The recent outcry by the Jewish community of the British Isles about the level of anti-Semitism being fostered by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and previously by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the like shows that anti-Semitism, or the irrational hatred or dislike of Jews, is truly alive and well on a global scale.
I worked as a chef in Tel-Aviv for 10 years as a non-Jew but after my return to the UK I was alarmed by the anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiments that I encountered on a regular basis.
I remember one Israeli friend asking me, “Why does everyone hate us so much?” I didn’t know how to reply.
My friend was not political, or even religious, but simply Jewish. Corrie ten Boom the Dutch Christian who was incarcerated in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for hiding Jews in her family home in Haarlem in the Netherlands is only one example of those who have suffered the same fate for curbing the tide of anti-Jewish sentiment.
The rise of this ugly phenomenon, known as the oldest hatred, should be countered and opposed at every turn.
I tried doing some light-hearted educational events at a local Methodist church in my town which included food and examples of Jewish festivals such as Purim, Passover and the Jewish New Year but the Methodist chaplain at the hospital where I attend for chemotherapy and kidney dialysis objected to leaflets advertising the events being put in the hospital chapel as Methodists had phoned decrying the use of the words “Israel” and “Jewish.”
How can Jewish people understand Christians or Christianity when some will risk their lives to protect them and others show hostility?
This primitive and irrational hatred and hostility towards the Jews is something that should belong to the distant past.
How must it feel to be a Jewish person in such an anti-Semitic climate in the British Isles today.
We need to speak out when we come across anti-Semitic diatribe in the media and reassure our Jewish friends that we wish them “Shalom” — the Hebrew word for peace and wholeness.
It’s the least we can do.
Colin Nevin, Bangor