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Britain and anti-Semitism

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This research seeks to identify the relationship between Jews living within Britain and anti-Semitism. The research is intended to unearth whether or not anti Semitism exists in Britain today and if so in what ways it affects the Jewish community, also are the reasons for this hatred the same as they were during the holocaust or is there a new type of Anti-Semitism among us. The concept of this research is based on a notion that anti-Semitism is still rife within Britain but not many seem to notice it.

It will identify whether anti-Semitism in Britain is on the rise and whether this has anything to do with a growth in the Jewish population or just something that has always been present within Britain. Does the rise in Anti- Semitism pose a serious threat to the Jewish population? This essay will focus on Anti Semitism within different aspects of British life and see whether or not something can be done to try and stop it. It will mainly focus on the religious social and political aspects of anti-Semitism and explore the reasoning behind these factors. The research clearly proves that…

Purpose of the study

          The purpose of this study is to get an understanding of Anti-Semitism and how it relates to Britain as an area of study. This research aspires to answer questions and gather conclusions that may have not been looked at before. This research aims to get a deeper understanding for the reasons why Anti-Semitism exists in Britain with a Jewish population of only 1%. The role of the study is to make a contribution into the wider research into Anti-Semitism in Britain and compile research that will help to answer some of the questions outlined in the research problem.

The term Anti-Semitism coined by Wilhelm Marr in 1873 in Germany to describe the anti Jewish campaigns in Europe at the time, has become a word that we are all familiar with today but with a completely different meaning as to what it was intended for. Although there is no universally agreed definition of the term, in more complex or deeper understandings “Anti-Semitism is hatred toward Jews and is directed toward the Jewish religion, Jews as people, or more recently the Jewish state. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm non-Jews and is often used to give an explanation for why things go wrong. It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action and regularly employs stereotypes” (Pollack, 2008: P.8).This thesis will be using the definition by stern in order to assess the prominence of anti-Semitism in Britain as it encompasses many different aspects. Within the subject of anti Semitism as we see from Sterns definition of the term there can be several types of Anti-Semitism which include but are not limited to, religious Anti-Semitism, race based Anti-Semitism political Anti-Semitism as well as anti Semitism within society as a whole in terms of education, the media and also in terms of the differences between what people say and what they actually do.

Aim and objectives

          This thesis will look at anti Semitism in Britain from 2000 onwards and will try and analyze in which forms that it exists the most and potentially what can be done in order for it be reduced. Is anti-Semitism on the rise in Britain and is there something being done about it, also is the anti-Semitism that exists today the same as it was during Nazi Germany, as well as understanding whether there is a difference between anti Zionism and anti Semitism, all these questions are important when trying to understand anti Semitism within the context of Britain.

This essay will address what anti Semitism is and the theories behind it as well as look at the history of anti Semitism within Britain and then finally look at the different aspects of British life in which anti Semitism is present, namely in politics, the media and also in religious aspects.


          In order to answer the above question on the existence of anti Semitism in Britain, research must be carried out on the theoretical frameworks that might be in place in order for anti Semitism to exist and therefore be on the rise. Qualitative as well as quantitative data must be collected to get specific ideas of how anti- Semitism is dealt with in the new millennium in Britain. Qualitative research methods will be appropriate methods to use as they are concerned with collecting and analysing data in non-numeric form (Blaxter, Hughes & Tight, 1996) and can form the basis of the literature review as well as part of a questionnaire that deals with open ended questions on the anti sematic related issues. Sources such as Journals, books and articles surveys and monitoring reports will be used to conduct the research and draw up conclusions. Quantitative research analysis will also be important in gaining an understanding of the research as it will allow it to put figures into perspective, percentages and numbers will be used to highlight major points across the research. Although both primary and secondary research will be used to conduct this research it is important to state that the research is more focused on secondary data analysis to assess the extent of anti-Semitism in Britain.

