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

November 5, 2020 | Eli Spitzer
About the author: 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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