According to a 2017 study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research , recently publicised again, 92% of Muslims believe in the reality of the Holocaust and 72% don’t believe that Jews possess feelings of group superiority. The same report confirmed that 97% of Muslims didn’t believe that Jews control politics, banking, media, entertainment and arms production and 94% don’t have a favourable view of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. If you ask a silly question, you get a silly answer, but is this the way the study is publicised, or does the reporting concentrate on the small or tiny minority who are totally out of step with the rest of the population?
Of course, we didn’t need a study by the JPR to discover the views of the Scots on the union with Britain. In the 2014 referendum 45% wanted to get shot of it.
You see my point. We exaggerate the influence of our opponents but as Abraham Lincoln said, “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time”. And that certainly goes for us Brits. When the Labour party was tainted with anti-semitism, you will readily remember that the electorate in the last general election gave them the worst result they’d had since 1935.
That’s not considered the right headline though. When, for example, some adolescent hooligans deface graves in a Jewish cemetery, that is the headline. The fact that the local vicar brought his congregation round after Sunday services to clear up the mess is hardly mentioned. But that’s the real story. That’s the great country we live in and the fine democratic views the majority hold.
The truth is that Islamaphobia is more prevalent than antisemitism. Happily, the faiths sensibly stick together. The Community Security Trust offer advice to the Muslims through a charity called Faith Associates. Have you even heard of it? There is also an organisation called Muslims against Antisemitism. Have you heard of that?
If there was a movement to stop Jews wearing yarmulkes, we would go bananas, but when Muslim women are ridiculed for wearing burquas, there is no such reaction. As a matter of fact, a talmudic genius called Rabbi Professor Samuel Kraus, of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Vienna before the war, wrote a monograph proving that Jews only have to wear yarmulkes when eating and praying. Ask the Beth Din if they are prepared to argue with Kraus.
Now the Muslim community want the Golders Green Hippodrome for a cultural centre. One member of the Barnet Multi-faith Forum has said that “it’s the intention to divide the community. It’s the fear of the idea of being a mega-mosque.”
Would he take the same view if somebody had tried to tell us how many seats there should be in the Kinloss Synagogue nearby? Chief Rabbi Jacobovits said when it opened that he wanted more Jewish schools and fewer new large synagogues, but if there had been a campaign to stop the Finchley synagogue being built in 1967 with 1,400 seats, we’d have been up in arms. Maybe 1,400 isn’t a mega-synagogue. Who defines mega then? The opposition to the cultural centre is reduced to complaining of its effect on parking. I would have thought the council would make a fortune in parking fines.
The more publicity you give extremists, the more they flourish. Mosley and the British Union of Fascists were going great guns in the early ‘30s. An MP reported to Stanley Baldwin that there was disgraceful intimidation at a gathering at Earls Court. The prime minister went to see Lord Reith, the head of the BBC. They agreed that Mosley should never be allowed on the radio again. He never was. The BUF faded to a tiny fringe group.
I agree that 2,000 anti-semitic incidents is 2,000 too many. The population of this country is well over 60,000,000 though. Don’t tell me what happens in France, Hungary or Poland. I have no intention of emigrating and while I would want help for their Jewish communities, that doesn’t mean that I‘m going to label Britain as in any way similar. The behaviour of those overseas governments has to be introduced to strengthen the argument that anti-Semitism is a real threat here. It isn’t. The work of the World Jewish Congress is admirable, but they can do far more good across the Channel than in my country. We simply don’t have the problem.
Of course, I appreciate that I will be told I’m hiding my head in the sand, totally out of touch and living in a fool’s paradise. What will the critics do about the statistics though? The cry will be that not all the anti-semitic incidents are reported. So try to get 2,000 anywhere near even 5,000,000. That would still be far less than you need to get elected.