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Why is Antisemitism such a Big Issue in the General Election?

This weeks Christian Today column.  You can read the original here…

Why is antisemitism such a big issue in the General Election?

Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of offering an apology for antisemitism in the Labour partyReuters

What is going on in British Politics? In an election which was supposed to be all about Brexit, and which Labour want to make all about the NHS, there is another issue that is just as predominant – that of antisemitism.

In these past few days Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath SNP candidate Neale Hanvey has had his support withdrawn from the SNP after allegations of antisemitism. Falkirk Labour candidate Safir Ali has been suspended for antisemitism. And the Tory candidate for Leeds North East, Amjad Bashir, has also been suspended for the same reason. And these are not the only ones.

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, in a column in The Times last week, made an unprecented attack upon Labour because of its failure to address antisemitism. He stated that the “overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Corbyn-led government.

Given that there are only 300,000 Jews in Britain, why is this considered such an important issue? It’s complex, but I think the reasons are good.

Wipe Out Israel

I was once at a meeting with the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, in Edinburgh Theological Seminary. It was enlightening. The previous night he had been in Glasgow speaking at a university there – he was picketed by people chanting ‘from the Jordan to the sea, Palestine shall be free’. This was a less than subtle reference to the wiping out of the State of Israel.

A couple of years ago at Celtic Park, where Celtic were playing an Israeli team, hundreds of people waved large Palestinian flags and sang “we are Scottish, we are singing for Palestine and we won’t be denied”. Whilst there were those who argued that this was just people standing up for an oppressed people one has to simply ask: where were the anti-Chinese flags for oppressing the people of Tibet, or anti-Saudi flags for oppressing the people of Yemen, or anti-Burmese flags for oppressing the Rohingya Muslims? Or for countless other situations far worse. The fact is that being anti-Israel has become a cause celebre for the British Left and such faux concern for oppression provides a real cover for antisemitism.

I spoke to a leading representative of the Scottish Jewish community and asked him if my impression that antisemitism was on the rise in the UK and even in Scotland (I say even because as far as I know, Scotland is the only country in Europe that has never had anti-Jewish laws and, because of our Christianity, we always felt an affinity with the people of Israel). He answered unequivocally: yes.

I also know a homosexual activist who said that he was thinking of leaving the UK, not because of homophobia, but because of antisemitism.

What is causing this increase in antisemitism?

Firstly there is the traditional European antisemitism. This is something that runs very deep. I have come across it in various forms, not least in one lady who told me that “if” the Holocaust happened, the Jews probably deserved it. I have been astounded at how ingrained antisemitism seems to be in many of our European cultures. Another man I know – nice, middle class, left-wing and liberal – told me that the Jews were responsible for the evils of capitalism.

Islam

There really is no way around this. The primary cause of the increase in antisemitism in the UK is because of the increase of Islam. When the film Schindler’s List came out in 1993, I asked a Muslim friend if she wanted to come and see it with me at the local Odeon. She flat out refused because she said that the Holocaust probably did not happen – it was Jewish propaganda. I was astonished because she was as liberal a Muslim as I have ever met.

It began to make sense to me that Mein Kampf became a best a bestseller in Turkey in the first decade of this century. It also made sense to me that several Christians I know who work with Muslims seem very quick to adopt the anti-Israel zeitgeist (although they would deny it was antisemitic). They are often the ones who engage in the game of ‘what abouterry?’ Every time you mention antisemitism, they ask: but what about Gaza or the West Bank? As though somehow this was a justification.

The Radical Left

This has led onto another major cause. Traditional ingrained antisemitism, combined with Islamic antisemitism has now been joined by the new kid on the block – left wing antisemitism. This is seen in the radical Left, and especially in the extreme Left of the Labour party. Corbyn says he opposes antisemitism, but he supports those who are clearly antisemitic – Hamas, Hezbollah and some of the more radical Islamic groups. Despite the denials, Corbyn’s refusal in his interview with Andrew Neil to apologise for antisemitism within the party was telling.

