Jerusalem terrorist attack and ongoing tensions

November 18th, 2014 by CST

CST has today sent a security notice for display in communal buildings:

This morning’s terrorist attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem is the latest incident causing rising tension in
the area. In light of this ongoing tension, and also following the stabbing of a Jewish man on his way to
synagogue in Antwerp on Saturday, CST asks that staff and visitors at communal buildings comply with all
security measures and give security personnel their full cooperation.

CST is not aware of any specific threat to the Jewish community in the UK. However, we urge everyone to
remain vigilant and to report and challenge suspicious activity immediately to Police and CST.

All communal buildings and organisers of communal events should review their security arrangements and
ensure they are fully implemented.

If you have any questions concerning this notice, or require security advice, please contact CST.

SECURITY REMINDERS

CST continues to ask members of the community to:
• Be alert for suspicious people and activities including parked cars and unattended items
• Challenge (if it is safe to do so) and report suspicious people
• Where possible, make a report of any suspicious activity including photographs or descriptions
• Be aware of your surroundings when arriving at or leaving communal buildings or travelling through
Jewish neighbourhoods
• Ensure visible external security patrols take place to deter and detect hostile activity
• Prevent members of the community congregating outside communal buildings and events
• Prevent ‘tailgating’ – someone following close behind and attempting to gain access to the building
when gates or doors are opened
• Volunteer for security rotas at communal buildings – security is everybody’s responsibility
• Report any security concerns or antisemitic incidents to Police and CST as soon as possible

Ed Miliband and antisemitism “in all its forms”

November 11th, 2014 by Mark Gardner

Last week, Ed Miliband MP used his Facebook page to issue a personal warning against antisemitism. CST thanks the Leader of the Opposition for this, and especially for his continuing support of CST’s work, but recent media coverage of Jewish communal relations with the Labour Party risks worsening the problem. It highlights the difficulty of achieving Ed Miliband’s appeal:

We need a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism in the UK and to reaffirm our revulsion to it in all its forms.

For British Jews, the warning came as we reflected upon a very difficult summer that CST has described as thepressure-cooker: combining various factors, some obviously against Jews, others obviously against Israel, and many wide open to personal interpretation. It is entirely correct that Ed Miliband wants “zero-tolerance” and “revulsion to it [antisemitism] in all its forms”, but “all its forms” means very different things to different people. For example, polling shows that most British Jews accept criticism of Israel as not being antisemitic: but they regard Israel boycotts as the tipping point into antisemitism.

There is, of course, no argument of antisemitic intention, heritage or impact when it comes to neo-Nazism, such as the current campaign of appalling neo-Nazi abuse, via Twitter, against Luciana Berger MP. It is naked antisemitism, red in tooth and claw. Clearly there can only be zero-tolerance and criminal charges against such filth.

The pressures of the summer months (and the entire post 2000 period) are far more complex than Nazism; and are far harder to build understandings and alliances against. The hostile conflation of Jew with Israel is fundamental to this problem. Ed Miliband explicitly warned against it, as have many other senior public figures in recent months, but the depth of the problem is revealed by recent media coverage of Jews and the Labour Party, showing that these judicial constructs are so deeply ingrained as to be almost taken for granted.

Firstly, there was a largely unnoticed article in the Observer on 2 November. This discussed Jim Murphy MP’s suitability to become the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, including:

…The left of the party has always been suspicious of him [Jim Murphy MP] though, owing to his devotion to the New Labour project and the manner in which he courts and sustains the crucial Jewish vote in his constituency. This, though, ought not to be held against him. Though small, Glasgow’s 5,000-strong Jewish community is a dynamic one that has contributed greatly to the city’s charm and success over many decades.

This literally states (no doubt correctly) that the left of the Scottish Labour Party has two main problems with Murphy. The first, an association with New Labour, is understandable: but why should his relationship with his Jewish constituents be the second major concern for “the left of the party”?

The article’s author Kevin McKenna does not explain the concern to Observer readers. On the contrary, he appears to assume that his intelligent left-leaning readers will understand such suspicions about Jewish electorates. There is no way of telling if the subsequent ‘these are actually 5,000 good Jews’ warning is meant to imply that it is unusual for a Jewish community to – shock, horror! – make a positive contribution to their host city: but it certainly risks implying that.

