In what follows you should be aware of my previous Blog on anti-semitism which refers to literatures and arguments which bring seriously into question just what is meant by ‘Jewish’. There is no genetic basis for claims made for a Jewish ‘race’ – certainly not for a genetic inheritance stretching back to biblical times. ‘Jewishness’ consists of growing up in a certain set of cultural practices and communities. Judaism is an ethnicity in the strict anthropological sense: “The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition” [OED].
The case against anti-semitism has to be placed in a context of intolerance for any cultural or ethnic or, indeed, minority group. Home Office crime statistics show that ‘hate crimes’ based on religion rose from just over 1,600 in 2011 to almost 6,000 in 2017 – no doubt some of this attributable to better recording and greater awareness. Crimes based on racial attitudes rose from almost 36,000 to more than 62,000. But look, crimes against people for their sexual orientation more than doubled and those against transgender people more than trebled. Most shockingly, crimes against disabled people tripled.
[Hate Crime, England and Wales 2016/2017: Statistical Bulletin 17/17]
Crimes against Muslims show relentless increases – often spiking following a terrorist attack. See:
In 2016 a Freedom of Information request was made to the Metropolitan Police:
“In the first 6 months of this year there was a 62% rise in Anti-Semitism compared to the first 6 months of 2015. I would like to have a breakdown of the perpetrators of this anti Semitism’s ethnicity as a percentage of the incidents.”
The formal response based on CRIS/MIS data showed a fall over that period of 1.65% in anti-semitic incidents and a fall of more than 3% in anti-semitic offences. That response said: “Please note the source of the statement ‘a 62% rise in Anti-Semitism compared to the first 6 months of 2015’ has not been verified.”
Here is the response:
Anti-semitic offences are counted in the low hundreds; anti-Muslim attacks in the thousands. The number of crimes against disabled people stands at almost four times those against Jewish people and is rising rapidly.
Anti-semitism is not imaginary, though the urgency of the issue is surely manufactured. Set against the statistics on hate crime (which you can and should google) anti-semitism is a lower priority than other hate crimes which have received far less media attention. Why is there not more public outrage and MPs massing outside Parliament in the face of hate crimes against disabled people?
All minority groups have the right – the obligation – to make their case and to make it loudly. But the exploitation of the issue by self-appointed ‘representatives’ of the Jewish community (the Board of Deputies and the conceitedly titled Jewish ‘Leadership’ Council) for whatever reason – to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and/or the Labour Party, for self-advertisment, out of a genuine fear of hate crime – is irresponsible. To be moved to demonstrate outside parliament against anti-semitism in the Labour Party and not against Islamophobia in the Conservative Party – to take just one example – is to ignore scale, urgency, justice and reasonableness. It is special pleading.