Antisemitism in the UK and Europe
“Antisemitism is back.” Those are the words of Denis MacShane chairman of the All-Party UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism which published a report in September 2006 which set out in stark terms the problem. The Commission had 14 MPs on it none of whom were Jewish or active in Middle East politics. MacShane continued:
“The conclusion is inescapable. Too many British citizens, who happened to be born Jewish, now face harassment, intimidation, and assault that is unacceptable in democratic Britain. Their synagogues are attacked. Their children jostled and insulted going to school. Their social events require levels of security protection that no other faith or community has to undertake. There are not that many Jews in Britain - a total community of between 250,000 and 300,000. But unlike other faiths or diaspora groups in Britain, British Jews are not allowed to live easily and freely with their religion, their culture, their history and their affiliation to other Jews in other countries, notably Israel.”
The CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain 2008
The Community Security Trust [CST] writes in its latest report on anti-Semitic discourse in Britain that: “Anti-Israel boycotts exemplify the highly charged debate over what is and is not antisemitic, in the context of anti-Israel activities. For some, unique treatment of the world’s sole Jewish state is itself a prima facie case of anti-Semitism. Boycott supporters, however, strongly deny such motivation, and often claim that the charge of anti-Semitism is knowingly and falsely levelled against them in order to shield Israel......Enacted boycotts of Israeli people, products and culture would have overwhelmingly negative physical and psychological impacts against British Jews (such as the removal of many kosher goods), in a manner quite different to how it would impact against other British people.”
To read the full CST report click here
CST report on antisemitic incidents in the UK Jan-June 2009
The CST has also reported that they recorded 609 antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2009. This is more than the 544 incidents recorded during the whole of 2008 and the CST has never before recorded more than 600 antisemitic incidents in a calendar year. Of the 609 antisemitic incidents recorded between Jan and June 2009 286 occurred in January alone. This figure does not include another 236 reported anti-Israel incidents that were considered not to be antisemitic.
To read the full CST report click here
The Community Security Trust releases half-year figures for antisemitic incidents in UK
CST has recorded 266 antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2008, a 9 per cent rise from the 244 incidents recorded in the same period last year. This rise is based in smaller Jewish communities beyond the main centres of London and Manchester, and may reflect improved reporting from those areas. There is also a significant increase in the number of reported incidents involving students, both on and off campus.
The number of violent antisemitic assaults has fallen by 24 per cent compared to the first six months of 2007, from 54 to 42 incidents. 2007 had seen the highest ever total of violent assaults since CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984. The number of incidents of Abusive Behaviour, which includes verbal abuse, hate mail and antisemitic graffiti on non-Jewish property, rose in the first half of the year by 21 per cent, from 137 to 166 incidents.
There were 49 incidents reported to CST that involved Jewish students, student bodies or academics, almost double the 26 incidents of this type reported to CST in the same period last year. Of these incidents, 31 were on campus and 18 were off campus.
The number of incidents reported in London and Manchester was similar to last year. However there has been a significant increase in incidents reported from smaller Jewish communities beyond the main urban areas. This is partly explained by CST’s efforts to improve contact with smaller Jewish communities and goes some way to explain the overall rise in incidents.
The incidents were in the following categories:
• 42 Assaults, none of which were serious enough to be categorised as Extreme Violence
• 31 incidents of Damage and Desecration of Jewish property
• 16 Threats
• 166 incidents of Abusive Behaviour
• 11 incidents of mass produced antisemitic Literature
In addition a further 158 potential incidents were reported to CST that, on investigation did not appear to be antisemitic and are not included in these figures.
The full report can be found at http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Incidents_Report_sixmonths.pdf
The recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into antisemitism relating to antisemitism on campus
22. We recommend that Jewish organisations like the CST and the UJS set up reporting facilities that allow unchallengeable, evidenced examples of abusive behaviour especially on universities. University Authorities should also record all examples of students reporting behaviour, statements, speeches, or acts which they consider to be antisemitic. (Paragraph 205)
23. We conclude that calls to boycott contact with academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange. We recommend that pro-democracy lecturers in the new University and College Lecturers Union are given every support to combat such selective boycotts that are anti-Jewish in practice. We would urge the new union’s executive and leadership to oppose the boycott. (Paragraph 213)
24. We conclude that consistent attempts to boycott and delegitimise Jewish Societies and their activities on campus have diverted the attention and resources of Jewish students away from opportunities to conduct internal debates on Jewish issues, including of Israel. These discussions should be encouraged and facilitated. (Paragraph 218)
25. We conclude that Jewish students feel disproportionately threatened in British universities as a result of antisemitic activities which vary from campus to campus. Attacks on Jewish students and their halls of residence, and a lack of respect shown for observant Jewish students and their calendar requirements amount to a form of campus antisemitism which Vice Chancellors should tackle vigorously. While criticism of Israel – often hard-hitting in the rough and tumble of student politics – is legitimate, the language of some speakers too often crosses the line into generalised attacks on Jews. (Paragraph 219)
26. We conclude that lecturers and university authorities have in some cases reacted firmly to examples of anti-Jewish activity on campus but we agree with the CRE Chair, Trevor Philips, that the response of Vice Chancellors is at best ‘patchy’. We recommend that Vice Chancellors take an active interest in combating acts, speeches, literature and events that cause anxiety or alarm amongst their Jewish students. We recommend that Vice Chancellors set up a working party to make clear that British universities will be free of any expression of racism, and take robust action against antisemitism on campus.(Paragraph 220)
The full report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism can be found at: http://thepcaa.org/Report.pdf
The Academic Friends of Israel submission to the inquiry can be read here
The Community Security Trust
The Community Security Trust (CST) advises and represents the UK Jewish Community on matters of antisemitism, terrorism, policing and security. The CST is recognised by Government and Police as a model of a minority community security organisation.
