deaths of Lebanese civilians. “There are also references to the Holocaust, saying that Hitler should have wiped out the Jews.”
The huge success of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ” reveals the large audience for the traditional Christian interpretation of the Gospels, that the Jews killed Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate “took water, and washed his hands before the [Jewish] multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” This may be a deeply unfashionable interpretation for trendy Anglicans, but it is believed by millions of Christians around the world.
Over the last few years, as an activist campaigning against the Iraq and Afghan wars, I have several times been offered the explanation that the wars have been orchestrated by Jews, along with “revelations” that various members of the British government are Jewish.
For example, this Tuesday in the pub after our local Stop the War Coalition meeting there was a discussion about the US presidential elections, and one well respected socialist activist expressed the opinion that Israel decided who the US president would be, and a member of the Green Party agreed that Jews still controlled most of the world’s money. Of course other people, including myself, challenged these views.
The individuals concerned would be horrified to be called anti-Semitic. Indeed I am sure they are not prejudiced at all against individual Jews, but they have bought into anti-Semitic narratives. The worrying thing is that so much of the left seems to ignore this problem.