Comment sent to "Woman's Hour" BBC Radio 4, 16.1.15:
Of the 2 speakers about anti-Semitism on your programme 16.1.15, the female one (sorry, forgotten their names) was full of exaggeration in my view.
The most glaringly challengeable statement of hers was that 95% of all hate crime in UK is against Jews. On what did she base this colossal statistic? What about black people, gays, the disabled, Muslims, Asians, women, people on benefits, neighbours?
Her example of her child’s Jewish school having CCTV cameras and her child having to use a pass to get in is largely true now of the majority of schools here. She made it seem as if this were exceptional and therefore an example of how anti-Semitic this country has become. All schools have to have tight security because of a thing called "safeguarding" for which a school can get an "inadequate" and therefore be in special measures from an unannounced Ofsted inspection however “outstanding” anything else is. Ofsted is as scary an issue as racism for all schools, I can tell you.
Until I retired recently, I was a teacher in an East London mixed comprehensive school which was a majority Muslim school. I was asked if I was Jewish by many naturally curious pupils, and I always said I was. I have the very Jewish name "Cohen", my father's parents being orthodox Jews living in Sth London. My friends say I look Jewish too. On only 3 occasions in my 36 years of teaching there did I have anti-Semitism directed at me but I always reported it and something was always done about it. The last occasion was 2 years ago in the form of an insulting shout: “Jew” by a small group who ran off. I used the CCTV cameras to find out who the idiots were. They were Muslim and were suspended for a week after which they each came to sincerely apologise to me. According to the Head teacher, the parents were extremely embarrassed. I was quite happy with this; I knew that, although it was true they got their anti-Semitism from somewhere, these were simply teenagers pushing boundaries who knew what they were doing but without realising the potential seriousness of it.
Kids being kids on a few occasions asked me whether the bald patch on the back of my head was because that's where my skullcap was. My answer usually included something like "it's in the wash along with my turban, my burkha and my monk's habit" , which always got a laugh from all types, before I then explained that I was actually an atheist, proud of it and growing more so the older I got. That often started some really interesting inquiring conversations about religion generally.
Incidentally, in my other life I have been for some years a street campaigner for the Palestinians and have been accused for this by Jews, ironically, of being anti-Semitic on more than one occasion. There has been an attempt over the years by Israel to persuade people that protesting against Israel is always the same thing as anti-Semitism amounting to the "new anti-Semitism", which of course is not true. The two are not to be confused. Not every Jew is a Zionist or Israeli supporter and a significant number of my fellow pro-Palestinian campaigners are indeed Jews who like me feel a great deal of disquiet about Israel.
Also, it's interesting that your speaker says that English Jews are so scared that moving to Israel is now a common topic of conversation all over the country. I don't believe that at all. How does she know?
And it's also interesting because those would-be Jewish emigrants would be making use of the Israeli so-called "Right of Return" for all Jews anywhere in the world to settle in Israel. The fact is that good research has shown that the antecedents of 85% of modern Jews never came from Israel in the first place. They were actually converts from elsewhere. Palestinians, on the other hand, whom the Israelis ethnically cleansed in 1948 and 1967, are not at all allowed their actually deserved right of return to what is really their country
She mentioned the case of the swastikas on gravestones which is infamous and has happened elsewhere. It also happened in Newham and was greeted by revulsion on all sides according to articles in local papers and radio. A tiny minority of high profile stinking racists from inside or outside one or two areas does not make a majority of the country.