Government Report on UK Anti-Semitism ‘Does Not Pull Its Punches’

British take a close look at anti-Semitism in own country. UK, Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

British take a close look at anti-Semitism in own country. UK, Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

From critiques of the Labour political party to Twitter, a report on anti-Semitism from the British Parliament offered a strikingly honest look at the bias against Jews in the United Kingdom, while sounding the alarm about where that prejudice is most troubling—including the percentage of the nation’s population. “While the UK remains one of the least ant-Semitic countries in Europe, it is alarming that recent surveys show that as many as one in 20 adults in the UK could be characterized as ‘clearly anti-Semitic,’” read a summary of the report published on the Parliament’s website.

The report, unanimously approved by the Home Affairs Committee, offered practical responses to this troubling phenomenon, including tackling a less-obvious form of anti-Semitism—the use of the term “Zionist” as a slur.

“Zionism” is the philosophy that Jews should have a homeland. Still, it is not unusual to see Middle Eastern countries, and others around the world, say vicious and slanderous things about “Zionists”—statements that would be more roundly condemned if said about “Jews.”

In response to this verbal assault, the UK report argued that the government and political parties needed to revise their definition of anti-Semitism “aimed at promoting a zero-tolerance approach while allowing free speech on Israel and Palestine to continue. The persistent use of ‘Zionist’ as a term of abuse is a particular concern: use of the word in an accusatory context should be considered inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic by law enforcement and political party officials.”

Politics was another area that the report looked at closely—specifically the Labour Party in the UK. While a review on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has already been done, the latest UK report felt that official introspection was lacking, including failing to develop a definition of anti-Semitism. The report was especially tough on the Labour Party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

“His lack of consistent leadership on this issue has created what some have referred to as a ‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people, exacerbated by the Party’s demonstrable incompetence at dealing with members accused of anti-Semitism,” said the report. “While acknowledging the Labour Party’s efforts to address anti-Semitism, the Committee’s report calls for sweeping reforms to the Party’s disciplinary processes.”

The report also lambasted Twitter for failing to adequately police its own system to address anti-Semitism—including racist bullying—despite having the means to do so. “The onus should not be on victims to monitor their accounts for ongoing abuse and report it to the company,” said the report.

The report also called for a review of police reporting of anti-Semitic crime and the provision of support to police forces where necessary. In short, the report was stern, but sought solutions.

Member of Parliament Tim Loughton, Acting Chair of the Committee, was quoted in the news release on the report commenting on the significance of the Committee agreeing to the report unanimously across political lines. He noted this occurred despite the fact that the report “does not pull its punches.”

“History shows that anti-Semitism is a virus that is too easily spread, through subtly pernicious discourse, ignorance and collusion,” said Loughton. “We call on all leaders of political parties to lead by example to tackle the growing prevalence of this insidious form of hate.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 17, 2016)

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