This past Tuesday, KCL Israel Society and the Pinsker Centre hosted a talk with Sharren Haskel MK, the youngest member of the ruling Likud party and member of Knesset since 2015. For security reasons, the event took place off-campus at a Belgravia synagogue.
Haskel, who has been described by Haaretz newspaper as an Israeli Margaret Thatcher, was adamant in her concern toward rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric in the UK and Europe.
“I know there is a lot of information that is coming about Israel,” Haskel introduced. “A lot of it is biased, a lot of it is partial information, some of it is also completely incorrect.”
I want to start with some of the things that we observed in this delegation, in this trip… and to be honest it’s been something that’s been happening all around Europe as well and this is the rise of anti-Semitism.”
Among other issues, Haskel cited her concern for Europe’s use of anti-Zionism as a disguise for anti-Semitism, pointing a clear finger at Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. “People are saying we are not anti-Semites, we just hate Israel, we just disagree with Israel. And this is Jeremy Corbyn and his ideology and his sort of way of thinking.”
“They are using Israel as an excuse to hate Jews,” Haskel asserted.
Haskel also went on to express views about the source of such anti-Semitism, stating that while ancient, ingrained prejudice towards Jews is a factor, “there’s also been some kind of reactor that sort of fuels up that more and this comes with a lot of immigration from the Middle East.”
Nessya Kamhi and Simon Moos, co-Presidents of KCL Israel Society, commented to Roar on this alleged relationship between immigration and anti-Israel rhetoric.
“I think there is a lot more nuance to that than what she was able to talk about in the short time that she had— but regardless of where it comes from it’s a very unprecedented and disturbing rise in anti-Semitism,” states Kamhi.
“Anti-Semitism has always taken many forms and has not needed migrations for emerging and being exposed,” says Moos. “However I would say that it is true that during the 20th century many of the Middle-Eastern countries felt a lot of resentment for Israel,” adding, “a lot of anti-Israel resentment is coming from those communities because they have been taught to think that way.”
Moos, however, cites the Labour Party’s alleged anti-Semitism as an issue independent of immigration.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitism is partially because of his electorate but also because of his hard-core Marxist convictions,” says Moos, asserting that the far-left unfairly accuses Israel of being discriminatory. “I think that has a lot to do with their own ideologies and Marxism—the idea that the strong is always wrong and the weak is always right no matter what their moral standards are.”
Another point of discussion was Israel’s recent controversial ‘nation-state’ bill, which was passed in July of this year and declares Israel as the homeland of the Jews with the right to self-determination.
‘Yes, the nation-state bill has a lot of Jewish motives in it, as any other country that’s trying to define its cultural aspect,” Haskel said, pointing out that many nations had flags with religious symbols, including England’s Cross of St. George.
Simon Moos elaborated. “A lot of people portray [the nation-state bill] as a racist and apartheid constitution and it’s just about defining the essence of the state of Israel. And she said it very clearly: the state of Israel consists in democracy and the Jewish identity and one cannot go without the other.”
When reached out to for statement, KCL Action for Palestine said “unfortunately none of our committee members were at the event so can’t comment on what was discussed.”