Category Archives: Antisemitism

Cambridge Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture: Facing Antisemitism, Rebuilding Anti-Racism

Facing Antisemitism: Rebuilding Anti-Racism

This talk looks at antisemitism, the primary motivator of the Holocaust, and calls for a way of confronting it that locates it within the larger global history of racism. In particular, I will draw out some of the ways that anti-Jewish racism and anti-Muslim racism have historically been related to each other. Looking at antisemitism in this relational way can enable stronger anti-racist responses to antisemitism, as part of the challenge of standing together across communities.

Hosted by Mónica Moreno Figueroa, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge, Fellow in Social Sciences at Downing College, and University Equality and Diversity champion

29 January, Old Library, Pembroke College, Cambridge, Organised by Equality & Diversity, Cambridge University

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UK Jewish Film Festival: Why do they hate us?

Prompted by a series of deadly attacks in Paris in 2015 and his son’s query about why Jews were one of the targets, Alexandre Amiel, a French-Moroccan Jewish filmmaker, set out to make a trilogy of films whose aim is to trace the origins of modern xenophobia in France towards Jewish, Arab and Black communities. 

I spoke at the UK Jewish Film Festival’s London screening of the film on 14 November, as part of a panel with Marie van der Zyl, Thomas Godwin, and Rt. Hon Joan Ryan MP. 

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Talking Europe/10 Gower Street: What the Halle shooting tells us about the European far right

The five features of the contemporary far right – Birkbeck Talking Europe vlogcast, episode 6

Accompanied by a blogpost at Birkbeck Politics’ 10 Gower Street blog.

Blogpost full text below the fold…

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France24: The resurgence of antisemitism

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I was on France24’s “The Debate” with Francois Picard this week, talking about antisemitism in light of issues relating to the yellow jacket protests in France and the Labour Party in the UK.

Is France becoming more anti-Jewish? Or has hate speech become more uninhibited? After some Yellow Vests hurled abuse at Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut, people are rallying in Paris against anti-Semitism. Last year, anti-Semitic incidents rose 74% in France. Is social media enabling hate speech and fostering a culture of violence? Is that violence born from a changing world order, with weaker institutions like trade unions that used to channel grievances and tone down extremes?

Here’s a link to the YouTube version. The other guests were Rubin Sfadj and Juan Branco.
Cain Burdeau wrote up the broadcast for Courthouse News:

“We’re living in a time when there’s been a crisis of trust in sources of authority, sources of information, sources of knowledge, and so people seek alternative truths,” Ben Gidley, a senior lecturer in psychosocial studies at Birkbeck, University of London, said during the France 24 debate. “Once you stop believing in truth, almost anything can be true.”

Juan Branco, a lawyer for the yellow vest protesters, acknowledged during the France 24 debate that some protesters were guilty of anti-Semitism. But he blamed those incidents on people connected to the far right and said the movement’s leaders rejected anti-Semitism. He added that there was an intense effort to purge racist views from the protest movement.

Gidley said the rise of anti-Semitism was a troubling sign for Europe and does not bode well for the state of democracy.

“Jews are often one of the canaries in the coal mine,” he said. “It’s not just Jews, other minorities as well. You can take racist attacks as a kind of good indicator on the health of a democracy. Jews and other minorities are the first victims of a sickness in democracy.”


Muslim News Book Review: Rediscovering a shared past and the possibilities of a new future

Lovely review by Ala Abbas in The Muslim News of my book with James Renton on antisemitism and Islamophobia.

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Enquêter auprès de migrants.e.s : le cas français en perspective/Migrants’ studies: The French case in perspective

This event occurred at Sciences Po in Paris on Wednesday:

 

   

SYMPOSIUM “Enquêter auprès de migrants.e.s : le cas français en perspective”/Migrants’ studies: The French case in perspective organized by Elodie Druez, Sciences Po, CEE & Nonna Mayer, Sciences Po, CEE, CNRS

Mercredi 12 décembre 2018/Wednesday 12 December 2018, 14h – 20h, Sciences Po, Salle Goguel/Room Goguel, 27, rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris

