Stray thoughts on British electoral politics and the Jews

Michael Berkowitz reflects on the role of antisemitism and issues concerning Jews in the ongoing election, and on how the history of Jews in Britain might guide the perplexed. 

Britain’s politics has to some extent engaged various Jewish questions even when there was no official Jewish community between 1290 and the mid-seventeenth century. This electoral season has been unusual for the degree to which issues concerning Jews, and antisemitism in particular, have played a significant part in the political discourse.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg’s alarming cry of “Illuminati”

Michael Berkowitz, Historian at UCL, argues that during Parliament’s No Deal Brexit debate this week, Jacob Rees-Mogg has used a little-noted but unequivocally antisemitic trope. Few seem to have noticed an expressly antisemitic sentiment articulated by Jacob Rees-Mogg in the vociferous Brexit debate during the evening of Tuesday, 3 September 2019. As a historian of antisemitism who has published on the stereotype of “Jewish criminality” used … Continue reading Jacob Rees-Mogg’s alarming cry of “Illuminati”

Worth asking: Is there an antisemitic tinge to the attacks on Speaker John Bercow?

Michael Berkowitz, Historian at UCL, questions whether the toxicity of the Brexit debate has not gone one step too far when it comes to the Speaker of the House John Bercow. With antisemitism resurging strongly in the politics in Europe, it is a question worth asking and a crucial problem to tackle.  On 18 March 2019, Speaker of the House John Bercow caused a sensation by disallowing … Continue reading Worth asking: Is there an antisemitic tinge to the attacks on Speaker John Bercow?