31.Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary
Committee Against Anti-Semitism
1. The Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism
is a Westminster-based All Party Group that was set up in 1991
in response to increasing levels of anti-Semitism triggered by
the first Gulf War. Towards the end of the 1990s the work of the
PCAA reduced in proportion with the reduction in the number of
recorded incidents. However, the beginning of the second intifada,
followed by the war on terror has led to a notable increase in
anti-Semitic acts in the United Kingdom and across the world and
a consequent increase in the level of activity of this All Party
The committee's purposes are to monitor and
survey anti-Semitism wherever it arises, to take action to prevent
further anti-Semitism, to help relieve the distress of the victims
of anti-Semitism, to promote inter-faith contact, dialogue and
co-operation, and to organise conferences, seminars, visits and
other activities as may assist in achieving these purposes.
The Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism
also provides parliamentarians, academics, journalists and members
of the public with up-to-date information on anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic
incidents and the efforts being made to combat them in the United
Kingdom and abroad. The PCAA commissions research, arranges briefings,
publishes bulletins and provides a forum for debate and discussion
on the subject.
Membership of the committee is restricted to
members of parliament, and associate membership to both ex-members
of Parliament and distinguished individuals involved in the life
of parliamentary and government institutions. At present there
are around 100 parliamentary members in the UK.
The Parliamentary Committee is a constituent
member of the Inter-Parliamentary Council Against Anti-Semitism,
whose members include Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany,
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of Austria and HRH Crown Prince
Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan.
2. The primary purpose of this submission
is not to present the facts and figures associated with the rise
of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK over the past four years.
That there has been an increase is clear and can be corroborated
by the Police, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia
and other recognised reporting bodies. Rather, it is to discuss
some of the reasons behind this escalation, to evaluate its effect
and bring to the Committee's attention some of the concerns of
the Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism.
3. After a period of remission owing to
the horror of the Holocaust, the ancient prejudice of anti-Semitism
has recently resurfaced, catalysed by the onset of the second
intifada in Israel and the Palestinian territories (beginning
in October 2000), the terrorist attacks on the United States (September
2001) and the US-led coalition's invasion (and current occupation)
of Iraq (Spring 2003 onwards). These three events have had a very
significant effect on the number and degree of anti-Semitic incidents
and sentiment in the UK and across the world. Since the autumn
of 2000, numerous synagogues have been attacked, tens of cemeteries
have been desecrated, and individual Jews have been regularly
subjected to serious violence.
4. In addition to this rise in incidents,
there has been a parallel development in the intellectual and
public arenas, which has seen previously taboo anti-Semitic sentiments
attain acceptability in some quarters and even political capital
in others. It is perhaps this element that causes the greatest
concern. Some experts fear that there is considerable intellectual
resistance to acknowledging this threat, and most political analysts
still treat anti-Semitism "like a hiccup that will soon give
way to regular breathing".1 However, the gravity, quantity
and frequency of such occurrences justify the concern of all right-minded
5. The three aforementioned events in particular
have led to an atmosphere in which Jews, both in the UK and abroad
are once again held responsible by certain sections of the population
for the current instability in the Middle East which in turn has
increased the perceived (or actual) threat of terrorism felt at
home. The writer, Howard Jacobson recently remarked that, "suddenly
it doesn't feel safe to be a Jew again". In the words of
an (anonymous) opinion leader, polled as part of research commissioned
by the Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism, "anti-Semitism
has become an issue again since 9/11. In the Post 9/11 world anti-Semitism
is acceptable again".2
6. What is the essence of this new, latest
wave of what has been termed "the longest hatred"? At
its core, this new version of this old prejudice has mutated to
accommodate a significant shift in public opinion. The strength
of overtly racist philosophies was dealt a fatal blow by the horrors
of the Holocaust. This new form of prejudice is much more in tune
with the themes of the new millennium. Ironically, it is based
on anti-racism. The sin of the Jews is no longer deicide, nor
are they are accused of possessing sinister racial traits. In
the modern world, the methods of the anti-Semite are far subtler.
It is anti-Semitism with a "social conscience", often
based on human rights and the demand of a homeland for the Palestinian
people. Today's Jewish "collective crime" is Israel.
The Jews stand accused of supporting a racist state, and as such,
they are collectively deserving of reproach. These people are
using the veil of criticism of the state of Israel to mask their
7. After the Second World War, it became
unacceptable to admit to hatred of Jews. However, professing to
hating the Prime Minister of Israel or claiming that "Israelis
behave like Nazis" is far from being out of bounds. Whilst
not everyone who dislikes Ariel Sharon is guilty of anti-Semitism,
condemning an Israeli politician does not risk the raised eyebrows
that demonising Israelis, or Jews, would do in this post-racist
age. Employing emotive language is often used in this context.
