The War on Britain's Jews?
C4 Mon 9 July 2007, 8pm
Last year, an All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism found that violence, desecration of property and intimidation directed against Jews are all on the increase. Richard Littlejohn talks to victims and analysts and argues that antisemitism, once the preserve of the extreme right, now has a foothold among some Muslims and says even elements of the Left are fuelling the fire.
- The term ‘antisemitism’ was first coined in the 1870s to describe racism against Jews.
- Communities of Jews have lived as minorities in many countries for at least 2,000 years.
- The Jews were often discriminated against and treated with violent hostility, such as in Medieval Europe and 19th-century Russia.
- There were also times of peaceful coexistence. For example, in 8th-11th-century Spain Jews and Christians lived in harmony with their Muslim rulers.
- In modern times antisemitism has been a feature of Far Right groups, such as the German Nazi Party and the British Union of Fascists in the mid-20th century, and more recently the British National Party (though the current BNP leader denies that he or his party are antisemitic).
- At the turn of the last century the Russian secret police produced a fake document called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purported to describe a Jewish plot to dominate the world.
- In the Holocaust the Nazis used industrial techniques to murder millions of Europe’s Jews. One tactic used by antisemites is to deny that the Holocaust happened or to downplay the numbers who were killed.
- One response to modern antisemitism was Jewish nationalism – Zionism – which argues that Jews can only be safe if they have their own country.
- Many Jews were (and are) unsure about the idea of a Jewish state because they believed that they should fight for their right to live in safety wherever they were in the world. This, they said, meant challenging antisemitism wherever it appeared, as they had challenged Mosley’s Blackshirts in the 1930s, rather than running away from it.
- After the Holocaust, the United Nations voted that the Jewish state of Israel should be established in part of the territory of Palestine, a land inhabited by Arab Christians and Moslems.
- The Palestinians who lived on that land did not accept this. Several wars later, the conflict continues till today and Israel currently militarily occupies Palestinian territory conquered in 1967.
- According to the UN, 70% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are living in acute poverty, many in refugee camps.
- Some Zionists argue that, after 1948, rather than expect Palestinians to one day to return to their homeland, Arab states to which Palestinians fled should have helped them settle and assimilate in those countries rather than keeping them in the refugee camps where many still remain. In contrast, they say, Israel absorbed Jews who left Arab lands into the new Israeli state.
- Bitterness over Israeli policies towards the Palestinians has provided fertile ground for antisemitic ideas, which have been transplanted from their Christian European soil into the Arab world. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion can now be bought in some radical Islamist shops in Britain.
What do you think?
Battle for the Holocaust
Explores controversial questions about the world’s perception of the Nazi extermination and the painful conflict over the distribution of money in reparation to survivors.
Battle for the Holy Land
On the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, this website looks at the prospects for peace, justice and coexistence in Israel and Palestine?
Children of Abraham
Examines whether the shared roots of the three monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, could be a basis for building a shared future.
Large website with lots of information about the Nazi extermination of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people, political opponents and others whom they considered 'unfit to live'.