This photo was taken at the weekend at London Zoo, I’ve reported it and I hope it will be dealt with swiftly. But those words and the juxtoposition of the symbols are deeply shocking.

But not as shocking as they should be. The recent report from the All Party Inquiry into Antisemitism starts:

Until recently, the prevailing opinion both within the Jewish community and beyond was that antisemitism had receded to the point that it existed only on the margins of society. However, the evidence we received indicates that there has been a reversal of this progress since the year 2000, which has created anxiety and concern within the Jewish community…

Racism and intolerance must be challenged wherever they exist. We believe that Britain is at risk of becoming complacent in this respect and that antisemitic abuse, be it physical or verbal, must be condemned in the same unqualified terms as other forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Clearly this vandalism is the work of someone with Nazi sympathies, which reflects the views only a tiny proportion of the population. The job of all of us in the mainstream of politics is to make sure they stay that way.

But equally we’d be misleading ourselves if we thought that antisemitism was only a feature of those with Hitlerian fantasies. Here’s the All Party report again:

The nature of contemporary antisemitism in Britain is complex and multifaceted. Unsophisticated acts of physical and verbal abuse against Jewish people, for example neo-Nazi graffiti or orthodox Jews being attacked on their way to synagogue, are not a recent phenomenon and are easily identifiable when they occur. Antisemitic discourse, however, is often easier to recognise than it is to define. When the boundaries of public discourse become unclear, antisemitic language can become socially acceptable.

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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