Mike Cushman asks, wherefore is this racism different from all other racisms?
Advocates of the IHRA document on antisemitism often claim that antisemitism is different from all other forms of racism because it attacks a privileged group rather than a disadvantaged group – are they right? Both Jewish and non-Jewish members of the antisemite hunting pack are fond of this claim.
The answer is, of course, no and yes.
Is antisemitism different?
Historically, at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century Britain’s Jews were largely a poor immigrant community, sweated labour in the garment factories and living in overcrowded slums. Antisemitism then was no different to the racism suffered now by Bengalis in the East End who have inherited their workplaces and location. Balfour’s 1905 Aliens act was driven by the same visceral racism that characterises all the subsequent migration legislation from the 1962 Commonwealth
Immigrants Act onwards. Jews then faced the same problems in accessing housing, jobs and fair treatment from public agencies that people of colour face now. So, in this respect – no, not different.