On Monday night we were delighted to host an important talk on ‘Anti –Semitism: a current perspective’, a conversation between Anthony Julius and Jonathan Goldstein. Both of the speakers have children in the college.
Anthony Julius is a renowned lawyer and Deputy Chairman of Mishcon de Reya. Amongst his clients he represented Diana, Princess of Wales, including acting as her legal representative when she divorced Prince Charles in 1996.
More relevant for the evening’s talk, he represented and successfully defended Deborah Lipstadt in 2000, in the infamous libel suit brought against her and Penguin Books by the British Holocaust denier David Irving. Lipstadt and her publishers were vindicated by the Judge’s ruling and this resulted in Irving being made bankrupt. Some of you may have seen the film!
Anthony is also an academic and currently holds the Chair in Law and the Arts in the Faculty of Laws, UCL. He is the author of several highly acclaimed books including ‘T. S. Eliot, anti-Semitism, and literary form’ in 2003. And as I have already mentioned the ground breaking Trials of the Diaspora: A History of AS in England, brilliantly written with exceptional analysis. Described by the late Philip Roth as ‘an essential history’ and by the English writer Howard Jacobsen as an exhilarating and indispensable work.
He was a founding member of both Engage and the Euston Manifesto. He also serves as a Trustee on several charitable and non-profit organisations and has been chairman of the board of The Jewish Chronicle.
Jonathan Goldstein studied Law at university and became the youngest ever chief executive of a city law firm at the age of 32. He is the founder and Chief Executive of Cain International, a private investment firm.
Jonathan has long been an active member of the Jewish community. Before becoming Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, he was involved in a variety of charitable organisations. He is currently Chair of the Chief Rabbinate Trust, overseeing planning and fundraising and, is an inaugural Honorary President of Camp Simcha, a charity working to improve the quality of life of children suffering from life threatening illnesses. Previously, Jonathan was Chair of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, the education arm of the JLC and has been Vice Chair of Jewish Care.
Jonathan is leading the fight against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. At the end of last year he said in a public rally:
Enough of treating the Jews with contempt. Enough of failing to discipline racist party members. Enough of being accomplices to the spreading of lies and venom about Jews. Enough of tolerating vicious attitudes towards those who challenge racism. Enough of engaging in anti-Semitic tropes.
The last thing we want to be doing is a having a public spat with Her Majesty’s Opposition. But we have no choice. This needs to be put right. This is about our freedom and security in this country. When a minority experiences racism, it should not have to take to the streets to be taken seriously.”
The conversation was broadly around the themes: ‘What is new and what is old about anti-Semitism today? What should we worry about, and what can safely be disregarded?’
Both speakers agreed that anti-Semitism today takes its form in many ways. It is not represented by the “zombie-like state” of hatred presented by the Nazis during the war and nor does it remain a trait of the far Right. In fact, Anthony Julius commented on how anti-Semitism is now a “perfect storm of both the Left and Right”.
It also became clear during the conversation that the primary response to this discrimination should be to ensure the voice of the Jewish community is heard. Jonathan explained, “This is not about the Left or Right, or choosing Leadership. It’s to make sure this Country understands that we want the right environment for any ethnic minority.”
Bernard Canetti, Principal, comments
The emergence of open anti-Semitism amongst Labour members and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, especially in social media, is profoundly shocking and certainly unprecedented in my lifetime, moving from the fringes of the far right and casual anti-Semitic remarks to the centre of political life in the form of HM’s opposition and the disturbing attitudes taken by a potential PM of this country.
Both Anthony Julius and Jonathan Goldstein are parents of students at Brampton College and I was delighted to host a talk at the college on such an important and timely matter.
It was a fascinating evening, bringing together the exceptional historical perspective and scholarly insight of Anthony with the contemporary experience of Jonathan in his important role as chair of the Jewish Leadership Council and the battle he has been having with the Labour Party. Many thanks to them both for such an insightful talk and to everyone who came.”
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