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Anti-semitism is something we can’t afford to stop talking about, says James Marston

PUBLISHED: 11:45 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:45 05 September 2018

James Marston says the anti-semitism conversation has never been more important PHOTO: PA

James Marston says the anti-semitism conversation has never been more important PHOTO: PA

James Marston says we must keep talking about anti-semitism

Why isn’t anti-Semitism a thing of the past?

It surprises me, with all we know about where it leads, that this is once again hitting the headlines.

It might be my years as an old hack, but I am always suspicious when people talk about the inherent good in humanity.

I sometimes feel that, when you look at the world, human nature is not so much about kindness to others and the force of good as it is violence, disrespect and bad manners.

Indeed it seems to me that humanity is too often expressed in the darkest of ways.

It is expressed in the genocide that is going on in Burma, the genocide of the Holocaust, Rwanda, Armenia, Cambodia, Srebenica and so on.

And this darkest of humanity’s expression all begins when the distinction is made between “them and us”.

And yet we make distinctions between us and them almost all the time. For example we distinguish, in our own country between types of immigrants whether they be economic or asylum seeking, we distinguish between rich and poor in the way we all allow the gap to widen, we distinguish between north and south, we distinguish and make quite a lot of assumptions about, Remainers and Brexiteers.

We make distinctions every day and it is a facet of our humanity.

But it is not good enough for any of us to simply to blame our human nature or be indifferent and step back.

As I read the news this week I cannot help thinking it is important for us to remember why anti-Semitism needs to be stopped in its tracks, why it must be, and is, called out and how it begins...

Classification - The differences between people are not respected. There’s a division of ‘us’ and ‘them’ which can be carried out using stereotypes, or excluding people who are perceived to be different.

Symbolisation - This is a visual manifestation of hatred. Jews in Nazi Europe were forced to wear yellow stars to show that they were ‘different’.

Discrimination - The dominant group denies civil rights or even citizenship to identified groups. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship, made it illegal for them to do many jobs or to marry German non-Jews.

Dehumanisation - Those perceived as ‘different’ are treated with no form of human rights or personal dignity. During the Genocide in Rwanda, Tutsis were referred to as ‘cockroaches’; the Nazis referred to Jews as ‘vermin’.

Organisation - Genocides are always planned. Regimes of hatred often train those who go on to carry out the destruction of a people.

Polarisation - Propaganda begins to be spread by hate groups. The Nazis used the newspaper Der Stürmer to spread and incite messages of hate about Jewish people.

Preparation - Perpetrators plan the genocide. They often use euphemisms such as the Nazis’ phrase ‘The Final Solution’ to cloak their intentions. They create fear of the victim group, building up armies and weapons.

Persecution - Victims are identified because of their ethnicity or religion and death lists are drawn up. People are sometimes segregated into ghettos, deported or starved and property is often expropriated. Genocidal massacres begin.

Extermination - The hate group murders their identified victims in a deliberate and systematic campaign of violence. Millions of lives have been destroyed or changed beyond recognition through genocide.

Denial - The perpetrators or later generations deny the existence of any crime.

(source www.hmd.org.uk)

According to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust: “At each of the stages of genocide there is an opportunity for members of the community or the International Community to halt the stages and stop genocide before it happens.”

I’m not saying there isn’t hope – because there is. And there is much kindness in the world and mankind can, and does, rise above its own humanity.

But we must be ever vigilant, we must forever remind ourselves where we can go wrong, and we must remember the depths to which our humanity has the potential to go.

James’ Mailbag

Quite a mixed response to thoughts about nostalgia. Here’s what you told me:

Dear James,

I think we should encourage nostalgia in our own interest, I believe it could be Britain’s future. A vision came to me that this island nation could become THE heritage centre of the WORLD.

Just imagine - if we don’t blow ourselves up - the many new airstrips that will be required to fly people in on package holidays, to experience Norman Britain, (Norwich) Viking Britain (York) Regency Britain (Bath), Ancient Britain (Stonehenge), Enlightenment Britain (Edinburgh) and just think of the churches in Norfolk! - the attractions of the many, many wonderful ‘hubs’ which our long history has left us with, are limitless.

To accommodate these hordes, we can forget farming, because thousands of hotels, B & Bs and umpteen landladies will require acres for new buildings.

And think of the new ports we will need to connect with the Chinese makers engaged in making wonderful mementoes, designed by our well trained artists.

Thought you would like to know. Kind regards, Helen Hoyte

Here’s another:

Morning James,

Thought your column today was a bit backward- looking, but then, this is what happens when you reach 42!

You write about journalism at the start of your career which I’m willing to bet did not include what I would describe as ‘slang’ words and phrases.

For instance, in today’s paper a shop assistant is said to have “rumbled” a suspicious customer by his behaviour. A few weeks ago people attending a “do” in Kings Lynn were said to have “grabbed” food and drinks from the various stalls.

Not nice. The words I would have used are “suspected” and ”enjoyed”.

Never mind that these abominations are probably now in the OED, they are not in my copy or my vocabulary.

That is nostalgia, simply the knowledge that standards are not being maintained. Kind Regards, Bill

If you would like to write to James please do so at james.marston@archant.co.uk and mention where you are from.

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