13 March 2006
Understanding today’s antisemitism
Delegates to this Sunday’s Academic Friends of Israel conference on Understanding Today’s antisemitism were told that it was absolutely critical for the future of the 300,000 Jews in this country that the Jewish community made efforts to understand a lot more about the 2 million Muslims who live in Britain.
David Cesarani who is Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London explained that “We need to tell them that we are facing a wave of racism, this is an anti-Jewish racism, you know about anti- Muslim racism, lets talk racism, and then you will be surprised how quickly you find common ground.”
The conference took place at SOAS, part of the University of London, the scene of frequent problems for Jewish students in recent years. The chair of the Jewish society at SOAS, Gavin Gross, described to the audience how he has tackled these incidents at SOAS which mostly most involved Israel. He said “I have never used the word antisemitism which I believe is overused and looses its meaning resulting in people switching off and not listening to the rest of the message.” His approach has been to focus on specific events and actions which can be documented and use instead words with more power such as hatred, extremism, intimidation, discrimination, inequality, intolerance.
Ronnie Fraser, Director of AFI said “The conference brought together a group of wide-ranging speakers to discuss the problems of today’s antisemitism. It was a stimulating and thought provoking afternoon attended by a large audience who contributed to the debate.” Other speakers included John Lloyd, editor of the Financial Times weekend magazine who explained the position of the media with regards to antisemitism, and David Hirsch from Engage who spoke about Left-wing antisemitism.