In fairness, The Guardian has published a few morally clear articles, op-eds and editorials on the recent increase of antisemitism in Europe and the UK. However, a Jan. 19th Guardian op-ed by David Conn, responding to poll results on antisemitism published by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), pivots towards more familiar Guardian Left territory – downplaying, obfuscating or rationalizing resurgent anti-Jewish racism.
Conn not only responds with disbelief to polls purporting to show that 25% of British Jews have considered leaving the country because of antisemitism, that 58% believe Jews may have no future in Europe and that over half feel “antisemitism now echoes the 1930s”, but counters that he personally has never experienced meaningful antisemitism in his entire life.
Further in the op-ed, Conn writes:
That is not to say of course that antisemitism no longer exists, or that there are not still negative stereotypes about Jews, entrenched over centuries, which linger and will take longer to educate out. But in 2013 the Community Security Trust (CST) recorded its lowest number of antisemitic incidents for eight years, mirroring the long-term decline in prejudice that has been a feature of Europe’s wondrous rebuilding since the second world war….The CST expects to report more incidents recorded in 2014, principally related to protests against Israel’s military activities in Gaza.
Actually, the CST has been clear that not only do they expect – when figures are released next month – an increase in antisemitic incidents in 2014, but expect the highest number of incidents ever recorded.
Interestingly, on the same day Conn’s op-ed appeared, the Guardian also published a news report by Robert Booth (Antisemitism fears grow in UK’s Jewish communities after Paris shootings, Jan. 19th) which correctly noted CST projections on antisemitic incidents in 2014.
Rising anxiety in parts of Britain’s Jewish community comes ahead of figures expected next month that will show antisemitic attacks – mostly non-violent – reached the highest level ever recorded in the UK in 2014, rising above the previous high of 931 attacks in 2009, which included 124 violent attacks, three of which involved a threat to life or grievous bodily harm.
Back to Conn’s op-ed:
Spikes in anti-Jewish sentiment do happen here, the vast majority non-violent, when Israel has mounted operations that have killed Palestinian civilians, including so many children.
That true horror lends another perspective to the good life and peace Jewish people generally are privileged to enjoy in Britain. It feels unreal that people can believe their experience “echoes” the 1930s, which the IJPR said, with some understatement, “most credible scholars of the Holocaust utterly refute”.
Note how Conn’s gratuitous line about the deaths of “so many children” in Gaza is contextualized as a “true horror” in contrast, he seems to suggest, to British Jews’ exaggerated sense of their own victimhood – as if there’s some moral parallel between Palestinian casualties resulting from Israel’s war with Hamas and Britons who are targeted for racist hate due to their religious orientation.
Conn finishes thusly:
This alarm, which seems to some extent to be feeding on itself, can risk seeming a little ungrateful. Not only for a historically remarkable level of acceptance and opportunity but also to our grandparents, who worked, prayed and fought through the 1930s so that we could experience it.
It’s of course one thing to try and tone down exaggerated rhetoric about antisemitism, and quite another to imperiously deride the fears of a tiny Jewish minority and suggest that they are “ungrateful” to their country, as if their freedoms are not inalienable rights afforded to them as full citizens, but privileges bestowed upon them for which they need always to express gratitude.
Perhaps Dave Conn didn’t get the memo, but the Guardian fancies itself a “liberal” publication, one which purports to instinctively sympathize with the fears and aspirations of historically oppressed minorities. As such, it seems reasonable to expect the concerns of British Jews – who represent less than 1 percent of the British population – to be treated seriously, and not flippantly dismissed.
Jewish Britons love their country.
They also see Jews fleeing previously safe European capitals due to the increasing acceptance by the “civilized classes” of classic antisemitic narratives and, most ominously, the fear of Jihadist violence.
I think it’s possible for Dave Conn to keep both ideas in his head at the same time.
- UK police increase patrols after Paris supermarket attack (thejc.com)
- British anti-Semitism set to hit record high… (telegraph.co.uk)