JUSTICE - No. 71

34 No. 71 JUSTICE he barbaric terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7, 2023, and the subsequent explosion of antisemitism across the world brought home the frightening realization that many of us have been quite complacent. We thought that our excellent Holocaust education programs and our projects to address antisemitism would provide the necessary foundation to have a significant impact, offsetting the rising levels of antisemitism in the aftermath of the attacks. Sympathy for the Jewish people following the worst attack on Israel’s history lasted about 24 hours. The minute Israel started to defend itself, the world turned. I always knew that antisemitism existed in the UK, but I was shocked in the days after the murder of over 1200 people, mostly Jewish men, women and children and the kidnapping of nearly 250 others, at the hatred on the streets of London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh and other major cities. We saw Hamas flags accompanied by hateful antisemitic chants and posters with swastikas mingled with the Star of David. This created an intimidating atmosphere that caused great anxiety to many Jewish people. It has all the markings of ancient antisemitic tropes reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda newspaper Der Stürmer (The Attacker) which printed cartoons that used antisemitic caricatures to depict Jews. As the horror of the kidnappings unfolded, posters of the abducted were ripped from walls by individuals who took great pride in posting their activities on TikTok and X. October 7 has been a wakeup call for us all. We need to look at what works when it comes to tackling antisemitism. For many, Holocaust education was the answer − after all, it shows how one of the most civilized countries in the world, home to Goethe and Schiller, gave birth to an ideology that called for the elimination of all Jews. It was not wrong to think that learning about the worst crime in history, a crime that resulted in the murder of six million Jews, would offer lessons to future generations. Holocaust education has its place in education, commemoration, and remembrance, but the creation of bespoke programs is also necessary in tackling contemporary antisemitism. I was in Romania in 2016 when the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism was adopted. The working definition, which the UK was the first country to adopt, describes and codifies what antisemitism is. The definition includes several examples, some of which relate to Israel: − Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust. − Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. − Denying the Jewish people their right to selfdetermination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor. − Applying double standards by requiring of it behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. The aftermath of October 7 is in line with the perception that most antisemitic incidents today have Israel at their core. An anti-Israel or anti-Zionist orientation is the way antisemitism is now manifested. These are code names for antisemitism. For me, Zionism means the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland, so it follows that if you are anti-Zionist, you are against the existence of the State of Israel. October 7 has shown us that antisemitism is – inversely – the acceptable face of racism. For the first time in decades, people feel emboldened to spew hatred. Antisemitism, unlike other forms of hatred, has a duality – Jews are seen as all powerful but at the same time are seen as sub-human; they are simultaneously impoverished and wealthy; greedy capitalists and ideological communists. This has led to a debate as to whether we may be better off referring to antisemitism as “anti-Jewish racism.” “Antisemitism is anti-Jewish racism, and, like anti-Black racism, it can operate in multiple ways. It can involve overt hostility or covert bias. It can be intentional or unintentional. It can be expressed in stereotypes, in coded language, and in conspiracy theories.”1 Addressing Antisemitism Lord Eric Pickles T 1. Dov Waxman, “Antisemitism isn’t just ‘Jew-hatred’ – it’s anti-Jewish racism,” THE CONVERSATION, Nov. 16, 2022, available at https://theconversation.com/antisemitismisnt-just-jew-hatred-its-anti-jewish-racism-193614