Recall the antisemitic banner from the 2017 election.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to view it.

jpg

Notice what May is ‘wearing’ – two Star of David earrings and note the word ‘Balfour’. This is a reference to the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which was the basis for establishing the Israeli state today. It is a profoundly disturbing and antisemitic poster. And it is only one sign of an increasing antisemitism – not only in its traditional home, the far Right, but now on the radical Left.

Sometimes they combine. When Corbyn spoke about ‘British Zionists’ in 2013 he was enthusiastically endorsed by Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party. David Duke, former leader of the KKK, spoke in support: “It’s a really good kind of evolutionary thing, isn’t it, when people are beginning to recognize Zionist power and ultimately the Jewish establishment power in Britain and in the western world.”

In two further developments this week, a video has emerged which shows Corbyn complaining that the BBC has a bias towards saying that Israel has the right to exist. And the historian Sir Richard Evans, who had stated that he was going to vote for Labour “not withstanding the cancer of antisemitism that has infected it”, has now announced he has changed his mind and will not be voting for Labour.

It’s not just the Labour party but also other parties. You would think that the SNP of all parties, as wannabe leaders of an independent small state of five million people, would be keen to support the independence of another small state of five million people facing overwhelming odds.

But when has a Scottish government minister ever visited Israel? How did SNP MSP Sandra White get away with posting a cartoon on Twitter showing piglets suckling a large pig with the word ‘Rothschild” written on it, and a bank with the Star of David?

This is also the case in academia where being pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli is almost a necessary qualification for any self-advancing academic. How many academic institutions, so impeccably PC on so many issues, have turned a blind eye to the illiberal policies of their sponsors, just because of the money? How many have turned a blind eye to the implicit antisemitism on their campuses?

Why the focus on Israel?

I am not a Christian Zionist, although I believe that the Jewish people have a right to their own homeland – especially after centuries of pogroms, persecutions and ultimately the Holocaust, in Europe. I do not think that to criticize the country of Israel is necessarily antisemitic. But I do believe that the focus on Israel above all other countries is because of antisemitism. For example, the Scottish Parliament has had 59 motions on Israel (despite the Scottish Parliament having no responsibility for foreign policy), of which 52 have been anti-Israel. Why?

The Peace of Israel?

If I were Jewish I would be deeply fearful of the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn and the Momentum-controlled Labour party being elected to power in the UK. Not just because of what may happen here but because of the signal it would give to the enemies of Israel whose desire is to see them destroyed. Can you see Corbyn lifting a finger to help Israel if they are attacked?

As a Christian and as a Scot, I will stand with the Jewish people and oppose, with every fibre of my being, this grotesque and evil increase in antisemitism – whatever political party it is found in. I would hope that all Christians would stand with the Jewish people. They are right to be afraid and we have a duty to stand with them.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure.” (Psalm 122:6)

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney 

PS.   Since I wrote this I have become aware of an astonishing statistic – 85% of Muslims in the UK vote for Labour.  There are 3.5 million Muslims in the UK.  There are 300,000 Jews.  What does it matter to Labour if they lose the votes of Jews (who used to vote in similar proportions for Labour as the Muslims now do) if they get ten times that number?    What depresses me, even more, is that I don’t think that the vast majority of the electorate in the UK care.   Sure – it’s not nice to be anti-Jewish but what does it really matter – when Labour promise to end poverty in one government, give free student tuition,  and their latest gimmick 1/3 of rail fares and free fares for under 16s….?  Besides which the propaganda that is pumped out in our schools means that most young people are more aware of the ‘evils’ of Israel than they are of the Holocaust – a fading memory.  I remember a young man in Dundee, in front of his classmates, yelling at me for being amongst other things a ‘homophobe’, before going on to declare that the holocaust didn’t really happen, and if it did, it was because the Jews deserved it….

I never thought I would be writing this – but for me this election is no longer mainly about Brexit.  Its about ensuring that an anti-Semitic leader does not get into power.  A fearful judgement awaits us if that happens.   And to think that Nicola Sturgeon is prepared to countenance that, in order to further her own narrow party ends!