Such casual mentions of leftist attitudes help reveal the nature of contemporary hostile conflations of Jews with Zionists with Israel in ostensibly anti-racist spaces. Glasgow’s rapidly shrinking and ageing Jewish community faces significant religious, welfare and educational challenges. It needs close engagement with its MP, but there is no suggestion of this alarming “the left of the [Scottish Labour] party”. If this is what is assumed of Glaswegian Jews, then what is being thought of actual large and influential Jewish communities elsewhere? (See also the cartoon here of Jim Murphy MP as a Frankenstein monster, wearing an “I love Israel” badge.)

The answer is revealed by the Independent on Sunday’s front page article of 9 November, entitled “Jewish donors drop ‘toxic’ Ed Miliband“. This was not an explicitly or intentionally antisemitic piece, as indeed many Jewish Labour supporters (voters, party members and party donors) are deeply troubled by Ed Miliband’s role in Labour’s recent stance on Israel, but the BBC News newspaper review of 8 November pre-emptively revealed how it would be understood.

Jewish donors” seamlessly became “the Jewish lobby“, and BBC guest Jo Phillips bemoaned, “when he’s [Ed Miliband] being brave and principled and standing up and saying, you know, ‘this time Israel has gone too far’, people take their money away, so he can’t win, can he?”.

The BBC host Tim Wilcox then went a bit further, suggesting that “a lot of these prominent Jewish faces will be very much against the mansion tax”. His two guests responded that non-Jews oppose the mansion tax also: but, as with the original article, the stench of toxic assumptions about Jews and money / influence for Israel was now out there.

There is no widespread revulsion at this, because such slurs are seldom directed at Jewish individuals, made at Jews qua Jews: simply for being Jewish. So, they lack the ugly obvious racism spewed by neo-Nazis at Luciana Berger MP. It is still, however, a very slippery slope, liberally oiled with deep seated antisemitic toxins about Jews acting in concert with other Jews: whether that is in Glasgow, Westminster or Washington.

Of course, individual Jews have long supported Labour, as voters, activists and donors because they believe in the Party: but when they are troubled by its policy towards Israel this immediately risks pushing antisemitic buttons. Instead of being genuine Labour supporters with a certain vision for UK society, they now risk being perceived as Jewish puppets of a Zionist lobby, definitively alleged to be subverting and corrupting the body politic.

The same problem lies in each of the parliamentary parties. (See for example, CST analysis of recent comments by the Conservative Party’s Alan Duncan MP.) Moving forward, this situation has significant potential to turn toxic for Jews who are active in politics, as politicians, donors, lobbyists or in any capacity.

None of this is antisemitic in the manner of the hatred directed against Luciana Berger MP, but is its allegation really so different to this antisemitic Nazi flyer from 1962? free britain crop

CST and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles joint letter on removing antisemitic graffiti

November 10th, 2014 by CST

CST Chief Executive David Delew and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, have sent a joint letter to council leaders reminding them of the importance of removing antisemitic and racist graffiti and reporting it to the Police.

The letter, which can be downloaded in full here (pdf), states:

We must all continue to stand unified against all forms of hatred be it antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred, racism or homophobia, whatever its manifestation, whether it is expressed on social media, as a physical attack, as a verbal threat, or in any other manner.

A particularly pernicious expression of antisemitism and other forms of hatred is the daubing of slogans or symbols, via graffiti or the fixing of stickers and posters, onto both public and private property. In these instances, a visible display of hate can increase tensions between communities, as well as providing a physical reminder to the victim of the abuse they have suffered.

The letter sets out local authorities’ legal powers to remove offensive graffiti and gives contact details for antisemitic hate crime to be reported to the Police and to CST.

This initiative is another sign of our joint determination, with our partners in Government and the Police, to reduce antisemitic hate crime and to see perpetrators of antisemitic hate crime identified and prosecuted. We are grateful to Secretary of State Pickles for his continuing support in tackling antisemitism.

 

Jewish Community Meeting With Home Secretary

November 5th, 2014 by CST

Jewish community leaders met with Home Secretary Theresa May MP to express communal concerns about antisemitism and extremism. The continuing spread of terrorist threats against the Jewish Community was also a matter of particular focus.

