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January 28, 2015 3:19 pm

British Chief Rabbi Peppered With Questions About Israel’s Responsibility for Antisemitism in Holocaust Memorial Day Interview

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Britain's Sky News broadcaster showed footage of rubble in Gaza during a Holocaust Memorial Day interview with the Chief Rabbi. Image:

British broadcaster Sky News featured an interview with the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, immediately courting controversy when the presenter repeatedly posed the question as to whether Israel’s actions are responsible for the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

Veteran presenter Adam Boulton began by asking Rabbi Mirvis whether “people revisit” the issue of antisemitism “because of Israel.” When Mirvis pointed out that antisemitism as a phenomenon long predates the existence of the State of Israel, and that anti-Zionism often enables antisemitism, Boulton responded by positing that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has “poured fuel” on antisemitism. When a slightly bemused Mirvis repeated his earlier point, adding that much of the hatred of Israel in the Middle East is rooted in antisemitic beliefs, Boulton persisted, asking, “You don’t think that the policies of the present Israeli government, to a certain extent, fuels antisemitism?”

As if to emphasize Boulton’s point, Sky News cut to video during the interview showing the rubble in Gaza from the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, with the accompanying headline, “Auschwitz Remembered.”

British Jewish officials expressed disappointment over the linkage.

“There is clearly a link between extreme hatred of Israel and antisemitism, but it is important to be precise and sensitive with the language we use to discuss this relationship,” Dave Rich, Deputy Director of Communications for the Community Security Trust, told The Algemeiner. “This is even more the case when doing so in the context of Holocaust Memorial Day.”

In a blog post to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, the CST observed that there “is no doubt that British Jews are unusually worried at this time, but breaking down the reasons for this shows it to be a combination of many things. In briefest summary, it is the accumulative impact of antisemitism, anti-Jewish terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric and action from 2000 to the present day. Each surge (eg. 2014, 2009, 2006) brings fears that build upon pre-existing pressures, which cannot properly subside due to the short time spans between each outburst.”

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  • David Levy

    Boulton has it exactly back to front. It is the Palestinian hatred, incitement, murderous attacks and endless provocation along with their well funded propaganda that lies at the root of the latest escalation. This is just the latest version of the child murder accusations that have been levelled at Jews for centuries. We used to be accused of killing Christian children to drink their blood and to use in baking matzos, and still are in some quarters. Now we are called the descendants of apes and pigs who kill Arab children. Same tripe, just reframed. But the truth is, it is the Palestinians who have refused to accept any reasonable offer of peace, made by Rabin, Barak, Olmert. Soon after the six day war, the Arabs issued their Khartoum declaration of “Three No’s”: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it”. Since then, the Palestinians, even when pushed to come to the negotiating table, have refused to negotiate, blocking all progress and continually resorting to violence. The latest round saw the Palestinians destroying any hope of progress in negotiations with rocket attacks that went on the entire time the negotiations were taking place, culminating in kidnapping and murder of 3 Israel students, followed by a huge escalation in rocket attacks. Boulton, call out the real culprits here.

  • Julie Weiner

    Funny coincidence,how each “surge” of anti-Semitism occurs right after Israel chooses to “mow the lawn” and the world watches as thousands of Palestinians die at the hands of the IDF. Israel`s apparent zeal to make Palestinian life in Gaza and the West Bank unliveable – and diaspora Jewish leaders` almost unanimous “my Israel right or wrong” attitude – paint a picture to the world of a community that has lost our moral compass, and is endorsing Israel’s systematic decimation of Gaza and ongoing destruction of homes and communities in the West Bank and the Negev.

    Israel’s refusal to abide by the truces and agreements it signs, from Oslo to the recent truce that was supposed to, for example, let fishermen from Gaza fish up to six miles from their shores (why not further?), feeds anti-Semitic stereotypes. Israel`s disproportionate violence against Palestinians and Jewish leaders’ routine endorsement of it as “self-defense” – even when it precedes Palestinians’ return fire – surely increase the vulnerability of diaspora Jews to anti-Semitic violence. It is reasonable for reporters to ask Jewish leaders about this on any day, and particularly on a day when we are remembering, and asking the world to remember, what happened to us when another state acted with impunity to denigrate, label as inferior and dangerous, deny civil rights to, expropriate the property of and eventually imprison and mass murder civilians of one particular ethnicity.

