Those Who Attack Jews in the UK Are Behaving as Antisemites Always Have

(Guardian-UK) Jonathan Freedland - Many Jews in Britain can hardly bear to hear the news, not least because they're in it so often. 2023 saw more than 4,100 episodes of anti-Jewish hate across the country, most of which came after Oct. 7. Some of the incidents involved knives, others saw Jews struck with metal bars. Some victims were punched or kicked or spat on, others had stones, bricks or bottles thrown at them. Slogans were daubed on walls, windows were smashed. Hundreds of incidents involved children, whether making their way to or from school or inside it. When some people want to express their apparent anger at Israel's actions, they direct it at Jewish targets. They are holding a British minority responsible for the actions of a foreign government several thousand miles away, a response that does not seem to happen with other distant conflicts: after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian Orthodox churches in Britain did not brace themselves for attack. The biggest surge in anti-Jewish activity came immediately after the Oct. 7 attacks, when Israelis were still counting their dead and missing and had scarcely responded at all. This indicates that it was in celebration of Hamas' attack, rather than anger towards Israel's military response in Gaza. Most Jews feel bound up with Israel. They are deeply connected to it. Given the central place of the Land of Israel in Judaism's holiest texts, as ancient as the Jewish people itself, it could hardly be any other way. They recognize that Israel is the world's largest Jewish community, the world's only Jewish country. More deeply, they hold to the idea that after two millennia of endless and deadly persecution, the Jewish people need one place, a haven, where they can govern and defend themselves. When British Jews are attacked, their attackers are not striking a blow for the Palestinians. They are placing themselves alongside the antisemites and racists who have always treated Jews this way, reminding Jews why they needed a refuge in the first place - and why they need it still.

2024-02-18 00:00:00

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