An Ultra-Orthodox Perspective on the UK’s Anti-Semitism Crisis

Nov. 5 2020
About Eli

Eli Spitzer is a Mosaic columnist and the headmaster of a hasidic boys’ school in London. He blogs and hosts a podcast at

With the Britain Labor party’s suspension of its former leader—the Israel-hating, anti-Semite-loving Jeremy Corbyn—Eli Spitzer considers how British Ḥaredim have responded to Corbyn’s rise and fall in ways very different from the remainder of Anglo-Jewry:

UK Jews have often framed [Labor-party anti-Semitism] in terms of their terror at seeing an old enemy rising from the dead, or, alternatively, emerging from the margins and infecting mainstream society. For Ḥaredim, however, anti-Semitism is nothing new and its level of marginality or otherwise makes no difference. Any Stamford Hill Ḥasid can rattle off at least a couple of dozen incidents of being shouted and sworn at with no provocation in a supermarket or from a passing car. The vast majority of these incidents go unreported, rightly or wrongly, because they are perceived as a normal niggle of life.

But, Spitzer continues, the real difference in perspective has deeper, theological roots:

For the ḥaredi mind, the basic framework for understanding hatred of Jews doesn’t come from [the 1950 sociological classic] The Authoritarian Personality or any other work of sociology, psychiatry, or history; it’s right there in [Deuteronomy 28]. Jews, as punishment for their sins, must reside in the lands of other nations where they will suffer until national repentance brings about the end of exile once and for all. Of course, any conscious Ḥaredi is aware that our current situation [of living in a benevolent regime] is, by the standards of exile, remarkably good. However, our basic perception of reality is one where Gentile ambivalence is normal, hostility is frequent, and benevolence is an occasional welcome novelty.

The kind of shock and disgust felt by Anglo-Jewry at the exposure of Jew-hatred spouted by Labor councilors and activists, just has no analogue for Ḥaredim.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, British Jewry, Exile, Haredim, Jeremy Corbyn

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship