European Anti-Semitism is clearly on the rise. There are several manifestations of this phenomenon both active and more subtle ones. It is growing within some of the more democratic countries as well as some of the more authoritarian states. Anti-Semitism is being tolerated in both its radical Islamic form as well as within its more classical guises. Within this new outbreak of anti-Semitism is the growing acceptance of anti-Semitism by political leaders and the failure of Governments to properly address the growing scourge; a scenario with which history is replete with examples.
The linkage between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is also growing. It is no more only BDS. The alarming fact is that many more leaders are willing to view anti-Semitism in most instances as “merely” an expression of anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian politics. What ought to disturb Jews and people of conscience even more, however, is the passivity of world leaders not to decisively and without any ambiguity, address this development.
No one should assume that American leadership is any different. After President Trump’s evasive, and equivocating response last year to the march in Charlottesville, there is reason for concern as to what will be the President’s response to the forthcoming anniversary “Unite the Right” march scheduled by the alt-right, white nationalists for August 11-12 in Lafayette Park opposite the White House.
Lest one assume that this is an overblown alarm, consider the fact that the New York Times featured a major in-depth story on its front page on Saturday, July 28, discussing the rise and character of growing anti-Semitism in France. The Times is hardly noted for an exaggerated or alarmist style of reporting. The story contained little that was new, but it wrapped up precisely how seriously the Times’ reporters viewed the situation in France.
The most alarming situation in Western Europe for Jews and those who support Israel is in the United Kingdom. The persistent, dogmatic positions of Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labour Party can no longer be dismissed as the rantings of a pro-Palestinian supporter. Corbyn and his followers are unable to intelligently distinguish between their anti-Zionist positions and the sensitivities that the Jewish community have to Labour’s inability to recognize Jewish concerns and perceptions.
The behavior of Corbyn and the Labour Party raises two very serious problems. First, there are only a few Labour MP’s and political supporters who have challenged Corbyn and the party leaders. Second, the Labour Party recognizes the political difficulties that Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Party face at this moment over BREXIT. They sense almost no political cost for them to sustain these anti-Semitic rhetoric.
This does not excuse the absence of a major Tory attack against Labour with its increasing anti-Zionist /anti-Semitic posture. May and her leaders might be prepared to address Labour’s policies, but with so many major issues on their political plate, they cannot afford to engage on an issue which they have concluded could only further alienate a sizeable portion of their potential allies. For the Tories as well as for Labour, heightened Jewish sensibilities to anti-Semitism are expendable.