Worrying risk in antisemitism

The Community Standards Trust, which campaigns for safety for the Jewish community, hit the headlines with claims that many Jews were considering leaving the country.  The Jewish Chronicle responded with its own survey, which confirmed concerns about rising antisemitism, but which had a much less headline grabbing figure about emigration.  (88 per cent of Jews haven’t considered leaving the country, it said, and most of those who had were young people who might have many reasons.)

Bigotry against any community is vile and wrong.  That against Jews has a particularly depressing element, in that we know where antisemitism has lead.  The Thirties and Forties should have told us for all time. Those with the slightest understanding of history will know that many Jews fled to Britain as a refuge in Victorian times, and again in the Thirties, and that their long term contribution to our culture, science, economy, politics and community was astonishing.  Just as, say, the Ugandan Asians reviled at the time, proved not to be a drain on our society but a strengthening of it.

Meanwhile efforts to demonise Muslims as some kind of enemy within continue, antisemitism’s equally ugly twin brother.

We live in a culture with overlapping loyalties of faith, politics, ethnicity and community.  We need to find ways to live and work together, that do not mean shutting down debates about values and practices, that understands a free society will have to allow people to say things that might offend, but that does not seek offence as a virtue.  Much of what is peddled about British tolerance in the past is rosy tinted nonsense but we need to be strong and wise if we are to face the future together.



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