Our statement on rising anti-semitism and Islamophobia


As a leading UK racial justice organisation, we are appalled at rising levels of racist hatred in society. 

The shocking rise in anti-semitic attacks in the UK, reported over the weekend is deplorable. The increased incidence of violence is causing Jewish communities to live in fear of hatred, which is completely unacceptable. 

We are also seeing a rise in Islamophobia, and attacks on Muslim people. It is clear that the systemic and institutional racism that has long been allowed to perpetuate, and been actively cultivated by successive governments through the Prevent agenda, for example, is flourishing. The crude demonisation of Muslim people, whether by politicians referring to ‘hate marches’, or media outlets platforming guests who state that “all Muslim voters are “by definition anti-Jewish”, illustrates the ways that Islamophobia is not a ground swell of extremist opinion - but encouraged through mainstream complicity.

This violence that Muslim and Jewish people are facing cannot be divorced from the grievous destruction in Gaza and Israel. The UK government and Opposition have failed to address these events in a way that aligns with either the will of the majority of the UK population or the injunctions of international institutions. The indecisive and ineffectual response has undoubtedly damaged the UK’s international reputation in terms of democratic and moral integrity - and critically, the failure to lead in a responsible way, has been a contributory factor to the rising levels of hostility domestically, here in the UK. 

One of those failures is the muddling of issues; it is important not to conflate support for humanitarian intervention or for the cessation of violence against the Palestinian people - as backed by international institutions like the United Nations and International Court of Justice, as being anti-semitic. Doing so perpetuates a harmful linkage and associates a broad-based and politically diverse Jewish community with the actions of the far-right Israeli government. 

Likewise, for those Muslims who have been part of a broad-based movement, using the legitimate democratic infrastructures of British democracy, like the right to protest, to peacefully challenge the government and opposition parties on their foreign policy positions -  and been caricatured and demonised - has no doubt been a factor in increased victimisation. 

Anti-semitism and Islamophobia are two sides of the same coin, and stem from the same root. They are both forms of racism that seek to divide and Other communities and, in this case, benefit from inciting and casting each community as the other’s aggressors. 

As reported in our recent paper Creating the Crisis, we highlight that political and media elites are not innocent by-standers to this escalation of racism, they are active players in manufacturing the conditions in which hatred and division fester. Our Government and Opposition need to meaningfully respond to the escalating situation. It is clear that there is increasing popular support for the government to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and that this support is likely to be higher from communities of colour. The continued failure to act undermines the UK’s international credibility, faith in democratic processes and will continue to promote an escalation of racist hatred and violence here in the UK.

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