Anti-Semitic themes found in mainstream British circles

Comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany are becoming increasingly common anti-Semitic conspiracies are used more freely in conversation.

anti semitism in UK (photo credit: Courtesy)
anti semitism in UK
(photo credit: Courtesy)
LONDON – A report published by a Jewish community organization on Thursday highlights how old anti-Semitic themes to depict Israel and Zionism have become more widespread in mainstream British circles during the past year.
Comparisons of Israel and its supporters to Nazi Germany have become increasingly common among the public, and anti-Semitic conspiracy themes are being used more freely in conversation, the “Anti-Semitic Discourse in Britain in 2009” indicated.
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The 57-page report was published by the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti- Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain.
“As in previous years, the report examines public discussion of anti-Semitism, Jews and Jewish issues in mainstream media and politics,” CST communications director Mark Gardner said.
“It is not the report’s intention to brand those who feature in it as being anti-Semites. Nevertheless, old anti-Semitic motifs remain remarkably persistent, especially in relation to Zionism and Israel, and it is hoped that this report will help explain why CST, the Jewish community and many other observers note and fear the ongoing development of this trend.”
At the heart of revived anti- Jewish sentiments, according to the study, is the “corruption and debasement” of the word “Zionism,” which is found not only in extremist discourse but more commonly in mainstream circles. The overlap of the words “Zionist” and “Jew” also manifests such corruption and reflects modern-day anti-Semitism, according to the CST report.
“When mainstream journalists and politicians use the word ‘Zionism’ in a pejorative way, it can be very difficult to distinguish their words from those of actual anti-Semites who conceal their anti-Semitism by swapping the word ‘Zionist’ for ‘Jew,’” the document states.
While the report emphasizes that the anti-Israel and anti- Zionist campaigns that exists in certain media outlets, liberal-left discourse and trade unions is not inspired by anti-Semitism, it says that such discourse often inadvertently has anti-Semitic effects.
“Depicting the Jewish state as a uniquely racist or imperialist enterprise serves to threaten, isolate and demonize all those who believe that Jews have a right to statehood,” the document reads. “Indeed, anyone who shows support for Israel or Zionism risks being defined and castigated for this behavior, rather than gauged by any of their other actions and beliefs.
“The use of “Zionist” as a pejorative description of any organized Jewish (or Jewish related) activity, such as the ‘Zionist Jewish Chronicle’ or the ‘Zionist CST.’ These bodies are then maltreated for being allegedly Zionist, rather than properly engaged with in their own right.”
The comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany became more popular during and in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, according to the report. This, it says, represents “the deliberate abuse of diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust and playing upon Jewish sensitivities in order to provoke.”
The Nazi comparisons were seen during the often violent demonstrations that took place in London during the 22-day Gaza conflict. One of the main organizers, the British Muslim Initiative, produced placards saying “STOP the Holocaust in Gaza.”
The placard of another organizing group, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, featured a swastika joined to a Magen David with the words, “History seems to be repeating itself.”
Because of groups’ connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, the report questions the alliance with far-left fringe groups such as the Socialist Workers Party.
Richard Seymour, a spokesman for the party, asserted that those attending a Jewish community rally for peace “ought to be shunned and treated as the moral and political degenerates that they are.”
Meanwhile, anti-Israel activist and former MP George Galloway said at a demonstration, “Today the people in Gaza are the new Warsaw Ghetto, and those who are murdering them are the equivalent of those who murdered the Jews in Warsaw.”
The publication also denounces the play Seven Jewish Children, written by British anti-Israel playwright Caryl Churchill, which it says typified the emerging trend to depict Israel and Zionism as a mass Jewish psychological reaction to the trauma of the Holocaust.
Citing a number of examples, the community report shows how Jewish conspiracy theories and secret-Jewish lobby charges have increasingly slipped into mainstream conversation. In 2009, two stories in The Independent newspaper assumed a Jewish conspiracy charge was valid. The suspected scheme surrounded the appointment of two Jewish academics to the British government’s Iraq War Inquiry – Sir Martin Gilbert and Prof. Lawrence Freedman.
Commenting on the makeup of the panel, Independent columnist Richard Ingrams censured its inclusion of “ two Jewish historians thought to have been in favor of the war” and who were “no military or legal experts.”
“The association of ‘Jewish’ and supposedly ‘in favor of the war’ was a singling out of the Jews on the panel,” the report says. “This followed the same pattern seen in other public controversies: where the religion of Jews is pointed out, but that of others goes unmentioned.”
Former ambassador to Libya Sir Oliver Miles also wrote in The Independent, “Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert has a record of active support for Zionism. Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media, but The Jewish Chronicle and Israeli media have no such inhibitions, and the Arabic media both in London and in the region are usually not far behind.”
The most insidious example used in the report is the Channel Four Dispatches program “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” screened last year, in which presenter Peter Oborne said he had not identified any conspiracies while making the program.
“We haven’t found anything even faintly resembling a conspiracy, but we found a worrying lack of transparency, and the influence of a pro-Israel lobby continues to be felt,” Oborne said at the time.
Channel Four’s website alluded to what the report sums up as “shady characters, with financial influence, underhand tactics and treacherous goals.”
This message was repeated, the report shows, in The Guardian’s news story about the program – titled “Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Conservatives, film claims.”
The report also highlights how a medieval accusation, claiming that Jews steal children in order to use their blood, was also revived and frequently used last year in accusations that Jews and Israelis steal body parts. The London-based but Iranian-run Press TV revived the blood libel charge, according to the CST document.
One of the Press TV stories begins with the sentence: “An international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs is gathering momentum as another shock story divulges Israeli plot to harvest organs from Algerian children.”
British media watchdogs, like Adam Levick of CiF Watch, praised the report for bringing to the surface rampant bias against Jews in daily publications.
“The CST report is a shocking indictment of how so-called progressive news outlets such as The Guardian are mainstreaming the type of anti-Jewish hate speech that was once the province of the far-right,” said Levick, whose organization particularly monitors The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog.
CST is the only organization in the UK that collects, analyzes and publishes statistics and incidents relating to anti- Semitism, including an annual Anti-Semitic Incidents Report.
CST’s publishes an annual Anti-Semitic Incidents Report. The 2009 report, published in February, showed a record high number of incidents in one year since records began in 1984.