Beneath the surface, the ‘old’ antisemitism is still there – and growing

There is much talk of a ‘new’ antisemitism, although ‘contemporary’ would be more accurate; beneath the surface, the ‘old’ antisemitism is still there - and growing.

By Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust, a Jewish community charity dealing with antisemitism and security issues, working closely with all sections of British Jewry, police, and politicians

Today, Community Security Trust releases its Antisemitic Incidents Report 2010 (pdf). The report shows that CST recorded 639 antisemitic incidents across the UK last year, the second-highest annual total since CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984.

This is 31 per cent down on 2009, which was to be expected as 2009 saw a record high number of incidents due to antisemitic reactions to the Gaza conflict. However, it is 17% more than the 2008 figure of 546 antisemitic incidents, and continues the decade-long trend of rising antisemitic incident levels.

Reporting rates are, of course, an important variable in all this. Racist incidents of all types are notoriously under-reported; and CST has received valuable support from police, and both the current and previous governments in order to encourage victims to come forward. Nevertheless, even taking this into account it seems clear that the situation is worsening, and similar trends have been reported by many other Jewish communities around the world.

In addition to the 639 antisemitic incidents, CST received reports of a further 372 incidents that, on investigation, did not appear to be antisemitic and so were not included in the annual total. These 372 non-antisemitic incidents mainly consisted of criminal activity affecting Jewish people or property, suspicious behaviour at Jewish locations and anti-Israel activity that was not antisemitic. (If anti-Israel expressions are shouted at somebody just because they are Jewish, or thought to be Jewish, then the random nature of it would constitute an antisemitic incident.)

Detailed analysis of the antisemitic incidents reported to CST during 2010 showed that the most common type of antisemitic incident was random verbal abuse on the street, directed at people who are visibly Jewish. The most common type of perpetrator was a white adult male, and the racism was twice as likely to mention the Holocaust (invoked in 158 of the incidents) than the Middle East (75 incidents).

At root, this is basic, street-level antisemitism, coming from racists (of all backgrounds) who would just as readily attack other minorities too. The analysis should not be over-simplified, and CST’s report details differences between what we might call the political and the thuggish, but it seems increasingly clear that anti-Jewish racists will take whatever is around them and use it as a form of abuse.

So, if Israel is in the news, as it was during the Gaza conflict and on many other occasions in recent years, then that is what the perpetrators (regardless of their ethnic or religious origin) will utilise – and if Israel is out of the news, then they will fall back upon Hitler, the Holocaust, Jews as Christ killers, or whatever else it is that excites their hateful imagination.

This shows that the fundamental issue is not about how Jews behave – whether in Israel today, or in Poland 70 years ago – rather, it is about racists and antisemites, much as it has always been.

Additionally, each year CST sees cases involving people who staunchly deny being racist, but get so carried away by their hatred of Israel that they lose control and attack Jews, revealing deep prejudices which they probably never knew they had. Their contrition after being caught by police is welcome and is likely sincere, but is of limited help to their victims. Naturally, when Israel is in the news, this kind of incident becomes more common; and the number of apparently Muslim perpetrators increases.

In a year such as 2010, when Israel did not dominate the headlines, the layer of Israel-related antisemitism is reduced, revealing the bedrock of unadulterated antisemitism that persists year in, year out. This then provides the starting point for even worse incident levels should a significant “trigger event” occur, such as the Gaza conflict in 2009.

There is much talk of a ‘new’ antisemitism, although ‘contemporary’ would be more accurate. This is real and important, but risks distracting us from the fact that, beneath the surface, the ‘old’ antisemitism is still there – and growing.

28 Responses to “Beneath the surface, the ‘old’ antisemitism is still there – and growing”

  1. Adam

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  2. Wes Streeting

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  3. Oxford Kevin

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  4. oxkev

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  5. shamikdas

    Worrying stats: RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  6. Daniel Drage

    Depressing, but pertinent…RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  7. Denis MacEoin

    I haven’t yet read the CST’s report, but it is clear from the UK All-Party Parliamentary report and its European equivalent that a growing factor in modern anti-Semitism is Islamic Jew hatred. The old anti-Semitism is still there, but possibly diminishing, whereas Islamic anti-Semitism has a long history and is fuelled by people belonging to other cultures where hatred of Jews is more or less ubiquitous. Similarly, while it is easy to see how some anti-Israel activity is not anti-Semitic, I think more of it is than can be recorded. In the Middle East, almost all anti-Israel sentiment is expressed in blatantly anti-Semitic terms (think of the chant used on board the Mavi Marmara, ‘Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return’), and much of this does seep across into Europe and the USA. If we talk about the ‘old’ anti-Semitism growing and ignore this more vigorous strain, the problem will not be solved.