Contacts : nonna.mayer@sciencespo.fr & elodie.druez@sciencespo.fr

En 2015-2016 l’Europe a connu un afflux exceptionnel de réfugié.e.s et de migrant.e.s, fortement médiatisé et politisé, propice aux rumeurs et aux instrumentalisations. Comment faire des enquêtes sur ces populations dans une perspective de sciences sociales ? Quels sont les problèmes méthodologiques et éthiques qu’elles posent ? Comment y remédier ? Ce symposium se penche sur ces questions en deux temps. Un retour critique sur une enquête comparative menée dans 5 pays européens, ‘’Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today: is there a connection?’’ coordonnée par David Feldman au Pears Institute (Birkbeck, Université de Londres) et financée par la Fondation allemande EVZ  (Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft/Mémoire, Responsabilité et Futur) sera suivi d’une table ronde croisant les regards de spécialistes des migrations et des migrant.e.s.

In 2015-2016 the EU experienced an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants, widely mediatised and politicised, favoring rumors and instrumentalisations of all kind. How can one conduct surveys on such populations in a social science perspective? What are the methodological and ethical problems they raise? How can one cope with them? This symposium addresses these questions in two steps. A critical revisiting of a comparative survey conducted in five European countries, ‘’Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today: is there a connection?’’, coordinated by David Feldman at Pears Institute (Birkbeck, London University) and funded by the German Foundation EVZ (Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft/Remembrance, Responsibility and Future) will be followed by a round table bringing together experts in the research field of migrations and migrants.

 

Programme

14h-16h : Presentation of the EVZ report

Introduction/Opening: Florence Haegel (Sciences Po, CEE)

Elodie Druez & Nonna Mayer
Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today: Is there a connection?
The case of France

Contrepoint des autres équipes/Counterpoint by the other teams

Allemagne/Germany : Mathias Berek (Technische Universität Berlin)
Belgique/Belgium : Muriel Sacco (ULB) & Marco Martiniello (Université de Liège)
Pays Bas/Netherlands: Annemarike Stremmelaar (University of Leiden)
Royaume-Uni/United Kingdom : David Feldman & Ben Gidley (Birkbeck, University of London)

16h-16h30 : Pause/Break

16h30-18h30 : Table ronde/Round Table

Virginie Guiraudon (Sciences Po, CEE, CNRS), Laura Morales (Sciences Po, CEE), Patrick Simon (INED), Hélène Thiollet (Sciences Po, CERI, CNRS), Catherine Wihtol de Wenden (Sciences Po, CERI, CNRS)
Enquêter auprès de migrant.e.s, problèmes méthodologiques et éthiques/Round Table Migrants’ Survey: Methodological and Ethical Problems

 

Crédit Photo/Credit Picture : ©davide bonaldo_shutterstock


Scott Ury on “Islamophobia and Antisemitism” book: “an incredibly important contribution”

A lovely short review of Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story? by Scott Ury in Religious Study Review.

Biblical Translating and Interpreting

 

First published: 04 November 2018 | https://doi.org/10.1111/rsr.13612 | PDF link | Text below
ANTISEMITISM AND ISLAMOPHOBIA: A SHARED STORY?
Edited by James Renton and Ben Gidley. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Pp. xii + 311. $32.00.
By juxtaposing studies of anti-Semitism to those addressing Islamophobia, this collection of ten articles makes an extremely important contribution to both of these fields as well as the growing effort to study the various intersections and influences between these two related yet distinct phenomena. 

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Anya Topolski on race after the Shoah

issue cover imageA really insightful and provocative review essay by Anya Topolski on Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story? edited by James Renton and me, and Whites, Jews, and Us: Towards a Politics of Revolutionary Love by Houria Bouteldja. Some really nice words, and makes some important criticisms too.

Opening extract:

Race remains a taboo term and topic in Europe today. This post-Shoah silence is both political and, until very recently, academic.1 The two books under review aim to break this silence by tackling the complex and entangled questions of antisemitism, islamophobia, and white (Christian or secular) supremacy and to demonstrate that racism in Europe cannot be separated from the question of religion (and I would add well beyond Europe). The essays collected in Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story?, edited by James Renton and Ben Gidley, provide the rich histories and complexities concerning the race-religion intersection, in terms of [End Page 280] the shared stories of antisemitism and islamophobia, in Europe.2 Whites Jews and Us: Towards a Politics of Revolutionary Love, by Houria Bouteldja, is a passionate political appeal for action against the violence, exclusion, and power games experienced by excluded groups in Europe today.3 Read together, these two books offer a theoretical and applied analysis of racism in Europe today.