    • Reuven

      Mrs Wiener, I agree with you that a misinfromed person can see in the most mainstream media (even more in the EU than in the US) seems to show a “loss of moral compass” of either jewish leaders or israelis.
      The problem is the way the MSM depict the conflict.

      Israel is definitely the most moral country (ie western moral values) when we talk about conflicts. No country on heart announces when and where it will attack to prevent civil causualties. NO OTHER. Numerous israeli soldiers died in ambushes because Hamas new where to strikle thanks to our higher pitty for our ennemies than our citizens. I attended one of them last summer.

      The US destroyed Irak, destroyed Afganistan and no one cares about the hundreds of thousands of civilians in these countries. It is just a matter of covarage. Not too far from israel there is a 20 years territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia with population transfers. Who cares? No other state in the world would accept missile fire on its civilians for years without reacting like Israel did. NO OTHER. And even though, MSM doesn’t consider that are actions are legitimate. There is a particular obsession in MSM with Israel (to say the least), that’s the only answer.

      Mowing the grass does not help. We should instead defeat our ennemies. However, the reason we do not destroy them has probably its explanation in Washington.

      When you mention that “Israel’s refusal to abide by the truces and agreements it signs” you just missed the point. Arafat’s action nullified the Oslo accords almost from the start. Since he got the leadership of the PA, he stated an government-supported educational system for teaching rabid antisemitism to school children. Now, a whole generation of jew-haters as grown-up, transforming the palestinians as one of the most antisemitic peoples in world according to a recent ADL survey. The governments only continued the farce but the truth is that the Oslo accords where dead long ago by the palestinians. I suggest you get real information about the so-called peace process from reliable sources.

    • Rabbi Menashe Bovit

      Useful idiot, no other country would show the restraint that Israel does in dealing with a people indoctrinated from birth with a visceral hatred of Jews and Israel. The “Palestinians” were created by the Arabs and U.N. enablers from the beginning to be a thorn in the side of Israel. Following Israel’s war of independence, Israel absorbed 800,000 true refugees chased from their homes in the Arab world they had lived in even prior to the Arab invasions that made these lands Arab. In contrast the Arabs placed the 650,000 Arabs who fled Israel in “refugee camps”. these Arabs had fled mainly due to the encouragement of Arab armies who guaranteed them that they could plunder the Jew’s possessions following their extermination by the invading Arab armies. The Arab/Muslim block and their U.N. allies then created a special status for “Palestinian” refugees. Unlike true refugees the descendents of these people would always be considered refugees regardless of how many generations passed. There even would be no real verification of whether these people were actually part of the group that had left Israel (while many Arabs stayed ans have been able to enjoy the fruits of Israel’s freedom and democracy). For generations these people kept in poor conditions and trained to be dependent on their permanent U.N. handouts have been taught that their impoverished lives are the fault of the Jews who took away a mythical prosperous “Palestine” from them. Young children are taught in schools to do math problems where they must calculate how many Jews are killed if they kill five and their friend kills three. Palestinian TV features programs where puppets and cartoon characters praise terrorism against Jews. Songs about murdering Jews are the most popular songs in “Palestinian” society. Murderers who hack to death defenseless rabbis in the midst of their prayers with meat cleavers are given official heroes burials by the P.A. Israel evacuates Gaza and leaves it to Hamas. Does Hamas go about the process of building a state? Of course not. The “Palestinians” put all of their efforts into destroying not creating. Hamas uses their resources not to benefit the people they rule but to shoot rockets at Israeli civilians and dig terror tunnels. Hamas use their pawns as human shields hoping for maximum casualties. When Israel’s restraint and accuracy reduce the casualties they just lie and make them up and use their U.N. enablers to launder the fraud. Anti-Zionism is simply Jew hatred or as it is more politely called antisemitism.

      • Fadia faraj

        I want to personly thank you Sky News for this incredible bold & brave move! Your reporting is right on pointe! While The holocaust was horrific but than again so is what the IDF is doing to the Gaza people! I was however disappointed Sky News end it up apologizing about the video. I still love that you at least raised a some valid points and contrast regarding the conflict! After watching this report I now have sky news on my att U verse 😀 ❤️!

