No More Silence, No More Excuses: We Must Fight Anti-Semitism – Liberal Article
Anti-Semitism is on the rise. It has crept back into the mainstream. This is upsetting enough. What is worse though, is the silence of the British public. Where is the outrage? As we fight racism, we must also fight anti-Semitism.
When I saw Wiley’s slew of anti-Semitic tweets and Instagram videos, I was shocked and saddened. Here was one of Britain’s most influential Grime artists perpetrating prejudice to an audience of half a million people. His unambiguous, violent racism took many tones, even threatening to shoot members of the Jewish community. Wiley’s followers only compounded his hatred.
Thankfully, Wiley is receiving the consequences he deserves for his actions. Twitter has suspended Wiley’s account. The singer’s manager has dropped him. Scores of MPs and political commentators have denounced him. The MET has even launched an investigation. These are promising signs, right?
Wiley’s suspension, condemnation, and investigation will not make the issue of anti-Semitism disappear. His hate speech is not an isolated case.
For years, anti-Semitic behaviour has been on the rise in the UK. The first half of 2019 saw the highest number of anti-Semitic hate crimes ever recorded by the CST, a Jewish security agency. I am not optimistic that there has been much change a year on.
Across the World, anti-Semitism has seen a resurgence as well. Western European countries, such as France, have seen a spike in anti-Semitic incidences. Poland and Hungary have elected notoriously anti-Semitic governments. These are shocking, regressive moves back into an intolerant past.
Despite this, public outrage in Britain about the global rise in anti-Semitism is almost non-existent. Mentions of these events have been scant outside of the Jewish community. This needs to be seriously addressed.
What about anti-Semitism in the 2019 election? We could argue that the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism under Corbyn resulted in his failure at the 2019 General Election. Surely this shows Britain cares about anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Let’s consider those who voted for Labour in 2017 but defected in 2019. The majority defected because of Brexit and economic reasons. Issues surrounding the party’s anti-Semitism do not appear at all amongst those surveyed. This is despite the severe concerns expressed by Britain’s Jewish community about Corbyn’s Party. Apathy towards anti-Semitism runs wild, even amongst the anti-Labour voting public. Yet, anti-Semitism is beyond party politics. It runs through the left and the right wings alike.
So how do we go about fighting anti-Semitism, and encourage public outrage? First, we need to resolve some obstacles that sadly lie in many people’s minds. I will address three of them.
One obstacle would be the myth of ‘Jewish privilege’. The narrative runs that Jewish people do not need to be fought for. That they are ‘privileged enough already’ some will say. But while these statements are obviously anti-Semitic, it should be acknowledged that the whole concept of ‘Jewish privilege’ is unfounded. Jewish schools and places of worship receive heavy funding to ensure they are safe. Jewish students receive regular training on countering terrorism. Would you consider the constant threat against your existence as a sign of privilege?
Another obstacle for many, perhaps, is the idea that because I am not Jewish, I do not need to speak out. This tells us about our moral backbone more than anything. Those of us who are privileged enough not to experience anti-Semitism should use our privilege to fight this evil. The suffering of our fellow human beings cannot be allowed to continue unhindered whilst we watch complacently.
We must counter anti-Semitism with liberal society’s greatest weapon: education. We must inform ourselves about the prevalence of anti-Semitism in society. We must listen to Jewish voices. We must consider their lived experiences as valid. Most importantly, we must not be fooled into thinking anti-Semitism has ended.
We must recognise that anti-Semitism is, unfortunately, not a thing of the past. It is also not just limited to the Nazis. Education in both our systems and our reading needs to stress anti-Semitism throughout history, and how it carries on today.
As society begins to tackle its institutional racism, we must not forget the fight against anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is not over yet. We must continue the fight. No more silence. No more excuses.
