The deepening cracks of British communities: rise in anti-Semitic attacks is highest ever recordedCurrent affairsPolitics & Social issues
It is an unsettling feeling that, in the aftermath of the 70th commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz, a recent report from the Community Security Trust states that anti-Semitic acts rose dramatically in 2014 – and are continuing to do so.
We pride ourselves on living in a multicultural society, yet it is evident there are now cracks in this assertion as the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK more than doubled to 1,168 last year. This issue needs to be explored to understand why, especially in light of the current political climate that includes the threat of Islamic extremists and terrorist attacks such as those recently seen in Paris.
The Holocaust and Nazi Germany are common knowledge in the UK, still studied by most young adults, and firmly entrenched as a key topic within school syllabi. Why, then, has there been such a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism and lack of unity in the wider community? Even if students don’t understand the finer details, they should have a general understanding of what happened, and an ability to relate this to the dangers of the present in preventing acts which could spiral into something highly unwanted. Conservative MP Mr Pickles reminded us: “The history of anti-Semitism shows the worst atrocities can begin when ordinary people turn a blind eye to small acts of discrimination.” This message needs to be reinforced in the educative process.
The trust relayed that “anti-Semitic reactions to the conflict in Israel and Gaza” were the explanation for this. The view that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis could be seen to be a disguise or mask behind which those who promote hate talk can justify their actions must be considered. Top comedienne and actress Maureen Lipman advocates: “When the economy dries up…they turn on the usual scapegoat: the usual suspect-the Jew. There is one school of thought that says it’s because of Israeli policies in the West Bank, but it isn’t. There’s been anti-Semitism for the past 4,000 years.” This must have some truth, considering that young children have been, and are continuing to be, verbally abused on their way to school. What could possibly justify this?
The Haredim, considered “ultra-Orthodox” and the most obviously Jewish due to their physical appearance, have been targeted. Reuters reported that a far-right group have declared they will hold a protest against the “jewification” of the UK in Stamford Hill, where a large Haredim community resides. Contrary to this, the Haredim are probably the most introverted of all, have no desire to proselytise and generally renounce any connection to Israel. It is ignorance and a desire to divide society that drives such attitudes, and inaccurate assumptions based merely on the way people dress. This rise in anti-Semitism could be considered general ignorance and ill-directed frustration of some members of society who seek only to destruct.
The facts can’t deny that there is a continuing increase in the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK and within Europe more generally. There is now an urgent need for UK citizens to promote tolerance and unity in targeting such ignorance and hate speech.