By Richard Mather…
The Palestinian issue has enabled Britain to reconnect with its medieval Jew-hating past.
Anti-Semitism in modern Britain hit an all-time high in July. Figures published by the Community Security Trust showed there were 302 anti-Semitic incidents reported in July 2014, a 400 per cent rise from the 59 reported in July 2013. A further 150 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in August 2014, the third-highest monthly total on record. Most of the offenders were of Asian and/or Middle Eastern appearance, raising fears that support for Palestinian nationalism is driving this new wave of anti-Semitism.
Of course, hatred of Jews in Britain is nothing new. In 1144 there was the first report in history of the blood libel. Anthony Julius, writing in his book Trials of the Diaspora, finds that the English were infinitely imaginative in inventing anti-Semitic allegations. He says that England became the “principal promoter, and indeed in some sense the inventor of literary anti-Semitism.”
In 1278, Jews in England were seized and imprisoned in various castles throughout England. While they were imprisoned, their houses were ransacked. Some 680 were detained in the Tower of London. More than 300 were executed in 1279 and eleven years later, King Edward I expelled the Jews from England.
Modern anti-Semitism is the product of Yasser Arafat’s 1960s invention of Palestinian nationalism. Arafat’s legacy has been to encourage generations of people to incite violence against the Jewish people and to inculcate delegitimisation, defamation and discrimination.
One of the most curious aspects of Arafat’s nationalism is its hybrid ideology, which is part reactionary religious creed, part revolutionary rhetoric. Either way, it is viciously anti-Semitic and continues to attract Britain’s disaffected youth – paradoxically, Muslims who believe in sharia law and anarchists who believe in no law at all.
This is the curious thing about Palestinianism. It is an ideology that adapts accordingly. You don’t have to a Palestinian or even a Muslim to follow this ideology. You can be a liberal or a neo-Nazi; a Presbyterian or hardcore atheist; an intellectual or a college dropout. In fact, you can be anything you want to be, just as long as you hate Jews.
Palestinianism is very inclusive and fashionably heterodox in its hatred. Christian and Muslim Palestinianists both believe in a replacement theology in which their respective faiths supersede Judaism. Liberals dislike Israel because they perceive the Jewish state as exclusivist. And socialists abhor Israel because the Jewish state is a military power with close links to the US.
The rise in anti-Semitism in Britain has received little attention, partly because much of the abuse is carried out by Muslims who are sheltered by the liberal elite, who accuse critics of Islamophobia or racism. Muslims who attack Jews claim it is retribution on behalf of their “brothers” in Gaza and the “West Bank.” And the liberal elite agrees.
Buildings and bus shelters in Britain’s university districts are plastered with pro-Gaza posters. Palestinian flags hang from the windows of student houses. Anti-Israel events are advertised around campuses. Students are permitted to invite anti-Semitic speakers, such as Hezbollah representative Ibrahim Mousawi and Abu Usamah, a radical Muslim cleric who admires Osama bin Laden.
Campus life is a microcosm of Britain and Jewish students in the UK have long spoken of an atmosphere of intimidation. Sadly, the political will to protect Jewish students from the effects of Palestinian nationalism does not exist. Instead of protecting their Jewish students, academics and student unions are too busy pursuing the Palestinian agenda by promoting boycotts and divestments.
The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has spoken of the intimidation of Jewish students in Britain as “part of a long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom and it must not be tolerated.” Regrettably, it will be tolerated as long as academics and opinion-formers in the media spread the lie that Israeli Jews are imperialist bullies with no historical connection to the land of Israel or Jerusalem.
In the British media, Israel is disproportionately blamed for all the ills of the Middle East. It is amazing how many column inches are devoted to Israel/Palestine. Far too often, media outlets provide a platform for radical Muslims who espouse hatred of Israel and Jews. And on so many occasions, the BBC broadcasts anti-Israel stories that are based on manipulated images, staged events and unsubstantiated rumours.
What is particularly sickening is the way British politicians continue to criticise Israel and romanticise the Palestinians. For example, Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, has deliberately distanced himself from the Jewish community by condemning Israel’s right to defend itself, thereby strengthening his appeal to Muslim voters.
Much worse was the recent House of Commons motion to recognise Palestine as a sovereign entity. Listening to the debate, you would be forgiven for thinking that the creation of a Palestinian state will inaugurate a period of world peace and utopian brotherhood. It would be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous.
In contemporary British discourse, the Palestinian issue is totemic. The fixation with Gaza, east Jerusalem and the “West Bank” has propagated the outrageous but popular belief that Israel is the world’s worst human rights abuser since the Nazis. But casting Israel in this role is no different from accusing Jews of killing Christian children for their blood or blaming Jews for Germany’s military defeat in 1918. The level of abuse levelled at Israel today is just another manifestation of an age-old disease.
If we want a healthy body politic, politicians and the media must resist the urge to automatically side with the Palestinians. Rather than focusing their energies on Israel’s perceived misdemeanours, people in influential positions must think twice about presuming Israel’s guilt. Moreover, it is incumbent on the media to start highlighting the corruption in the PA-controlled West Bank and the incitement against Jews in Palestinian schools, to name just two issues.
In other words, the one-sided criticism of Israel and the culture of incitement need to be addressed before some crazed pro-Palestinian activist goes into a synagogue and kills worshippers or firebombs a Jewish-owned business. We’ve seen such things happen in Europe and Israel. It can happen in Britain too. For the sake of peace, anti-Zionist incitement must stop.