Chapter 1: What is Anti –SemitismThe definition of anti-Semitism as stated in the introduction simply put is hatred towards Jews, but the community security trust describes it as “pseudoscientific racial discrimination against Jews” often called the longest hatred. As we have identified there are many types of anti- Semitism and throughout history there have been forms which include “religious, nationalist, economic and racial biological, Jews have been blamed for many phenomena including the death of Jesus; the Black Death, the advent of liberalism, democracy, communism and capitalism and for inciting numerous revolutions and wars.” (cst) with this said it necessary to point out that although it may be difficult to differentiate between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Israel they are not the same as it is not anti-sematic to criticize Israel or Zionism even if the criticism is harsh. Anti-Zionism describes hostile attitudes towards Jewish self-determination and the Israel as a Jewish state. Anti-Semitism as we have seen can take up many forms and within these forms it can be overt or covert.

Chapter 2: The history of Anti-Semitism in Britain: Literature review

          Evidence of Jews in Britain has been available since the late 11th century when William the conqueror brought Jews from Rouen to London and thus this is where known evidence of their presence in Britain begins. It is therefore important that when analyzing Anti-Semitism in Britain today that we look at the roots that it has had in the country.

Anthony Julius in his book trials of a diaspora outlines the four types of English Anti-Semitism namely: anti-Semitism of medieval England, literary anti-Semitism, modern English anti -Semitism and the mentality of modern English anti-Semitism. In medieval English anti-Semitism we see that the first Anglo Jewish community consisted of French Jews who arrived in the wake of the Norman Conquest, this Jewish community lasted for 200 years before expulsion in England began and the Jews became the property of the king and wider anti-Semitism within Europe began.

In Lara Trubowitz book she refers to Anti-Semitism as “civil anti-Semitism” and talks about it in literature and culture (Marendy, 2005:p23). The reason she refers to anti Semitism as civil is because from the early 18th century through to the Second World War “overt bigotry is seen as objectionable.

Anti Semitism became a style of speech or writing best understood and critized in rhetorical and narrative terms, an elaborate or even tortuous compromise between rival traditions of hatred and politesse” ( reference)it is clear from her writing that even as early as the 18th century issues of anti Semitism were still prominent in Britain. There was an influx of eastern European Jews to Britain in the 1880’s and 1890’s which gave rise to anti immigration in 1904 and 1905 and the rise of anti Semitism in publications during the 1920s for example Virginia Woolf’s writing about Victor Rothschild a British Jewish aristocrat and she used words such as “his fleshy and vulgar Jewishness”. (Reference) Even television suffered forms of anti-Semitism as Jon Stratton in his sitcom writes of “Jewish moments” where Jewish tendencies are not limited to Jews but characteristics that one may possess.


          The persistence of prejudice: anti-Semitism in British society during the Second World War by Antony Robin Jeremy Kushner

Civil anti Semitism, modernism and British culture 1902-1939 By Lara TrubowitzTrials of the diaspora Anthony Julius

Chapter 3: Anti Semitism in Religion

          In order to get an understanding of the background of anti-Semitism we have to look at were it first originated from and what caused it to evolve so strongly.

Religious anti Semitism being the oldest form of Anti-Semitism dates back to biblical times when Christians and Jews first began their divisions in faith, and as Christianity spread so did the hatred for Jews (Stern, K.S 2006). With this said religious Anti-Semitism was one of the first forms of Anti-Semitism and therefore is the foundation of Anti-Semitism today even though Christianity has moved on from this the world at large still bases its history of Anti-Semitism on religion (Albanis, 2010: P21).

For centuries, Christians saw Jews like Jesus Christ murderers. When the Jewish temple was destroyed, it was believed that that was the judgment of God towards the Jews for the death of Christ. Jews were seen as people who were condemned to suffer exile and degradation forever. Following the chronology of letters written by St. Paul, it is observed that St. Paul started non Jewish (“Gentile”) assemblies. He urged his recruits to accept Jesus as their divinity and savior from sin. He advised them to reject the laws of Jewish torah as dietary restrictions, circumcision, temple and Sabbath observances that identified Jews. St. Paul argued that one is justified by faith in Christ Jesus and not by deeds as specified in Jewish Scriptures (Gudkov, 2013:P15).