Let me first provide the reader with a summary of the contents. When Renton and Gidley selected and edited this volume, based on the proceedings of a 2008 conference, what was their ambition? With the nuance of erudite scholars, nuance sometimes lacking in Bouteldja’s book, Renton and Gidley refuse to take up the question of the complex relationship between antisemitism and islamophobia in a reductive or simplistic manner. Is it possible to focus on similarities without sacrificing differences or vice versa? The approach chosen by the editors is, in this vein, judicious. “We have to excavate and concentrate on a shared story of evolution; in short, we need a diachronic framework, in which we can identify moments of beginning, change, separation (6).” The aim is thus to focus on how this relationship has changed or unfolded over time which leads to the four-part diachronic structure of the book: Christendom, empire, divergence and response. While I welcome the aim, it might have been too ambitious as it would have required more active engagements with the respective contributions and an editorial conclusion. As it is, several of the essays feel rather misplaced. This is unfortunate as the structure and aim creates possibilities that would have been both timely and relevant. One concrete example is that of antizyganism. While the editors, and several authors, mention discrimination against the Roma, none consider how the exclusion and persecution of Roma might be related and entangled in this relationship—precisely because of the diachronic structure, this might have been possible.

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James Renton: Does the World Really Need More Experts on Racism and anti-Semitism?

By my co-author James Renton in Ha’aretz. Extract:

In our current age of populism, the expert is much maligned. The UK government minister and Brexit champion Michael Gove famously declared in 2016 that “People in this country have had enough” of them. In the United States and on the world stage, Donald Trump’s presidency is the embodiment of anti-intellectualism. Shooting (quite literally) from the hip is the order of the day.

The side-lining, or absence, of experts in public debate has been particularly marked in the furor over anti-Semitism and other racisms in the last few years. This is no coincidence; populism is a result and vehicle of multiple crises of racism around the world.

We (the experts) must respond. As a big step in this direction, the European University Institute in Florence, Italy has launched an online magazine to bring academic expertise on racism to global public debate, collaborating with NGOs, policymakers, and public institutions such as museums….

Earlier this year, our magazine co-organized with the All-Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism an event at Westminster on anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim prejudice. The research briefing emphasised the complexities of how these two racisms have been connected (but also distinctive) over the last millennium.

This research shows that focusing on only one racism in one political party in one country means missing a crucial context: a much bigger, inter-connected European and global picture of multiple racisms across political divisions. This is the sort of expertise that could change completely public debate, and it needs to be known.

READ THE REST.

 

 

For all posts on our book Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Storyclick here.


MONITOR Event Report: UK Houses of Parliament – Islamophobia & Antisemitism

From Monitor:

In 2017, antisemitism and Islamophobia were, along with other racisms, on the rise around the world. In Charlottesville in the United States, far-right militants marched chanting against the world Jewish conspiracy. In Myanmar, Muslims fled for their lives to Bangladesh. In the UK and Europe, these racisms also continue to flourish. But are they connected? In the aftermath of 9/11, controversy has raged about whether Islamophobia is the new antisemitism.

MONITOR chose this pressing issue for its first public event. The location: the UK’s Houses of Parliament, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

The magazine aims to bring cutting-edge research into global public debate, and this collaboration was the ideal place to start. The Editor, Monica Gonzalez Correa, flew in especially from Florence.

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Podcast:


Video: On my Monitor parliamentary event report on Islamophobia and antisemitism

This is a trailer for my article in the new website Monitor:

Follow the Monitor YouTube channel.


VIDEO: James Renton on antisemitism and Islamophobia

Details:  Continue reading


Parliamentary event: Understanding Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Europe and the UK in 2018

10 January 2018 10 am-11.30

This event presents recent academic research findings, based on the book Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story?, newly published by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by Dr James Renton (Edge Hill University/European University Institute, Florence) and Dr Ben Gidley (Birkbeck, University of London). The discussion, aimed at politicians, policy-makers and civil society, will focus on questions such as:

  • How have antisemitism and Islamophobia related to each other in different European contexts, historically and today? How can we understand this connection?
  • How did the term “Semite” come to refer to the Jews, and how is it connected to the term “antisemitism”?
  • Is Europe a secular continent – or a Christian one? And what does this mean for Jews and Muslims?
  • How can we combat antisemitism and Islamophobia together today? What historical resources can we draw on in building solidarity against racism?