Lord, have mercy!

Nicola’s Lessons from Auschwitz

Who Faces the Greater Threat- Sir Alan Duncan or Israel?

Chicken Fil-A?

20 comments

  1. Thank you David, a very helpful article that we all need to read, especially for us Christians who like yourself are not Zionists.

  2. It is reported that Frederick the Great – a Freemason – once asked his adviser (supposedly Voltaire) was their any proof of the Bible? – to which Voltaire replied ‘Sire, the Jew’. God’s word and His promises one day to restore the Land and its people to fulfill the Old Testament promises is a direct challenge to Satan and his agenda. Romans 11 shows that St Paul recognized this – and Satan knows The Word better than we do.

    1. God put curses in Deuteronomy 28 to the effect that the land would be taken from the Hebrews if they forgot Him. The biggests act of forgetting was the rejection of Jesus and the many prophecies about the destruction fo the city of Jerusalem were fulfilled in AD70. God has not revoked His curse. The Jews are Christ-haters and are not reconciled to God. We are to love all men and seek their conversion, but support for the state of Israel (with its occult flag) leaves out the awkward fact that Christians are supporting godless Jews to ethnically cleanse the land of those who trust in Christ.

  3. Perhaps some day you will write a piece on the history of antisemitism and the pivotal role, and main protagonist Christianity has played?

    1. Christianity faced fierce persecution in the years after the Resurrection, and it came from the Jews. That is what the letters to the Galatians and the Hebrews reveal.

      1. N o that is NOT what the letters to the Galatians and the Hebrews reveal (you are aware that the Hebrews to whom it is written are Jews?)…they reveal that persecution came from all sides….

  4. Thanks for your explanation and your work. It must also be noted that Corbyn seems to think it is OK to hang around with murderous terrorists who are also out for Israeli blood like the IRA and Islamist terrorists. Of course all anti-God Materialist politicians are just different flavors of the same thing. The one is more extreme than the other. It is just a matter of time before they seek to eradicate all memory of God including eradicating those who hold to the existence of God. Many Christians are living in fear. The UK is a dangerous place these days…

  5. I have never understood the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Jesus was Jewish not Christian, his parents were Jewish, he died a Jew, he obeyed the whole of the Jewish law. Is it because the majority of eyewitnesses of Jesus never converted to Christianity and remained Jews despite all the claims of ‘miracles?’

  6. Thanks David for your helpful but sad observations on the Scottish attitude the the Jews. The Scottish Jewish population largely derives from the time when they were persecuted/expelled from England. In his moderatorial year the Church of Scotland minister Tom Torrance visited Israel and he was welcomed by his hosts as being a representative of the only Western European country with no history of antiSemitism.

    Perhaps I could enquire regarding your remark that you are not a “Christian Zionist”. Leaving aside the ambiguity of the word ‘Christian’ (knowing you to be one in the biblical sense), the problem with such a statement is that the word ‘Zionist’ can mean different things to different people. It can also be used and applied in a geographic (the land), socio-ethnic, political or theological sense. ( Even the Haredi Rabbis were not ‘Zionists’, believing that their yet-to-come Messiah would reconstitute the nation/state.)

    I am sure that you are familiar with the term ‘Replacement Theology’ i.e. the view that the ‘church’ is now God’s chosen people. My understanding of the Bible is that God is Himself a ‘Zionist’ in the sense that through the prophet Jeremiah He stated): “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.” (Jer. 31:36).

