The election may be over, but recent attacks show that the battle around anti-Semitism from all sides of the political spectrum must continueby Tasha Kleeman / January 6, 2020 / Leave a comment
Growing up in north west London, amid a wealth of kosher bakeries, Friday night dinners and Jewish family friends, I’ve always thought of myself as somewhat sheltered from anti-Semitism. I’ve read about it and heard the odd story, but it’s always felt removed from my personal existence. It was something belonging history books and less tolerant nations: a relic of the past, slowly being swept away by the tide of progress and liberalism.
Even as anti-Semitism took centre stage in the months leading up to December’s election, something within me felt reluctant to accept the severity of the claims made against the Labour Party, and struggled to reconcile the hostile world suggested by newspaper headlines with with my own.
In recent months, however, anti-Semitism has proven more difficult to ignore. The final days of 2019 saw the streets of Hampstead and Belsize park marked with anti-Semitic graffiti, as well as at least nine separate anti-Semitic attacks in New York, including a brutal stabbing in a rabbi’s own home. Just yesterday, a Jewish boy was attacked on a north London bus. This sudden upswing in violence and hate feels frightening. Prejudice, however, doesn’t spring from nowhere, and as more and more case of anti-Semitism begin to encroach upon my north London bubble, I’ve started to look at my own experience with fresh eyes.
For the last twenty years, my dad has volunteered for our synagogue’s security team. Trained in Krav Maga and armed with a walkie talkie and bullet-proof vest, he stands outside the building every Saturday morning along with a host of others of mums, dads, uncles and aunts, checking bags and keeping watch for suspicious behaviour. It’s considered standard community service at our synagogue—a Mitzvah—and I’ve never questioned it.
Thinking about it, though, none of my Christian friends’ parents ever had to undertake a similar service at their places of worship. I spent a great deal of time singing in church choirs growing up, and don’t recall seeing a single security guard outside one of our services. My experience is, of course, not representative, and all religious groups have faced their share of persecution. However, there…