England doesn’t do anti-Semitism, so stop worrying

 The second World War has now been over for nearly 70 years. It is, perhaps, not surprising the community remains traumatised, but it’s a pity.

Like most people of my generation, I lost relatives in the Holocaust, but I seem to be one of the few who are 100 percent certain it couldn’t happen here.

The admirable CST reports anti-Semitic incidents now almost entirely reduced to a bunch of nutters making rude remarks.

The equally-admirable Hilary Benn MP says the CST has referred to reports which indicate as many as three in four anti-Semitic incidents go unreported.

If they are unreported, how can anybody know they happened? Where’s the evidence, or is it scaremongering? I need more information than vague “reports”.

I am fortunate. I live in a lovely country. Her majesty’s government doesn’t do anti-Semitism. Nor has any British government since we came back 350 years ago.

Shechita is safe, according to every political party. Nobody would dream of banning circumcision.The government supports faith schools and pays for their security. As they haven’t 
been attacked, the security is either doing a fine job or the threat isn’t there.

Even when the Charedi ambulance service was found to be breaking the law ringing its emergency bells, the judge said how sorry he was to say this was the case.

All the official bodies then rushed in to say they’d change the law as soon as possible. Charedi ambulances seem to reach casualties faster than the regular service – which, incidentally, was founded by a Jew, Henri Bischoffsheim, as the Hospital Association Street Ambulance Service in the 1880s.

A recent major work on anti-Semitism in this country found about three instances in 200 years. Yet I am sure there are countless old Jewish widows and widowers who have major concerns about their safety. Where is the evidence that they should be concerned?

Britain, our Britain, is not referred to in very Orthodox circles as “The Land of Mercy” for nothing.

If you can remember Flanders and Swann, they were right when they sang “The English, the English, the English are best. And very much better than all of the rest”!

We have been trying to find anti-Semites under the bed in this country for long enough. We have even seen a collapse in the tiny minority support for extreme right-wing parties.

Whatever happened to the successors of the National Union of Fascists – which, incidentally, even in the 1930s never had more than 50,000 members?

In 1847 there was a tremendous row in the House of Commons after the Navy was sent to blockade Greece to get compensation for a Jewish merchant who had had his house sacked.In a major debate, the merchant was attacked as a charlatan.

William Gladstone, later four times prime minister, summed up Britain’s position by saying: “Whatever may be the difference of opinion in this House as the admittance of Jews to political privilege, no person could dare to stand up among us and allege his religion as a ground for mistrust or for denial of justice, without drawing down upon himself… universal scorn and indignation.”

All right, there was one occasion when an MP shouted to the Jewish Manny Shinwell that he should go back to his own country. Shinwell crossed the floor and hit him so hard he broke his eardrum. He was not reprimanded. The abusive MP was a former Navy boxing champion too.

So let’s continue to have temperate discussion on the subject of anti-Semitism. But could the community please stop worrying so much and give the country the credit it so richly deserves?

About the Author
Derek is an author & former editor of the Jewish Year Book