The “Return” Of Antisemitism In Europe: Did It Ever Truly Leave?

Allegations of anti-Semitic hate crimes within the British Labour Party have prompted a criminal investigation. There are 45 incidents involving high-level party members and hate speech targeting Britain’s Jewish community and insinuating the need for ethnic cleansing or genocide. The accusations are not without pretext, as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under fire for years by those within and outside of his party. All allegations have been denied, with Corbyn claiming that his party “deplores all forms of racism,” and that all complaints will be investigated internally in preparation for full cooperation with law enforcement officials. However, deputy leader of the party Tom Watson made a statement that while the allegations were deeply disturbing, he did not find them shocking — alluding to the anti-Jewish sentiment which has long since existed within the party, and Britain as a nation.

The Community Security Trust, a charity which assists Jewish communities in Great Britain in developing safety plans, and provides other security advice,  released a report on rising levels of anti-Semitic hate crimes and hate speech. The organization attributes the increase in incidents to the overt anti-Semitic culture of the Labour Party which has been seen as reminiscent of World War II Europe. These allegations follow a trend of similar events and rising tensions experienced in other European countries, namely Germany, France, Hungary, and Poland. Many fear that the return to open and violent anti-Semitism, especially if supported by a prominent political party such as the British Labour Party, could spark a second wave of a European genocide of Jewish citizens.

Many politicians have been quick to place the blame for the changing attitudes towards members of the Jewish community in Europe on immigrants, specifically those from the Middle East. Some have suggested that reducing immigration would be a combative strategy. While the suggestion of “imported anti-Semitism” may hold some merit, for example due to strained relationships between Palestine and Israel, the majority of the issue still rests in the hands of nationals of these countries. In Germany, surveys have showed that approximately 20% of the population holds anti-Semitic views; this number has remained stagnant for years and there are indications that this number is on the rise.

Reducing immigration in order to address racial issues is a counterproductive response, as it only reinforces the notions of xenophobia and racism in Europe today. European countries, Britain in particular, need to enforce stricter rules regarding political party ideology, and denounce parties using politics as a platform for hate. There is a risk of this hate rhetoric spreading across wider Europe, contributing to another widespread attack on European Jews, standing as a threat to their human rights and inevitably, the status of world peace.