Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Patter of Antisemitism

Daphne Anson
26 December '10

London, 1945. The first harrowing reports of the horrors perpetrated on European Jewry by the Nazis are reaching the public. Yet casual remarks such as these are still being made:

Middle-aged office employee: "I generally come to work by bus. It takes longer, but I don't care about using the Underground from Golders Green nowadays. There's too many of the Chosen Race travelling on that line."

Young intellectual, Communist or near-Communist: "No, I do NOT like Jews. I've never made any secret of that. I can't stick them. Mind you, I'm not antisemitic, of course."

Middle-class woman: "Well, no one could call me antisemitic, but I do think the way these Jews behave is too absolutely stinking. The way they push their way to the head of queues, and so on. They're so abominably selfish. I think they're responsible for a lot of what happens to them."

Those were three of several individuals whom George Orwell heard, and quoted in his essay "Anti-semitism in Britain".

Yet, after the full scale of the destruction of European Jewry became known, most people, appalled, ceased such remarks, and all but the most diehard antisemitics were too ashamed to voice them (except perhaps in private).

However, 65 years later "the longest hatred" has gone mainstream again – as Rabbi Marvin Hier noted last week when the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which he founded and heads, printed its list of "The Top Ten Antisemitic Slurs" of 2010.

(Read full "The Patter of Antisemitism")

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