The enormous demonstration against antisemitism in London last Sunday provided a much-needed morale boost to the beleaguered Jewish community.
There is profound shock that the barbaric Hamas pogrom in Israel on October 7 has given rise to a tsunami of incitement, intimidation and abuse of Jews. In this appalling situation, the emergence of tens of thousands of decent British citizens declaring their support for the Jewish people was heartening indeed.
However, declaring abhorrence of antisemitism needs to be backed by action if it is to mean anything.
The government has stated its solidarity with Israel over the massacre and has vowed to combat antisemitism. Yet if it really wanted to tackle this eruption of the oldest hatred, it would be addressing what’s driving it.
It would be speaking out against the virulent Islamic antisemitism that’s now on display in Britain and worldwide. It would be shutting down mosques where imams are preaching incitement against Jews and Israel.
It would be educating the country about the extraordinary lengths to which Israel goes in order to avoid harming Gaza’s civilians, unmatched by any other country.
It would be declaring that anyone who portrays Israel as genocidal, Nazi or guilty of illegality or human rights abuses is perpetrating a grotesque lie about the Jewish state that incites abuse and violence against Jews everywhere.
But the government has said none of these things. Instead the new Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, has actually fuelled the demonisation of Israel.
Echoing the malign barbs delivered by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Cameron lectured Israeli leaders that “they must abide by international humanitarian law, that the number of casualties are too high and that they have to have that top of their mind”.
By “high casualties” he meant the Palestinians that Hamas use as cannon fodder and whom Israel goes to enormous lengths to avoid harming wherever possible.
Presenting Israel’s deeply moral defence against genocidal assault as wanton aggression, Cameron thus fuelled the wicked lie that the Israelis are callous child-killers.
This was shocking, and has consequences. For what’s fuelling Jew-hatred is a massive campaign of defamation.
Media outlets, led by the BBC and Sky, have accepted patently misleading Hamas casualty figures at face value while going to extreme lengths to cast doubt on everything the Israelis say — even when, as in the discovery of the sophisticated Hamas tunnel complex underneath Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, this turns out to be absolutely true.
With the release of some of the Israeli hostages, the media has drawn a depraved moral equivalence between those who were kidnapped by barbaric murderers and Palestinian terrorist prisoners who were being let out under extortion.
The media simply airbrushed out the Palestinians’ terrorist records, along with their chilling threats of repeat performances. The intention was as ever to obscure the truth — that the Israelis are the victims of the Palestinians, not the other way round.
Classical antisemitism isn’t just prejudice or hatred. It’s based upon defaming Jewish people with the murderous lie that they are the source of all evil in the world.
If Israel (as implied by Cameron and Blinken) recklessly and needlessly kills huge numbers of Palestinian innocents, its behaviour is so abhorrent it doesn’t deserve to exist. If the Jewish state doesn’t deserve to exist, then Jews don’t deserve to exist. So there’s a direct line between defamation of Israel and attacks on Jews.
Moreover, this war against the Jews has been facilitated by the fantasies of western governments. The US and Britain deny the truth of the Palestinians’ war of extermination against Israel, because such a war requires not a “two-state solution” but the defeat of the Palestinians whom they refuse to acknowledge as aggressors. Similarly, the US and Britain have catastrophically appeased Iran in the inane belief that it could be tamed by extending the hand of friendship. Denying that Islamic extremism is rooted in an interpretation of Islam currently dominant in the Muslim world, the British government still refuses to outlaw Hizb ut-Tahrir, seen on the streets of London these past few weeks screaming for jihad, or ban the seditious and insurrectionary Muslim Brotherhood.
The more the Palestinians and the Iranian regime have waged war and terrorism again Israel, the more America and Britain have pressured Israel to compromise its security. The more extreme the violence perpetrated by Islamists against the west, the more the west fell over backwards to avoid any challenge to the Muslim world.
The result has been 100 years of Arab war against Israel, the empowerment of genocidal Iran, the progressive Islamisation of the west, the re-emergence of violent antisemitism and, exacerbated by Israel’s own catastrophic errors of judgment, the Hamas pogrom of October 7.
Those (of whom I am one) who have warned for years about these trends have been ignored, demonised and vilified as “right-wing,” “extremist” and “Islamophobic”, by Britain’s Jewish leadership no less than the wider establishment. And they still don’t get it.
The result is what we are now seeing playing out in front of our horrified eyes.
Melanie Phillips is a Times columnist.