On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz British author Michelle Shine writes for the W&Y on the rise of anti-Semitism.
The phrase ‘Never Again’ is imprinted on every Jew’s mind. Now, in the week of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, it is timely to reflect on the recent rise of Jew hatred in the UK.
The first time I noticed virulent Jew hatred in print was on social media in 2014 during Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’. I had no in-depth knowledge of politics at the time. I would have laughed if you would have said Israel is an imperialist, apartheid state; she is a democracy, the size of Wales, with citizens who have immigrated there from all over the globe.
I soon learned to despair at the unsupported claims people chose to believe. Jon Snow of Channel 4 News in particular, was a disaster for Israel’s reputation, already darkened by the UN’s perpetual bias against her and misleading headlines around the world that suggest that only in Israel it is the terrorists that are the victims.
Jon Snow, consistently blamed Israel, day after day, for child violence which he reported directly from the perspective of Hamas. He never seemed to mention that Hamas, the terror organisation that controls Gaza, allegedly threatened journalists for reporting how they used civilian sites to attack Israel, a country that has had to defend her citizens from Arab attacks every single day since her creation.
I hadn’t expected that kind of overt prejudice. It completely blew me away at the time. It was starting to become obvious that the bigotry was coming, not from far-right extremists, but from a new breed of very aggressive left-wing campaigners. It was a discrimination that had even infected the Green Party, the party I had consistently voted for up until 2015. At that pertinent time, I wanted to know their views on Jewish people and Israel and stumbled upon a website called Greens Engage, and in particular, an article entitled In the Green Party anti-Semitism can be affirming.
Israel’s importance to the Jewish people is not only spiritual – the land of Israel has been the indigenous home of our people for over 3,000 years and touching down at Lod airport when I was a child was an inherently emotional experience – but her survival is also our survival, as a race and as a people.
Before 1948 Jews had nowhere to flee to when persecution become acceptable in the country they called home. A phenomenon which has happened continually throughout our tribe’s history. As it says in the Haggadah, the book of Passover, ‘In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us’.
As a young person, I dismissed the religion’s teachings as irrelevant to my safe and secular life in the UK, but when the leader of the Labour Party – a man who could be elected to run our country – enabled a whole army of anti-Semites, I realised humanity had not evolved beyond irrational Jew hatred and Jewish people still need to have the knowledge and the warnings of our religious teachings.
I had become the recipient of attacks on Jews via social media, mostly recycled Nazi tropes and reposts of articles in magazines like The Canary and The Electronic Intifada. I found it alarming that these postings were coming from my acquaintances and colleagues. Armed with my newly sourced historical research, I countered the attacks with well documented and often incontrovertible facts. My attackers were not concerned with the validity of my argument and retaliated with comments that suggested Jews should be sacrificing their own interests for the NHS and the poor. I had been asked such strange things like, what do I think of Philip Green? And of course, what about Islamophobia? The favourite deflection from Jew hatred.
At the same time, I was becoming aware of Jew hate in UK universities. The leader of the NUS had been accused of antisemitism. Huge crowds of young people were rallying around Corbyn and he became the star attraction at Glastonbury.
I was incredibly fearful about the possibility of a Corbyn led government and was already talking with my family about leaving the country if he was handed the keys to number 10. Friends asked, ‘But where will you go?’ ‘The only country that will have me,’ I replied.
With our history, any Jew that isn’t a Zionist is against their own survival, especially when a hostile environment swells around an emblem of power. Those who call for the annihilation of Israel are also calling for the annihilation of our people. The fact that there are Jews who don’t realise this is incredibly difficult for someone like me to understand. As are those who still vote Labour in denial that anti-Semitism exists
As usual, this kind of threatening Jew hatred arrived as a warning to the rest of society. For in Jeremy Corbyn, we have someone who purports to be a man of the people, but to date his words of support have only been for vicious regimes. For example, where is his solidarity for the Palestinian people who are tortured and abused in Syria and also by their own leaderships in Gaza and the West Bank?
He has consistently voted against anti-terror laws since he became an MP in the 1980s. Has paid his respects at the gravesides of IRA and Islamist terrorists but has never once visited the gravesides of their victims..He is also against the UK’s deterrent weaponry but lauds those who use lethal weapons against ordinary citizens. On a more local level, he has chosen to do nothing about ‘industrial scale child abuse’ happening in his own constituency, despite being alerted to the atrocity by social workers.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that ten million people voted for him to become PM in our recent, December 2019 election. It’s not as if his immorality had been kept a secret. The media was full of it. Everyone knew.
Michelle Shine is the author of the novel ‘Mesmerised’