Saturday, September 02, 2006

Anti-Semitic Uptick in Britain

The UK is reporting a significant rise in anti-Semitic activity since the start of the Lebanon war, much of which is connected to general anti-Israel sentiment. A parliamentary inquiry will report that "anti-Semitic violence has become endemic in Britain, both on the streets and university campuses."
The attackers, when visible, are from across society, [Mark Gardner] 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."

Mr Gardner said that the rise in attacks reflected increased hostility to Israel and Jews in the media and across society: "The number of anti-Semitic attacks reflects the mood music around Jews and Israel."

There have been several attacks in Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London, where there is a large Jewish population. La Maison du Cafe in Golders Green Road was targeted two weeks ago by two young men who threw chairs at the restaurant, punched workers and threatened to kill the owner, Ruth Cohen, with a knife.

Ms Cohen, 34, said: "They asked if it was a Jewish restaurant. They said they were going to kill me and called me a 'dirty Jew', a 'stinking Jew'. One of them had a knife. A colleague came out. They started punching him and throwing chairs."

In Hampstead Garden Suburb, swastikas and the words "Kill all Jews" and "Allah" were daubed on the house and car of Justin Stebbing. Dr Stebbing, who works at a hospital, said: "I felt violated. It's horrible."

Jon Benjamin, of the Board of Deputies, said: "The problem is the spin that Israel is an irredeemably evil regime, and we are concerned that it may become common currency to connect British Jews with this."

"We are all Hezbollah now" indeed.

I will say that, contrary to some, I think the focus on the link between anti-Semitic violence and anti-Israel sentiment is not meant to serve as a justification, but rather is an important notification of how intertwined the anti-Israel movement is with classic anti-Semitic bigotry. I don't think one can analyze the anti-Israel forces without undertaking an analysis of anti-Semitism (not that anti-Israel has to equal anti-Semitism, only that one has to keep a watchful eye for it), and vice versa: I don't think one can really analyze anti-Semitism without seeing how anti-Israel sentiment acts to nourish and sustain it. Similarly, I'm not sure why Muslim leaders casting themselves as victims of anti-Islamic backlashes in the West "makes it more likely that these kinds of attacks will occur against Jews." I think anti-Semitic violence is underreported, but I don't think that the cause of it is that the Western community is too vigilant against anti-Islamic sentiments. That's a bit of a leap.

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