Our fight against bigotry cannot be fought alongside bigots like Katie Hopkins

These people are not our friends. Once they’re done with Muslims they will turn their attention to us, writes Sir Mick Davis

July 10, 2019 13:34

It is an uncomfortable but increasingly apparent truth that there are a small number of fringe groups and individuals within the Jewish community who could, by any definition, be described as far right.

Another uncomfortable truth is that some sections of the far right from outside the Jewish community are courting Jews as potential allies in their bigoted campaigns against Muslims.

Those two truths combined last week when a group of Jews hosted the notorious anti-Muslim bigot, Katie Hopkins, for a talk and film screening at a hotel in Hendon. She previously called asylum seekers “cockroaches” and called for a “final solution” following the Manchester terror attack.

The Board of Deputies, JLC and CST were all appropriately swift and scathing in their condemnation. This was not the first time this star of her own Twitter feed has sought to associate herself with Jews. She recently returned from a visit to Israel where her film was screened at an event hosted, disgracefully, by the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem.

Jews around the world are facing a growing threat from antisemitism that comes predominantly from three sources: the far left, the far right and Islamic extremists.

We can only counter the threat if we are clear headed in our analysis of what it is and where it comes from. Yet for the activists who staged this event the threat, it would seem, is presented as coming from all Muslims and only Muslims.

That analysis is not only wrong but an outrageous betrayal of our values and history and an affront to Muslims who stand up against antisemitism within their communities. We cannot defeat antisemitism by teaming up with people who mindlessly hate Muslims. Our fight against bigotry cannot be fought alongside bigots.

These people are not our friends. Once they’re done with Muslims they will turn their attention to us. For them, difference is intolerable and something to be feared and vilified. Seeking common cause is a cynical ploy and sometimes the misguided and foolish are taken in.

But it would be giving the event organisers too much credit to see this as a naive error. Last week, bigots came together to indulge their shared hatreds and Hopkins was the bigoted star-turn.

But Hopkins’ bigotry does not end with Muslims. Her history of incitement also features Jews. At the lesser end of the scale, some have cited an antisemitic joke she is alleged to have tweeted of the “Jews are tight” variety. More disturbing was her reaction to the massacre of Jews in Pittsburgh by a far right terrorist, which referenced the “Chief Rabbi and his support for mass migration across the Med.”

That sentiment echoes the ‘Great Replacement Theory’, a driving force behind far right terror which holds that Jews are seeking to ‘replace’ white European culture by flooding Western societies with Muslim immigrants. It’s conspiratorial and worse — it is profoundly antisemitic and it is unfathomable that there are Jews who would provide a forum for someone who provides the online oxygen in which this antisemitic conspiracy theory breathes.

Maybe I am wrong and Katie Hopkins actually loves Jews.  But whatever a bigot’s attitudes to Jews,  that cannot be the sole factor in our judgment of whether they make a reasonable ally. Our moral compass has to be more scrupulous than that. We can’t just grant a hechsher to whoever says a few nice things about Israel, however prejudiced they are to others.

Like other populists, the Jewish activists who hosted Hopkins wallow in perceived victimhood at the hands of ‘an elite’ – in this case the ‘Jewish establishment’. 

They are small in number but for that to remain the case, the mainstream Jewish community needs to be vigilant.

This Jewish form of fringe populism is built on a fiction. They’re the only people challenging the threat of Islamic extremism, they claim, or the only people fighting antisemitism. Both are patently untrue.

On a national level, our institutions from the Metropolitan Police to the Prevent anti-extremism programme recognise the threat of extremist ideology and terror and are committed to the safety and security of the Jewish community. And within the community, we’re blessed to have the CST providing security, liaising with the police and monitoring threats while also reaching out a hand to Muslim groups in the UK that share their commitment to fighting hate.

We also have a burgeoning number of activists able to fight antisemitism wherever they find it without resorting to anti-Muslim hatred. We need to celebrate and support them while we call out our far right.

Sir Mick Davis is a former Chairman of the JLC and the CEO of the Conservative Party

July 10, 2019 13:34

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