Here is the full text of Rabbi Robyn’s article published in the Manchester Evening News.
“It may look different. It may sound different but it’s definitely the same melody, the same tones just in a different pitch. Anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred,” says Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. Anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred and it is also a reality of the lives of British Jews today.
As Rabbi Janner-Klausner states, we have seen anti-Semitism coming from unexpected places; not only the far-right but also the far-left and from mainstream leaders in our society.
A few years ago I would have never believed that anti-Semitism would be such a prominent public conversation for our society here in Britain. I am a confident Brit and have always felt content practising my Judaism. Yet there are voices and experiences here in Manchester that make me realise the picture is much more complicated.
As a congregational rabbi I have been counselling the members of my community who are scared and troubled by the news and slurs made against female Jewish MPs, the prevalence of anti-Semitism on the internet and the rootedness of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. I have to listen to their voices.
I heard a 95-year-old member of our synagogue, who was a child refugee on the Kindertransport, stand in front of our community and say that she sees similarities between today and the 1930s. I have to listen to her voice.
I have also heard from members of my community, young women, who have been attacked on the streets of Manchester, on Oxford Road and Prestwich, for being visibly Jewish (wearing a Star of David necklace or a head-covering).
They have been spat at, shouted at, abused and so scared that one ran away on to a road and was hit by a car. They have reported these incidents to the police. I have to listen to their voices.
I have seen a member of my wider community wake up to find swastikas painted on the side of her and her children’s home forcing her to move city. I must listen to their voices.
I look at the Community Security Trust’s research, which tells me that there have been three years of record high anti-Semitic reports in the UK from 2016-2018. I have to accept the statistics. Of course, the rise in anti-Semitism intersects with many other racisms and abuse. We have members of our community who have been forced from their homes due to homophobic abuse. We have Jews of colour, Jews with disabilities who suffer and women who have suffered from misogynistic abuse. Antisemitism, whilst particular, is also part of the changing nature of our society with a rise in nationalism and hate crime.
I know that the majority of British people are not anti-Semitic and I know that, whilst the figures of anti-Semitism have grown, it is from a low baseline but these stories and the growth in hate crime is too much. Enough is enough.
I should not have to counsel any members of my community after they suffer from anti-Semitic abuse. I should not have to pass security to enter my synagogue or take my child to school. I want to live a full Jewish life as a proud British citizen and I refuse to accept that is not possible.
Stand with us and call out anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and every hate crime you encounter no matter the melody or the tone. Hate is hate and in our wonderfully diverse city everyone should feel safe, welcome and celebrated.