In the week I’ve finished reading Anne Frank’s Diary the spotlight has fallen on political leaders’ antisemitic remarks. They’ve always been there, and somehow brushed under the carpet. I remember in 2005 Ken Livingstone getting away with calling a Jewish journalist a concentration camp guard. He was suspended as Mayor of London for four weeks ON FULL PAY. He basically got a month’s holiday for throwing racist vitriol at a man doing his job. No wonder Livingstone has said his Labour party suspension should be lifted as he has said similar things in the past and not been suspended. Unbelievable.
Well done to the Guido Fawkes blog for exposing the foolish remarks of Naz Shah MP and numerous Labour councillors and activists. Of course, what is simply stupid can turn into something atrocious if left to fester. Many articles have been written about some people’s doublethink of wanting to stand up for the oppressed but not thinking the Jews fall into this category as they are generally white and not poor. Therefore, they simply take on the guise of the oppressor and then the conspiracies start that the Jews are too powerful and need to be taken down a peg. People get that racism is wrong but somehow with the Jews society sometimes falls short. I find this peculiar as The Holocaust is taught in schools but somehow we do forget or perhaps some people in Britain generally don’t know? Certainly Livingstone would have known but considering he got his history wrong on Hitler being a Zionist, education is surely the only answer. The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam seeks to do just this and is not primarily a museum but a place to teach people about acceptance of others, especially among young people. Of course the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and others do brilliant work.
We need to make sure people, especially not our elected officials, are allowed to indulge in hateful misguided comments towards a whole group of people. Free speech was not established to defend hate speech. Tolerance is great and let’s not tolerate people’s horrible views. People defending Jew hate in the UK and elsewhere ‘because Israel’ is hopefully going to be picked apart easier now people are more aware that antisemitic thinking is present in our society. We wouldn’t defend hatred of an entire people because of actions of a country’s government on a different continent so we need to be smarter and hold people with such simplistic dangerous convictions to account. It is frightening the rate of elected officials who are having their social media posts presented as having insensitive antisemitic views. There are clearly more of those views held by non-elected people and we need to speak up whenever we come across it.