Early Christian writings and New Testament Gospel became dominant and the dominating form of Christianity in the beginning of second century. Gentile Christianity presented itself separate from Jews by its non Jewishness in the Roman world. Anti-Jewishness helped to evangelize Gentiles who saw Jews practices as unsociable inhospitable and foreign and hence regarded Jews as outside of Gentile society. It helped in preventing loss of Christians converts to Jewish Christianity through making Jews objects of derision (Gudkov, 2013:P25).

Versions of Jewish bible that contradicted Gentile Christian reinterpretation were disparaged. The new interpretations argued that Christianity was envisaged in Jewish Scriptures divinely yet religious practices that were commanded in the bible were not necessary anymore. Jews were seen as immoral malevolent people because Christianity posed as unfairly persecuted group whose savior was killed by Jews. The relationship between Christianity and Roman authorities strengthened when they teamed up to blame the Jews for the destruction of Jerusalem temple and death of Jesus.

Differences between Christians and Jews advanced from religious level to racial level by demonizing Jews. St. Paul and Christian Fathers claimed that the Jewish did not have a legitimate reason for rejecting Christian beliefs and doctrines. Anti-Semitism widened the rift between gentile Christians’ churches and Judaism Synagogues. St. John’s Gospel, Epistle of Barnabas Mordantly and Gentile readers of New Testament leaders concluded that Jewish had already lost God’s favor that was later bestowed on Christians. Jesus Christ the messianic Jew was transformed to Christian savior (Albanis, 2010: P41).

The Jewish Bible was retained, not primarily because of its rules and rituals since observance Gentile Christian leaders condemned it as anachronistic, but in order to claim divine support for coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ and to convince Romans of the Christian antiquity. Attempts to derive Christian legitimacy from Jewish Bible led to polemics and apologetics claiming that hard-hearted Jews did not understand their own bible fully or follow it because of their sacrilege, inferiority and wickedness as compared to virtue, sanctity and superiority of Christians.

Hatred towards Jews increased further as Gentile Christians continued to claim their Biblical legitimacy. They interpreted the Jewish Bible to prove that it was prophesied in the Bible about the appearance, life and death of Jesus Christ. Jews opposition to worship of Jesus Christ was seen as their misunderstanding of the Bible. Jews persisted in observing religious laws despite Christians abandoning religious laws written in the Jewish Bible. Anti-Semitism became the order of the day as Christianity continued to identify themselves as an antique religion with a Jewish savior. It is argued that if Christian savior were not a Jew, there would be a different relationship between Jews and Christians.

From the ninth century, Jews were classified by the medieval Islamic world as dhimmi. They were allowed to practice Jewish religion freely. This freedom ended when Muslim pogroms took place in Peninsula. Several decrees were enacted that ordered the destruction of synagogues in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq from the 11th century. Jews were forced to denounce their religion in parts of Yemen, Baghdad and Morocco many times between 12th and 18th centuries. In 1147, Almohads took control of the Andalusian and Almoravids’ Maghribi territories. They started treating dhimmis harshly than their predecessors because they were fundamentalist in their outlook. Many Jews and Christians were forced to emigrate since they were faced with choices of death or conversion. They fled places that were more tolerant.

Jews were persecuted in many places in Europe during the middle ages. They were persecuted with blood libels, forced conversions, massacres and expulsion. The main justification for these prejudices was religion. Thousands of Jews in Europe were murdered during the First Crusade in 1096. The second crude in Germany left many Jews dead. They were also subjected to attacks in Shepherd’s Crusaders in 1251. Crusades were followed by expulsion of over 100, 000 Jews in France, Austria and banishing of all English Jews.

In mid 14th century, Black Death epidemic devastated European countries that used Jews as Scapegoats. Rumor were peddled that Jews caused the diseases by poisoning wells. This led to the destruction of hundreds of Jewish Communities. Pope Clement V1’s efforts to issue two papal bulls in order to help Jews did not bear any fruit. 800 Jews were burned in Strasbourg at a time when the disease had not affected the city in 1348.

