Antisemitism reveals the state of our society

26 Jul 2018 by Dave Rich

This article, by CST's Head of Policy Dr Dave Rich, originally appeared in the Jewish News on 26 July 2018:

Antisemitic incidents have been too high for too long, and today’s Community Security Trust (CST) report confirms that this situation is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.

Although the overall number of incidents reported to CST in the first six months of this year was lower than the number in the same period in 2017, it was still much higher than totals we saw three or four years ago. It is now normal to record more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents per month across the UK, whereas this had been extremely rare.

Each of these incidents represents a Jewish person who has had abuse shouted at them, seen antisemitic graffiti; a Jewish school child threatened on the bus; or perhaps someone harassed on social media.  CST helps victims or witnesses and supports police investigations and prosecutions, but these actions cannot turn off the tap of hatred.

Antisemitism reveals important truths about the state of society. When hate and division grow, so does antisemitism. When extremist ideas get a hearing in mainstream politics, and when millions of people start to believe things that previously only cranks and obsessives thought were true, antisemitism flourishes.

The fact antisemitic incident levels have been so high for more than two years is not random. Think of what has happened during that period: the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum in the Labour Party; heated debates over Brexit; Donald Trump and a surge of support for xenophobic, anti-immigrant movements across Europe.

Conspiracy theories, spread instantly by social media, blame Jews, “Zionists” or “Rothschilds” for everything from jihadist terrorism to mass immigration.

It is no coincidence incident totals went up when Labour’s ongoing problem of antisemitism was in the news and violence flared on the Israel-Gaza border.

However, we should remember that increasing numbers of people recognise anti-Semitism is not just a problem for Jews, and that it damages society as a whole.

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