The group was led by Gerald Ronson CBE (Chairman of Community Security Trust) and included Mick Davis (Chairman of JLC), Vivian Wineman (President, Board of Deputies of British Jews), David Delew (Chief Executive of CST), Simon Johnson (Chief Executive of JLC), and Gillian Merron (Chief Executive of BoD).

The Home Secretary was told of the record number of antisemitic incidents that occurred during the summer (314 in July alone); and that the community had never before expressed such a widespread feeling of being under severe pressure, with attendant fears for the future wellbeing of the community.

These pressures and fears combined experiences and perceptions of open antisemitism, but also deep concerns about the worsening nature of anti-Israel rhetoric and protest, especially pro-boycott actions that have included violence, criminal damage and intimidation of members of the public and shop workers. Where possible, actions should be taken against those who break the law. Furthermore, intimidation or harassment by pro-boycott activists should be publicly condemned, and retailers ought to contact police when protests involve criminality.

The problems faced by British Jews contradict British values and should concern not only Jews, but society as a whole. It was noted that senior Government figures, including the Prime Minister David Cameron MP, Chief Whip Michael Gove MP, and the Home Secretary herself have publicly expressed a keen awareness of all the factors impacting upon the Jewish Community this summer. Their strong opposition, combined with that from other senior figures including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband MP, is extremely important to the Jewish Community.

One particular aim of the meeting was to reinforce the message that the community needs to be reassured that the law is properly enforced in regard to all of the issues that arose so forcefully this summer. This had also been one of the core messages in the previous day’s meeting of the Cross-Government Working Group on Antisemitism, which included Parliamentary Under-Secretary Stephen Williams MP and was addressed by CST, BoD, JLC, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. The Working Group is the core of the joint long-term efforts between Government and the Jewish Community to discuss and tackle antisemitism.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

I am absolutely clear that everyone in this country, including members of Britain’s Jewish community, should be able to live their lives free from racial and religious hatred and harassment. No one should live in fear because of their beliefs or who they are. Recent reports from the Community Security Trust, which have indicated a rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United Kingdom, are deeply worrying.

Since we published our hate crime action plan in 2012, the government has made significant progress in preventing hate crime, increasing reporting and improving the operational response. We are committed to engaging closely with Jewish communal leaders on this issue.

Book review: ‘Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism’

November 4th, 2014 by CST

CST’s Dave Rich has  reviewed Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism, by Ben Cohen, for the journal Fathom. The book is a collection of essays and articles by Cohen, written between 2004 and 2013, on an array of subjects related to contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism. As Rich explains:

In truth, the range of subjects covered in this book is an accurate reflection of the confusing, and at times chaotic, debate that surrounds antisemitism. It is apt that the section of the book on ‘Antisemitism and Anti-Judaism’ begins with an article titled ‘What antisemitism is (and isn’t)’. The academic and political arguments over precisely this question have at times left damaging scars, such as during the misguided and largely unnecessary battles over the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) Working Definition of Antisemitism, or the short life and sudden demise of the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Antisemitism (YIISA). The central article of this section and of the entire book (‘The Big Lie Returns’) contains Cohen’s original formulation of ‘bierkeller and bistro antisemitism.’ Bierkeller antisemitism, he explains, ‘employs such means as violence, verbal abuse, commercial harassment, and advocacy of anti-Jewish legal measures.’ Its name associates it with the antisemitic thuggery of 1920s and 1930s Nazism, and therefore with an ‘old’ antisemitism that, in theory at least, has been discredited by history. Bistro antisemitism, on the other hand, ‘sits in a higher and outwardly more civilised realm, providing what left-wing activists would call a “safe space” to critically assess the global impact of Jewish cabals from Washington D.C., to Jerusalem.’ The themes of this intellectual, left-wing antisemitism ‘include the depiction of Palestinians as the victims of a second Holocaust, the breaking of the silence supposedly imposed upon honest discussions of Jewish political and economic power, and the contention … that American Jewish government officials are more suspect than others because of a potential second loyalty to Israel.’

