Would any other community so openly suffer the vile hatred and antisemitism that took place on Oxford Street last week? The spitting, the Nazi salutes and the shoe throwing, with threats to harm young Jewish people on a bus in central London by perpetrators that seemed to be from the Middle East, have left many dismayed at the confidence shown by antisemites in the heart of our capital.
It also shows how this form of hatred is so pernicious. Yet many so-called ‘anti-racist’ organisations still fail to acknowledge the breadth of the problem, since they perversely swallow the poisonous view that Jews are ‘empowered’ and therefore do not need such vocal support.
What were the victims of this antisemitic hatred actually doing in Oxford Street, which led to them suffering this hostile anti-Jewish humiliation? They were with the Chabad, who were handing out food as part of the Chanukah celebrations. For dancing and celebrating Chanukah they were subjected to taunts that echo across the ages and which symbolised the murderous salutes given by Nazis. This for simply being Jewish in London.
The likelihood is that the perpetrators will be found to originate from the Middle East. Muslims like me have always called on our co-religionists to speak up and call out the hate that emanates from within our religion, against British Jews. The silence and unwillingness to confront the antisemitism emanating from small, vocal but entrenched parts of British Muslim communities is the shame that all of us British Muslims have to carry. It is a responsibility for all Muslims to stand up and reclaim our faith from hateful antisemites who damage our relations and bonds with the closest community to our roots.
It is a sickening cancer that continues to invade parts of British Muslim communities and which needs to be fundamentally excised. There is no getting round this simple fact.
But responsibility also lies with Government. Many Muslims have sought asylum in our country on the basis that their lives were threatened. Many have been let in, yet over the last decade, little work apart from the ‘kumbaya’ narrative of ‘we are all equal’ has been employed to acculturate and socially acclimatise new arrivals. But healthy assimilation is based on getting people to embrace, accept and live out the values of our country.
This work has been devolved by central government to local authorities, who devolved it further to civil society organisations, many of whom struggle to get beyond meeting the basic physical needs of individuals and families. Take, for example, what I heard from people working in third sector organisations supporting recently arrived Afghans after the fall of Kabul. They told me that local authorities had simply given guidance to third sector organisations to be ‘culturally sensitive’ to the families. What does this exactly mean — when some of the males in these families do not want their wives and daughters to be educated? And when they openly state that all decisions will be made only by the males in the family?
Those working in third sector organisations will find it difficult to change such views. They are too busy at the coal-face of providing for the new arrivals’ physical needs. It is an outrage that both central and local government has passed the buck to these organisations.
Since the creation of the State of Israel, the politics of many Middle Eastern countries has been to blame all of their own ills, as well as those of the region, solely on Jews and Israel. They are an easy scapegoat, meaning that such deeply antisemitic views have percolated through generations.
In Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Libya, these tropes were systematically promoted over generations. The end result is that the same bigotry has been carried into the UK through the asylum process.
In other words, the centuries-long antisemitic hate emanating from the Middle East has found its way into our country.
Unless the Government intervenes and ensures a proper acculturation and integration programme, which inculcates the values of our country into new arrivals, we will continue to see the hatred that we saw on Oxford Street.
Any such programme must ensure that new arrivals realise that antisemitism is a red line in our society. Without such a core, centrally driven intervention, we will continue to see such incidents where Jews are intimidated, harassed and abused.