Worthwhile Remembering: The Antisemitic Discourse in Britain

This is the CST’s summary of the Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2011 and essential reading for antiracists:

  • “Explicit antisemitism against Jews is rare in British public life and within mainstream political and media discourse. Nevertheless, antisemitic themes alleging Jewish conspiracy, power and hostility to others can resonate within mainstream discourse about Israel and (especially) about so-called ‘Zionists’.
  • When explicit antisemitism does occur, it tends to do so within circles that are also racist or hateful towards other groups.
  • The internet and social media are providing new opportunities for the spread of antisemitic discourse. This includes mainstream companies, such as Amazon, selling blatant antisemitic propaganda, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last.
  • Fears that economic troubles in 2011 would spark antisemitism in Britain proved largely unfounded.
  • 2011 was notable for the public reaction to antisemitic remarks made by fashion designer John Galliano. The case was not especially remarkable, but provided a focus for numerous articles in mainstream media that analysed and spoke strongly against contemporary antisemitism.
  • The trend to blame so-called ‘Zionism’ for anti-Muslim hatred intensified in 2011. This included allegations that Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik was inspired by ‘Zionism’.
  • The controversy surrounding the Home Secretary’s (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to deport Sheikh Raed Salah epitomised debates around antisemitism and overseas Islamist figures. This case also included false accusations that the UK Government had acted at Israel’s behest and was somehow under the control of Israel’s supporters in the UK. This falsehood encourages and reinforces antisemitic attitudes.
  • The Guardian reinforced its reputation as being the most subjective and contentious mainstream newspaper on issues of antisemitism in the context of Israel and Zionism. This, despite the paper also warning against antisemitism.
  • The publication and promotion of Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who? introduced a relatively new form of antisemitism into ‘anti-Zionist’ discourse.
  • Britain’s refusal to attend a United Nations anti-racism conference, due to prior instances of antisemitism there, was an especially important public statement.
  • In Scotland, the conviction of Paul Donnachie on criminal and racist charges showed that anti-Israel behaviour can be prosecuted under legislation relating to race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.
  • Fears and concerns about antisemitism, as expressed by mainstream Jewish communities and bodies, are routinely ignored, or even maliciously misrepresented, within supposedly ‘progressive’ circles, including some media, trade unions and churches. Few, if any, other minority representative groups are treated with such reflexive suspicion and ill-will.

The full report is available as a PDF.

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