Antisemitism normally comes in one of two ways. Either it looks like any other grubby bigotry, in which racial stereotypes are used to make Jews look unappealing. They have big noses, they are greedy, they only care about themselves.
Or, for those who drink deep from the antisemitic well, it is a conspiracy theory in which Jews are responsible for all the ills of the world. They run the banks, they run the media, they control politicians; and they do it to cause wars, bring down governments, subvert morals.
The mural painted by graffiti artist Mear One managed to combine both. The overall message is a classic conspiracy theory. Old white men get rich off the backs – literally – of the downtrodden workers. The wheels and fires of industry despoil our planet while a lone protestor holds a placard declaring “The New World Order is the Enemy of Humanity”. A Masonic symbol beloved of conspiracy theorists overlooks the scene.
The mural featured six men: some Jewish and some not. How did the artist differentiate between them? He gave the Jews big noses and other exaggerated facial features. This is playground antisemitism masquerading as profound insight.
Remarkably, the artist claimed to be surprised Jews took offence, complaining that “some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are”.
Mear One says his mural was about class, not race, but this is no excuse. Antisemitism has always had a left-wing version that fingered Jewish capitalists as the enemy of the good. Saying rich Jews are a class enemy is no less vile than saying they are a racial one.
Dave Rich is head of policy at the Community Security Trust