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