By Patrick Benjamin
On 6th September, by the kind invitation of Matthew Offord MP, the Henry Jackson Society held a film screening of the recently released documentary ‘Europe in Crisis – A Shattered Haven’. The film looked at rising European extremism, and particularly anti-Semitism, emanating from both far-right and Islamist groups. It discussed the increasing fear of many Jews in Europe, driving huge numbers to emigrate to Israel, as well as the fact that far-right and Islamist hate groups actually thrive off one another. It also highlighted the fact that today hatred of Israel is a primary element of most anti-Semitism.
In her remarks, Melanie Phillips said that anti-Semitism is a civilisational disorder which is central to all other forms of extremism. She also explained the problem of left-wing anti-Semitism. She said that the left-wing was demonising those Europeans who objected to their culture being affected by the influx of Middle Eastern immigrants, and that the left wing calling these people Islamophobic would only drive them towards the real, right-wing extremists. She further argued that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism should not be entirely equated, as the former can be born out of legitimate concern with Islamic practice and culture, whereas anti-Semitism is always founded on lies and baseless conspiracy theories.
Gideon Falter said that liberal governments were not pursuing justice against extremists as much as they should be, and were only trying to deal with anti-Semitism now that it has become violent, rather than tearing it out at its roots at the time when it was flourishing out of the public eye. He argued that there would not have been demonstrations about the murders at the Paris kosher supermarket had it not been for the Charlie Hebdo attack two days earlier.
Tom Wilson pointed out that we are being reminded that liberal democracy has not been in practice for long, nor in very many countries, and as such we should not take it for granted. He said we must fight extremism by upholding the freedom of expression, so as to combat the imposition of Islamic blasphemy law which is increasingly being seen in Europe. He said that we must be better able to define anti-Semitism in order to fight it, and also that civil society must be more active to resist left-wing anti-Semitism, as well as anti-Semitism from other sources.