Richard MatherRichard Mather writes and edits for Israel News Online. He has also written for the Jewish Media Agency, Poetica Magazine, Drash Pit, Voices Israel and Chabad Lubavitch’s Holiday Times Magazine. He lives in Manchester, England.
In a fascinating article for The Tower Magazine Benjamin Kerstein convincingly argues that a global pogrom against Israel and the Jewish diaspora is being conducted by an alliance of anti-Semitic Islamists and Far Left agitators.
In recent weeks the Jewish community in Britain has seen its fair share of alarming hatred from this obscene Islamist-communist alliance. In the UK there has been a 36 per cent rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
Businesses in Manchester, Whitechapel, Brixton, Brighton and Birmingham have been attacked and/or forced to close because of pro-Palestinian protestors. Jews have been attacked in the street and the windows of a Belfast synagogue have been smashed.
But it is in Greater Manchester and London – home to Britain’s two largest Jewish communities – where Jews are experiencing the worst and most sustained anti-Semitic hatred. Protestors have barricaded businesses, thrown eggs and drink cans at Jewish pedestrians, and hurled torrents of racist abuse. Jews (and non-Jewish supporters of Israel) are regularly subjected to accusations of bloodletting and baby-killing, thus recalling the detested medieval blood libel.
Events in Manchester have come to symbolise the plight of British Jewry. The city centre has witnessed an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism since the start of the Israeli-Hamas war. Pro-Palestinian protestors make Nazi salutes and make obscene comments about Jewish suffering under the Nazis.
Zionism is routinely equated with genocide and Nazism. Shoppers are prevented from entering shops that sell Israeli products because they apparently “fund the Israeli war machine in Gaza.”
It is not just Jews who are suffering. Stores which have nothing to do with Israel have have pulled down the shutters because of the chaos. Shop workers who have no connection with the Middle East are intimidated and harassed by the marauders. The local economy is suffering and Manchester’s reputation as a multicultural and commercial powerhouse is under threat. Not surprisingly, the city council has had furious rows with the police who are blamed for not doing enough to prevent public disorder.
To be fair, the police have done their best to maintain a balance between the legal right to protest and the right for shops to trade freely. But they have been overwhelmed by the size and the persistence of the pro-Palestinian mob. A leading police chief has said the ongoing stand-off between pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis could be the start of a breakdown in community cohesion.
The black flag of jihad has been spotted in Manchester and London.
In my view, the ethnic and religious divide between Muslims and Jews in Manchester is now beyond repair.
The situation in London is just as bad. For the third time in a month, tens of thousands of anti-Semites have brought the capital to a standstill. Pro-Palestinian protestors have bullied their way through London’s streets, intimidating passers-by and verbally abusing Jews and anyone else who gets in their way.
Douglas Murray, writing for The Spectator, has described these rallies as “disgusting” and “anti-Semitic.” These protestors, he says, are nowhere to be seen when Isis ravages Iraq or Boko Haram commits atrocities in Africa.
A new and disturbing development is the flying of the Islamic State flag in Britain. The black flag of jihad has been spotted in Manchester and London. The fact that Asian youths feel free to fly the IS flag on an east London housing estate is one more sign that nothing substantial is being done to prevent the radicalization of British Muslims.
This, of course, spells disaster for the Jewish community, which is in no position to withstand the growing presence of Islamic State sympathisers. Christians in the UK should not be complacent either. Church buildings and Christian culture are hardly immune from the threat of radical Islam.
Meanwhile, the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is in full swing. As well as calling for an end to arms exports to Israel, the BDS campaigners want an economic and cultural blockade on all things Israeli (including Israeli people). Shops, banks, universities, theatres and even entire towns are being targeted by BDS bullies.
A London theatre refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it is sponsored by the Israeli embassy, only backing down when major Jewish funders warned they would withhold funds, while the National Union of Students wants a boycott of Israeli products on British campuses.
Several town halls in England and Scotland are flying the Palestinian flag in a “gesture of solidarity.” And the ridiculous (but dangerous) George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, has unilaterally declared Bradford (a town in northern England) an Israel-free zone:
“We don't want any Israeli goods; we don't want any Israeli services; we don't want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college. We don't even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if any of them had thought of doing so.”
Galloway’s incendiary words came after a Jewish man in Bradford was repeatedly called a “f**king Jewish bastard” by men collecting money for Gaza.
A number of Westminster politicians have also thrown their weight behind the delegitimization campaign. Baroness Warsi chose to resign her job as Foreign Office minister the day after a ceasefire came into place. She claims that her government’s even-handed approach to the Israeli-Gaza crisis is “morally indefensible and not in Britain’s interests.” It’s a pity she didn’t resign when the government failed to act over Syria.
On the Labour side, Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary during the Iraq war in which more than 100,000 people were killed, has referred to Israel’s war in Gaza as an “unspeakable horror.” And in a transparent attempt to shore up the left-wing and Muslim vote, Labour leader Ed Miliband has condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza as “wrong and unjustifiable.” Miliband claims to speak on behalf of the British people but it is quite clear that he is an opportunist trying to outmanoeuvre Prime Minister David Cameron.
The British media must also accept a large share of the blame for the anti-Semitic upsurge. Apart from The Telegraph, newspapers and other news outlets have spewed anti-Israel vitriol. It is quite clear that most of the British media are offended by Israel’s strength of purpose – which is to protect its citizens.
The BBC, Channel 4 and Sky have consistently failed to report the facts, preferring to take Hamas statements as gospel truth. Plus, the macabre obsession with the death toll in Gaza – combined with the media’s inability to explain why the Israeli death toll is comparatively low – has fuelled the irrational belief that Israelis and Jews are genocidal maniacs.
If Israel is demonized, Hamas is exempt from criticism. For example, The Times newspaper refuses to run an advert that criticises Hamas’ use of children as human shields. Why? Because “the opinion being expressed is too strong […] and will cause concern among a significant number of Times readers.”
Back in Manchester, the mood is pessimistic. Despite a feeling of camaraderie, a sense of insecurity and foreboding hangs in the air. Some people are openly talking about emigrating to Israel. Others are prepared to stay in Britain and fight the BDS movement but are unsure how to proceed.
Stay or go, everyone shares the belief that Britain is on the verge of some kind of 1930s-style nightmare.
If the media is not capable of telling the truth and politicians are too afraid to stand up for Israel and the police are incapable of protecting the most vulnerable minority, then the UK should no longer consider itself to be a beacon of liberal democracy.
If anything, Britain is broken. And there is no indication that anyone is prepared to fix this ailing country.