The alarming rise of anti-Semitism in Europe

by | Dec 5, 2014 | Other News

Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, with Joy Wolfe.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, with Joy Wolfe.

Joy Wolfe MBE, chairman of StandWithUs UK, shares her concerns about the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe, with a particular focus on the UK where she lives.

Throughout history, we Jews have been targeted and faced difficult times. In 2014, it appears that this is a rising trend yet again, particularly here in Europe. But Jews have a history of survival and finding a way of finding positive outcomes out of evil.

There can be little doubt that there is a growing trend of anti-Semitism, but one of the best outcomes of the current rise in the UK and other parts of Europe is that it has unified the Jewish community with our non-Jewish friends in a very positive and meaningful way. Speaking as both a community leader and a Zionist activist for the past 60 years, it has been heartening over the past few months to be joined by so many younger enthusiastic new activists who have taken on the mantle of defending our community. This is something we must nurture and encourage. The emergence out of adversity of groups like North West Friends of Israel and Sussex Friends of Israel and indeed many Friends of Israel groups in the most unlikely places, has been a breath of fresh air, and oddly enough, we have the boycotters to thank for that as they have awakened many people out of their apathy and complacency.

Speaking at a rally against anti-Semitism in Manchester on Oct. 19 attended by more than 2,000 people, I said, “Today is about ANTI-SEMITISM, NOT ANTIZIONISM, but I doubt if there are many people here who do not see the strong link between the two. There are those who blame the rise of anti-Semitism on what is going on in Israel, and while to a degree that may be true, I want to say loud and clear that while our enemies and detractors will say that the recent conflicts in Gaza are to blame for the growth of anti Jewish acts and marches and rallies with slogans of KILL THE JEWS and HITLER WAS RIGHT, which we have seen in recent times, blaming Israel is the excuse for rising anti-Semitism, not the cause.”

The level of anti-Semitism that reared its head in parliament during the debate on Palestine in October was really alarming. However, we should not disregard the fact that over half the Members of Parliament (MPs) chose to stay away rather that support the call to recognize Palestine.

When we have so many people damning both Israel and the Jews, it is easy to think everyone is against us. And believe it or not in October at an international conference on the rebuilding of Gaza, John Kerry blamed successful recruitment for ISIS and the Islamic State on the failure of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, citing humiliation and denial and absence of dignity. In other words, something else for America to blame on the Jews. Does he and the Obama administration seriously believe that all the ills in the Middle East will evaporate if only Israel and the Palestinians could miraculously sit round a table and abandon all their entrenched positions?

MPs fell over each other to damn Israel with references to Apartheid Israel and one of them, MP David Ward, already notorious for his outrageous views and comments, recently resorted to the worn out viewpoint that it is the Jews who run America’s banks.

We constantly have people telling us the Jews run the media, the Jews run the banks, indeed those pesky Jews run everything.

All I can say is that if those allegations were even half true, we would make a far better job of running things than those who are responsible do!!!

Many people have tried to destroy us over the years and failed, not the least of them Hitler. Many Holocaust survivors made their home here in the UK and are loyal and supportive British citizens contributing in no small measure to the success of the UK. We came to the UK as a refugee community and through hard work and loyalty we have achieved so much and earned the respect of many. Would that the Palestinian refugees had been allowed the same freedom by their leaders to settle and enjoy a decent standard of life in the same way.

We cannot paper over the fact that there is indeed a rise in anti-Semitism as shown by current Community Security Trust statistics and reports of incidents and often violence from many European countries. Nor can we hide the fact that many of us feel threatened and fear for the future of our children and grandchildren. A recent small sample poll published by the Jewish Chronicle suggests “almost two-thirds of British Jews have questioned their future in the UK. Forty percent of European Jewry suppress their Jewish identity, not wearing kippot or Magen Davids due to anti-Semitism; French Jewry are leaving for Israel in the thousands because of violent anti-Semitism; and Hungary is also experiencing high levels.

And do not make the mistake of thinking the U.S. is immune. Incidents in New York have risen by over 35 percent, and anti-Israel activity on some U.S. campuses, often led by university staff, is unacceptable.

Above all, we cannot afford to be complacent, and we need to deliver a positive message and a strong plea for us to stand tall and proud and fight back against those who are peddling the anti-Semitic message.

We cannot let them win and threaten our future.

We have to go for the bottle’s half-full view on life and spread a positive message. We need to share the message that, far from everyone being against us, we have many good friends who will continue to stand by us. There was plenty of evidence of that at the recent Manchester rally where the Jewish community was joined by many of our Christian friends, a group or Kurds, speakers including one from the Hindu community, a young very active Muslim activist who speaks out on behalf of Israel, two non-Jewish MPs and a dynamic Christian minister who founded Christians for Zion. We need more people to stand up and be counted and to fight the good fight against both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. That way we can defeat those who would destroy us and we can be true to our commitment to those who perished in the Holocaust, when we have vowed NEVER AGAIN.

by Joy Wolfe