  8. Stuart Gray

    Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing – Left Foot Forward http://goo.gl/fb/31Tys

  9. Mehdi Hasan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  10. Demsey Abwe

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing http://bit.ly/ePmP1d

  11. g00nergirl

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  12. James Macintyre

    RT @leftfootfwd: Beneath the surface, the 'old' antisemitism is still there – and growing: http://bit.ly/gsjrvB

  13. Joanne Jarvis-Sherwood Vaughns

    I have had nothing but assumptions and invalid actions, accusations, and even threats aimed at me since the Catholic Church realized I was a masqued Jewish person. The line is registered. Chabad is a great environment, if you need help in any way on this matter. They are on net, and open to all. Blessings, and home soon.

  14. Danny

    All racism is of course unacceptable but to put this in context there are 62 million people in the UK and as you would expect that many of the incidents would be perpetrated by the same people these are literally one in a million.

  15. Adam Apple

    @Denis MacEoin “a growing factor in modern anti-Semitism is Islamic Jew hatred”

    Try reading the facts before making sweeping generalisations.

    “The CST said that where it had established something of the perpetrator’s identity, 47% were white, 29% were Asian, 10% were Arab, 7% were black and 6% were Eastern European.”

  16. trebor

    And I guess no one should mention the racism in Israel towards the Palestinians, immigrants,and non-Jews. What comes around, goes around.

  17. Anon E Mouse

    Great article – spot on and about time.

    The sooner the BBC stop calling the West Bank Palestine the better…

  18. Gideon

    @Danny has an excellent point.

    Furthermore, this is an important issue which deserves a less emotive, and more reasonable response. Some of the suppositions made here seem unfounded based on the evidence presented, and this reads more like sensationalism than thoughtful journalism.

    Chief among my concerns about the articles reasoning is the link between the presence of Israel in the news and anti-semitism in the streets:

    1) “In a year such as 2010, when Israel did not dominate the headlines, the layer of Israel-related antisemitism is reduced, revealing the bedrock of unadulterated antisemitism that persists year in, year out.”

    In May 2010 Israel was put in the front and centre of the world’s media for its actions against the aid flotilla bound for Gaza. I can think of few, if any, years when Israel received so MUCH media attention for such an extended period of time, and yet the numbers feel from the year before. Of note: I don’t believe there has been another event in which there was such widespread condemnation of Israel’s behaviour by the international community.

    This alone put the article on shaky ground in terms of one of its central assumptions. However I also think it is unwise to posit a simple link between Israel’s media presence and these events. Isn’t it more likely that it is something more like “Israel’s media presence in which they are portrayed as acting violently or otherwise controversially” would have an effect? I doubt anti-semitism would increase if Israel was on the news for brokering a peace deal, for example.

  19. modernity

    trebor wrote:

    “And I guess no one should mention the racism in Israel towards the Palestinians, immigrants,and non-Jews. What comes around, goes around.”

    I believe that trebor is blaming Israelis for physical attacks on Jews in Britain? Or could it be he just approves of attacks on Jews?

  20. Joshua111

    As a Jewish progressive I am concerned to see CST treated s a neutral, authoratitve body on LFF. Its a very controversial organisation, with a multi-million pound budget, they have a strongly political agenda and represent the most conservative pole of the Jewish community.