  7. David,
    I’m really struggling with which way to go with this election and who to vote for. I do think it’s telling that the Jewish Labour Movement has largely isolated itself from the labour party in the run up to the election, despite their strong commitment to socialism and the labour parties values. But I’m not necessarily persuaded that Labour have a monopoly on this kind of evil, nor that Corbyn is necessarily an anti-Semite. I think that often his comments or lack of and his associations with certain figures, have been blown way out of proportion and all to often to secure some political advantage on the other side. Yes, he’s a critic of the state of Israel – but so is half the world! and indeed so are any Jews as well and they make their opinions well and truly known – even in Israel. Being Anti-Semitic and Anti-Zionist are not necessarily the same thing but all too often these concepts are homogenised. I’m not saying one can’t lead to the other but their not the same. I concede that the way Corbyn has handled instances of antisemitism (where they have occurred) has not been decisive enough and on that note I have little faith in him as a leader… but do I have any more Faith in someone like Boris Johnson? For me none of the parties hold to traditional Christian values. I only need to think back to the historical same sex marriage legislation that went through under David Cameron’s leadership. And here for me lies the quandary of modern politics for a Christian.
    I want to honour the needs of the poor and vulnerable in our society, whilst holding on to conservative Christian values concerning the sanctity of life and civil and religious freedom. All these values and aspirations are biblical and important to God but in the circumstances which ones should take precedence? Thanks David, I value your ministry and incites.

    1. Thanks – these are helpful and thoughtful comments. But I don’t think the ‘they are all at it’ really excuses Corybyn. The fact that he laid a wreath at the grave of one of the Munich terrorists, that several Jewish Labour MPs have been compelled to leave….that anti-semitism is on the rise in the Labour party (and the country). I too share your antipathy towards the others leaders as well…but the election of Corbyn would be a new low…

  8. David. Thank you very much for a fine balanced article. My only qualm would be that in your penultimate paragraph the statement “I will stand with the Jewish people” can unfortunately be interpreted by some as “stand with the State of Israel, right or wrong” and therefore can (perhaps unwittingly) cause greater pain and suffering to be visited on our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters.

    Hopefully we can find ways of not giving up on a Two State Solution, but of affirming Israel’s right to exist and also not turning a blind eye to the daily intimidation suffered by many brothers and sisters at checkpoints and elsewhere. Sadly an unthinking Zionism and (largely) American money have also played their part in delaying real peace from coming. We can pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but that must also include holding Israel to account

    1. I agree that there is a difference between being anti-Semitic and’ standing with the State of Israel, right or wrong”. My concern is the way in which being opposed to Israel’s wrongs against the Palestinians is very quickly translated into ‘from the Jordan to the Sea, Palestine shall be free’. ‘Free’ in this case means free of Jews! Corbyn seems to think that the right of Israel to exist is up for debate…That then just becomes a cover for anti-Semitism…

      1. I agree, David. It is just that while the secular left will always think the worst of Israel and shed no tears over its eradication, I fear it is too often the opposite with Christians who have never been exposed to the reality faced by ordinary Palestinians including our colleagues and brothers and sisters in the churches there.

  9. I understand that Mr Corbyn was laying a wreath to honour the victims of the Israeli bombings which killed 60 people and that it is just incidental that one of the graves of the Munich terrorists is on that site. In any case, I felt Corbyn appeared fairly unequivocal in his condemnation of anti-semitism in his most recent Election debate with Boris Johnson. This seemed to be one of the biggest factors that inhibited my labour vote BUT so far most charges of anti-semitism levelled at Corbyn seem to be either based on mis-information, or against his anti-Zionism which I’m sorry is not necessarily the same as anti-semitism! Many people are anti-Zionist like Corbyn based on what they perceive to be the injustices being perpetuated against Palestinians by the Israeli state but we shouldn’t necessarily conflate that with a hatred of the Jewish people…that’s not good reasoning or at all charitable to those critics of anti-Zionism. I am personally a Christian Zionist, and I attribute the founding of the state of Israel and the returning of many Jewish people to the land of Israel as the fulfilment of OT prophecy. I also believe that there is an acute bias against the state of Israel in the media and this informs many people like Corbyns denunciation of the state of Israel but does that mean those individuals are anti-jewish? I’m not convinced and I dare say many modern Jews will espouse similar beliefs about the state of Israel. Sorry in the run up to Election Day I’m still struggling to see any conclusive proof that Corbyn himself is antisemitic in any meaningful sense. I’m open to correction on this issue as I want to vote in a manner that pleases the Lord (if possible!) Godbless, Lee

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