"The ugly return of anti-Semitism"
The headline is in quotes because I borrowed it directly from a CNN report by British historian Timothy Stanley. Read:
On Sunday, there was a rally in London to protest something I never thought would need protesting in modern Britain: the rise of anti-Semitism.
The rally was in reaction to a series of strange, unsettling incidents that took place during the recent demonstrations against Israeli military actions in Gaza. In one case, the manager of a supermarket in London decided to take all the kosher food off the shelves. He apparently feared that demonstrators outside might trash the shop; one member of the staff reportedly said, "We support free Gaza." The supermarket chain called it "an isolated decision ... in a very challenging situation."
Isolated it may have been, but it is part of a bigger picture. There have always been people in the West who disagree with aspects of Israeli foreign policy and there has always been a peace movement ready to protest Israel's actions. But what has made the 2014 protests different is the growing conflation of Israel in particular with Jews in general.
Not all kosher food comes from Israel, not all Jews who eat it agree with the assault on Gaza. Yet such an important distinction between state and racial identity has begun to erode. The result: a return of low-level anti-Semitism to public life.
Of course, some of it has never gone away.
You could make the case that antisemitism -- Jew-hatred, really -- never went away at all. In the decades after the Holocaust, it had to go underground, become more coy, hide behind fancy language. But it was always there, always been a part of the thinking of Europe's ruling class. The only difference is that now it is bubbling back to the surface.