I can’t escape the feeling that not many people take antisemitism seriously. Even now while we witness its rise throughout Europe. Even when Jews are shot dead in supermarkets and schools. This was made particularly clear on Tuesday by the decision taken by Amnesty International to reject a motion calling for them to tackle the rise in antisemitic attacks in the UK. According to the Jewish Chronicle it was the only motion to be defeated at their annual conference.
But don’t be under the impression that Amnesty International are the problem. Their decision to ignore antisemitism in the UK simply serves to hi-light the fact that even people who see themselves as anti racism activists can’t bring themselves to take antisemitism seriously.
They can’t bring themselves to admit Jews are targets of a vicious, murderous hatred so insidious it exists in all levels of polite (and impolite) society. They can’t bring themselves to see that Jews now live in fear of the next attack against themselves and their community. They can’t bring themselves to see how Jewish communal buildings are slowly being turned into fortresses complete with state of the art security systems and security guards. In the case of France no less than 10,000 soldiers were drafted in to protect French Jewry. Several of them were stabbed in an attack that would otherwise have been meant for innocent civilians.
Innocent save for the fact they, we, are guilty of the crime of being Jewish.
The problem goes far deeper than governments. In fact governments in Western Europe have been quick to rush to the defence of their Jews. Particularly in France where Prime Minister and President alike have made statements of solidarity with French Jewry. They have taken concrete measures to protect Jews and arrest the perpetrators of antisemitic crimes.
All to no avail.
In fact some of the measures, such as banning the antisemite Dieudonne from performing, have served only to increase the popularity of antisemites to the detriment of the Jews. The community then lost because it was identified alongside the government, whereas before it lost because, well, it was just Jewish.
In the United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron promised millions of pounds specifically for making schools more protected. So now the British Jewish community can build the higher walls and stronger fences it needs to defend its institutions.
But this won’t serve to change the problem that is flourishing beyond those walls and over those fences.
Perhaps because this latest wave of antisemitism seems intricately linked to the rise of Islamic State, perhaps because of Palestine, perhaps because it seems like simply a political issue, the dark waters of antisemitism have been muddied. Whereas it should be crystal clear antisemitism must be fought like any other race hatred, it isn’t.
Even campaigning against antsemitism is unacceptable. Perhaps at Amnesty International the feeling is that there are “real” hatreds that need to be fought, “real” injustices far more worthy of their time. If anything they would be mobilising people to march in demonstrations against the Jewish state…and therefore couldn’t possibly take the charge of antisemitism seriously.
Or so the logic goes.
The problem with antisemitism is the fact that people are so reluctant even to admit to its existence and the necessity of combating it.
Everyone that is, except Jews themselves.
And so the inevitable happens and the Jews simply leave wherever they are being harassed. The exodus from France has been well documented when it comes to olim to Israel, but the Anglo Jewish community has already noted an influx of a large number of French Jews. With no solution to the upswing in antisemitism on the continent they are moving into a community licking its wounds in the wake of the worst year of antisemitic attacks since records began in the mid 1980s.
Perhaps Jew hatred just isn’t fashionable enough for the hipsters at Amnesty International and the demonstrating crowd. It’s not the issue of the day, it’s not something that tens of thousands of people have built a bandwagon for them to climb onto the back of. So they just shrug and say “yeah it’s awful” without doing anything or caring.
But one thing is clear. Governments can make nice statements, they can give money for better defences and they can send soldiers to guard our buildings. But no matter what they do, no matter how hard they try, they can’t even convince their own people Jew hatred is a problem let alone that it is a problem in need of a solution.