The Community Security Trust (CST) Report on Antisemitic Incidents for 2007 shows that 2007 with 547 recorded incidents was the second highest number on record since 1984. However, this fall is not large enough to alter the long-term trend of rising antisemitic incidents in Britain since the late 1990s.
In 59 incidents the victims were Jewish students, academics or other student bodies. This is a 228 per cent rise from 2006, probably because of increased reporting by students to CST. Out of 59 incidents, 31 took place on campus and 28 off campus. Six incidents occurred in the direct context of student political campaigning
The full 2007 CST antisemitic incidents report can be found at: http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Incidents_Report_07.pdf
The OSCE “Berlin and Cordoba Declarations” on the rise of antisemitism
The OSCE [The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] is the world's largest regional security organization with 56 participating States. Great Britain has been a member since 1973. The OSCE has held several conferences in recent years on the rise of antisemitism. It’s Berlin and Cordoba declarations call on member states to ensure that their legal systems encourage a safe environment free from anti-Semitic harassment, violence or discrimination in all fields of life and promote educational programmes for combating anti-Semitism.
The OSCE “Berlin Declaration” can be found at http://www.osce.org/documents/cio/2004/04/2828_en.pdf
The OSCE “Cordoba Declaration” can be found at
The Working Definition on Antisemitism of the European Union Monitor Centre
The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) is a body which was established by the European Union. It has written a working definition of antisemitism which the Parliamentary committee inquiry recommended be adopted and promoted by the Government and law enforcement agencies.
The EUMC Working definition states that:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
In addition it states that such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
However it stated that criticism of Israel which is similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
The full EUMC definition can be found at:
Contemporary global antisemitism: a report provided to the United States Congress
Contemporary anti-Semitism manifests itself in overt and subtle ways, both in places where sizeable Jewish communities are located and where few Jews live. Anti-Semitic crimes range from acts of violence, including terrorist attacks against Jews, to the desecration and destruction of Jewish property such as synagogues and cemeteries. Anti-Semitic rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and other propaganda circulate widely and rapidly by satellite television, radio, and the Internet.
Anti-Semitism has proven to be an adaptive phenomenon. New forms of anti-Semitism have evolved. They often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism. However, the distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that—whether intentionally or unintentionally—has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.
Today, more than 60 years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just a fact of history, it is a current event. Around the globe, responsible governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental groups, religious leaders, other respected figures, and ordinary men and women are working to reverse the disturbing trends documented in this report. Much more remains to be done in key areas of education, tolerance promotion, legislation, and law enforcement before anti-Semitism, in all its ugly forms, finally is consigned to the past://www.state.gov/documents/organization/102301.pdf
To read the full report: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/102301.pdf
Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections by David Hirsh
Published by the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism This paper aims to disentangle the difficult relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. On one side, antisemitism appears as a pressing contemporary problem, intimately connected to an intensification of hostility to Israel.
Opposing accounts downplay the fact of antisemitism and tend to treat the charge as an instrumental attempt to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. I address the central relationship both conceptually and through a number of empirical case studies which lie in the disputed territory between criticism and demonisation. The paper focuses on current debates in the British public sphere and in particular on the campaign to boycott Israeli academia. Sociologically the paper seeks to develop a cosmopolitan framework to confront the methodological nationalism of both Zionism and anti-Zionism. It does not assume that exaggerated hostility to Israel is caused by underlying antisemitism but it explores the possibility that antisemitism may be an effect even of some antiracist forms of anti-Zionism
Read the complete paper at: http://www.yale.edu/yiisa/workingpaper/hirsh/David%20Hirsh%20YIISA%20Working%20Paper1.pdf