Brighton & Hove Conservatives have noticed a rise in racist incidents targeted at the Jewish community (e.g. graffiti, daubing of swastikas on Jewish graves etc.). Sadly this confirms that anti-Semitism remains a prejudice which sleeps very lightly. We have a duty to challenge it whenever it shows any sign of rearing its ugly head in any form, direct or indirect.
We are concerned that the activities of Smash EDO may contribute to an atmosphere where anti-Semitic prejudice can become respectable. Of course it is legitimate to criticise the Israeli Government. However, the relentless targeting of Israel by Smash EDO and other local extreme left-wing groups gives the impression to some of going far beyond that. Accusing Israel of apartheid is offensive to many Jewish people and, indeed, many South Africans who lived under that pernicious system. The support of a ‘cultural boycott’ of Israeli artists, theatre groups, orchestras and university lecturers is all too reminiscent of the 1930s.
Some members of the Jewish community in Brighton & Hove do feel intimidated by these campaigns against Israel – especially as Smash EDO say little (nothing?) about the activities of the Governments in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe (to take just four examples of regimes whose approach to basic human rights are deplorable). Jewish residents have asked us to speak out about these matters, afraid of the consequences if they do so themselves. Robert Nemeth’s recent experience of being attacked at an architecture conference, having pink (!) glitter sprayed over him and his speech ripped up by local extremists, rather bears out their fears at the consequences of speaking out.
If, as a result of Mike Weatherley MP and members of the Brighton & Hove Conservative Party speaking out on this matter, organisations such as Smash EDO are considering the impact that their anti-Israel comments have on members of a minority group then that is to be welcomed. We must all be vigilant to ensure that anti-Israeli rhetoric is not used as a cover for others to engage in anti-Semitism.
Brighton & Hove Conservatives