“My kids are the only Jewish kids in their school and I fear for them more than myself. I do fear for the future. My husband and I are keeping a very close eye on the political situation and we are prepared to move to another country should it become necessary.”
These are not the words of a 1930s European Jew, but the present day sentiments of a London suburban mum. She is not alone.
A 2018 Jewish Chronicle
survey has revealed that one in three British Jews have considered leaving the UK due to rising antisemitism, while the ominous term “Jewxit” has recently sprouted, referring to a doomsday scenario where the entire 300,000-strong Jewish community flees the UK following a win by Jeremy Corbyn.The Jerusalem Post
has heard from British Jews whose concerns over Corbyn’s headline grabbing antisemitism are so grave, that they have considered emigrating should the UK Labour Party leader come to power. The anxiety level within Jewish circles is such that several months back, former chairman of the Conservative Party Andrew Feldman had penned a sternly worded letter to Jeremy Corbyn saying, “I want you to know that many Jewish people in the United Kingdom are seriously contemplating their future here in the event of you becoming prime minister. This is because they can see that Labour, a party with a proud tradition of tolerance and inclusiveness, is now a hotbed of feelings against Israel and therefore the Jewish people. Quietly, discreetly and extremely reluctantly, they are making their contingency plans, and this would be a tragedy.”
This sentiment is echoed by Jonathan – not his real name – for whom the choice is clear.
“I have been worrying over Corbyn’s antisemitism for quite some time,” he told The Jerusalem Post
. “Even with two children currently at school, my wife and I are confident that should Corbyn win, we are selling the house and moving to Israel.”
Jonathan’s angst is twofold: “There is the financial aspect, of course,” he explained, “as we expect the economy to decline under Corbyn, and for our house to instantly lose a tenth of its value, that is roughly 50 to 100,000 Pounds. That is just us, so I dread to imagine the impact on the UK economy if all 300,000 Jews left.”
To Jonathan, this is not as far-fetched a scenario as some might think. “Thousands of French Jews have uprooted themselves over the past few years due to antisemitism, and settled in Israel,” he explained, “so I can certainly see a wave of UK Jews fleeing the country in response to a Corbyn win. Such an exit would cause great damage to the UK’s economy. We are talking billions of Pounds worth of damage as people sell property and take their money elsewhere. Add to that the brain drain effect, and you get a sense of the huge potential loss.”
The second motivator for Jonathan and fellow would-be-leavers is the “negative atmosphere and zero prospect of any corrective action taken” within Labour.
“The intervention from the EHRC is equally welcoming and alarming,” explained Lily – not real name, “in that finally, antisemitism within the party is being taken seriously after Chakrabati’s whitewash, but [it is] alarming that the situation is so dire, it needs official investigation.”
These sentiments are echoed by Gil – not real name – who “will move to possibly Israel” because he “objects to living in a society that would actually consider electing an antisemite” into Downing Street. “What a horrific indictment on Britain that would be if we all leave, Britain’s reputation for tolerance and democracy will be tarnished for eternity.”
ACCORDING TO A 2018 poll by The Jewish Chronicle
, British Jews between 35 and 54 years old are most concerned about the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government, with over half of those surveyed giving emigration serious consideration.
Many would-be-leavers also state ongoing lack of clarity as a deciding factor.
“At least with the far Right, one can clearly see the enemy and know what they’re up against,” explained one Jewish father, “but with pseudo-socialist politics, it is all murky waters, the threat is masked as equality, concern, etc., while regurgitating and propelling old tropes in new terms. In this sense, I am very glad that Israel exists.”
Some speak worryingly of the threat becoming a reality and starting to affect Jewish people’s livelihood and prospects. Examples
include a recent report of Jewish shopkeepers harassed into closing shop and fleeing, and university students “keeping their Jewishness quiet” and opting for a “less hostile” university.
“It is almost unreal to me that my daughter’s university choice is determined by her fear of antisemitism,” one enraged mother told the Post
whilst lamenting “the erosion of exemplary British tolerance” and desolating at “antisemitism becoming a part of everyday life.”
This strikes a chord with Gil, for whom “the normalization of antisemitism in the political discourse” is “the bigger problem” to address, and with Anne – not real name – who views Corbyn’s reluctance to denounce the antisemitic actions of party members (coupled with his own actions) as being fertile ground for a culture of hostility.
UK’s Jews are finding it increasingly hard to live with an ever present undercurrent of resentment towards Jews. They are also afraid to use their names for fear of backlash.
“I used to wear a Magen David,” said one mother, “but now I am hesitant. Corbyn’s passive aggressive support of anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments has created a climate where it is now okay to lash out at things Jewish. His actions speak louder than his words – his regular attendances at events and rallies that lobby for Palestine, coupled with pronounced silences whenever there is a tragedy involving Jewish or Israelis, tells me the allegations are not only well founded, but they are telling of a new kind of neoliberal socialist blood which Corbyn has created in the UK.
“In politics this translates to fascist political correctness except when it comes to Jews. The thought of leaving should Corbyn comes to power has crossed my mind many times,” she continued.
“It’s a very sad state of affairs,” reflected Campaign Against Antisemitism chief Gideon Falter in an interview with CNN, “because we have all grown up here, and for most us, this is where our grandparents found refuge during the darkest days of humanity.”
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