Today sees the publication of CST’s Antisemitic Discourse Report 2013. This is our final report of the year and details the use of antisemitic language and images in mainstream politics and media, including social media. The report also covers public discussion and debate about antisemitism, including condemnations of antisemitism by mainstream figures.
The full report can be downloaded here. We have reproduced the Executive Summary below, and we will run extracts from the report on the CST Blog throughout this week.
The Executive Summary begins:
Explicit antisemitism against Jews per se, simply for their being Jewish, remains rare in British public life and within mainstream political media discourse. However, over two-thirds of British Jews say that they have encountered antisemitic remarks on the internet, and over three- quarters of British Jews feel that the problem of antisemitism on the internet is getting worse.
The Summary then explains how historic antisemitic themes still appear in public debate, and indicates the examples that are given in the report itself:
Historically, antisemitism has included allegations of Jewish conspiracy, wealth, power, manipulation, immorality and hostility to others. Echoes of these allegations, while rarely made explicitly against Jews, can be found in some mainstream discourse about Israel, Zionists or ‘the Jewish lobby’. The further one moves from the mainstream, for example into more extreme activist groups or websites, the more pronounced and obviously antisemitic these echoes become.
Conspiracy theories about hidden ‘Jewish’, ‘Zionist’ or ‘pro-Israel’ influence in politics and the media continue to be expressed by people from different parts of the political spectrum, in mainstream and extremist circles. Different examples in 2013 involved then-BNP leader Nick Griffin, former BBC correspondent Tim Llewellyn and Iranian TV channel Press TV.
British Jews say that they are more likely to hear antisemitic remarks from people with ‘a left-wing political view’ or ‘a Muslim extremist view’ than from ‘someone with a right-wing political view’.
Most British Jews do not believe that criticism of Israel is antisemitic. However, most British Jews do believe that a person who boycotts Israeli goods, or who compares Israel to Nazi Germany, is probably antisemitic.
Holocaust commemoration increasingly acts as a trigger for antisemitic expressions, particularly those that involve comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
Over a third of British Jews say that they have heard antisemitic remarks in political or academic settings, including at schools. In 2013, social media comments by David Ward MP and two Daily Mail articles about Ed Miliband MP were examples where some British Jews felt that antisemitic language was used in political settings.
Several episodes in 2013 regarding alleged use of antisemitic discourse hinged on nuanced interpretations of language and imagery, and of the gap between a person’s stated intentions in their language and the way that their choice of words or imagery are perceived by others.
The role that a quick and meaningful apology can play in answering concerns about antisemitism was highlighted by contrasting situations involving David Ward MP; and the Sunday Times newspaper. While both apologised, only the latter did so unequivocally and without further offence.
Antisemites have, in the past, used Jews as a scapegoat to explain their own failings or weaknesses. An example of this in 2013 can be found in the claim by Lord Ahmed that Jewish-owned media organisations were responsible for his 2009 conviction for dangerous driving.
The potential for religious attitudes to the Israel-Palestine conflict to provide a framework for the expression of theological hostility to Judaism was highlighted by the Church of Scotland’s 2013 report, The inheritance of Abraham? A report on the ‘promised land’.
Overt opposition from pro-Palestinian activists to antisemitic ideas and remarks found within the pro-Palestinian movement remains inconsistent and weak.
The problem of abusive antisemitic language at football matches, and the use of the ‘Y-word’ by fans of Tottenham Hotspur, remained issues of media and public debate. However, only 6 per cent of British Jews say that they have heard antisemitic remarks at sporting events.