The difference between bierkeller and bistro antisemitism is illustrated by the striking juxtaposition, early in the book, of tributes to Vidal Sassoon and Ronnie Fraser (29-35). Sassoon, best known as a celebrity hairdresser, spent his youth fighting fascist gangs in the East End of London in the immediate post-war years. He and his friends in the 43 Group would set out ‘armed with knives, coshes and knuckledusters’, and often return home with bruises. This was antisemitism red in tooth and claw, and Jewish self-defence was both direct and brutal. Immediately following Cohen’s obituary for Sassoon are two articles about Ronnie Fraser, a Jewish further education lecturer who unsuccessfully sued the University and College Union (UCU) in 2012, on the grounds that UCU’s activities in support of the boycott of Israeli academics constituted discrimination against its Jewish members. The contrast between these two episodes is stark, and not only because the 43 Group achieved its goals while Fraser lost his case. Rather, it is the idea that both belong in a book about antisemitism, and that Sassoon and Fraser are both heroes in the defence of Jews against the prejudice they face, that draws attention.

Since Cohen’s ‘The Big Lie Returns’ was first published in Commentary magazine in January 2012, jihadists have murdered French Jews in Toulouse and Belgian Jews in Brussels; rioting mobs, made up primarily of French Muslims, have burned synagogues and Jewish shops in Paris and Sarcelles. Even in Britain, where the antisemitism is less violent than elsewhere, the summer of 2014 saw a record rise in antisemitic incidents fuelled largely by antisemitism from sections of British Muslim communities, while supermarkets were invaded by mobs determined to prevent them from selling Israeli-sourced goods. Meanwhile, Jewish religious rituals are under threat as much from human rights advocates of the left as they are from the xenophobic right. It is true that European fascism has made a recent return via Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece, but insofar as Jews in Western Europe currently face ‘violence, verbal abuse, commercial harassment, and advocacy of anti-Jewish legal measures,’ these assaults on Jewish life do not come from the bierkeller. In these countries, Cohen’s dichotomy of bierkeller and bistro antisemitism requires a third category: banlieue antisemitism, perhaps, named after the deprived suburbs of French cities from which much Muslim and jihadist antisemitism now emanates.

You can read the rest of the review on the Fathom website here, and you can order the book here.

Ben cohen book

 

Alan Duncan MP opposes antisemitism and “a very powerful financial lobby”

October 14th, 2014 by Mark Gardner

In the space of under 24hrs, Alan Duncan MP (Conservative, Rutland & Melton) said that antisemitism “should be crushed in all its forms”: and that American politics is “dominated” by a “very powerful financial lobby”.

Duncan does not specify who is, or is not, actually in this lobby, but for many it will echo the hoary old Jewish conspiracy. The lobby remarks came in a BBC Radio Four ‘World at One’ interview (here, at 40min 12sec) on the subject of the previous day’s vote by backbench MPs to overwhelmingly recognise Palestinian statehood.

Duncan said the vote was needed in part because:

…we all know that the United States is in hock to a very powerful financial lobby which dominates its politics…

This went unchallenged by the interviewer, Martha Kearney.

The night before (and following the backbench vote), Duncan had given a speech to the influential Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on Israeli settlements. His opposition to antisemitism was fiercely put:

I deplore anti-Semitism.  It should be crushed in all its forms and we should never seek to diminish its significance or downplay its impact on the Jewish community, particularly in the light of the worrying increase in anti-Semitism that we have seen recently across Europe.

…it is wrong to correlate Israel with all Jews: so is it also wrong to conflate all Jews with Israel. 263,000 Jews are British.  Jewish people don’t just play an important part in British life: they are crucial to it. All should value the UK’s Jewish community and its deep contribution to the fabric of Britain. As such they should, and do, play a full part in or politics.

Read the speech in full and you will see that Duncan went on to oppose “the Israeli lobby”, whilst trying to distinguish it from British Jews whose support for political parties (and Israel) he welcomed. In brief summary:

But our politics has rules…funding should not come from another country or from citizens of another country, or be unduly in hock to another country.  This rule seems to apply to every country except when it comes from Israel. Jewish voters in the UK should be welcomed as supporters of, and donors to, their favoured political party.

…the support of any British Jew for any political party can hinge on whatever they want

…We need British Jews for the Conservative, Labour, or other UK parties; not the Israeli lobby for any party. The time has come to make sure above any doubt that the funding of any party in the UK is clearly decoupled from the influence of the Israeli state.

