Great Britain recently announced its intention to enact legislation calling for zero-tolerance for anti-Semitism. Will the rest of Europe follow the lead?
Less than a week after BBC boss Danny Cohen, speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, stated, “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months,” the British government issued a statement that it is doing something about it.
Anti-Semitism Hits Record Levels
Cohen’s comments came on the heels of an announcement that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain hit record annual levels in 2014.
The Gatestone Institute, in an article titled, “The Islamization of Britain in 2014,” draws a direct correlation between the increase in the Muslim population in the country and the rise in violence and, specifically, anti-Semitic incidents.
Great Britain has the third-largest Muslim population in the EU, after France and Germany. With the Muslim population in Great Britain reaching 3.4 million in 2014, this represents approximately 5.3 percent of the overall population, which is approximately 64 million, the Gatestone article points out.
This past summer in particular saw the highest figures of anti-Semitic incidents ever recorded, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), an organization that monitors anti-Semitism in Great Britain. CST records 543 incidents in July and August alone – more than in all of 2013. This increase coincided with Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s war of defense against Hamas in Gaza – as Islamic extremists used to opportunity to incite a wave of anti-Semitic violence throughout Europe.
Yet even before the summer war, on March 27, England’s ITV news did a report on the issue of Islamic honor-based violence and forced marriages. The report stated that the problem is far worse than people had realized because people are afraid to speak openly about it. They fear being branded as “racists” or “Islamophobes.”
This new spike in anti-Semitism has left the Jewish community in Great Britain shaken and worried for their future. This week’s vote at the UN to approve the PA bid for a Palestinian State, although defeated, adds to their concern. The UK, abstained from the vote, however, London’s ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said that the UK “supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret that we abstained on it.”
Recently, a rally was held in central London to force legislators to address the issue. Community leaders have demanded a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitic crime, and the government is paying attention.
Anti-Semitism: A Spreading Cancer
Eric Pickles, the UK’s Communities Secretary, writing in The Daily Express, compared anti-Semitism to a cancer which, when defeated, could nonetheless reappear. The only solution is constant vigilance and a strong hand, he said, pledging a zero-tolerance policy to gain control of the situation before it gets any worse.
He also called out certain businesses that had caved in to pressure over the summer and allowed their shelves to be cleared of all kosher food. This act of appeasement was tantamount to an acceptance of anti-Semitism, which Pickles called “outrageous.”
While no specific remedies have yet been announced, the world waits to see Great Britain take the lead in fighting anti-Semitism. Will the rest of Europe follow?
By: Penina Taylor, United with Israel
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