Stephen Daisley

Labour’s defeat has not ended anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism is the moral challenge of our times and we're currently failing it

Labour's defeat has not ended anti-Semitism
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The defeat of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party has afforded little respite to British Jews. Residents of Hampstead and Belsize Park woke on Sunday to storefronts and a synagogue daubed in the Star of David and ‘9/11’, apparently invoking the conspiracy theory that Jews were behind the September 11 attacks. December has been sweeps month for anti-Semitism across Europe. Two teenagers were charged after allegedly beating a rabbi in Stamford Hill while shouting ‘kill Jews’. A man was arrested on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated assault after a United Synagogue official was attacked near his east London home.

An Israeli student was assaulted on the Paris Metro for speaking Hebrew. A Berlin schoolboy was bound, throttled and subjected to anti-Semitic abuse by three classmates. More than 100 graves were vandalised with swastikas in Westhoffen Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg. In Slovakia, two Jewish cemeteries were desecrated, their headstones knocked down and set on fire.

Education authorities in Belgium referred a teacher to police after he shared an imam’s video urging jihad against ‘those who cooperate, work, conspire with the Jews’. A French court ruled that a Muslim man who killed a Jewish woman while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ was too high on marijuana to be held criminally responsible. The Independent published an op-ed by Slavoj Žižek declaring ‘the trouble with Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people’.

Belgium’s Aalst Carnival forwent its world heritage listing in order to keep a float depicting Haredi Jews with hooked noses surrounded by rats and moneybags. A Belgian newspaper editor accused Jewish MP Michael Freilich of spying for Israel. A Kyiv court ordered reinstatement and compensation for a Ukrainian diplomat fired for blaming World War II on Jews, urging ‘death to the anti-fascists’ and posing with a Mein Kampf cake.

The above list isn’t remotely comprehensive. They’re coming for the Jews again. They have been for a long time; we just haven’t been paying attention. The stabbing of five Jews celebrating Chanukah at their rabbi’s home in Monsey, New York on Saturday night was not an isolated incident. Earlier this month, three people were gunned down at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey. The two attacks came after months of assaults on Jews in New York City, assaults you will almost certainly not have heard of. The most progressive, multicultural city on Earth is in the midst of what we are not yet ready to but eventually will have to call a pogrom, and until now the national and international coverage has been negligible.

In the first half of 2019 alone, the NYPD recorded an 83 per cent increase in hate crimes, of which 59 per cent were targeted at Jews. The Anti-Defamation League’s tracker tool shows 86 anti-Semitic incidents in the city in 2019. These include a gang of youths making throat-slashing gestures to a rabbi and his wife while shouting ‘You f***ing Jew. The Holocaust never happened’; an Orthodox man being punched in the face and called a ‘f***ing Jew’ as he walked on Broadway; another getting thumped in the head and having his yarmulke knocked off as he strolled through Williamsburg; two Hasidic teenagers being pursued by four men in a car shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘We love Hitler’; an NYPD traffic cop reportedly calling an Orthodox driver who took a wrong turn a ‘stupid Jew’; and a Jewish woman being assaulted on the Subway and told Jews should be killed. The Big Apple’s iconic underground has been hit by an outbreak of swastika graffiti; 71 per cent of racially-motivated vandalism investigated by police this year was anti-Jewish in nature.

Progressives who talk of little else suddenly do not want to talk about race. That is because these attacks are, in the main, not being carried out by dead-eyed youths with ‘14 Words’ tattoos. The New Jersey killers, the alleged would-be killer in Monsey, and many of the spitters, punchers and verbal aggressors on the streets of Brooklyn and in the Subway cars beneath the city are black or other ethnic minority. We should bear in mind that some of these individuals will be mentally ill, though that standard should apply in all race-based incidents or none. Black anti-Semitism — the very locution unsettles liberal stomachs — is nothing new but now the fanatic pronouncements of some Black Hebrew Israelites and conspiracy theories of Jewish culpability for slavery vie with woke mutterings about ‘gentrification’ and the postmodern mindjunk of intersectionality, a worldview that is anti-Semitic in effect if not by design.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio has previously blamed the upsurge in anti-Semitism on ‘the forces of white supremacy’ and ‘the right-wing movement’. When progressives see a white man beat a black man, their instinct is to condemn. When they see a black man beat a Jewish man, their instinct is to look away. Just as British socialists struggle to comprehend anti-Semitism from their comrades, the American left needs all racism to flow from Donald Trump and be a product of ‘white privilege’. For it to emanate from elsewhere, for non-whites to be culpable, requires a doctrine-debunking revision of the demonology. Identity politics makes it more important that the bad guys be the right guys than that bad guys stop doing bad things.

This is what allows progressives to overlook Women’s March anti-Semitism, Jew-baiting from Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders’ use of Linda Sarsour as a media surrogate. It is the breezy hipster upgrade to liberal forbearance of Al Sharpton (‘If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house’), Jesse Jackson (‘That's all Hymie wants to talk about is Israel; every time you go to Hymietown, that's all they want to talk about’) and, for some, even Louis Farrakhan (‘I'm here to separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews’). There’s no end of racism you can get away with if you get yourself called a ‘civil rights leader’.

Jews have civil rights, too, and they are under attack almost daily in New York City and around the world. Whether that is from white nationalists or black separatists, Christian bigots or Islamist hate-mongers, anti-Zionist radicals or Bibi-loving Euro-populists hardly matters to the victims. Jew-hatred is Jew-hatred. Your terribly original rationale never is. Institutions whose anti-Semitism has thus far evaded scrutiny — higher education, mainline Protestant churches, the democratic right — should bear this in mind.

Conservatives especially should pay heed to the complacency and moral contortions of their progressive opposites, for their own recent vigilance against leftist anti-Semitism does not guard the right against the same sins. Anti-Semitism is gaining ground within the mainstream right, in particular through tropes about liberal philanthropist George Soros. Rudy Giuliani recently pronounced himself ‘more of a Jew’ than the Holocaust survivor, Hungary’s nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban vilifies him as a puppet master, and the Daily Telegraph even splashed a paranoid tale about his ‘secret plot’ against Brexit by the astonishingly employable Nick Timothy. The right is also home to a unique outgrowth of anti-Semitism: anti-Muslimism, or the redirection of canards about Jews towards Muslims, from sinister fecundity and dual loyalty to secret agendas (Taqiyya) and plots for domination. Anti-Semitism is foul, you understand — until you change all the ‘Moshes’ to ‘Mohammeds’. The right does intersectionality too.

Modern anti-Semitism comes in four waves. First, there is the attack, then the indifference to the attack, then the exploitation of the attack by those who deem it politically useful, then the downplaying of the attack by those who don’t. We seldom pause to consider the victim, the impact on his community, the societal failure that allowed this bigotry to recrudesce, and what we should be doing to resist it. Anti-Semitism is the moral challenge of our times and we are not only failing — we are barely even trying.