The CST Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009 Report is premised on the understanding that antisemitic discourse influences and reflects hostile attitudes to Jews. It can fuel antisemitic incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions,and may leave Jews feeling isolated, vulnerable and hurt. The purpose of the report is to help reduce antisemitism, by enabling readers to better understand antisemitic discourse, and its negative impacts against Jews and society as a whole.
Some of the key findings from the Executive Summary:
- Rhetoric against “Zionism”, “Zionists”or “pro-Israelis” is fostering hostility against British Jews and their representative bodies.
- In 2009, the Gaza conflict caused Israel to be compared to Nazi Germany and its supporters to be compared to Nazis. Previously a fringe phenomenon, the Nazi comparisons are now widespread and also appears in mainstream media. This causes significant upset to Jews and is antisemitic abuse of the memory of the Holocaust.
- The play “Seven Jewish Children”typified the emerging trend to depict Israel and Zionism as a mass Jewish psychological reaction to the trauma of the Holocaust.
- The ugliest medieval accusation,the Blood Libel, claiming that Jews steal children in order to use their blood, was strikingly revived in 2009.This feature of medieval village antisemitism now returned as a shocking example of antisemitic rumours in today’s global village.
- Two senior journalists at The Independent newspaper wrote separately about the supposed power of America’s “Jewish” lobby. It is quite common for The Independent and Guardian newspapers, in particular, to depict a dominant US “Zionist”lobby in America: which risks reflecting and encouraging antisemitic Jewish conspiracy allegations.
- The term “criticism of Israel” continued to be used as a catch-all defense against the raising of Jewish concerns about antisemitic manifestations, public speakers, groups, websites, agitprop and other phenomena.
More specifically, the report singled out the Guardian as one of the standard bearers of antisemitic discourse along with The Independent and Press TV together with individuals such as Guardian contributors, John Pilger and George Galloway. Examples of antisemitic discourse in the Guardian referenced in the report included:
- The Guardian’s online production of the antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children” by Caryl Churchill.
- The favorable review of “Seven Jewish Children” by the Guardian’s theatre critic, Michael Billington.
- The Guardian’s promotion of Peter Oborne’s antisemitic documentary”Dispatches – Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” positing the existence of a Jewish conspiracy (which even included CiF Watch among the list of conspirators!)
- The Guardian’s allegations that a Zionist or pro-Israel lobby dominates American foreign policy and American media as exemplified by a Comment is Free article “Israel barks, the US media wags its tail” by none other than Peter Preston, former editor of the Guardian from 1975 to 1995.
In a revealing glimpse into media bias at play, the CST report recounted how in a Comment is Free article, David Henshaw, Executive Producer of the Oborne documentary, attempted to deflect complaints of antisemitism by quoting Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor, as saying “it would be astonishing if newspaper articles critical of Israel led directly to racist attacks. Where was the evidence?” Yet according to the report, Henshaw contacted the CST asking for the “CST’s analysis that criticism of Israel in the media leads to anti-Semitic hate crimes” and despite the CST’s reply explaining the relationship between the two issues, Henshaw made no mention of it leaving “Rusbridger’s claim to stand without balance”.
As the CST pointed out in their report
“Racist or political violence is influenced by extremist discourse; particularly the manner in which perpetrators of such violence may be emboldened by support (real or imagined) from opinion leaders and society for their actions”.
Should we be surprised therefore that antisemitic incidents during the first six months of 2009 were higher than in any entire year previously on record?