This RUSI speech illuminates his comments the following day to the BBC, but they are objectionable in their own right. They resonate with the Jews / money / hidden power / alien purpose motifs of old antisemitic conspiracy theory: only now directed at Israel or pro-Israelis, rather than Jews.

For some, this shift in language from Jews to Israel is sufficient to cast off the antisemitic label, rendering everything kosher, modern and correct. Nevertheless, when Alan Duncan MP tells BBC Radio 4 that “we all know” about America being “very much in hock to a very powerful financial lobby which dominates its politics” – and fails to specify what that lobby actually is – we are left wondering exactly what he is talking about.

Worse still, we are also left wondering what lobby his audience believes that he is talking about. Is it the antisemitic Jewish lobby: or the non-antisemitic pro-Israeli lobby that unfortunately bears such a striking resemblance to the pre 1945 version?

Finally, as evidence of confusion between Israeli lobbies and Jewish ones, what better than the unfortunate intervention of Alan Duncan’s colleague Andrew Bridgen MP (Conservative, NW Leics), who said in the backbenchers’ Palestine debate:

…given that the political system of the world’s superpower and our great ally the United States is very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America, it falls to this country and to this House to be the good but critical friend that Israel needs.

Rev. Stephen Sizer speaking at antisemitic conference in Iran

October 2nd, 2014 by Dave Rich

The Rev Stephen Sizer is a Church of England vicar with a long record of anti-Israel activity. In 2012 the Board of Deputies made a formal complaint to the Church of England about allegations that Sizer had used his website to link to antisemitic material from other websites. This complaint was resolved through mediation and a Conciliation Agreement was accepted by both parties, which included Sizer accepting that “on occasions his use of language has caused offence to some and agrees that he should have reflected on his choice of words more carefully.” Sizer also stated:

I care passionately about the safety of the Jewish people and the right of Israel to exist within internationally agreed borders. I have always opposed racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as well as Islamophobia and the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination and will continue to do so.

Sizer’s presence at an antisemitic conference in Iran this week brings into question whether he is honouring the spirit of this Conciliation Agreement in good faith.

The conference is the Second New Horizon Conference in Tehran. According to Iranian state-run Press TV, the conference intended to “unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics.” Those attending include a host of Holocaust Deniers and conspiracy theorists.

For an example of why this is an antisemitic conference, one of the conference sessions is on “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat”. This includes discussion of “9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist “Public Myths””:

Tehran conference

Sizer was scheduled to speak at several points during the conference. One of these was a panel on “The Mechanisms of Action of the Israeli Lobby and their Effects in Western Capitals”, with Sizer speaking on “The Israeli Lobby in England”. One of the other speakers scheduled for this panel was Ahmed Rami, a Swedish Islamist with a history of support for Holocaust Deniers and Nazis.

Tehran conference 2

Rami has a conviction for antisemitism in Sweden and his Radio Islam website includes the full text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, plus extensive Holocaust Denial material. It is impossible to miss the antisemitism on the Radio Islam website: the first four articles listed on the homepage are “The Jewish hand behind Internet”; “Judaism – Jewish “religion” and racism”; “The Jews behind Islamophobia”; and “Al Jazeera English – under Jewish infiltration.”

Another UK-based speaker at the Tehran conference was the former US marine Ken O’Keefe, who now inhabits the wilder fringes of pro-Palestinian activism.  In July, O’Keefe gave an interview to an online radio show hosted by American antisemite and former Klansman David Duke. In August he spoke at a London meeting of the far right Iona Forum. Typical of his speech on that occasion was this extract:

What we have right now is a world where, because we have a tiny tiny minority running the financial system, primarily Jew in the banking sector. But of course we’ve got Jews in the media, I mean come on, they own Hollywood, they own all the major cooperate media institutions, with rare exception, they’re have totally infiltrated the US government.

CST Blog has written several times before about the endemic antisemitism in the Iranian government, media and wider public debate. It is inevitable that an Iranian conference on “the Zionist lobby” would feature antisemites, Holocaust Deniers and conspiracy theorists. The fact that it also featured a Church of England vicar is utterly shameful.

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