UCL - 'Every clap tears at you inside. It is sickening'

November 24, 2016 23:13

I was at the House of Lords for the launch of the "Balfour apology" campaign - a project that seeks to pressure the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration as it approaches its 100th anniversary next year.

What occurred at the event led to the suspension and resignation of Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democrats.

The organisers, the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) later released a statement that attempted to smokescreen the vile antisemitic atmosphere that was present.

The question of who is responsible for the antisemitism, speaker or guest, is a sideshow, designed to have us all engage in pointless discussions.

I heard Jews blamed for the Holocaust, I heard that Israelis are the real antisemites and that good Jews are only those that denounce Israel.

The target of that hatred is me, my family

I heard talk of Jewish power. Classic antisemitic tropes where someone with little imagination simply replaces the word "Jew" with "Zionist" as he speaks.

All these comments received loud applause. There was even reference to quotes used in Holocaust conspiracies.

Let us not forget that last year Sir Gerald Kaufman launched an attack on Israel that included the phrase "Jewish money", and spoke of Jews influencing the Conservative Party. He went on to accuse Israel of fabricating terror attacks. That too was inside Westminster at a PRC event. There was nothing new here.

And doesn't that highlight the problem? It is over a decade since Jenny Tonge began with her virulent criticism of Israel. Since then, there has been a long list of statements ranging from accusations of Zionist financial and political control to those related to harvesting organs. Why did it take so long for the Lib Dems to act?

Why so many years to have Sir Gerald receive a rebuke from his party leader? Or Ken Livingstone? How about Jackie Walker? If someone in power began persistently targeting a minority, making outrageous accusations, distorting the truth and employing racists slurs, there is no way it would take a decade for serious action to be taken. Unless that minority is the Jews.

Just two days after this event I was at the UCL campus, surrounded by police and angry protesters during an intimidating attempt to no platform an Israeli speaker at a student event. Jewish people seem to be the only minority that is expected to accept such a situation. As if we are meant to accommodate the "minority" that hates us.

Describing events, quoting comments and speaking of what occurred is a relatively straightforward exercise.

What is difficult to describe is the sickening feeling of personally witnessing such an event. The emotional impact of being among people who carry an irrational hatred of the essence of what you are. Every clap tears at you inside.

You sense the level of antisemitism rise as the evening progresses. Feeding off every display of Jew-hatred, witness the warm reception that it receives. And it is personal, the target of that hatred is me. They are talking about my family, my friends, my children, my nation.

It is an ingathering of the similarly-minded. Each finding an element of belonging, of personal vindication in being among those that simply view Jews the same way. The sort of meeting you would expect to happen in the dark, in secret, far, far away.

And then you look around and realise you are not inside some dark hut, hidden away to ensure such vile antisemitism remains unnoticed. It is 2016 and you are sitting inside the halls of Westminster, at the heart of the British democratic estate.

Just how long will it take before someone finally says "enough"?

November 24, 2016 23:13

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