This week’s hot topic is the YouGov
poll which found 45% of UK adults believing at least one anti-Semitic view presented to them was "definitely or probably true".
Why am I not surprised ?
London is after all the world headquarters of the Boycott-Israel movement, home to the Isra-phobic BBC and the place where academics and trade unionists love to indulge their ugly prejudices under the guise of caring for Palestinians more than any other genuinely oppressed group in the world’s darkest trouble spots.
As a British Jew who has lived and worked in the country for over 60 years, I’d like to respond to the half of the train carriage, bus queue or movie audience that quietly harbors such feelings about me and my people.
To the 25% who think we ‘chase money more than others
’ I say that we also give away a heck of a lot more than those others. It’s well known that Jews have been consistently more charitable than any other ethnic group. Just take a drive through Manhattan and see how many scores of hospitals, colleges and institutions of science and the arts bear the names of their Jewish endowers. In Britain our Jewish benefactors prefer a lower profile with the majority of endowments not well known. But when HRH Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to her second child, it will be in the same hospital as her first; endowed by the Jewish philanthropist Charles Lindo.
To the 17% of my fellow citizens who think we have ‘too much power in the media’ I ask: Are you serious? When the Jewish state is consistently maligned by TV news reporters and pilloried in nearly every publication and when editors routinely throw our letters in the bin … that’s power we don’t need.
To the 11% who say we’re ‘not as honest as others’ in business, I guess a lot of that’s about Bernie Madoff. But then again every ethnic group has its rogues and derelicts. We may have spawned history’s biggest Ponzi schemer but I know of no Jewish ax-murderers, child killers, bank robbers or serial rapists serving time in Britain’s prisons.
To the 13% who say we use the Holocaust to ‘get sympathy’ I say – sympathy for what? To get promotion somewhere? Or a better job? Did you ever see someone putting ‘Holocaust Survivor’ on their CV?
We want from the Holocaust just three things.
- For people to respect our 6 million dead by not denying the meticulously documented facts and crimes whose perpetrators and abettors have long since acknowledged and admitted their guilt.
- For the world to understand that this horrendous crime was carried out by the most cultured and well-educated nation of that era, which the evil of anti-Semitism was powerful enough to turn into the most vile beasts.
- To remind all of you that we are the canary in the coalmine of civilization, so that what starts with the Jews ultimately brings the whole civilised world down with it.
To the 10% of you who would ‘be unhappy if a relative married a Jew’ I can only say, my rabbi will be delighted to hear that.
And finally, to the 20% who think that our support for Israel makes us less loyal to the UK, I can only speak for myself. I am the son of an Auschwitz survivor who was fortunate enough to come to Britain as a refugee. I have enduring gratitude to Britain for that and for the privilege of bringing up my own family in this peaceful and tolerant country.
We the Jewish people bless Her Majesty the Queen and her royal family in our synagogues every Shabbat even though, after 6 decades of state visits to every sheikdom and tinpot dictatorship, the tiny democracy of Israel remains off the royal itinerary.
But, when I hear that nearly half of this country harbors such prejudices against my people and that the same survey found 54% of Jews seeing no future in the UK, I have no choice but to support Israel as a lifeline that never existed for the Jews of the Holocaust era.
So, as I see history inexorably set to repeat itself in Europe, I very much hope Britain will once again be able to stand firm and be in the forefront of repelling this ugly resurgence.