Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2010

8 Dec 2011 by Mark Gardner

CST's final report of the year is out today.

This is CST’s fourth annual report on antisemitic discourse, examining public discussion of antisemitism, Jews and Jewish issues in mainstream media and politics. It may be read in pdf format (51 pages, including graphics) at the publications section of CST’s website. The cover shows part of the page from "kill a jew day" on Facebook.

It is not CST's intention to brand those in the report as antisemites. Nevertheless, their behaviours have distinctly negative impacts upon British Jews.

The report begins with an executive summary, which outlines the complexity of a situation in which explicit antisemitism is rare, but antisemitic themes persist in anti-Zionism. This is followed by introductory context about Jewish life in Britain, and philosophical and legal definitions of antisemitism. For example (p.10):

Antisemitism is a global phenomenon, occurring even where there are no Jews. Its manifestation and expression may range from violent thuggery and attempted genocide, to literary, philosophical and political discourse. Antisemitism has been described as an ideology in its own right; but Anthony Julius has argued that it is undeserving of such status and should rather be regarded as a polluter of ideologies.

The contextualisation then continues, showing the relationship between British Jews, Zionism and Israel; and explaining how diverse political streams have each adopted versions of anti-Zionism that variously copy, obscure and refine older forms of antisemitism. For example (p.15):

‘Anti-Zionism’, in its content, motivation and physical antisemitic impacts, can differ greatly across the varying ideological streams (e.g., far left, far right, Islamist, anti-globalisation) within which it occurs. Nevertheless, ‘Zionist’ resonates across these ideologies as denoting a political, financial, military and media conspiracy that is centred in Washington and Jerusalem, and which opposes authentic local interests.

The two largest sections in the report concern the old antisemitic charge of secret Jewish power (which distinguishes antisemitism from other forms of racism); and the newer antisemitic trend to deny, minimise or simply abuse the Holocaust.

Pages 21 to 27 discuss the Jewish power accusation. There are two cases from within the Palace of Westminster, featuring two (then) Labour MPs, Gerald Kaufman and Martin Linton at a Friends of Al Aqsa meeting, and Lord Phillips at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting; two articles in the Independent concerning American pro-Israel lobbyists; Oliver Stone in the Sunday Times; articles on the website of Middle East Monitor; an article on Guardian Comment is Free, and a BBC Radio 4 broadcast in which a guest stated that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Jews (ie over 5% of  diaspora Jews) "will help the Mossad".

Pages 32 to 39 discuss the misuse of the Holocaust. There are three cases of the British National Party denying or minimising the Holocaust. This is then followed by examples of the Socialist Workers Party obscuring an Auschwitz related-insult; the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign repeatedly abusing the Holocaust in its anti-Israel propaganda; experienced anti-racsim activist Lee Jasper equating Israel with Nazis at an Islamic Human Rights Commission event; and a highly abusive Holocaust-Israel exchange of letters in the Morning Star, made even worse by the newspaper's choice of headlines, such as "Israeli road could lead to a holocaust" (sic) and "Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians."    

Other subjects in the report include over-hyped accusations of Jewish involvement in British racist groups; an Independent article attacking Stamford Hill's orthodox Jewish community; antisemitism in UK-Saudi school texts and the prosecution of Mohammed Sandia for antisemitic comments in the blog section of the website of the Scotsman newspaper. The comments ended with:

Jews are not fit to breathe our air. they must be attacked wherever you see them; throw rocks at their ugly, hooked-nose women and mentally ill children, and light up the REAL ovens.


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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights