(JTA)- Anti-Semitic sentiments skyrocketed in Britain during World War II, but the country’s leaders took little action to counter it, according to documents released by the UK’s National Archives.
According to The Times of London, which obtained the files, British officials blamed the Jews for the problem, which manifested itself in the spread of conspiracy theories, vandalism and the distribution of anti-Semitic literature.
In a letter dated May 1943, Ministry of Information Director-General Cyril Radcliffe described how anti-Semitism had spiked across the country except in Northeastern England and Northern Ireland.
“All the others showed general agreement on the fact that from the beginning of the war there had been a considerable increase in antisemitic[sic] feeling,” he wrote. “They seemed to regard it as quite beyond argument that the increase of antisemitic feeling was caused by serious errors of conduct on the part of Jews.”
Continuing his letter, Radcliffe himself engaged in anti-Semitism, seemingly blaming the Jews for their own plight.
“I reminded them that it was part of the tragedy of the Jewish position that their peculiar qualities that one could well admire in easier times of peace, such as their commercial initiative and drive and their determination to preserve themselves as an independent community in the midst of the nations they lived in, were just the things that told against them in wartime when a nation dislikes the struggle for individual advantages and feels the need for homogeneity above everything else,” he said.
The Times recounted how many British people blamed the Jews for a March 1943 stampede at a bomb shelter that killed more than 170 people. After the incident, Radcliffe wrote that “If specific stories hostile to the Jews could be traced and pinned down as untruths, such as the recent canard of the Jews being responsible for the London shelter disaster, this should be done by countering it with the individuals who were putting it about, not by giving it general publicity.”
Despite the British government’s knowledge of the problem, however, no public campaigns were run to counter anti-Semitic sentiment.
Anti-Semitism appears to be growing in contemporary Britain as well. In July, British Jewry’s main watchdog on anti-Semitism announced that it had recorded 727 hate incidents in the first half of 2018, the second-highest six-month total on record. The report by the Community Security Trust, or CST, for this year’s first six months constitutes an 8-percent drop from the corresponding period last year, CST said in the document published Thursday.
In the first half of 2017, CST recorded 786 incidents, constituting the highest total CST has ever recorded during any six months since the organization began monitoring incidents in 1984. During that entire year, a total of 1,414 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded — the highest tally so far.
Last week, video footage from 2013 surfaced showing Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is battling allegations of anti-Semitism, implying that Zionists were unable to understand British ways of thinking despite growing up in the country.
In a clip of Corbyn’s speech published by The Daily Mail, Corbyn told attendees at a London conference that “Zionists … clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either. They needed two lessons, which we could perhaps help them with.”
The conference, which was promoted on the Hamas terror organization’s English language website, featured several controversial speakers, including one who had advocated boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day and another who blamed Israel for the 9/11 attacks.