After the truth about the Holocaust came out in the late 1940s and 50s, being an anti-Semite was the biggest dishonour of all. No mainstream politician, whatever his or her personal views about Jews, would ever declare anything that hinted at anti-Semitism. The "far right" had gone (for a time) into oblivion. Israel was admired.
Germany paid reparations (wiedergutmachung, "making good again") to Holocaust survivors, as did France, an equally anti-Semitic country out of which came the first ideologue of a "master race," Joseph Arthur, Comte de Gobineau (d.1882), whose books spread the message of Aryan supremacy. Oddly enough, Arthur was not anti-Semitic: Hitler and his acolytes embraced his Aryan supremacism and edited out Arthur's philo-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism continued, of course, but most people kept it to themselves. The horror of what the Germans had done to the Jews was, for a majority of British people, a token of the rightness of our cause in fighting and defeating Germany. Jews had never been safer than they were then in the UK. That anti-Semitism might return -- and viciously -- reincarnated inside a mainstream, anti-fascist and supposedly anti-racist political party, was simply inconceivable.
Imagine, then, the shock on waking up more than once last week to learn that a deep-seated anti-Semitism had widely infected the nation's Labour Party. Two of its senior members were suspended as a result of their anti-Semitic remarks, and there is talk that 50 secret suspensions have been made. Labour looks set to lose a lot of seats in the local elections next week.
The first the general public knew about all this was in February, when the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club resigned because there was so much anti-Semitism on campus, most of it coming from his own colleagues. A member of the club, a student in one of the world's top universities, had argued that Hamas was justified in killing Jewish civilians and had claimed that all Jews were legitimate targets. According to Aaron Simons, a former president of the Oxford University Jewish Society, "A committee member stated that all Jews should be expected to publicly denounce Zionism and the state of Israel, and that we should not associate with any Jew who fails to do so."
Most British Jews and their supporters had known for years that anti-Semitism, usually disguised as anti-Zionism, especially in the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, was rife on campuses, and that student anti-Semitism came from radical Muslims hand-in-hand with the communist and socialist left. The Labour party, despite its efforts to remain a force for moderation in British political life, had often been infiltrated by extreme Trotskyist activists. These Trotskyists are anti-Western anti-American, hyper-pacifist, anti-racist yet anti-white, anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist (yet never willing to criticize centuries of Islamic imperialism and colonization). They are aggressively feminist, pro-LGBT and pro-"victim" -- provided the victims are black, dark-coloured, Muslim or mistreated by the "neo-imperialism" of the Western powers.
Over the years, the Labour Party has turned a blind eye to the way in which activists of this kind, whether affiliated to the party or from movements to its left (the "Far Left") have for several decades dominated politics in British universities -- much in the way that their peers in the United States have transformed campuses into hotbeds of anti-Israel agitation.
Most shocking is that so many people either genuinely or falsely claim never to have guessed that such anti-Semitism was present in their midst. "Oh my, who knew?" Well, the truth is that many people knew -- and have known for years. The "new Anti-Semitism" is anything but a "new" phenomenon. According to Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the coming year will see 30,000 Jews, mostly from Europe, leave for Israel. As the level of anti-Semitic speech and actions worsens, Jewish communities are fleeing countries, for instance France. It is an Exodus that has been growing steadily for more than a decade. Welcome back to the 1930s.
This time, at least, the Jews know the signs of danger and have somewhere to run to, somewhere they are welcome. But many members of the Labour Party, including Labour Members of Parliament, would prefer them not to have such a haven, wishing instead for the land to be "returned" in virtually its entirety to the Palestinians. Supposedly Palestinian terrorists are now the good guys and Jews are supposedly the "new Nazis."
A lot of this is good old-fashioned "far-right", neo-fascist anti-Semitism, easily dismissed as the ravings of shaven-headed neo-Nazis who have evidently learned nothing from history. In some places, that is true: there are plenty of "neo-fascists" with overt racist policies in Eastern Europe today. Some countries, such as Greece, Hungary and Romania, face a strong neo-fascist revival and are seriously anti-Semitic. But move farther West, and, for a long time now, European anti-Semitism, including its variants in the UK, has been driven for the most part by two groups: radical Muslims (many from countries where explicit, no-holds-barred anti-Semitism is expressed by 90% or more of the population) and radical "left-wingers."
