The Anti-Semitic Wave in Britain is Getting Serious

The Anti-Semitic Wave in Britain is Getting Serious


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

For more than a decade there has been an exodus of Jews from France, primarily to Israel. After sensing a growing tide of anti-Semitism in France, families, which largely had lived for generations in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia among majority Arab populations, were opting to leave.  Their absorbtion in Israel has been largely uneventful and smooth. While the number of Jews leaving has not reached the proportions which had been predicted or anticipated, nevertheless it has been steady. This population demographic has been largely, although not exclusively, Sephardic Jews whose families came from Arab countries.

In watching the growing anti-Semitism in Britain and the clear absence of a significant response to it within the Labour Party, it is becoming very clear that Jewish emigration of the U.K. to Israel may also well be about to explode. Most British Jews are waiting to see if indeed Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party gain political power in the next British election which undoubtedly will be called considerably before the required date of May 2022.

Anglo Jewry historically has had a rather small but consistent stream making Aliyah (moving to Israel). They were largely religious Jews, mainly Orthodox. Today, the genuine possibility of Jewish emigration is being discussed in a wide variety of circles within the British Jewish community.

Given the weather in Great Britain—about which the English love to complain—as well as the proximity of Israel to England, many Anglo Jews travel frequently to Israel for vacations—or have second homes there–much as many American Jews living in the northern United States have places in South Florida. To hear British Jews suggest that they would be ready to move to Israel should Jeremy Corbyn be selected as the next Prime Minister does not seem so odd, therefore, on a practical level. It may be a much more difficult threshold on an historical level, however, than it has been for their Sephardic French counterparts.

Lest one assume that this is an exaggeration in the mounting sense of anxiety among Anglo Jews, one needs only to read Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’s interview in the New Statesman magazine. He referred there to recently revealed remarks made by Corbyn in 2013 “…[as] the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician….” in 50 years.

Sachs took his attack on Corbyn even further. He made clear that the politics of his speeches and actions against Jews, Zionists, and Israel are all intertwined in anti-Semitism:

“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and her majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr Corbyn and those who support him.”

Anglo Jewry are witnessing a situation where it is difficult to find courageous political leadership ready to help fight this rising scourge. A possible positive resolution appears so illusive. The Labour Party needs to find serious, persistent, and respected voices ready to confront Corbyn within the party itself. To date there have been paltry few such statesmen to emerge. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party is in a state of such disarray as a result of BREXIT that it is trying everything politically possible to avoid an early election, to fix its own party, and to address the BREXIT crisis. In light of her weak Government, Theresa May has no interest in addressing anti-Semitism, if by doing so it could possibly swing Tory voters to Labour.

It would seem that Sacks’ further warning is even more poignant. Sacks drew the conclusion which all of Britain needs to contemplate: “He [Corbyn] has legitimized the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow.”


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