Time to stand in solidarity with Britain’s Jewish community
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 16:56
Last summer HOPE not hate launched the #WeAreTheMany initiative to give people the opportunity to show solidarity with Britain’s Muslim communities, who at the time were suffering a violent backlash following the murder of Lee Rigby. Mosques had been firebombed, woman wearing the niqab attacked and there had been an outpouring of hatred on social media.
HOPE not hate, like many other organisations, went into overdrive to defend and support our Muslim friends and neighbours. We did all this because it was the right thing to do. Britain’s Muslim communities should not have been held responsible for the actions of others and we needed to stand together in solidarity.
That there wasn’t a greater backlash in the wake of the murder was partly down to the great work of local interfaith networks and community groups, who did an amazing job to engage positively with their own audiences and come together to show solidarity with a community under attack.
Now, a year on, it is Britain’s Jewish community under attack but this same solidarity appears sadly less lacking.
The conflict in Gaza has led to a huge spike in antisemitic incidents in this country. A synagogue has been attacked in Belfast, a bomb threat made against a synagogue in London, Jewish people abused and threatened on the streets, and there has been an outpouring of anti-Jewish hatred on the social media. The Community Security Trust, which offers protection to the Jewish community in Britain, reports 70 incidents in the last few weeks alone.
Fear is gripping Britain’s Jewish community but sadly few organisations have stepped forward to offer support, and some of those who have made statements have only done so after they have been asked.
Whatever one’s views on the Gaza conflict, taking it out on Britain’s Jewish community is clearly wrong and more people need to start saying it.
The appalling scenes coming out of France should act as a reminder to where this all could lead. Synagogues and Jewish-owned shops have been attacked, cars set alight and Jewish people assaulted. It is estimated that 1,000 Jewish people are leaving France every week and this pre-dates the Gaza conflict.
In the Netherlands, the home of the Chief Rabbi has been attacked twice in one week, while only yesterday, in northern Germany, 14 men were arrested for planning to attack a Jewish museum. At a recent pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin there were posters urging demonstrators to join ‘a raid on the Jewish district’, stating: ‘Come equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and batons.’
This outpouring of anti-Jewish hatred is shocking and inexcusable. Antisemitism is just as appalling as racism and Islamophobia and we should not allow events in the Middle East to be used as a pretext for antisemitism, Holocaust denial and other outrageous conspiracy theories.
I understand that many people are angry by the media images coming out of Gaza, and I share much of that anger, but to target British Jews for something they are not responsible for or have no control over is inexcusable and, in some instances, clearly antisemitic.
I do believe that some people say and do thing out of ignorance or in anger, but for many others it is quite calculated and deliberate. Sadly, antisemitism remains acceptable for some and consciously ignored by others.
It is precisely because of this that there is a need for community and faith leaders to step up and show their solidarity with Britain’s Jewish community. We need our leaders to educate the ignorant and speak out against those who are deliberately encouraging antisemitism. We need our leaders to lead.
A year ago we stood together in solidarity with Britain’s Muslim communities when they were being unfairly attacked and proclaimed that #WeAreTheMany. Perhaps now it is time to revisit that campaign and stand together with Britain’s Jewish community as they face hostility, abuse and attacks.
Posted: 24 Jul 2014 | There are 9 comments
Comment 1 | From: Pat | Date: 25 July 2014, 00:26
I have a lot of sympathy with the Palestinians but this needs to be stated. Oppose Islamophobia and Antisemitism. All bigotry stinks.
Comment 2 | From: Sizwe | Date: 25 July 2014, 10:41
Yes, I fully agree with your post. The actions of a stubborn zionist clique gone berserk cannot be blamed on a community that has nothing to do with these actions. There are many many Jewish people who want to come to terms and live in peace with their Arab and Palestinian neighbours. We should support these people, be they in Israel or anywhere else in the world. Any sensible person would go for negotiations to solve the conflict, except Netanjahu, David turned Goliath.
Comment 3 | From: Tracey Green | Date: 25 July 2014, 15:40
Thank you so much for this article. I know that there are many Jews that are alarmed and scared at the antisemetic backlash for things that have happened in Israel. Terrible things are happening all over the world at the moment ( including in Syria where up to 5000 people are being killed every month) but the unbalanced attention on Israel and Gaza only makes us believe that people want a reason to be antisemetic rather than truly humanitarian.
Comment 4 | From: terry farley | Date: 25 July 2014, 17:23
i agree but everyone seems to be ignoring the hate crimes commited on a weekly basis by bengali youth in whitechapel against homosexuals and people they suspect of being gay .. time to stand up against such facism
Comment 5 | From: ben f | Date: 25 July 2014, 23:32
Excellent article and very timely given the increasing anti-semitic incidents in Europe and UK in the recent weeks dressed up as anti-israel protests. The outpouring of hatred towards Israel and Jews in general is disgusting and has its origins in pure anti-semitism. The Jewish communities are always the first to support other religious/ethnic communities in times of need (in particular to the Muslim community after the Lee Rigby murder last yr) but as you say, the same kind of communal backing seems lacking when the tables are turned. I have not heard one Muslim leader in the UK come out publicly and say violence against Jewish people or Israelis for that matter is wrong and is against the core Muslim beliefs. It would be good and reassuring to hear that kind of message!
Comment 6 | From: Carole | Date: 26 July 2014, 12:45
Comment 7 | From: Geoff Parry | Date: 27 July 2014, 10:23
Anti-Semitism is known as "the oldest hatred". These recent attacks are little, if nothing at all, to do with the Gaza situation, but part of something older, darker - and downright evil.
Comment 8 | From: Ric | Date: 28 July 2014, 21:00
Excellent piece. I'm sharing it on my FB page.
Comment 9 | From: John | Date: 1 August 2014, 23:23
Excellent statement. Deafening silence from UAF on this issue, though.
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