MARK ALMOND: This tsunami of anti-Semitic hatred exploited by despots

MARK ALMOND: This tsunami of anti-Semitic hatred is being exploited by despots to divide the West

At the end of the Second World War, as the truth about the genocidal horror of the Nazi regime began to emerge, the leading victorious powers collectively pledged that nothing like this should ever be allowed to happen again.

Yet almost 80 years later, the savage malignancy of anti-Semitism is sweeping across the globe, unleashed by Hamas’s murderous assault on Israel on October 7.

The catastrophe has been the cue for anti-Semites in every continent, whipped up by Islamist ideology and anti-Western propaganda, to pour out their bile against Jews, dressing up their bigotry as support for embattled Palestinians.

Synagogues have been attacked in Germany, while in Turkey a book store had a chilling message at its entrance: ‘No Jews allowed.’

Even here in Britain, a land once renowned for its tolerance, the huge pro-Palestine demonstrations every weekend have been tainted by ugly anti-Semitic chants and slogans.

The savage malignancy of anti-Semitism is sweeping across the globe, unleashed by Hamas ‘s murderous assault on Israel on October 7, writes Mark Almond (pictured) 

What makes this global tsunami of hatred even more terrifying is that our enemies are now seeking to exploit the mood of violent discord.

Leaders including Russian despot Vladimir Putin and Turkish demagogue Recep Tayyip Erdogan are using the unrest in the Middle East to further their own ambitions, just as the Mullahs of Iran and their proxy forces – like Hezbollah in Lebanon – think their interests are served by a crisis in Israel.

This is a recipe for an escalation that could drag the entire Middle East, along with much of Europe, Asia and Africa, towards the precipice of blood-soaked catastrophe.

This week’s stomach-churning scenes at an airport in the republic of Dagestan in southern Russia could be a warning of things to come.

A mob, having been told that a plane with Jewish passengers had arrived from Tel Aviv, went on the rampage, fuelled by disinformation from Islamist internet influencers that Israelis had come to wreak havoc. Passengers were largely locals who had visited Israel for high-quality medical treatment – something hard to come by in the Russian region.

But, as ever in a ‘pogrom’ – that old Russian word for an anti-Jewish attack – the self-appointed defenders of order caused chaos at Makhachkala airport, as rioters smashed up shops and demanded to know if travellers were Jewish.

Protestors on the apron area of an airport in Makhachkala

Nor was this anti-Semitic mayhem confined to Dagestan. Elsewhere over the weekend in southern Russia, Jewish cultural centres were set ablaze or vandalised.

And Turkey’s authoritarian Islamist president Erdogan has shown his hand over Gaza. On Saturday, he held a huge rally in Istanbul to denounce Israel and deny that Hamas was a terrorist organisation.

China, too, is using the crisis to insert itself into the Middle East as a way of weakening American influence there. By cooperating with anti-Israel states such as Turkey and Iran, and by sending its own navy to the Gulf region, China wants to stymie US and British backing for Israel.

The growing divide between the pro-Israeli West and the parts of the world that side with Hamas, or are indifferent to the dangers of Islamist terrorism, is mirrored inside countries like ours.

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A vocal minority has hijacked legitimate humanitarian concerns about the civilians of Gaza to foster ancient anti-Jewish hatreds.

This revival of anti-Semitism is made more sinister by the peaceniks or ‘useful idiots’ who lend their support to this odious cause.

What an irony that these apparently peace-loving people are happy to chant a slogan such as ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – which in Hamas-speak means that modern Israel will be destroyed and its territory made ‘free’ of Jews after a second Holocaust.

And the terrorists’ refrain of ‘war crimes’ has a sinister purpose. They want to divide the West.

Setting loose ancient religious bigotries to create division in countries like Britain or America threatens to weaken our nations – a win for the despots around the world and a disaster for all concerned here.

As Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China try to gain geopolitical advantage from the Gaza crisis, the West’s leaders toil to convince their peoples of the necessity of Israel’s anti-terrorist campaign, which costs so much innocent blood.

But if good intentions cause our resolve to falter, we will pave the way to appeasing the worst rulers.

  • MARK ALMOND is director of the Crisis Research Institute, Oxford.

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