Monday, September 10, 2007

A UK Parliamentary perspective on current antisemitism

There is a very powerful article in the Washington Post by Denis McShane who chaired the UK Parliamentary committee on the new antisemitism in the UK. Below are excerpts from it:

By Denis MacShaneTuesday, September 4, 2007; A17

Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south and east of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee of British parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader, that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain.

None of us are Jewish or active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question. Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens -- there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant -- that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.

More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.

Our report sent a shock wave through the British government.

To Britain's credit, the Blair administration produced a formal government response setting out tough new guidelines for the police to investigate anti-Semitic attacks and for universities to stop anti-Jewish ideology from taking root on campuses. Britain's Foreign Office has been told to protest to Arab states that allow anti-Jewish broadcasts.

We made clear that criticism of actions of Israeli politicians was not off-limits. On the contrary, we noted that some of the strongest criticisms of Israeli policy come from Israeli campuses, journalists and political activists, and from the Jewish intellectual elite of many countries.

Tony Blair's successor as British prime minister, Gordon Brown, recently said in London that he stood with Israel "in bad times as well as good times," and one of the remarkable turnarounds of the new Labor leadership that governs Britain is a strong support for Israel and its commitment to combating anti-Semitism.

The problem is worse in other European countries.

Europe is reawakening its old demons, but today there is a difference. The old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous. Anti-Semitism today is officially sanctioned state ideology and is being turned into a mobilizing and organizing force to recruit thousands in a new crusade -- the word is chosen deliberately -- to eradicate Jewishness from the region whence it came and to weaken and undermine all the humanist values of rule of law, tolerance and respect for core rights such as free expression that Jews have fought for over time.

We are at the beginning of a long intellectual and ideological struggle. It is not about Jews or Israel. It is about everything democrats have long fought for: the truth without fear, no matter one's religion or political beliefs. The new anti-Semitism threatens all of humanity. The Jew-haters must not pass.


stacy said...

I do see the problem here. But I see it as part of a bigger, different problem. The bigger problem is that far too many people blame individuals for the evils perpetrated by governments. This is especially true with the US and our particularly bad government right now. The problem is that the "state" or the "common good" becomes more important in people's minds than the rights of individuals. Those individuals eventually recognize the oppression inherent in denying people their autonomy, and they lash out. Problem is they are directing their anger and hurt towards other people who are just as oppressed and abused as everyone else.

my solution to this problem is the same as my solution to any other problem, go within. Each individual needs to find their own truths, truths that lie only inside their own hearts. Forget about the "good of the state" because that isn't good enough. We need to think about the good of ALL people, not just a select few who are more like us than anyone else. All we really need is to be allowed the chance to make our own decisions for ourselves based upon that innate human ability to know the difference between right and wrong....
autonomy, respect, freedom!!

stacy said...

me again. after re-reading this article several more times, it occurs to me that perhaps this current anti-semitism is devised, contrived, a tool used by those who would much rather people assimilate than celebrate their differences? It seems an awful lot like what happened (is still happening to some extent) to my Native American ancestors, you know. Speaking of which, perhaps you can help me understand, Dr. Lipstadt, why is it that I have a few Jewish ancestors who were rounded up and sent to the "reservations" along with the Native Americans?

hockey hound said...

"On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions."

This is religiously taught hatred, not government.