The number of anti-semitic attacks in Britain has spiked to the highest level on record, according to the Community Security Trust.
The group reports incidences of threats, property damage and violence towards Jews in the UK have doubled in the last year. The rise in anti-Jewish incidents has been manifested in racist comments online, graffiti on synagogues and Holocaust memorials, as well as physical attacks on individuals.
Anti-semitism has been increasing across Europe as a whole. In central and Eastern Europe, right-wing forces such as Jobbik in Hungary and Russian separatists in Ukraine have scapegoated elusive Jewish elites and Zionist conspiracies for the plight of their countries. Last month Jewish businesses and centres in France were placed under armed guard after the killing of hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Anti-semitic incidences in western Europe tend to peak during escalations in the Israel-Palestine conflict. During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, protesters in Paris smashed up the Sephardi Jewish area of Sarcelles. In Berlin, protesters were heard to chant “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone.”
Contemporary European anti-semitism draws both on anti-Jewish feeling among some sections of Muslim communities, but also on older reserves of Jew-hatred in the conservative, Christian establishment. In France, National Front-inspired racism and Muslim anti-semitism have formed unlikely alliances in the collaboration of Alain Soral and the comedian Dieudonné.
All forms of racism are poisonous, both because of the threat they present to the lives and dignity of the targeted group, but also because they apportion the blame for the very real problems of class society onto innocent scapegoats. This is particularly apparent with anti-semitism, which often takes the form of a conspiracy theory. The injustices of capitalism are blamed on a hidden, powerful Jewish elite, rather than the real ruling class. Revenge for the horrors of the conflict in the Middle East are taken out on innocent Jews in Paris suburbs.
The German socialist August Bebel called anti-semitism “the socialism of fools”, but this foolishness is also lethal. Socialists must fight it root and branch.