For the first time in my life, I’m frightened to be Jewish

For almost all my Jewish friends, this is what is currently creating the greatest and most immediate sense of trepidation, even more than the actual Nazis: the apparently endless campaign by politicians like Margaret Hodge, Wes Streeting and Tom Watson to weaponize antisemitism accusations against the current leadership of the Labour party. It is a campaign – which however it started, has been sustained primarily by people who are not themselves Jewish – so cynical and irresponsible that I genuinely believe it to be a form of antisemitism in itself. And it is a clear and present danger to Jewish people. To any of these politicians who may be reading this, I am begging you: if you really do care about Jews, please, stop this. One might ask how this happened. Here I feel I must tell a somewhat brutal truth. Originally this scandal has very little to do with antisemitism. It is in its origins a crisis of democratization in the Labour Party. Let me hasten to emphasize: this is not because bigoted attitudes towards Jews do not exist in the Labour Party. Far from. But antisemitism can be found on almost every level of British society. As a transplanted New Yorker, I’m often startled by what can pass in casual conversation (from “of course he’s cheap, he’s Jewish” to “Hitler should have killed them all”). Surveys show that antisemitic attitudes are more common among supporters of the ruling Conservative Party than Labour supporters. But the latter are in no sense immune.

David Graeber in For the first time in my life, I’m frightened to be Jewish (OpenDemocracy)