In our era, the word "Nazi" itself stands for limitless
evil. An example of this is the now debunked myth of the Jenin
"massacre" (April 2002). Words like "blitzkrieg"
were used3 with the obvious, if subtle, intention of comparing
the actions of modern day Israel to Hitler's Germany. Recently,
a former German government minister referred to Israel's anti-terror
strategy as "Vernichtungsfeldzug" against the
Palestinians, "a war of annihilation", using a term
normally applied to the Nazi war against the Jews. 4 This comparison
suggests a moral equivalence between Hitler's Nazis and Sharon's
Jews. According to Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks, "the mutation
is this: that the worst crimes of anti-Semites in the pastracism,
ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide, crimes against humanityare
now attributed to Jews and the State of Israel, so that if you
are against Nazism, you must ipso facto be utterly opposed to
Jews".5 Drawing analogies between Jews and the ultimate symbols
of evil, is preparing the groundwork for a justification of their
8. In addition to the demonisation and deligitimisation
of the Jewish State and its policies, another familiar anti-Semitic
tactic is being employed to blame the Jews for the current global
instability, namely their ability to manipulate world events to
their own advantage. Conspiracy theories abound regarding "Zionist"
involvement in the attack on the World Trade Center. The War in
Iraq is attributed to bellicose Jews in the White House and Pentagon.
It is suggested that Britain's involvement in the Iraq war is
a result of the undue influence of a British "Jewish cabal"
that surrounds the Prime Minister, which is tied to the even more
influential and powerful cabal of Jewish hawks in Washington.
Anti-Semitism feeds on the notion of Jewish powerthe myth
of a vast, sinister power exercised through financial clout, control
of the media and shadowy political connections. The popular fabrication
that the "Jews run America" is becoming more and more
widespread in Britain (on the Right and Left). This myth is equally
common in Spain, Italy, France, Germany and many other countries
in Europe today. This supposed clique of powerful, influential,
wealthy Jews are all connected with Israel, because these Jewish
hawks, so we are told, are all Likudnikssupporters
of Ariel Sharon. The lines between the Jewish and the Israeli
lobby are constantly blurred and the connotations can be sinister.
This is a discourse already rampant in the Middle East where it
often assumes the ugly contours of the Protocols of the Elders
of Zion. A significant difference between the Western and the
Middle Eastern versions is that the former is not government-sponsored
whilst the latter is.
9. One purpose of this submission is to
identify some key episodes that have, over the past four years
either contributed to, or are indicative of, the current situation.
One watershed came in January 2002 with the publication of The
New Statesman cover that depicted a golden star of David piercing
a supine Union flag under the caption "A Kosher Conspiracy?"
The imagery was unmistakably anti-Semiticthat dominant,
wealthy Jews constitute a sinister Fifth Column. Perhaps the most
recent crossed red line was the welcome given to one of the world's
most radical Islamist leaders, infamous for his links to outlawed
terror organisations, hateful rhetoric towards Jews, homosexuals,
Sikhs and Hindus, and a supporter of domestic violence.
10. Other recent watershed moments further
a field that have contributed to the increased threat have been:
the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, masterminded
by British-born Omar Sheikh, and who was forced to state that
he was Jewish before his throat was slit by his captors in Pakistan;
large scale attacks against Jewish targets in Tunisia, Turkey,
Morocco, France, that have all claimed lives; and the notorious
"Jews run the world by proxy" speech by the outgoing
Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohammed.
11. The content of Dr Mahathir's address
to mark the opening of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries)
conference in October 2003 did not contain any accusations that
the Jews have not been subjected to over the past 2 millennia
(most notably in the mediaeval Blood Libels or the infamous Tsarist
Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion).
However, it can be seen as a modern defining moment for three
reasons. Firstly, the purveyor of outbursts of this kind was,
until this point, expected to be a white supremacist or other
extremist individual at the very edge of political and social
life. Secondly, the forum for this address was one of the most
significant assemblies in the Muslim world (indeed, the OIC conference
in Putrajaya, Malaysia was the first major gathering of Islamic
countries after 9/11) rather than an obscure Internet chat-room.
Thirdly, and almost certainly most significantly, the global response
to this invective was muted and much of the Muslim world even
welcomed Dr Mahathir's contribution. Such a turn of events was
unimaginable up until this recent upturn in global anti-Semitism.
12. The modern, globalised world has ensured
that anti-Semitism is spread faster and further than ever before.
