Corbynism has been defeated, but the anti-Semitism at its core lives on
Jeremy Corbyn, the soon-to-be former leader of the U.K.’s Labour Party, was defeated in a landslide election last week.
But while Corbyn announced his resignation and Labour lost dozens of seats, the anti-Semitism of his party remains endemic throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is on the rise.
Tel Aviv University cites a 13 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks worldwide in 2018, with the U.S., U.K., France and Germany having the highest number of incidents.
According to a CNN survey, memories of the Holocaust are fading while anti-Semitic stereotypes flourish. Forty-four percent of Europeans think anti-Semitism is a growing problem. But 28 percent say it is a response to the actions of Israel, while 18 percent feel it is “a response to the everyday behavior of Jewish people,” meaning a sizeable portion of Europeans blame the victims of anti-Semitism for its increase.
German anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein has even warned that it may not be safe to wear a kippah (Jewish skullcap) in public in Germany. Germany has seen a 70 percent increase in violent acts against Jews since 2017, but not all instances of anti-Semitism are violent. Unaddressed resentment and hateful stereotypes can be precursors of violence.
Hitler disseminated anti-Semitic rhetoric as early as 1919, claiming Germany’s lost World War I because of Jewish disloyalty and backstabbing, rather than military defeat. Hitler promoted this and other anti-Semitic stereotypes over time through speeches, writing and cartoons. Despite their disapproval of violence, most Germans tolerated discrimination against Jews.
Hitler also argued for the “irrevocable removal of the Jews,” referring at this time to physical expulsion rather than annihilation. But anti-Semitic propaganda helped to wear down German society, eventually allowing a flood of violence, mass deportations and, eventually, genocide.
The CNN survey reveals that 20 percent of Europeans today believe Jews have too much influence in the media and politics, and 25 percent think they have too much influence on wars and conflicts.
Earlier this year, The New York Times editorial board called the newspaper to account for a cartoon published in its international edition. The cartoon depicted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as a dog with a Star of David hanging from his collar, leading a blind President Trump wearing a kippah. The cartoon was so offensive that CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted, “This just as easily could have appeared in neo-Nazi or ISIS propaganda.”
In an editorial titled “A Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism,” the editors said the newspaper had not learned from its own history, confessing “In the 1930’s and 1940’s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood.” It also warned that the “bigoted” cartoon was “evidence of profound danger—not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.”
These comments give us a warning we shouldn’t ignore. When history is forgotten, the sins of the past are repeated.
We are two generations removed from World War II, but anti-Semitism is on the rise as memories fade. One in 20 Europeans polled have no or very little knowledge of the Holocaust “though there are still tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors alive today.” Twelve percent of young people in Austria (where Hitler was born) and about 20 percent of American and French millennials are not sure they have even heard of it.
Lessons like these and the previous prominence of Corbyn’s anti-Semitic party underscore the importance of teaching new generations about anti-Semitism and its consequences, keeping its lessons alive for generations to come. Only then may we perhaps more confidently say, “Never again.”
Shea Garrison, Ph.D, is vice president for international affairs and Ashley Traficant is legislative strategist for Concerned Women for America in Washington, D.C.