In 2002, on the BBC TV show Question Time, I was accused of dual loyalty in front of a jeering studio audience. My crime had been to defend Israel against demonization and double standards by both the audience and other members of the panel.
At that time I had visited Israel only twice in my life, two years previously. No matter. A British Jew defending Israel was – and is – immediately accused in some quarters of incipient treachery toward Britain, just as throughout history antisemites have accused Diaspora Jews of dual loyalty or treachery merely because they are Jews.
I thought of my own experience, of course, when I read the report on antisemitism in the UK published this week by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
There is currently much disquiet over the Labour Party’s conspicuous failure to address significant antisemitism within its ranks. But there has long been far wider concern among many British Jews about the antisemitic discourse, harassment and physical attacks which have become sickeningly commonplace in Britain over the past few years.
The report’s author, Daniel Staetsky, describes a situation which is complex.
Only around 5% of the population are out-and-out antisemites holding multiple anti-Jewish attitudes. Nevertheless, about 30% subscribe to some kind of antisemitic views.
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