THE unprecedented savagery and depravity of the October 7 pogrom in Israel shocked all decent-thinking people in the world. To many Jews living in the West it, and the reaction to it, came as a particularly brutal wake-up call. In the words of a self-styled former progressive leftist, Hamas ‘slaughtered his wokeness’. Shocking reactions – even of denial – to the murderous attack on Israeli civilians was the final straw that shattered his previous complacency, revealing to him the dark reality that ‘our Western culture is riddled with ambient anti-Semitism’.
The question we ask here is how did such complacency come about, that liberally minded Jews blinded themselves to this growing undercurrent in what was meant to be a ‘never again’ world? How, in turn, has this contributed to, or even sanctioned, the rise of and support for Hamas and its Jihadist war against the Jewish state? In a word, how culpable are they? Has liberal Judaism appeased Islamism when it should have challenged it? Is it time they apologised for what has happened on their watch? The answer to all these questions, we believe, is yes.
The problem centres on the minority but influential liberal ‘establishment’ Jews’ adoption of the prevailing leftist progressive, morally relativist position that sees anti-racism as the only legitimate racism and Israel as an oppressor rather than as a democratically legitimate country, which had led, almost inescapably, to October 7.
British Jews’ historical postwar cleave to the left is not hard to understand. Identifying with the oppressed, they saw socialism and left of centre parties as what represented social justice. Drawn to the Labour Party’s socialist ideals, this attraction was underpinned by a Judaic religious ethos to promote kind acts and social action. For a short while it also resonated with support for Israel as providing home to the persecuted by turning a barren land green and fertile through ingenuity and hard work. Many hoped, like Stalin, it would be a socialist state.
In the 1960s, the left’s defence of Israel began to dissipate. Collaboration between Yasser Arafat and the Soviets led to the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation along with the concept of Palestinianism. Liberal Jews’ once strong backing of Israel was overtaken by the left’s growing hatred of the Jewish state and the creeping embrace of Islamism.
As this developed and took root, so too did the left’s dominance in British institutions such as the civil service, parliament, academia, the police and mainstream media. ‘Official’ Jewish organisations followed this swing to the left. As in America today, a small minority of liberal, Left-leaning Jews monopolise the leadership of every major Jewish organisation and charity here. (The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD), the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Community Security Trust (CST), and Jewish newspapers such as the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish News.) All have diluted their views to ‘fit in’ – to conform with the leftist ‘takeover’ of British institutions in its long march through the institutions, with diversity, identity and inclusion finally cemented under the Equality Act in the early 21st century. ‘Official’ Jewish organisations adapted to this cultural and institutional swing to the left, as did the Conservative Party.
They are an elitist clique which, though a minority, believe they know what’s best for British Jews. There are countless examples of their concern to keep in line with progressive but illiberal (anti-free speech) opinion. We saw this in full force at the end of November when the Anti-Defamation League backed the irrational assertion that that those who protest against Hamas’s disinformation and lies were guilty of ‘anti-Muslim hate speech’. This mirrored earlier examples as in 2018 when the editor of the Jewish Chronicle joined in accusing Israel of murdering Palestinian civilians who had stormed the Israeli border with Gaza. The JC issued an apology when it was proved that those killed were indeed Hamas terrorists.
A year later, still blind to reality, the same Jewish journalist insisted it was wrong to call Muslim terrorists ‘Muslim terrorists’, because he said it ‘implies that all Muslims are terrorists’. But it doesn’t.
Most of the leading Jewish organisations like the Board of Deputies, the Jewish leadership Council, CST (Protecting the Jewish Community), Jewish National Fund, Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News, are run by such ‘establishment’ or ‘liberal’ (as opposed to conservative) Jews who, concerned with projecting the correct, woke pro multiculturalism optics, take an appeasing stance on Islamism. This is painfully redolent of the fatal ‘good Jew syndrome’, an echo of the ‘good Jews’ of Nazi Germany who were later to find that capitulating to anti-Semites didn’t guarantee escape from persecution and genocide.
In this attempt to fit in with the liberal establishment, at best they offer tepid support for Israel and underplay the pernicious effects of anti-Zionism. At worst they are negatively critical not least when it comes to the idea of Israel’s right to national self-determination being unique to the Jewish people.