Throughout 19th century and the 20th century, Roman Catholic Church in Britain continued to incorporate strong anti-Semitic elements, this happened in spite of increasing efforts to separate the opposition to the Jewish religion on racial anti-Semitism and religious grounds. Pope Pius VII (1800–1823) made the walls of the Jewish residence in Rome rebuilt after Napoleon released the Jews. Jews were however restricted in 1870to the Ghetto through the end of the Papal States.

Further, official organizations like the Jesuits banned any candidate who a descended from the Jewish race unless it was made clear that his or her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather belonged to the Roman Catholic Church until 2005. Scholars such as David Kertzer working from the England archive pointed out that in the 20th century and in early twentieth century, Roman Catholic Church made a clear distinction between good anti-Semitism and bad anti-Semitism.

Bad anti-Semitism advanced hatred of Jews based on their decent. This is un-Christian since Christianity is intended for all humanity regardless of one’s ethnicity and anyone can be a Christian. Good anti-Semitism criticized claims of Jewish conspiracy of controlling banks, newspaper and other institutions in order to accumulate wealth. Catholic bishops wrote articles that criticized Jews on these grounds. When they were accused of promoting hatred towards the Jews, they said they condemned the “bad” anti-Semitism.

Chapter 4: Anti Semitism in politics

Anti Semitism in politics refers to hatred toward Jews based on beliefs that Jews seek national and world power.

Jews were subject to a range of restrictions in European history. Christian in UK required Jews and Muslims believers to wear special attire, like the Judenhut that they traditionally wore by choice. Jews were required to have a yellow badge to distinguish them from Christians. Jewish religion was restricted many times and they were forced to swear special oaths. They were not permitted to vote and countries like Norway, Sweden and Spain prohibited their entry in 15th century (Hartmann, 2011:p10).

In contrast, the Polish Prince Boleslaus in 1264issued the “Statute of Kalisz”- General Charter of Jewish Liberties in Poland, a document that guaranteed Jews personal freedom, separate tribunal for criminal cases, safeguard against blood libel and legal autonomy. Poland became a home to the Jewish population. Jewish immigration to Poland brought valuable skills and manpower to the rising state.

Anti-Semitism has remained an underlying theme in political and public debates. In countries like Russia and Britain, it is so ingrained that many people are unable to recognize anti-Jewish bias. The history of Russia is replete with cases of persecution and using of the Jews as scapegoats. Russian Jews were blamed for the assassination of Tsar Alexander 11, Jews faced dire consequences. They were forced to leave urban centers and moved to pale of Jewish Settlement (Hartmann, 2011:p20).

Deprivation and economic hardship caused by mandatory conscription and anti-Jewish pogroms led to mass emigration of Russian Jews to United states and UK. Until the end of First World War, over two million Russian Jews had migrated. Jews continued to be seen as scapegoats following the Lenin’s nationalization of the Jewish people and Bolshevik Revolution. They became easy targets for Stalinist purges in 1930s because of the role they played in socialist enterprise as the Bund and Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Some of Stalin’s attempts of victimizing Jews were the murder of Yiddish writers, doctor’s plot and Prague trials.

In the late Soviet period, state sponsored anti-Semitism served a tool of legitimizing the denial of emigration visa for Jews. It is reported that throughout 1980s and 1990s, many organizations and individuals expected the persecution, victimization and discrimination of Russian Jews.

Those who propagate anti-Semitic rhetoric in Russian political parties include Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The leadership of the two parties uses ideologies and language of Soviet anti-Jewish campaigns. They use stereotypes like Jews lack of loyalty to Russia. An example is an attack on Grigoriy Yavlinsky a liberal candidate who partly Jewish. Alexander Mikhailov a governor elect of Kursk alleged anti-Russian conspiracy that involved a Russian Jewish umbrella group and his predecessor who was half-Jewish (Kaufman, 2008:p12).