In this era of mass media, instant communication and cable television,
there is no longer a need for holding mass rallies to spread the
sort of genocidal anti-Jewish propaganda that Egyptian and Syrian
television broadcasts to millions of homes. Such rhetoric is overflowing
in the Middle East and is now easily available in homes in this
country. According to the Police and other reporting bodies, there
is a direct correlation between an increase in such rhetoric and
increases in violent incidents. 6
13. Having discussed some of what this group
believes to be the causes and manifestations of current anti-Semitism,
it is necessary to consider how it is affecting the lives of British
14. The visits paid by Stephen Byers as
incoming chairman of the parliamentary group illustrated many
of the key issues. On one occasion, Mr Byers was approached by
a Sixth-Former in Manchester who confessed that she was unlikely
to go onto university because she was scared of what would await
her as an identifying Jew. Her concern came as a result of the
reports she had heard from various friends and family members
of the hostility that some Jewish students were experiencing because
of their faith and sympathy towards Israel. It became apparent
that she was far from the only young person being deterred from
university or apprehensive in what they termed "the current
climate". Evidence was garnered during this and other trips
that this particular age-range was not the only one to be affected
by such disquiet. Attacks on synagogues, cemeteries and individuals,
in addition to the perceived hostility in the national press have
all combined to make British Jews feel increasingly under siege.
15. However, according to the research conducted
by Populus, it is not widely understood that Jews are victims
of racism. The research suggests that the perceived success and
wealth of British Jews, combined with a difficulty in identifying
them from the wider population means that many do not recognise
that anti-Semitism exists and that it is a form of racism. It
is also suggested that vigilance against other forms of racism
is a widely accepted concept in the UK, and yet when Jews are
the subject of racism, they are accused of paranoia or overstatement.
It should be accepted by all right-minded people that anti-Semitism
is a human rights issue. Slandering, defaming, attacking, oppressing
or intimidating a Jewish person, is to commit an anti-Semitic
act as well as a racist one.
16. A complicating factor in this equation
is the part played by the state of Israel. However, ethnically
and religiously motivated hatred, violence and prejudice, wherever
it occurs, should earn unconditional condemnation; sympathy and
support for the victims should not be conditional on their behaviour
or political convictions. It is increasingly the case that, because
rage over Israel's policies can provide the pretext, condemnation
is often too slow and increasingly conditional. Regardless of
the expressed motive, Jewish people and Jewish institutions are
17. The mutation of anti-Semitism now evident
in the Western world (especially Western Europe) is very different
from the state-sponsored anti-Semitism encountered a generation
ago in Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union. Today's anti-Semitism
in the West is not nurtured by systematic, government-imposed
discrimination against Jews. Moreover, national governments and
multi-national organisations (OSCE, EU and most recently, the
UN) are taking the first steps towards addressing the problem.
However, there is an urgent need to acknowledge that the traditional
sources of anti-Semitism have been supplanted by new ones that
are more nuanced about expressing their prejudices. The new anti-Semitism
is coming simultaneously from three different directions: first,
a radicalised Islamic youth inflamed by extremist rhetoric; second,
a left-wing anti-American cognitive elite with strong representation
in the European media; third, a resurgent far right, as anti-Muslim
as it is anti-Jewish. And, as Jonathan Sacks suggests, "it
is being fed by the instability of globalisation, the insecurity
of the post-Cold War international arena, and the still-undischarged
trauma of 11 September".7
18. After the horrific car bombs in Istanbul
and the burning of a Jewish school in Paris in November 2003,
The Guardian conceded that "a new wave of anti-Semitism
is on the march across the globe". Its leader article acknowledged
that the Anglo-Jewish community had good reason to feel "unsettled,
uncomfortable and fearful", following random attacks on schools,
synagogues and cemeteries"8. Anti-Semites feel emboldened
again. Their prejudice, suppressed out of guilt but lying latent
for the past 50 years, is finding its way back to the mainstream.
|ALL PARTY GROUPELECTED OFFICERS:
|Rt Hon Stephen Byers MP||Chairman
|Rt Hon the Lord Merlyn-Rees||President
|Rt Hon the Lord Hunt of Wirral MBE||President
|Rt Hon the Lord Campbell of Croy MC||Vice President
|Rt Hon the Lord Archer of Sandwell QC||Vice President
|James Clappison MP||Vice Chair
|Louise Ellman MP||Vice Chair
|Andrew Dismore MP||Treasurer
|The Lord Janner of Braunstone QC||Secretary
 Prof Ruth Wisse: Commentary Magazine, "On
Ignoring Anti-Semitism"Oct 2002.
 Populus report on Anti-Semitism (March 2004).
 Daily Mail, "Bombshell as Bush turns his
anger on Israelis"5 April 2002.
 Norbert Blüm: "Der deutsche Tonfall",
Die Zeit, 11 April 2002.
 and  Pre-amble to lecture delivered by Chief Rabbi
Dr Jonathan Sacks to the Parliamentary Committee Against
 See Community Security Trust (CST) incident figures
 The Guardian, "Our Dulled Nerve" (Leader)18