We're alright, Professor Wistrich

Despite rising anti-Semitism, the British Jewish experience is overwhelmingly positive.

Antisemitism 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Antisemitism 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prof. Robert S. Wistrich paints a bleak and fearful picture of Jewish life in Britain, one that is barely recognizable to those of us who live and work here. The dominant experience of British Jews is one of a tolerant and free society in which we enjoy an enormous range of cultural, educational and religious activities across a vibrant and diverse community. It is true that there is a problem of rising anti-Semitism, both physical and discursive, but the British Jewish experience is overwhelmingly positive. The description of the British Jewish leadership as "timid" is particularly offensive and completely inaccurate. It is Jewish leadership bodies, most notably the Board of Deputies, the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council, which have persistently highlighted rising anti-Semitism and demanded action against it. These three bodies work closely with government to enact the recommendations of the 2007 All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism. This relationship with government may be dismissed by Prof. Wistrich as "doing things behind closed doors," but it is vital work that is necessary to win the struggle against anti-Semitism. It should also be noted that the UK model of a Parliamentary Inquiry is now being adopted by other countries. Equally important is our public campaigning work, involving Jewish community groups and friends and allies from outside the Jewish community, whether to oppose the academic boycott campaign or the electoral ambitions of the British National Party. Far from hiding our support for Israel, this summer we will hold "Salute to Israel" parades in London and Manchester, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state. We will take every opportunity to express our identity and pride as British Jews, because Britain is a country that affords us that right. The author is president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.