Anti-Semitism in Germany started after successful campaign against France. The motive of hatred towards Jews was the increased Authority of Catholic Church. Movements like Germania arose that advised people to record the wrongs of individual Jews so that they may be attributed to the whole Jewish community. They also urged people to boycott Jews. Anti-Semitism was furthered by Bismarck in 1877 as his relationship with National Liberals became strained. Bismarck wanted Lasker and Bamberger to support his proposal of introduction of new taxes. However, the two National Liberal leaders supported him under the condition that he would introduce a constitution like the one that was in England.

Bismarck refused proposal presented to him by National liberals that made Lasker and Bamberger secede. Bismarck sought support form new majorities in catholic and conservator. He decided to use anti-Semitism in order to punish the “Judaized Liberal”. Anti-Semitism became a political program that people used to get political power. In the same year, a politician was elected to parliament by basing his campaign on enormity towards Jews. Adof Stocker founded a new political party and used his eloquence to advance the campaign of abuse and hostility towards Jews. This made Jews civil rights a mockery.

Chapter 5: Anti Semitism in society

          Anti-Semitism is seen to manifests in overt and subtle ways in places where sizeable Jewish communities live and where few Jews are located. Anti-Semitic crimes include acts of violence such as terrorist attacks against Jewish community, desecration and destruction of Jewish property like synagogues and cemeteries. Anti-Semitic rhetoric, conspiracy theories and other propaganda are circulated widely and rapidly through satellite television, radios and the Internet. Traditional forms of anti-Semitism continue to persist and can be found all over the globe.

Classic anti-Semitic screeds like Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion remain commonplace. Jews continues to be blamed for a blood libel, dual loyalty, undue influence on government policies and the media, the symbols and images that are associated with an age-old form of anti-Semitism endure. These forms of anti-Semitism are mostly linked with fascism and Nazism and are considered unacceptable by democratic nations of North America, Western Europe especially in UK and beyond. However, they are accepted and used by extreme fringe. A new form of anti-Semitism has evolved that incorporates some elements of traditional anti-Semitism (Fields, 2008:p12).

The new anti-Semitism is a sharp criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy. It has the effect of intentionally or unintentionally promotes prejudice against Jews through demonizing Israeli and attributing its faults to Israeli Jewish character. This new form of prejudice is common in Middle East and Muslim communities in Europe but not confined to these populations only.

United Nation bodies are required to report atrocities and other violation of human rights of Jewish community. The purpose of setting up such bodies is to report on the assumed ongoing abusive Israeli behavior. The motive of these actions is to show countries in Middle East that there better ways of addressing concerns apart from. Modern anti-Semitism escapes condemnation because it is perpetrated as criticism of Zionism or Israeli. Israeli practices must however be subjected to scrutiny because they may prompt hatred of Jews (Fields, 2008:p22).

At times hatred toward Israel has resulted to physical violence that is directed to Jews in general. For example, there were anti-Semitic incidents all over the world during the conflict between Israel and Hizballah in the summer of 2006. Governments recognize societal anti-Semitism but instead of fighting it, some leaders encourage it within their county and beyond their borders. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad known to actively promote Holocaust denial. Jewish population in Iran faces official discrimination, and the Iranian official media regularly produce anti-Semitic propaganda.

The government of Syria routinely demonizes Jewish community through public statements and propaganda. State enterprises in Belarus freely produce and distribute anti-Semitic material. President Hugo Chavez publicly demonizes Israeli. He uses stereotypes about Israeli financial control and influence while the country’s media has also been propagating anti-Semitism. Government sponsored mass media in Egypt and Saudi Arable has also been propagating hatred of Jews. Elsewhere, in spite of official condemnation and efforts to fight the problem, anti-Semitism continues to exist. A conservative Catholic radio station in Poland,

Radio Maryjais is one of European worst anti-Semitic media venues. A private institution in Ukraine called The Interregional Academy that deals in personnel Management is a persistent anti-Jews institutions in Eastern Europe. Traditional anti-Semitism still exists in Russia and some countries in central and Eastern Europe.

