Confronting antisemitism now is crucial; 'never again' is not just history but an urgent imperative

14 February 2024, 07:16 | Updated: 14 February 2024, 08:23

Confronting antisemitism now is crucial; "never again" is not just history but an urgent imperative
Confronting antisemitism now is crucial; "never again" is not just history but an urgent imperative. Picture: Alamy/LBC
  • Dr Helena Ivanov is an Associate Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society
Dr Helena Ivanov

By Dr Helena Ivanov

After spending days defending Mr Azhar Ali, the Labour finally caved in – as the Labour Party withdrew its support for Rochdale by-election candidate following his comments which suggested that Israel allowed the Hamas attack and then used it as a pretext to invade Gaza.

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This is not an isolated incident within the Labour Party - that has struggled to deal with accusations of antisemitism for a long time now.

But more concerningly, this is also not an isolated incident in the U.K. – which has seen a staggering rise of antisemitic incidents following the 7th of October attacks and the subsequent Israel-Hamas war.

During the period between October 7th and November 7th, 2023, the Greater Manchester Police documented 74 antisemitic incidents, marking a significant increase compared to the 15 incidents reported during the same timeframe the previous year.

According to the Community Security Trust (CST), a Jewish charity, there were at least 1,019 antisemitic incidents across the UK in the 28 days following Hamas's attack on Israel.

This represents a staggering 537% increase in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. The situation on university campuses is dire, with the number of reported antisemitic incidents in a single month in 2023 surpassing the total incidents recorded throughout the entire year of 2022.

Unfortunately, the sense of safety for Jews has been further compromised as the latest reports reveal an incident at Soho Theatre where a Jewish man was kicked out from the show.

Allegedly, comedian Paul Currie led chants of "get out" following a disagreement over a Palestinian flag, highlighting the unsettling reality that even theatres are not immune to antisemitism.

To protect the British Jewish community from this alarming rise of antisemitism, the UK Government and PM Rishi Sunak announced £3 million extra in funding to CST, with the aim of protecting schools, synagogues, and other Jewish buildings.

While the move should certainly be applauded, this funding is nowhere near enough to combat the staggering level of antisemitism witnessed in the UK in the last few months, and if the government is serious about protecting the Jewish community, it has to do, and pay, much more.

For instance, the government needs to formulate and implement comprehensive measures which can effectively address antisemitism within some of the country’s most critical institutions, like schools and universities.

Moreover, broader, far-reaching, and multifaceted campaigns aimed at general audiences are necessary for a successful combatting of antisemitism.

Lastly, addressing antisemitic disinformation is paramount. The government should actively support initiatives and organizations dedicated to tackling the creation, dissemination, and counteraction of antisemitic disinformation.

Confronting antisemitism immediately is absolutely crucial, as the commitment “never again” is not merely a historical sentiment; it is an urgent and immediate imperative.


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