Note: Whilst I focus on anti-Semitism exclusively here, this does not invalidate the persecution and racism other religions and people face. I express my hatred for China’s genocide of the Uyghur Muslims, which I plan to write about in the immediate future.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
Point of Information
A rejection of anti-semitism is only coherent with a rejection of nationalism – A Labour Response
To the question of whether they would be willing to accept Jews as members of their family, the rate of negative responses in the UK was 23%, higher even than the rates of Austria and Germany. Out of the entirety of western Europe, only Italy showed higher rates.
The problem is far worse in eastern Europe. A sizeable minority (28%) of Poles do not accept Jews as citizens and even more do not accept Muslims and Roma. A Pew survey found that attitudes towards Jews are closely related to opinions on cultural diversity in general, 57% of Poles say its better if society is composed of people from the same ethnic, religious and cultural background and 55% of Poles agree that “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.”
Negative attitudes towards Muslims in Europe are still far higher, but negative attitudes towards both are highly correlated with each other. The correlations of both are a lack of education, nationalist opinions and far-right ideologies. The rise of nationalism in the UK is also a deeply troubling cause for concern regarding the likelihood of continued rising antisemitism.
It is easy to see why nationalism and anti-Semitism are so closely related. When asked if “Jews always pursue their own interests and not the interest of the country they live in”, 16% of UK citizens responded affirmatively with the statement. It is glaringly obvious that having a heightened sense of pride and a desire for conformity around loyalty to a national identity makes nationalists anti-Semitic.
The most tolerant of western-European countries were the usual shining examples of social-democracy: Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Norway has labour, socialist, centre and progress parties sharing cabinet offices, Sweden’s cabinet is made up of social democrats and Greens, and Denmark has an entirely social-democratic cabinet. The pro-social politics of inclusion and the refusal to employ national and religious identity as salient criteria for citizenship prove once again to be the most effective tools against anti-Semitic intolerance. Tools which conservatives totally reject.
A rejection of anti-Semitism is incoherent unless in the same breath it rejects nationalism. This is the reason why I believe that most of the conservatives expressing concern about antisemitism in the Labour party are but weeping crocodiles. The Tories time and time again have shown their willingness to stoop to the lowest levels of political discourse in order to retain power. Reviving the language of nationalism and thereby validating anti-Semites across the UK. I whole-heartedly agree with Frank’s arguments and the concerns that it raises.
I am compelled therefore to declare that a vote against anti-Semitism is a vote for the Labour party. While Labour has its problems regarding antisemitism, the Conservative party’s are seldom discussed. Most glaringly is the fact that the Conservative party saw fit to elect a leader whose book describes Jewish oligarchs who run the media and fix elections and depicts a Jewish character with “a proud nose and curly hair” who is malevolent, stingy and exploitative.
I submit that Labour supporters would never allow someone with such obvious pre-existing affinity for antisemitism to rise to the role of leader in the Labour party. Labour cares.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Joseph Cradick
“Education and reform” – A Conservative Response
Anti-Semitism is a hugely contested topic. I am thankful to the author for raising this important issue that needs to be actioned. British politics has been engulfed by these scandals the past year which is frankly unacceptable.
Boris Johnson has taken the right steps thus far to stamp this out from the Conservative Party. Jeremy Corbyn failed to combat this issue within the Labour Party as its leader and I am glad that Keir Starmer has taken greater action. Each political party should have an independent board overseeing party complaints and procedures to ensure that there is greater scrutiny and oversight.
I am a great believer in education, scrutiny, and oversight but there should also be harsher punishments. Boris Johnson has made a great start, but I am sure both authors would agree that greater responses need to happen.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski
I am a graduate of the University of Exeter where I studied politics, philosophy and economics. I used this fantastic opportunity to pursue my deepest interests in the subjects of moral philosophy and political psychology.
I am Max Jablonowski, a second year student studying French and Politics at the University of Exeter, and I am about to go on my year abroad to Paris to complete two internships. I was Academic Events Manager of the Politics Society in Exeter and I was privileged enough to organize events such as Question Time, co-host the 2019 General Election Hustings with MWEXE and host the Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the current Minister of State for Security.