It does not always look like anti-Semitism; it sometimes tries to disguise itself as "only" anti-Zionism, but it is in fact nothing but that, and a very nasty form of anti-Semitism too.
The present crisis in the UK has much to do with the election as Labour leader of Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong supporter of Palestinian "resistance" and a self-declared "friend" of the terror outfits Hamas and Hezbollah, despite what must be total ignorance of the Hamas Covenant, which proclaims:
"There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility." (Article 13)
Corbyn claims to be a pacifist, but only regards Palestinian "resistance" and similar conflicts to be worth fighting. The alternative is usually surrender. The Second World War comes to mind, but perhaps that is not the best example. In any event, he has played a major role in the Stop the War Coalition, marched with anti-Semites and shared platforms with more than one. Presumably Corbyn hopes one day to become Prime Minister and is currently in denial of the evidence that shows the party he leads has embedded in its heart a form of anti-Semitism.
A lot of "left-wingers," including members of the Labour Party, claim, "We are not anti-Semitic because we are not racists," and every time they get away with that. Their claim to be anti-racist somehow expunges in the public's eye their actual anti-Semitism. They say their angry hatred for the Jewish state of Israel is merely ordinary politics. But this argument, voiced repeatedly over the past weeks, is shopworn, threadbare double-speak. Fair and balanced criticism of Israel is perfectly acceptable and makes for sound politics; but heavy-handed slurs, outrageous lies about Israel's policies and daily life, and support for terrorist organizations that plan to destroy Israel and commit a second genocide of (coincidentally) six million Jews in the country are, by any moral standards, breaches of every moral red line set in place since the Bible was first written.
Demonization of Israel, holding it to double standards not used against any other country, including the worst dictatorships, falls under the definition of anti-Semitism by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and the U.S. Department of State. Here is a simple example: the "left" repeatedly calls for boycotts of Israel because it is, they claim, "an apartheid state." One might weep. Israel is so totally free of apartheid that anyone who has spent ten minutes there knows the accusation to be an outright lie. So why keep on saying something untrue? That is anti-Semitism.
When the "far left," including many radical members of the Labour Party, march hand in hand with "far right" Muslims chanting "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas," their real motives are made clear. "Israel" and "Zion" are nowhere in sight. When pro-Palestinians march, chanting "Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea," do they know that the river is the Jordan and the sea is the Mediterranean, and that the Palestinians call daily for the elimination of Israel?
If you look at any Arab map of "Palestine" you will notice that it is actually map of Israel with the names of a few cities changed and "Palestine" (Filastin) stamped over it, plus Gaza and the West Bank. All reportedly Judenrein (free of Jews). And wholly in defiance of international law. The only law that applies is Islamic shari'a law, which declares that any territory once conquered by Islam must forever remain in Muslim hands. One might ask why so many Western non-Muslims are keen to replace the normative framework of international law with the regulations of an imperialist Islamic insistence based on a law of conquest.
Since the suspensions of Labour MP Naz Shah and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone (a member of Labour's National Executive Council), there has been an astonishing outpouring of news, commentary, questions and advice throughout the media. But the greater part of this commentary misses the real target by miles.
Judging by the material I have read or watched online or on television, almost everyone thinks that Labour's problem lies in encouraging the old, familiar anti-Semitism, the sort of Jew-hatred that has existed for two millennia in Europe and which reached its climax in the actions of Germany's Nazi government in the 1930s and 40s. There is still a lot of that around, but it is chiefly found within "far-right" parties, and mainly racist, not religious, in character.
It is nice to agree that neither racist nor religious anti-Semitism plays a significant part in Labour's dilemma. Labour members are genuinely anti-racist (as long as "race" does not include white people or Jews of all colours), and there is no reason on the surface to think their issues with Jews resemble those of the far right. At least, the neo-fascist right. Many, perhaps most, are secularists for whom religious bias is a non-starter. Many Muslim members of the party certainly retain Islamic anti-Jewish feelings, but these are seldom if ever made public except with regard to Israel.