  • victoria brandeis






  • Pierre Elie Mamou

    shooting rockets to Israel and throwing their chidren under the counterfire fuel the antisemitism: so clever Adam Boulton & Sky News

  • Robert Davis

    boulton is such an IDIOT that he confirms what we understood long ago that european governments and their medias are pushing forward antisemitism in order to BLACKMAIL ISRAEL! With boulton’s attitude it is totally clear now.

    • Netenyaho might get more votes by ignoring and antagonizing the world but there will be a time where either him or future presidents will seek recompense. Sad that Israel has even turned its strongest allies against it and sad that the citizens do not see how they are being played like a fiddle.

  • Abbushuki

    Basically, Boulton’s point is designed to pressure Jews to behave as he thinks they should. He clearly believes that antisemitism is caused by what Jews do, thereby justifying it when Jews do not comply with whatever the in-power group wants them to do. The answer is: Antisemitism exists merely because Jews are.

  • June Grant

    From the safety of Israel, I would suggest that Boulton and his media colleagues bear no small responsibility for the anti-Semitism now rearing its ugly head in the UK by their extremely biased reporting. Taking so-called facts from such serial liars as Erekat and his ilk does no credit to the information profession. Overriding the responses of pro-Israel guests smacks of refusal to recognise self-evident truths.

  • steven L

    Europe shameful behavior is everywhere. The Mass media are their major representatives. One of Europe core values is anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism. Unwilling and incapable to free themselves from their guilt and hidden savagery, they find in IL defensive wars, a pervert need to fault the defenders of the West. They in “40-“45 failed to defend democracy and decency.
    Rather than deal with their XENOPHOBIA and their short coming, they divert the attention of the Muslims from their own failures towards IL and the Jews.
    France and Algeria, Spain and their American colonies, GB and their collapsed empire and invasion by Muslims, Germany and Hitler;the failure of Europe towards the Jews etc.

  • David Goshen

    What the uninformed Sky’s Boulton does not know and that a good part of the damage he screened in Gaza was not from the last conflict but from previous conflicts which had not been repaired because donor funds were diverted to building and equipping underground tunnels and large underground military areas which if the citizens of Gaza had been allowed to use as air raid shelters there would have been minimal casulties.This does not include human shilds of men women & children enforced by Hamas to endanger themselves.
    Tunnel building is continuing and donor funds are not being used to rebuild!Interesting that years of rocket firing by Hamas on civilians is not mentioned.
    Pity that the Cheif Rabbi did not ask Boulton why it is that Sky’s management has long stopped reporting factual news on the conflict but reports opinions and private agendas.It is no secret that genuine revealing news collected by correspondents is blocked as not supporting the Sky agenda.But the real cause of anti semitism is not the Muslims but the old historical attitude to Jews which existed long before the Holocast and is the agenda of senior management which in many media giants is anti semetic and has always been so .It is their agenda which the Muslims pick up.One has not to be surprised at the co operation that many in countries occupied by Nazi Germany
    helped very actively in sending Jews to their death.French colabrorators excelled in increasing the to record levels the dispatching of Jews to concentration camps!
    Sky does not look for the traditional long term anti semitism in the high levels in the media which keep anti semitism alive!

  • Bill

    just remember that much of the problems that we live with today started under the British Mandate and Sikes Picot the British and the French playing all sides against each other. They divided the maps without understanding ofindigenous groups then played them against each other. Then they stand in judgment.

  • Historian

    The world knows that Hamas is DIRECTLY responsible for the killing of their citizens (Palestinians)
    Abbas told the Palestinians “to kill Jews every chance they get.” Palestinians are definitely terrorists. Who would want to have a country next to them like that?
    The UK Rabbi is an idiot and did not listen to Prince Phillips speech. It was outstanding!

    Prince Charles on the ‘unparalleled human tragedy’ of the Holocaust

    Play video
    The Prince of Wales describes the Holocaust as “an unparalleled human tragedy and an act of evil unique in history”.
    Added on 1/27/15

  • Historian

    The differences is!
    Hamas uses their citizens to protect their weapons
    Israel uses their weapons to protect their citizens..

  • Leo Toystory

    Sky News, the BBC, France 24, and a host of European news services and broadcasters are as responsible for European and even European muslim anti-Semitism as anything found in the Quran or Mein Kampf. For thirty-plus years they have never failed to present exclusively, the PLO, Hamas, or Hezbollah propaganda version of every single event or confrontation between Israel and its arab antagonists. How can Europeans have any opinion other than what they do when their news sources are so badly slanted?! Of course, once the Brits and Europeans are enslaved under islam the vicious and idiotic reporters may be amongst the first to have their heads carved off with rusty knives.

