Let us Not Forget That There is Much That Binds Muslims and Jews

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After the national debate on Antisemitism, the Labour Party has set up a working group to stamp down on Antisemitism, which is to be warmly welcomed. Antisemitism, like other forms of hatred and prejudice, must be tackled and tackled with vigour.

Yet,there is also a unique nature to Antisemitism that we should acknowledge. We also need to be aware of the deep scar of the Holocaust and the over-riding spiritual, religious and cultural trauma that it has caused and will continue to shape feelings and fears within Jewish communities for well over another hundred years. This must be taken into account and reactions also need to be seen through this lens.

European Jewry was, in a mechanised fashion, virtually wiped off the face of the continent and through that lens, we must always understand and empathise with the gut like reaction to Antisemitic discourse that takes place within Jewish communities. However, this does not mean that the policies of the State of Israel cannot be scrutinised and objected to. The latter is legitimate political discourse and there is no getting away from that fact.

Yet, over the last few days, the wider public may have got the impression that Muslims and Jews are completely at odds with each other over Israel and Palestine. As though it is the only thing that shapes relationships between both communities. This has been the impression that many beyond these two communities have got and the furore over the last two days may have further consolidated these positions. However, this is not the full picture.

Work between Muslim and Jewish communities has yielded much that is positive to both communities and to our country. Let  us be clear. Interfaith, conflict resolution, cohesion and integration work between both communities has meant that investment has been injected into local communities in our country. It has ensured the safety and security of both communities and of wider communities. It has ensured that the United Kingdom is seen as a beacon of hope globally of how communities can and do work together. And it has given strength to both communities to reach out and to take on extremist and bigoted groups, for the safety of these communities and our nation.

Much of this is not talked about or mentioned in the headlines. Much of this is not even recognised, but the reality is that it happens every day and goes without notice, yet we all feel the benefits.

Let us therefore remember that even in the darkest of moments, Jewish and Muslim communities hold a candle of hope for a better future. There are others within and beyond these communities who will try and snuff out that light, but they will not be successful. Nor should we let their voices be the enduring ones in the public space. We simply cannot allow them to shape our collective futures.

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