In recent years the British Board of Deputies has joined with this hyperbolic focus on the dangers of the ‘far right’ and ‘white supremacists’ (though they pose no comparable threat to Jews in this country or in Israel) in order to show they are fighting Islamophobia, and ‘stand together on hate’. Yet these are the very concepts that are designed to shut down legitimate criticism of a radical Islam that freely calls for the annihilation of Israel and Jews of whatever their colour or political leaning.
When notable Jews have taken an independent line, or strayed from the narrative, deplatforming by their peers has been quick and effective. In 2022, Samuel Hayek, the chair of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), was publicly condemned for making what were cast as ‘offensive’ remarks about Islam. Jewish colleagues and organisations demanded his resignation and threatened to have nothing to do with JNF until he stood down. A letter which was signed inter alia by 40 members of the British Board of Jewish Deputies accused him of a bigotry ‘which had no place in their community’. With the JLC they pressurised the Jewish community into withdrawing its support from the pro-Israel JNF until it expelled Hayek, advising members of their synagogues ‘to ensure that their children do not take part in programmes run or funded by JNF UK’.
Yet as the recent pro-Hamas rallies and the spate of attacks on and murder of Jews across Western Europe have shown, Hayek’s been proved presciently correct in the statement they took offence at, that rising Muslim immigration threatened the future of British Jews.
It was but a few weeks later that the Jewish News ‘alerted’ the BoD to ‘the support’ that one of their deputies, Gary Mond, had shown towards Pamela Geller, a so-called American ‘far right’ Jewish activist against Islamism. Following an ‘offence archaeology’ investigation into his old social media posts, Mond was made to step down. It was not the first time that the BoD had been engaged in censoring speech that criticised Islamism. In 2014, a series of talks by an Israeli expert on the Middle East, Mordechai Kedar, was cancelled by synagogues and schools after the BoD ‘voiced concerns’ over the expert’s links to Geller.
Recent years have also seen establishment Jews equating the Holocaust with atrocities conducted against Muslims, as in Srebrenica. Laudable in intent it may be, but it does not cut both ways. Leading Muslim representatives and politicians such as the Conservative peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and the Labour MP Naz Shah remain openly and unashamedly hostile to Israel.
Yet instead of criticising them, establishment Jews have given their anti-Israel stance legitimacy by inviting them to speak at events. In 2017, the Jewish Chronicle bizarrely suggested Warsi was correct to demand that Brits in the IDF be prosecuted.
Now the Met Police have defended their extraordinary investigation (via a bizarre appeal for travellers to ‘inform’) into Israeli Defence Force (IDF) ‘war crimes’. No such appeal has been made for information on Hamas war crimes or hostage torture.
We should not be surprised. Establishment Jews have opened the door to this over-reach. In March, the Chief Rabbi and the BoD joined Naz Shah at a conference held by the Muslim World League, an organisation which champions Sharia law and which later accused Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians. The term useful idiots is not out of place here.
Jewish charities are also determined to be seen to embrace those who are foes of Israel and Jews, even organisations suspected of having links to anti-Semitic terror groups such as Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
It’s attitudes towards Tommy Robinson that perhaps best illustrate this inverted thinking. The Jewish ‘establishment’ was united in its determination to keep Robinson, a friend of Israel who wanted to march in solidarity with British Jews at the rally against anti-Semitism on November 26, away. The Jewish Chronicle was to report the arrest of ‘far right founder of the English Defence League’ at the event. It appears that they would rather embrace terrorism than Tommy Robinson who dissociated himself from EDL years ago. Yet they turn him, not Islamists, into the target of their fear.
Were Jews still relatively safe in this country, these organisations might be forgiven for embracing enemies while repelling friends. But, as the past two months have underlined, Jews are not safe in Britain. The threat to Jews has grown exponentially through active appeasement as much as through inaction. By minimising the constant threat to Jews posed by the alliance between the left and Islamism and by eschewing support for Israel, establishment Jews have tragically failed in their remit to protect Jews, and lethally so Israel.
It’s high time they realised that their embrace of multiculturalism – the perverse ‘transference’ to fighting Islamophobia – has done nothing to stop the rise of violent and genocidal anti-Semitism. It has enabled it. And they will not get a free pass. They must admit they were wrong, apologise and unequivocally direct their efforts to protecting the right of Jews to exist as Jews.