Antisemitism is back. Not that it ever went away, but it has stopped hiding. From synagogues firebombed in Paris, ‘Jews to the gas!’ chanted in Berlin, swastikas daubed in Rome and vile antisemitic abuse over social media just about everywhere, Jew-hatred can no longer be ignored. The problem is so grave that all major British newspapers have covered it, and the Sunday Times made it its front page story. The situation — credit to the antisemites — is scary.
That’s why I’ve founded the Everyday Antisemitism Project. The idea is to encourage Jews to share their experiences of antisemitic abuse, no matter how minor. If it is counts under the popular EU working definition, it will be uploaded. You can fill in the form on the website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The initiative is inspired by Laura Bates’s wildly popular Everyday Sexism Project, which invites women to share their daily experiences of sexism, to make it impossible for people to turn a blind eye to such mistreatment.
The material on the Everyday Antisemitism site is pretty horrific. A woman in London hurls accusations at “the Illuminati, the Zionists and Mr Rothschild himself”. A South African government employee writes that “Hitler should have terminated the existence of all European Jews”. A Spanish playwright pens an op-ed in El Mundo justifying the past expulsions of Jews in terms of the operation in Gaza. It goes on.
People have begun sharing their personal experiences. One man wrote to say that he had ‘Death to the Jews’ shouted at him on his way home from synagogue in London, by pro-Palestinian protestors on their way to a demonstration. Another, that he was threatened with violence by thugs from the English Defence League, who were, ironically, on a pro-Israel demonstration (to stick it to the Muslims). Because incidents like these rarely even make the Jewish press, it’s possible to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the poison under the surface is not there, or a figment of our hyperactive, paranoid imaginations. It isn’t.
Many people — Jews and gentiles — like to think that antisemitism is not a serious problem. In part, it’s because they cannot bring themselves to accept such a horrific conclusion, that nearly 70 years on from the liberation of Auschwitz, the world has not learnt its lesson. But it’s also because — contrary to the antisemites’ favourite allegation, that Jews ‘cry antisemitism’ for nefarious ends — most antisemitic incidents don’t get reported. A recent European Union report shows that clear majorities of instances of antisemitic vandalism, harassment and even physical violence go unreported to any authorities.
We’re so used to the situation that we tend to keep our heads down and hope it will blow over. “In every generation,” we sing on Passover, “they rise up to destroy us”. It’s become our special historical role. We’ve accustomed ourselves to think that the special security measures around our shuls and schools are normal — they’re not.
In April, I joined thousands of Jews from across the world on the March of the Living — the march from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Yom HaShoah. The remembrance service, right next to the ruins of the Nazi gas chambers, was intensely moving and emotionally overpowering. Today, there are people who say the Holocaust never happened, that it should happen again, and that Israel is doing much worse anyway. This must not go on.
In English, we say ‘never again’ — but the Hebrew expresses this sentiment much better: Lo od (לא עוד) — no more. Never again must there be another genocide — but also no more should we put up with any of this hatred and bigotry. Enough is enough is enough.
So this project aims to expose the sheer abundance of antisemitism in our societies, in order to pressure governments to treat combatting antisemitism as a priority: not to mitigate the harms by supporting communal security organisations, but to eradicate it at root. And if antisemitism cannot be eradicated, then to give it a damn good try.
So please: share your experiences with the Everyday Antisemitism Project — after reporting the incidents to the police, if you believe a crime has been committed, and to your communal security organisation (such as the CST in the UK). Bookmark the website, like it on Facebook, and follow it on Twitter (@EDAntisemitism). Then share it with all your friends, and nag them to share it with all of theirs.
Together, we are stronger than the haters.
.עם ישראל חי