For details of the book, see http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137412997.

Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. Co-organised by Monitor: Global Intelligence on Racism, based at the Robert Schumann Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute.

The event introduced and chaired by Nusrat Ghani MP, will include a short presentation of research by the co-editors, followed by a panel discussion and questions. Panellists will be Omar Khan (Runnymede Trust), Karen Pollock MBE (Holocaust Educational Trust) and Danny Stone MBE (Antisemitism Policy Trust).

Please email Ben to register to attend.


James Renton: Does Europe’s Far Right Hate Muslims the Same Way They Hate Jews?

By my co-author James Renton in Ha’aretz. Extract:

Protesters carry Polish flags and a banner declaring 'Islam = Terror' during a rally organized by far-right nationalists to mark 99th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw. November 11, 2017

President Donald Trump’s retweeting of anti-Muslim videos propagated by Britain First has made millions more people around the world aware of the European far-right’s crude Islamophobia.

Is this racism a retargeting of familiar tropes of anti-Semitic hatred? Or does anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hatred have a more complex relationship, both in history and in our current moment?

Prejudice toward Islam and Muslims is endemic in the Europe of 2017. The “Muslim Question” is central to the politics of the far right, which has achieved success unprecedented since WWII at the polls this year, from France to the Czech Republic via Austria and Germany.

More significantly, the fear of Muslims as potential terrorists has become an integral part of mainstream European politics and the European security state, as has been identified by Amnesty International, among others.

Several commentators and academics have argued that this groundswell of Islamophobia, which began in earnest with the “war on terror” after 9/11 and has gathered pace since 2015, has made Muslims the “new Jews” of Europe. They contend that today’s emergency is redolent of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, or of the late 19th century.

READ THE REST.

For all posts on our book Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Storyclick here.


Reply to Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon wrote – and Ha’aretz published – a reply to my op ed about him. Here is my reply to his reply, which I did not send to Ha’aretz.

Gilad Atzmon starts his letter by calling me a “Zionist”. Normally, I would reject that designation, but Mr Atzmon has called my friends in the (anti-Zionist) Jewish Socialist Group “anti-Zionist Zionists” because their commitment to Jewish culture and identity marks them out as “tribalists” and therefore “Zionists”, so maybe from him I should take it as a compliment.

Tellingly, he continues that I “failed to properly source a single accusation” against him, and that I instead cited “opinions printed in extreme Zionist and Jewish outlets”. My article indeed cited a couple of Jewish outlets, such as the Jewish Chronicle and the Community Security Trust, although to most people these wouldn’t count as “extreme” Jewish outlets. But mainly I cited anti-racist and left sources: the anti-fascist Hope not Hate, Socialist Unity’s Andy Newman, the former SWP activist Richard Seymour, and Palestine solidarity campaigners such as Ali Abunimah and As’ad AbuKhalil. Anyone who thinks those are “extreme Zionist and Jewish outlets” has, well, issues.

Mr Atzmon continues “in my entire career I have never referred critically to Jews or anyone else as a race, biology or people”. The “as a race, biology or people” bit is essential, because his attacks on what he calls “Jewishness” are not framed biologically, but as attacks on “Jewish ideology”, “Jewish identity” and “Jewish power”. However, his writings tend to short-circuit rapidly from this distinction to race. For example he has written that “I contend that all forms of Jewish politics are ethno-centric and to a certain extent, racially driven.”

And he uses all the standard tropes of racial antisemitism when he talks about Jewishness: in his Reading talk he spoke of Jewishness as “following mitzvot” and said the “Jewish lobby is a cosmopolitan lobby”. In his other recent writings, he has repeatedly insisted that “Jewish power is the capacity to silence the discussion of Jewish power”. He obsessively uses the word “tribal”. He repeats alt-right conspiracy theories, for example muttering about “[George] Soros’ funded front (Antifa, Black lives Matter, LGBTIAP groups etc.)”.

As the legacy of the Holocaust has left explicit raciology toxic in our culture, many racists on the far right have avoided openly using the language of race science, preferring for instance to dwell on “cultural” rather than racial difference and to use terms from the classical lexicon of racial antisemitism or names like Soros as code-words for the deeper agenda. Atzmon’s writings on “Jewishness” fit well into this paradigm.

