VOICE OF THE JEWISH NEWS: Push for clarity on racial hatred laws

VOICE OF THE JEWISH NEWS: Push for clarity on racial hatred laws

Richard Ferrer has become a leading voice on Jewish communal issues since becoming editor of the Jewish News in 2009, writing about contemporary Jewish life for a national audience. He edited the Boston Jewish Advocate, America's oldest Jewish newspaper and created the Channel 4 series Jewish Mum of the Year.

Voice of the Jewish News
Voice of the Jewish News

Voice of the Jewish NewsBy Richard Ferrer, Editor Jewish News

Anti-Semites caricature, abuse and demean the Jewish community.

And they lurk online.

The web, wonderful though it is, has provided bigots with an equally wonderful hiding place.

This summer, when anti-Israel feeling appeared to have free rein, the trolls had a field day.

Countless British social media accounts are used every day to incite racial hatred against Jews.

On the streets too, vile T-shirts and banners with phrases such as ‘Hitler was right’ are paraded openly.

Despite all this, nothing appears to have been done. Those quick to tweet sickening Hitler references are not queuing for soggy prison portions.

Those fast to post cartoons perpetuating Jew-hatred are answering no judges.

Nor are they likely to be anytime soon.

Forgive us for being blunt, but we’re left asking: why the hell not?

Partly, we think, it is because these criminals – let’s call a spade a spade – are sitting at home, safe in the knowledge that successful prosecutions are so rare precisely because they are so difficult (aptly illustrated since 2006, when BNP leader Nick Griffin was acquitted on charges of inciting racial hatred).

It is also, partly, because nobody seems to know what is illegal and what is just plain vile.

Talk to those in the Jewish community charged with knowing about this sort of thing and they privately express confusion, with legal experts giving conflicting opinions.

They are not alone. Police and politicians seem equally bewildered.

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Hate speech online

Herein lies a huge problem.

What constitutes ‘incitement to racial hatred’?

If we don’t know, how are we ever going to put a stop to it?

If a push for clarity is needed, we’re still to hear that it’s been audibly and clearly made.

In fact, we’re yet to hear news of any push of any sort at all.

Sure, politicians keep telling us it’s unacceptable, security chiefs keep giving us the numbers and the Board writes about it in manifestos, but nothing seems to move us forward.

People want action – prosecutions and other measures hammering home the message that incitement to racial hatred – wherever it is given a voice – will be severely punished.

So if we first need to sit down and agree what exactly that looks like, let’s start there. 


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