The problem is that Labour MPs and party members simply do not recognize their own anti-Semitism because they continue to foster the delusion that anti-Jewish hostility is all because of racism and they feel free of that because they are "not racists". But their anti-Semitism is, in fact, about Israel and their demonization of the Jewish state. They work hard to disguise their antipathy for Jews by pretending they love Jews but hate Israel (which just happens to be the only Jewish state). Most of the remarks on Twitter, Facebook, or in emails that have been cited as examples of anti-Semitism contain references to Israel because that is the socially acceptable way of saying you have nothing but contempt for Jews.
In a letter to MPs John Mann, Jeremy Corbyn and Corbyn's deputy John McDonell, Stephen Spencer Ryde identified some less known examples:
Here are samples of other Labour MPs who have shared anti-Semitic views and materials recently:
- Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow. She publicly promoted blood libels and hatred against Israel for defending herself from Hamas rockets. She was the shadow Education Minister until she resigned due to her objections over attacking ISIS.
- Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central was obsessively concerned that Party leader Ed Milliband was a Jew. She too delivered blood libels against Israel. And now her defence of Naz Shah's comments as "silly".
- Shabana Mahmoud, Labour MP for Birmingham who actually took part in a violent protest to shut down Sainsbury's for daring to stock Israel produce.
- Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton SE who compared Israel to the Nazis.
- Imran Hussain, Labour MP for Bradford East who blatantly lied to delegitimise Israel in Parliament.
These are all Muslim MPs, but the common factor here is not religion but Israel, and Israel is a code-word for something like "world Jewry," for a religious and ethnic people considered by Muslims as "sons of apes and pigs."
Naz Shah, the first Labour MP to be suspended from the party, is also a Muslim, voted into her seat by the large Islamic community in Bradford; the remarks that got her into trouble were also anti-Israel with a lavish helping of anti-Jewish sentiment. Her approval of a proposal to "transport" Israel [the Jews of Israel] to America as the "solution" of the Palestinian problem carried echoes of Reinhard Heydrich's anti-Semitism.
Remarks made in Shah's defence by the second to be suspended, Ken Livingstone, who argued (and continues to argue) that Hitler was a Zionist, presented a perfect conflation of anti-Israel hatred and Nazi-style racism. In an interview with the BBC on April 28, Mr Livingstone said: "Let's remember when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism. This is before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."
How has this happened in a country that defeated Nazism? One explanation may be found in the assumption that Muslims are victims of the capitalist, colonialist West -- a concept that gelled perfectly with Communist and wider liberal opinion about how world economies work. Growth, or "win-win," economies, in which "a rising tide carries all ships" evidently was never even considered.
According to Britain's Campaign Against Antisemitism, in its National Anti-Semitic Crime Audit 2014-2015, the growth of anti-Semitism in the UK is "a core part of far-left and Islamist ideology." It is worth adding that existing anti-Semitism within the British establishment, not least the pro-Arab Foreign Office, the lure of Saudi oil and Qatari investment, and Britain's growing weakness in the Middle East, means that little is done even by conservatives to tackle this Jew hatred on the left.
When anti-Israel campaigners use traditional anti-Semitic tropes such as the blood libel (such as the lie that Israelis harvest the organs of Palestinians or Haitians); Jewish conspiracies to take over the world (such as the lie that the Jewish "lobby" controls UK politics); or the way Jewish wealth supports Israel and Zionism, it is abundantly clear that they have learned not a single thing from Europe's long history of Jew-hatred or, above all, the anti-Semitism of Hitler and his acolytes.
Today, Britain's Labour party is collapsing. The far left elements in the party will, if they do not abandon their anti-Israel postures and policies, leave Britain's second party less electable than it was in last year's general election. The only hope of saving Britain's two-party system will be for this awareness to act as a wake-up call for Labour's moderates. Sadly, there is little chance that the self-appointed anti-Israel morality police and the BDS campaigners are interested in either facts or insight.
Dr. Denis MacEoin, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, is an expert on Islam and the Middle East.
 For an alarming study of official government anti-Semitism in France, see David Pryce-Jones, Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews, USA, 2008.
 The fullest discussion of the deep-rootedness of anti-Semitism in Europe is Manfred Gertsenfeld's "The Deep Roots of Anti-Semitism in European Society," Jewish Political Studies Review, 17: 1-2, (Spring 2005).