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Behind the story: defining anti-Semitism

• The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as: ‘Hate or strong dislike of Jews, or actions that express hate or dislike of Jews.’

en staff

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• In September 2016, the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, addressing the European Parliament, said: ‘Not liking Jews is not anti-Semitism. We all have people we don’t like. That’s OK; that’s human; it isn’t dangerous. Second, criticising Israel is not anti-Semitism. I was recently talking to some schoolchildren and they asked me: “Is criticising Israel anti-Semitism?” I said “No” and I explained the difference. I asked them: “Do you believe you have a right to criticise the British Government?” They all put up their hands. Then I asked: “Which of you believes that Britain has no right to exist?” No one put up their hand. “Now you know the difference”, I said, and they all did. Anti-Semitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else. It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and early 20th century they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. It takes different forms, but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.’