Deep Roots of Antisemitism

Two months ago we reported on the alarming levels of antisemitism appearing in countries around the world, including the UK, France, Germany, Australia and the USA – to name just a few.

More evidence of the depth of the UK problem emerged this week, involving the Labour Party again. Prominent people like Rachel Riley, who protest about Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of action against antisemitism in the party, continue to be inundated with messages from his supporters attacking them for criticising him. One suggested Riley should be sued for defamation.

Rachel Riley Twitter page

This reflects the ‘standard’ defensive argument that accusations of antisemitism are simply a smear campaign designed to damage Jeremy Corbyn in his role as party leader – an issue that has surfaced again today in a dispute over a local election candidate in Swindon.

Yet the evidence keeps piling up

On Monday, a Labour MP retweeted a video he claimed showed Israeli soldiers beating-up Palestinian children. Many replies highlighted his error – the video featured Guatemalan Army soldiers, not Israelis.

But what was most troubling about his tweet was not the length of time it took him to apologise and delete it, but the fact that he accused the Israelis of beating-up Palestinian children ‘for the fun of it.’ That comment reveals far more about his attitude than it does about Israelis.

Then Simon Johnson, a member of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), highlighted Jeremy Corbyn’s tendency to shrug off issues with which he doesn’t want to engage seriously. Those include the JLC’s appeal last year that ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to antisemitism in the political party that many of them have supported for decades.

The lack of action since last year’s protest has prompted the JLC to publish a video repeating the call upon him to show that he really does care about this issue. Currently, their conclusion is that he simply doesn’t care enough.



All of this has taken place against the backdrop of initial enquiries by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who say:

‘Having received a number of complaints regarding antisemitism in the Labour Party,
we believe the Labour Party may have unlawfully discriminated against people
because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.’

And a recent ComRes survey reveals the problem has now become so great that as many as 55 in every 100 British people think that:

‘Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism within his own party 
shows he is unfit to be Prime Minister.’

Not Just the Labour Party

But antisemitism is by no means confined to the Labour Party. Another significant example emerged this week from Esteem Magazine, which suggested that Jews should look on their own doorstep for reasons as to why they are repeatedly attacked. As with the Labour MP’s tweet, this strayed into a classic negative attitude towards Jewish people.

After first claiming that their Twitter feed had been hacked, the magazine finally published an apology and the news that its director was resigning. How many more resignations will antisemitism prompt?

There is a deeply-rooted problem here and it seems to be more widespread than many people realise; other than the Jewish people who experience it in daily life.

Another example is that of a Student Union officer at Bristol University facing investigation after telling a Jewish student on social media that he should:

“Be like Israel and cease to exist.”
“Your comments are like Israeli settlements: always popping up where they are not wanted.”

The problem of antisemitism needs to be widely addressed in this country, otherwise it looks as if it will continue to spread and get worse.