  21. trebor

    Israel has been taken over by racist, religious, fanatics that more than match anything coming from the ayatollahs. We have former Chief Rabbi Yosef, leader of the Shaa Party claiming that non-Jews were created, like donkeys to serve the Jews. A nice Hitleresque view of a Jewish “master race”. He have the popular book “Torat Hamelech” written by two Rabbis that is a justification to kill non-Jews and even their babies pre-emptively since non-
    Jews are not “compassionate”. Other Rabbis call for the annihilation of all Arabs, using Palestinian children as human shields, not renting or selling property to non-Jews etc. One can only wonder how many of the settlers and Ultra-Orthodox believe these views. Unless Israel can rein in these fanatics, Israel’s supporters will be feeling increasing anti-semitism worldwide

  22. joe kane

    Here is some background info on the well-paid zionist Mark Gardner, and the CST, who have a political and financial stake in spreading scare stories about antisemitism here in the UK –
    Proof that the Community Security Trust’s statistics of ‘anti-Semitism’ are subject to Political Manipulation
    Tony Greenstein’s Blog
    21 Feb 2010

    Heavy-handed treatment of Jewish people by the zionists of the CST doesn’t count as antisemitism apparantly –
    CST Thugs Violently Eject 2 Jewish People from Zionist ‘Environmental‘Meeting
    Tony Greenstein’s Blog
    10 Feb 2010

    At root, this is basic, street-level antisemitism, coming from racists (of all backgrounds)…
    – What about zionist antisemitic abuse from the likes of Jonathan Hoffman, of the Zionist Federation UK, who is to be seen most Saturdays outside the Ahava shop in London deliberately shouting antisemitic abuse at pro-boycott Palestine solidarity supporters who are Jewish?

  23. Mike, London

    It is undoubtedly true that there are instances of unambiguous racial abuse aimed at Jews. However statements by the CST need to be treated with great caution.

    * They include instances that are demonstrably misinterpreted in their statistics
    * They refuse to engage in discussion about the validity of interpretations they have made
    * They are used as heavy handed security to ensure that ‘the wrong sort of Jews’ are excluded from, or physically thrown out of, events run by the Zionist Federation and other pro-Israel organisations
    * They will not investigate or record instances where anti-Zionist Jews are subjected to abuse including being called Christ-killers.

    They are firmly part of the Jewish community which wholeheartedly supports Israel. They display the EUMC working definition on their site which is a deliberate attempt to label much, if not all, criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

    They work closely with the Union of Jewish Students to prevent discussion of Israel’s activities on UK campuses and support British democracy by trying to prevent free speech.

  24. modernity

    trebor wrote:

    “Jews are not “compassionate”.”

    It is a pity that those here, moaning about the CST, can’t even see anti-Jewish racism when it is staring them in the face.

    Look at trebor’s remarks, and think….if you can…try to see the racism in his comments

  25. Julia Gasper

    I disagree strongly that “the old anti-semitism is still there”. I have many Jews among my close friends and don’t think they are all Zionists. I was brought up with jewish people and have never in my entire life in Britain ever witnessed any case of anti-Semitic prejudice, even expressed in provate. Yes, many of us have started to wrorry about Zionist extremism but that is another matter altogether. We also worry about Islamic extremism, rather more so as it affects the whole world not just a small strip of the middle east. In UKIP we have plenty of Jewish members and I believe we have one Jewish MEP though I am too polite to ask them. We do not ask our candidates about religion or ethnic origin. If the BNP does this, (I wouldn’t know) then they are weird. They don’t represent anyone I have ever encountered. Jewish people are totally integrated into our nation and our culture. Being Jewish British is something that everybody I know totally accepts and understands.

  26. maxy

    .I think it is a great shame that LFF have decided to public this article which is clealy not evidence=based blogging. I would be interested ot hear LFF editorial justification. The statistics about the attacks on Jewish people in the UK cannot be divorced from the Israel Palestine conflict as long as the majority of Jews in this country give unqualified support to the state of Israel. The Jewish community cannot have it both ways. Israel may be a democratic state for Jewish people but continues to use at every opportunity, unprecedented violence and subjugation against Palestinians. Which law abiding state and fully fledged democracy would continue to build settlements in the West Bank knowing them to be illegal? It seems that the Jewish people and the state of Israel seem to think they are above international law and that any criticism of their actions is conveniently cloaked in anti Semitism rhetoric. I can remember a time at the LSE when Jewish students (who were no better than thugs) used to storm meetings en masse to prevent even the word Palestine being mentioned.

  27. Roger

    Maxy,

    My interest as a historian was piqued by your description of Jewish thugs storming LSE meetings en masse.

    This is so profoundly foreign to my own experience that I really must ask you to provide for some places, dates and references.

    Having done that you can then maybe explain how precisely it is that vandalising a synagogue or desecrating Jewish graves with swastikas helps the Palestinian cause?

Leave a Reply