Anti-Jewish racism affects all of us in society

Communal cohesion in Britain is at a low.  Civil discourse is aggressive and misinformed.  The respect for truth and the common good has lost its way.

Whilst far from being the only cause of this unrest, there is one driver of it that we, the National Holocaust Museum, feel we can & must address: contemporary anti-Jewish racism.  It affects all of us.  Here's how.

The central characteristic of anti-Jewish racism, unlike other racisms, is Conspiracy Theory - myths about Jewish power and control.  They are precisely the ones peddled by the Nazis and their accomplices.  They allow paranoid, delusional tyrants to take control.  Yet once again, these myths have been brought back to incite hate and division today.  They poison the air that all of us breathe.  They weaken the very concepts of truth, democracy and togetherness.

Right here and now in Britain, this poison is causing Jews to be assaulted or abused on our streets.  Jewish students are nervous to display their identity on university campuses.  Cancel Culture is increasingly affecting British Jewish identity.  And to return to perhaps the widest threat of all, what starts with anti-Jewish racism does not end with anti-Jewish racism. 

Reset the language

In 2024, we pledge to ensure that this form of racism is understood and addressed alongside all other forms.  We must stop using the obscure word 'antisemitism' - a word coined in 1879 by the Jew-hater Wilhelm Marr to intellectualise his racism - and call it what it is: ANTI-JEWISH RACISM.  If not, David Baddiel will remain correct that "Jews Do Not Count".  

Categorising anti-Jewish conspiracy theories as racism has tangible educational, legal and political consequences that can be actioned. For example:

  1. Educational: it smashes through the comprehension barrier for ordinary people.  We know they do not understand the term 'antisemitism'.  We also know that some only understand racism as a matter of skin colour; and that others think being Jewish is purely a matter of religion not ethnicity.  When discussing the persecution of Jews, our primary school visitors sometimes innocently ask 'Why can't they just stop being Jewish?"  Re-presenting the problem as one of racism - a term understood by society at all levels - is vital. 
  2. Legal: sanctions against perpetrators of racism, rather than of 'hate speech', a hazier idea, are more enforceable and more likely to have a deterrent effect.
  3. Political: the case for regulation becomes clearer if mass public opinion accepts the moral case of points 1 and 2 above,

Get empowered

The task begins with some of our key civic institutions.  We are pleased to announce our Racism Response Unit for them - a new service, free at the point of use.  At present our local councils, police forces, universities and schools are feeling under-informed and unempowered.  There is an urgent need to empower them to spot, and to act on, anti-Jewish racism. Our new training courses have been piloted since 2021 and are proven to work. 

So - if you are a senior manager or leader in a university, school, local council, police force, trade union or corporate - and if you care about the cohesion of your communities - you can order a free copy of our Racism Response Unit brochure, or discuss the free training programmes on offer for your staff and security teams by emailing us at:

[email protected]

Thank you.