In France, the United Kingdom, Germany and elsewhere, anti-Semitic incidences remains a significant concern. Increases in anti-Semitic violence have been documented in Argentina, Canada, Australia, and South Africa and beyond. Holocaust is a current event today sixty year after the Holocaust. Terrorist threats and attacks directed to Jewish communities globally have often been linked to Islamist terrorist groups. Terrorist groups in the name of jihad have made their intentions clear of attacking Jews and Jewish targets. Some of the terrorist attacks have been linked to state sponsors (Herf, 2009:p24).

Significant incident include Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 18, 1994, where the most lethal anti-Semitic attack on Jews since World War II happened when terrorists attacked Argentina Jewish Mutual Association, which accommodated the Argentine Jewish Federatio. 85 people were killed and more that 150 injured On October, 2006, an Argentine Federal Special Prosecuting Unit that was investigating the bombing concluded that the incidence was planned and financed by Iranian government of Iran and that the attack was carried out with operational aid from local Iranian diplomats and Hizballah. On November, 2006, arrest warrant for nine individuals in the prosecutor’s indictments list of was issued by Argentine judges. The Interpol Executive Committee recommended the issuance of international capture notices for suspects wanted for the AMIA bombing. This decision was however appealed by Iranian government but INTERPOL General Assembly upheld the INTERPOL Executive Committee’s decision to capture former Iranian officials involved in the bombing (Herf, 2009:p20).

All over the world, responsible governments, nongovernmental groups, intergovernmental organizations, religious leaders, other respected figures, ordinary men and women are busy working in order to reverse the trends. However, a lot needs to be done in areas of education, legislation, tolerance promotion and law enforcement before anti-Semitism, with all its ugly forms can finally be ended.


Albanis, E. (2010). Jewish Identity In The Face Of Anti-Semitism. The Historical Journal, 41(3), 895-900.

(2008). Anti-Semitism and Anti-Somatism: Seeking the Elusive Sporting Jew. Sport in Society, 10(6), 1120-1137.

Anti-Semitism-New or Old?. (2009, April 12). The Nation, 3, 5.Europe and the Jews; Anti-Semitism.. (2012, May 4). The Economist, 2, 5.Fields, S. (2008, September 1). The New Anti-Semitism: Some Intellectuals Deny Outbreak of Hatred.(Book Review). The World and I, 1, 7.Gudkov, L. D. (2013). Parameters of Anti-Semitism. Sociological Research, 38(4), 72-96.

Hartmann, D. D. (2011). Anti-Semitism and the Appeal of Nazism. Political Psychology, 5(4), 635.Herf, J. (2009). Comparative perspectives on anti-Semitism, radical anti-Semitism in the Holocaust and American white racism. Journal of Genocide Research, 9(4), 575-600.

Jaspal, R. (2013). Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Iran. Israel Affairs, 19(2), 231-258.

Kaufman, W. C. (2008). Status, Authoritarianism, and Anti-Semitism. American Journal of Sociology, 62(4), 379.Klug, B. (2009, February 2). The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism: Reflections on Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism and the Importance of Making Distinctions. The Nation, 2, 12.Klug, B. (2008). A Plea For Distinctions: Disentangling Anti-Americanism And Anti-Semitism Today. Think, 7(20), 203-225.

Marendy, P. M. (2008, March 22). Anti-semitism, christianity, and the catholic church: origins, consequences, and responses.. Journal of Church and State, 2, 12.Pollack, E. G. (2008, September 22). The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day.(Book review). Middle East Quarterly, 1, 8.Ryan, J. L. (2011). Spectre of Anti-Semitism Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism. Charles Y. Glock Rodney Stark. Journal of Palestine Studies, 2(2), 138-141.

Senelick, L. (2008). Anti-Semitism and Tsarist Theatre: The Smugglers Riots. Theatre Survey, 44(01), 174-177.

Sikes, W. W. (2010). The Anti-Semitism of the Fourth Gospel. The Journal of Religion, 21(1), 23.Sperber, J. (2012). Commentary on Christians and Anti-Semitism. Central European History, 27(03), 349.

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