Anti-Semitism is 'infecting' British politics, MPs warn
By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent
21 April 2004
MPs have warned that the "virus" of anti-Semitism is beginning to infect mainstream politics in Britain, as figures show a record number of attacks on Jews last year.
The former cabinet minister Stephen Byers said yesterday that the "line is now being crossed from legitimate criticism" of the Israeli government into "demonisation, dehumanisation of Jews and the application of double standards". [how about explaining what or where the line is?]
In a debate in the House of Commons, James Purnell, chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, criticised caricatures and cartoons of Jews in the media as dangerous. He said: "Today overt anti-Semitism is still taboo, but anti-Semitism is a virus that once again has started to infect our body politic." [Did he give any examples?]
The warnings come after an unprecedented number of attacks on Jews in Britain last year, including desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. [not true. The high point, going by Community Security Trust stats was 2000. But please look at their stats - I'm not linking to their site. Google them - one category is "suspicious behaviour". There were 94 cases of people behaving suspiciously anti-Semitically. How do people do that?] Jewish women walking down the street have been attacked by strangers, and Jewish schools and community centres have been put on a high state of alert. [a high state of alert, but what actually happened?]
Mike Whine, of the Community Security Trust, which defends Jews against attacks in Britain, [not very successfully according to itself.] said: "We have seen a year-on-year rise since September 2000 of anti-Semitic incidents and, unfortunately, also an increase in violent attacks against both religious institutions and persons. The Jewish community has been at a high level of security since the threat to attack Jewish communities announced by al-Qa'ida two years ago. Increasingly, anti-Semitic discourse is influenced by the Middle East and the anti-Zionism of the far left."
There were 375 attacks in Britain last year, [see above] part of a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents within Europe which has been blamed [without any evidence] on the far right and Islamic extremists. The attacks have been linked [without evidence] to unease about Israel's policies towards the Palestinians and its campaign of assassinations and enforced curfews.
Yesterday, MPs warned that anti-Israeli feeling should not spill over into
criticism of Jews in general, [it usually doesn't, but is anti-Semitism really what is on the agenda here?] many of whom do not support the policies of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon [, or Zionism, or the right of Israel to be a Jewish state rather than a democratic secular one].
Stephen Byers, a former transport secretary [resigned for dishonesty] who chairs the committee on anti-Semitism, said that anti-Israeli criticism should not be used as "a cloak of respectability" for racist views. [it rarely is] He said there was the danger of the development of an "intellectual argument" bolstering anti-Semitic feeling. "We need to be robust on confronting anti-Semitic views wherever these may occur," Mr Byers said.[uh-oh. Is he talking censorship?]
Mr Purnell said memories of the Holocaust had largely inoculated Europe
against anti-Semitism for 60 years, but some people on the extreme left had
allowed themselves to find "some extremely strange bedfellows" in their criticism of Israel. [name some names] "During the anti-war protests there were some really terrifying pictures of individuals dressed up as suicide bombers holding banners with the Star of David and an equals sign to a swastika," he said. "This apparent embrace of such symbols by the anti-war left is absolutely astounding." [The comparison of the Nazis to any aggressor is routine among demonstrators since World War II. This is particularly true of racist states based on ethnic cleansing like South Africa, Rhodesia and, yes, Israel. The equation of the Swastika with the Israeli or Zionist flag is the continuation of an anti-racist, anti-colonial, and anti-war tradition. Nothing astounding there except the fact that MPs are spending lots of time on what seems to be another tedious and transparent Zionist propaganda stunt.]