Over the Summer, and since June 2019, I have spent a fair amount of time with leaders of Jewish communities and senior representatives of Jewish communal organisations from around the world.
There had been one topic that has been at the forefront of their mind- antisemitism. And this global focus amongst jewish communal leaders on the topic is leading to a slight policy difference with us in the UK; which is ironic, since the high profile focus on anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party here in the UK is one of the factors that is cited for an increasingly hard line approach on the issue coming out of the United States community and Israel.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the outgoing Executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, made a speech at a gathering of jewish communal leaders in Israel in June in which he described there being a “global war against the Jews”. For him, from his vantage point, the stakes were that high. Of course, he is able to take a much more global view of the threats around the world than we do in the UK, looking parochially at our own issues. But even we, as leaders of Jewish communal organisations in the UK, with all the threats that we are familiar with- including record numbers of reported antisemitic incidents and our main Opposition Party under investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission- would not describe what we face in the UK in such bellicose terms. Perhaps it is our typical English reserve and stiff upper lip attitude, but we have sought frequently not to use alarmist language in confronting the challenges that we face.
The United States Government has begun to make policy interventions in this area. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has stated that it is US Government policy than anti-Zionism is the same as antisemitism.Read more
I made my debut on CNN recently. I had been asked on to respond to a CNN survey on antisemitism published at the end of November.
The subject had rightly been off the agenda for a couple of months as the political establishment and media focussed exclusively on Brexit. And we were doing nothing to bring it to the centre of the Agenda. That is, until the CNN survey came along.
7,000 adults across Europe were interviewed as part of the investigation.
And what a surprising and profoundly depressing set of findings it produced.
Among the key headlines were findings that more than a quarter of Europeans believe Jews have “too much influence” in business and finance; one in five says that Jews have “too much influence in the media” and too much influence in politics”.
This article first appeared in the Jewish Telegraph of 1st June 2018
In the 1980s, Norman (now Lord) Tebbit articulated a combative test of nationality and loyalty for those Brits who had originated in the Sub Continent – Who would they support at cricket; England or their opponents?
This subtly racist, entirely derogatory statement has rather stuck in the national memory, being used to fling accusations of dual loyalty at any Brits whose family origins are from the Caribbean or the Sub Continent.
For the Jewish community, this was wearily familiar, as we have, over the centuries, become accustomed to the dual loyalty accusation as one of a number of cards played by antisemites.
But, this dual loyalty accusation became topical in the last month. It was used against two German International footballers of Turkish origin- Mesut Ozil of Arsenal and Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City. They had been photographed presenting the Turkish President Erdogan, on his visit to London, with signed shirts. Gundogan’s bore the message “With great respect for my President”.
One week later, they had to both pose for photographs with President Steinmeier of Germany to dispel the claims of divided loyalties and the abuse that they had received since the original pictures. The players were forced to affirm their loyalty to Germany during their meeting. Gundogan was forced to grovel and say “Germany is today clearly my country and my team”.Read more
The JLC Chief Executive brings a weekly video update on the week's events.
In his weekly video blog this week, JLC Chief Executive Simon Johnson talks from Jerusalem about Jewish Legacy Month, which the JLC are the key sponsor this year. To find out more visit http://www.jewishlegacy.org.uk/