  • Alan Cahn,

    Respectively and tragically the Rabbi responded with dignity when the interviewer was baiting him with Fascit verbiage of twisted terms of lies as an anti-Semite would.
    The stature of the Rabbi and the respect that he has was compromised by his advisors.
    They seems to have forgotten several pertinent facts such as British traditional anti-semitism clearly voiced by this rodent.
    Secondly,remember that the British were the one that after the Ottomen empire fell they divvied up the lands to their advantage,I.e.oil,and installed the Hussainni families and reneged on mandated Jewish lands that their own parliament had agreed were Jewish Property.
    France was no different in their behavior and today you see the result of that indigenous self serving malicious inculcated hatreds that has come back to haunt them by siding with the nomads they have have anointed as kings. The joke and tragedy is on their backs!

  • Isaac Semaya

    The rise of AntiSemitism in the middle East is a direct attach by the Arab world. They will do and say anything to have the people rise up to destroy Israel. The Rise of AntiSemitism in Europe is a direct effect of the Europeans concern that the Muslim world is taking over their countries, that they feel they must appease the Muslims. To do so is to attack the Jewish people of their country. Hence the rise of AntiSemitism. Europe does not understand that if Israel is destroyed Europe will be destroyed next. next.

  • Julian Clovelley

    This is a matter that needs to be unscrambled.

    Firstly a basic principle: Jewishness, Israeli and Zionist are not congruent terms.

    The attempt to make them congruent is more on the part of Right Wing Zionism than on the part of the “non Jewish” community. It is the absolute interests of “Jewish” communities outside of Israel to keep the three terms totally separate. The Right Wing Zionist attempt to make the three terms congruent is dangerous. It demonstrated that danger in prewar Europe by assisting to create a 20th century racial Jewish identity where none really existed. It did this against the wishes of many “Jewish” leaders and spiritual advisors. The same dynamics exist today. Extreme Zionism is irresponsible, policy obsessed, and irrational.

    It is a mistake to conclude that opposition to Zionist beliefs and Zionist – especially extreme Right Wing Zionist – policies and agenda is “antisemitism” – that is an accusation largely made by Zionism to defend its agenda and hide it within the Jewish and Israeli communities, as if it were their core agenda too. It is an imposition on people who often do not share their views and just want to live normal, peaceful, and predominantly assimilated, lives

    Opposition for example to the West Bank Settlements and to the almost fifty year Occupation comes from people within the United Nations and other international bodies and charities that are not displaying antisemitism. They are displaying opposition per se to what they consider unacceptable behaviour on the part of any state or group.

    The real question is : Are there grounds to believe there is a rise of anti “Jewish” feeling in Europe and elsewhere that is not based in abhorrence of certain politically Conservative originating Israeli policies and actions?.. I am not adequately in contact with my birth continent to assess the evidence. But what I have seen feels more like a Zionist beat up and a false attribution of the cause of opposition to Israeli policy.

    To the question “Where do we go from here?” I would answer look deeper into creating and recognising a more realistic “Identity” for 21st century “Jewish” people. Accept and recognise that the Genealogical claim is nonsense, that “Jewish” people are in reality themselves diverse and the vast majority have no greater claim to middle eastern descent than the rest of the population.

    Judaism is a religion that contains within it a belief in a common and special genealogical origin for all its adherents. That belief is simply not true. The seed of Abraham dispersed long ago throughout the communities in which Hebrews and “Jews” lived. Intermarriage and exit from the community created that dispersal long ago. The rest is myth.

    The difficulty is that the religion made assimilation unacceptable. So once a group decided it was “Jewish” the myth of origin dictated both their behaviour and in many cases their fate. If you want to eradicate antisemitism then eradicate the fraudulent(sic) division between “Gentile” and “Jew”. Much of the key to that lies in the reform of Judaism to be a rational, rather than mythologically based, religion. Your choice

    As an outsider who has grown up with many “Jewish” friends my own experience is that indeed Zionism has succeeded in confusing many people that there is a congruence between Jewish and Israeli and Zionist. This can make the job of maintaining normal relationships quite difficult. But I have found that many activist groups try to maintain that public separation by inviting politically agreeing “Jewish”speakers in order to remind people that the Jewish community, the Israeli population, and even Zionists sympathisers, have a diversity of political views. It is against the interests of “Jewish” communities for Zionists to personally attack such speakers, expressing as they are an alternative political view to the half baked nonsense the Zionists often disseminate themselves.