On one point Mr Atzmon concedes my charges are “correct”: that his writings “are circulated by some right-wing and conservative outlets and thinkers”. That, however, is not a charge I made. I said they are “widely circulated on far right websites”. It is not mainstream conservative websites who like Atzmon, but Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

He qualifies his concession: “they are at least as popular within left-wing outlets and progressive circles.” I am curious which outlets he refers to, as his views have become increasingly toxic to the point where even those few left sites which once gave him a platform, such as the Socialist Workers Party, now seem to find him an embarrassment.

Ben Gidley, London


Pourquoi les progressistes anglais célèbrent encore un grotesque antisémite et un négationniste ?

A French translation of my Ha’aretz op ed is published here.

Full text: Continue reading


Gilad Atzmon in Reading

I have published my first op ed in Ha’aretz. The title is theirs not mine. It’s online here, the opening below.

Opinion Why Are U.K. Progressives Still Celebrating a Grotesque anti-Semite and Holocaust Denier?
When a publicly-funded community center hosted the Jew-hating Gilad Atzmon, it blocked anti-racists on Twitter who challenged the decision. For many on the U.K. left, the denial of anti-Semitism has become a reflex

Ben Gidley Oct 30, 2017 10:30 AM Continue reading


Florence event: Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe

NYU Florence:

Oct 26, 2017 / 18:00 – 19:00 / VILLA SASSETTI

Are today´s Muslims Europe’s “new Jews”? Is Islamophobia the same as, or an aspect of, Antisemitism? Controversy over this question has raged over the last decade or so. From a historical point of view, is there a dynamic relationship between Antisemitism and Islamophobia and, if so, how has it evolved over time and space? Religion, empire, nation-building and war, they have all played their part in the complex evolution of this relationship. What does Europe have to say about the fact that Jews and Arabs were once called Semites, but are now widely thought to be on two different sides of the “War on Terror”?

Historian James Renton and the EU Coordinator on Combatting Antisemitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, will debate the relationship btween the two racisms and Europe’s response to it.

Moderated by Marcella Simoni, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Moderator


Paris event: Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe

About the book

This is the first book to examine the relationship between European antisemitism and Islamophobia from the Crusades until the twenty-first century in the principal flashpoints of the two racisms. With case studies ranging from the Balkans to the UK, the contributors take the debate away from politicised polemics about whether or not Muslims are the new Jews. Much previous scholarship and public discussion has focused on comparing European ideas about Jews and Judaism in the past with contemporary attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. This volume rejects this approach. Instead, it interrogates how the dynamic relationship between antisemitism and Islamophobia has evolved over time and space. The result is the uncovering of a previously unknown story in which European ideas about Jews and Muslims were indeed connected, but were also ripped apart. Religion, empire, nation-building, and war, all played their part in the complex evolution of this relationship. As well as a study of prejudice, this book also opens up a new area of inquiry: how Muslims, Jews, and others have responded to these historically connected racisms.

Participants:

Benjamin Gidley, Senior lecturer, Birkbeck, University of London

James Renton, Reader in History, Edge Hill University, Visiting Fellow, European University Institute

Lecture organized by Jean-Philippe Dedieu, historian and sociologist, professor in the Columbia MA in History and Literature.

Free and open to the public


James Renton forscht derzeit in Florenz – sein Schwerpunkt ist die Erklärung von 1917

From Juedische Allgemeine:

Der Balfour-Spezialist

Der Historiker James Renton forscht derzeit in Florenz – sein Schwerpunkt ist die Erklärung von 1917

10.08.2017 – von Daniel ZylbersztajnDaniel Zylbersztajn

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Der britische Historiker James Renton (41)

© Daniel Zylberstein

Eigentlich ist er Regenwetter und Gummistiefel gewöhnt, denn sein Arbeitsort ist die Fakultät für Geschichte an der Edge Hill University in der Nähe von Liverpool. Doch stattdessen sitzt James Renton (41) an einem schönen sonnigen Tag an einem Schreibtisch in Florenz. Große Fenster zeigen das Panorama einer sonnigen Hügellandschaft voller Pinien- und Olivenbäume.

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