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  • Martin van den Bergh

Antisemitism - How can we explain the increase in Antisemitism today

Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and it is being commemorated with ceremonies taking place around the world. It follows on the fifth World Antisemitism Forum which took place in Jerusalem last Thursday with attendance of almost 50 world leaders. On top of that Jews are now longer restricted from engaging in any part of the wider public domain. Yet, we see a worrying increase in antisemitism around the the world. Even in so called liberal societies such as in the West the incidence of antisemitic attacks is on the increase. This is not new. I realised in 2005 that in the UK, the standing of Jews in the public domain could not be taken as read, and with that realisation I decided that my place was no longer in the United Kingdom, but in Israel, and started the process of moving to Israel. The incident which made me come to this realisation, was the visit of the then Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams to St Thomas' Hospital.


I was then the Jewish Chaplain to the hospital, and I was going to be presented to the Archbishop together with the Imam of the hospital. Dr Williams, arrived and made a bee line for the Imam and completed ignored me. I realised then that we Jews were of no consequence and of no standing, and therefore I made the dramatic decision to leave the United Kingdom. Not that I was under and personal threat. On the contrary, I was in a very good position. As the Senior Hospital Chaplain for the UK Jewish Community and Chairman of the then Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy, I interacted both within Government and the healthcare fraternity, and I had completed my MA in Healthcare Chaplaincy and I was just about to begin work on a PhD in the same area of study. And yet, I felt that the winds of antisemitism were blowing.


Fifteen years later, and the winds of antisemitism are blowing stronger and wider. And I ask myself what is the cause, or more correctly, what are the causes of antisemitism. I believe there needs to be work done on this to try and understand why in the 21st Century antisemitism still exists today.



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