    A very high percentage of people born as “Jews” currently opt for intermarriage and assimilation- Is that “antisemitism”? – Or is it in fact the way of the future creating a bridge across which the entire community can, if it chooses ,walk away from an antique obsession and prejudice, that is based – on all sides – entirely on myths that have no basis in history?

    I was born into a Christian family – I wised up and walked out of that culture. Had I been “Jewish” or rather been “told” I was – I suspect that I would have walked away there too. Growing up often means leaving home. One way to stop being a victim is to remove yourself from being one. Many lower caste Hindus did that – abandoning religion, caste, and surname, the “Identities” they inherited, and which might otherwise have determined and even shortened, their lives.

    • David Levy

      What a disgusting load of ignorant claptrap! Tells us a lot about you – that you wish to deny Jews their history, their genealogy and their right to their homeland. This is couched in a pseudo-rational argument, but is fundamentally a deeply anti-Semitic ideology.

    • June Grant

      Julian, as always you write fluently and express your thoughts clearly. I am secular and know that I am also Jewish since there is no contradiction. Also I am a Zionist, believing that my fellow Jews deserve to have a home where they can feel relatively safe, and do not have to “hide” their origins.Living for decades in the UK, I was accustomed to hearing anti-Semitic remarks, and when I “confessed” my ethnicity, was accused of not looking Jewish. The anti-Semitism I encountered in the UK was before the state of Israel. Now the anti-Semites have the fog of anti-Zionism in which to hide. My father was told in his youth to “Go back to Palestine”, as was the father of Amos Oz.

    • bea green JP BA

      If you had been a Jew in Nazi Germany and told them you were…… whatever, but not a Jew, they would not have believed you and have taken you and put you in a concentration camp followed by a gas oven anyway.

      I got out of Germany on the Kindertransport. I am proud of being a Jew and of having survived to being nearly 90 years old.

      Antisemitism is a disease. Is there a remedy?
      If there were medication that instils reason, yes.

      Bea Green

  • Bernard Ross

    sky news using holocaust day to promote arab anti semitism

  • Yale

    Rabbi Mirvis should have looked Adam Boulton in the face and stated that it is the biased coverage of the Mideast conflict that is contributing to anti-Semitism in Europe today.

  • dt804a

    By this logic, Israel created Oswald Mosley and the 1290 expulsion of the Jews from Englnd (King Edward’s Edict of Expulsion).

  • Efram

    Why should they be disappointed? This is the Britain, a vanguard in Israel bashing and Anti-Semitism. Naturally they would send a bigot to interview the rabbi. He is right out of his Nazi past. Didn’t they also blame the Jews for their suffering?

  • Judith Mendelsohn Rood

    To turn the question around ask: to what extent have Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust shaped modern Judaism, political Zionism, the State of Israel, its leaders, and its policies?

  • The world has learned nothing from the holocaust. For a while there was quiet after the holocaust but then all was forgotten My father was in Auschwitz and my mother in Skarsichko and I was born in a D.P. camp. My fathers first wife and children were murdered by the Nazis. The new Nazis , extremist Muslims, have raised their ugly heads and we need to annihilate them. World War 111 has begun. We must fight for the survival of Israel. Iran is our enemy. Isis is a cancer which must be eradicated. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    If you think France hates Jews the most it’s only because they don’t wear suits and politely tell you to justify your existence. The Brits do that.

  • Retired

    The British Jews!
    How much garbage do they want to take?
    Is this so shocking to the galut Jews who live in Britain?
    From the history I have read Britain is as Jew hating as any of the other European countries.In WW2 & again in 1948 the British did their best to destroy the Jews!The Royal Navy & the British Foreign Office Were silent partners with Hitler in his final solution. After WW2 & the Holocaust why would any Jew who wasn’t a masochist want to remain in Europe?Perhaps they are partially responsible for these outrages by passively allowing themselves to be spit on!
    What to do?Get out of that Jew hating land & leave it to the Jew hating Brits & the Moslems.As Jabotinsky said,”they can all go to Hell”

  • Steven Wenick

    It never fails that anti-Semites always find a rationale for their anti-Semitism and if all else fails they invent one.