When an example of Jew-baiting is condemned by Diane Abbott as “disgusting,” we know it must be pretty vile. And so it is. In London’s Stamford Hill, yards from an Orthodox synagogue, a sign has been erected featuring a picture of a traditional Jewish man wearing a fedora. The image is set within a red triangle – the usual symbol for a warning.
Jews in those parts have had to get used to vicious treatment and there have been thirty-two cases of such abuse in the last month alone: an eight year old was beaten up and a Jewish woman was greeted by a thug giving her a Nazi salute.
In January 2015, Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) produced its first Antisemitism Barometer Survey. CAA questioned the British population about their attitudes towards Jewish people. The survey showed seven antisemitic statements to respondents and asked whether they agreed or disagreed with them. 45% of British adults believed at least one antisemitic stereotype to be true, 26% believed two or more antisemitic stereotypes to be true and 17% believed three or more antisemitic stereotypes to be true.
A subsequent report by CAA quoting data from Ipsos MORI found significantly elevated antisemitic attitudes among British Muslims.
As the youngsters say, “Like, how surprising is that?”
The problem has become much worse over the last twenty years. In 1997, there were recorded 219 attacks on Jews and by 2015 (the last year for which figures are available) this had risen to 1168 – a nearly six-fold increase
Jew-baiting is not just an occupation for yobs and oiks. As George Orwell reported in the middle of the last century, antisemitism has always been endemic in the British. It is common among otherwise “respectable” people on the non-yob, literate right. I witnessed an instance first hand…
Twelve years ago I was at a private lunch in North London and one of my fellow guests was Michael Wharton who wrote as Peter Simple for The Daily Telegraph. I can’t remember how, but the topic turned to Hitler. Mr Wharton turned out to be something of a supporter and he claimed that the Fuhrer had been much traduced, that he was generally misunderstood and that he had had many good points. I commented, “He slaughtered a lot of people.”
Mr Wharton replied sardonically, “Oh no, he didn’t slaughter many people.”
Jew-baiting is nasty enough when it’s perpetrated by brown-shirts, black-shirts and assorted louts. It’s especially vile and shocking to see antisemitism rife among the urbane and the educated, people who “ought to know their manners.”