Ed West Ed West

Anti-Semitism in Britain makes me feel ashamed

As silly seasons go, this August has been pretty rubbish, I have to say. Iraq heads the list of gloomy subjects, obviously, as 100,000 Christians and many more Yazidis flee from the genocidal maniacs of the Islamic State. And before anyone asks, yes I do support intervention there: this is not like other conflicts in the region, between two heavily-armed militias both hostile to the West, as in Syria; it is an unprovoked attacked by our enemies against defenceless civilians simply because of their religion, the very thing the post-1945 order was supposed to prevent.

Gaza is also deeply depressing; obviously it’s existential to the people of Israel and Palestine, but the events the conflict has triggered off in Britain and across Europe make my heart sink. The anti-Semitism on display makes me ashamed of my country — the physical attacks of Jews, the intimidating protests in Manchester, the politicians and campaigners who talk of making Scotland ‘Zionist-free’ or Bradford ‘Israeli-free’.

Why is anti-Semitism fashionable again? I was reading Michael Burleigh’s Moral Combat on holiday, and he summed up the psychological impact the Holocaust had on western consciences, compared to the still-evil-but-not-quite-so-evil crimes of Stalin. He wrote:

‘Nazi crimes against the Jews drew on an ancient mulch of Christian Judeaophobia that gives them psychological traction among western audiences, because its modern mutation of anti-Semitism is part of their more or less conscious heritage. Therefore the evocation of Nazi crimes rubs a collective scar in western societies.

Indeed, it’s not just Israel, as some would claim, but — perversely — Europe’s conscious decision to atone for its sins by embracing multiculturalism that is in part responsible for the recent wave of anti-Semitism.

In my depressing book on immigration I tried to make the point that, so horrified are we by what European racism did that we’ve ended up fighting the last war.

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