British Prime Minister David Cameron believes that the UK is still among the best countries in Europe for Jews despite rising anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel.
In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would be “heartbroken” if the Jewish community in Britain no longer felt safe.
Cameron attributed the record high levels of anti-Semitism in the UK to radical Islam, downplaying Europe’s anti-Semitic past. He also recognized the anti-Semitism behind efforts to delegitimize Israel’s existence.
The British leader said that the current anti-Semitism is fundamentally different from traditional European anti-Semitism. “What is frightening at the moment, because of the rise of Islamist extremism, is that you see a new threat—a new anti-Semitism—and not the traditional anti-Semitism. Look, there’s always been some difficulties between religions in European history. But this is a new scale of threat against Jewish communities,” he said.
Nonetheless, Cameron believes that Britain is among the safest European countries for the Jews. “It’s not surprising that when you have these attacks taking places across Europe, you hear from some people in Jewish communities the question, ‘Is it safe here?’ I don’t think they’re particularly saying that about Britain. In Britain we’re working as hard as we can to make people feel safe. But I can quite understand why Jewish people in Britain, or anywhere in Europe, ask these questions after what happened in the Holocaust. So I think in Britain we’re taking the right approach, tackling anti-Semitism, emphasizing the contributions of the Jewish community, and all the rest of it. It’s something that needs renewed attention,” he explained.
As for efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state, Cameron said, “We have to be very clear about the fact that there is a dangerous line that people keep crossing over. This is a state, a democracy that is recognized by the United Nations, and I don’t think we should be tolerant of this effort at delegitimization. The people who are trying to make the line fuzzy are the delegitimizers. And I have a very clear view, which is that if you disagree with the policies of Israel, fine, say so, but that is never a reason to take that out on Jewish communities. We have to be very clear about threats—this is a dangerous line that people keep crossing over, that says that anti-Zionism is a legitimate form of political discourse.”
Cameron concluded by saying, “I would be heartbroken if I ever thought that people in the Jewish community thought that Britain was no longer a safe place for them. I think we are miles and miles away from that, but I understand the concerns they have and I think we’re addressing them.”
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK doubled in 2014, reaching a record high of 1,168, according to the Community Security Trust, the organization in charge of Jewish communal security in Britain. A survey in January found that a quarter of British Jews had considered emigration in the past two years, and over half believed the Jews have no future in Europe.