WE may not be winning the fight against antisemitism, but we are fighting back, said defiant Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman.
She was speaking at a meeting held under the auspices of the the All-Party Parliamentary group against Antisemitism, with Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger and its director Danny Stone.
It was part of a national programme to enable the public to quiz members of the group about the work of Parliamentarians in combating the scourge.
The main concern for most of the audience appeared to be where vilification of Israel was a mask for or encouraged antisemitism.
Mrs Ellman said: “Criticising Israel is acceptable, but these vicious attacks are something different.
“The language used, especially in the boycott campaign is uniquely demonic where Jews are described as manipulative and conspiratorial.
“When people who support Israel are described as Nazis I feel something is wrong here.”
Ms Berger, who submitted evidence to the first Parliamentary inquiry on antisemitism in 2005, said she had had never experienced any problems until she got involved in student politics at university and received a letter calling her “a dirty Zionist pig”.
She said: “That was my wake-up call.”
Ms Berger added that things escalated to the extent that she had to have police protection outside her home.
She also reminded her audience of the campaign waged against her and Mrs Ellman during last year’s General Election which she described as “anti-Zionist bordering on antisemitic”.
Many members of the audience, which included a large contingent of Christian Zionists, blamed the media, particularly the BBC, for fanning the flames of antisemitism by biased reporting of the Middle East.
Ms Berger said that people should complain to the broadcast regulator Ofcom or the Press Complaints Commission if they think something is biased or unfair.
She also urged everyone able to do so to join their trade union to help stem the anti-Israel bias within the TUC.
But Mrs Ellman disagreed with audience members who considered union leaders to be antisemitic because of their speeches and support for boycotts.
She said: “They would be horrified if they were called that. The problem is that most anti-racists don’t seem to recognise what demonising Israel leads to.”
Despite the concern about growing antisemitism, All-Party group director Danny Stone said the fact that the issue is being taken seriously by a cross-party group headed by non-Jews is a good news story.
It has brought about changes so that police forces now release annual figures showing the true scale of the problem, helping to refute the critics who claimed CST’s figures were inflated.
Judges, he continued, are now better trained in sentencing for race hate crimes, the government has made more money available for security for schools in the state sector and the work of the group is now being used as model by other legislative bodies such as Canada and Germany.
He said: “These lessons are now benefiting all communities.”
Mr Stone added that the group had met recently with the Football Association over the problem of antisemitism from the grass roots to Holocaust-inspired chants aimed at Spurs supporters.
The meeting, held at the King David Primary School, was chaired by Barry Levene and organised in conjunction with community activities co-ordinator Adam Cailler.
The article is online via the Telegraph website here.