Recognising Antisemitism

A guide to the language, themes and imagery of ‘the oldest hatred’

Antisemitism is a millennia-old phenomenon that, over the centuries, has spawned its own unique beliefs, language and mythology. It is an ideology in its own right.

Holocaust Denial

Denial of the Holocaust, or any attempt to diminish its scale or significance is always antisemitic in intent. Those who engage in Holocaust denial will often claim to be doing so in the name of historical revisionism — a reassessment, based on new information, of how past events are interpreted. Genuine revisionists are serious historians who take a scientific approach to analysing historical data. Holocaust deniers rely for their research on antisemitic conspiracy websites, bogus scientists and discredited academics, some of whom have criminal convictions for their antisemitism.

The main features of Holocaust denial are set out below, along with examples of how they are expressed.

Far-right extremism

Extremist groups on the far right of the political spectrum have always expressed hatred towards non-white/non-Christian ethnic groups. Many are admirers of the Nazi régime. Over time, their position in respect of the Holocaust has moved from ‘The Jews deserved it’ to ‘It never happened but if it had, the Jews would have deserved it’.

Left-wing antisemitism

Although there is a firm long-standing connection between the UK Jewish community and the Labour movement, however the emerging ‘hard left’ has become increasingly prone to antisemitism. This is particularly evident in left-wing activism focused on the Palestinian cause, where the Holocaust is frequently exploited as camouflage for antisemitism. In these circles, Holocaust denial is an important tool in the effort to delegitimise Israel’s existence and call for its destruction.

Antisemitism in the Middle East

It is an unfortunate fact that citizens of certain countries within the Islamic world are subject to antisemitic indoctrination from an early age, and that indoctrination continues throughout their lives and pervades their society. Holocaust denial inevitably forms a part of that outlook. Iran, for example, has held international Holocaust denial cartoon competitions.

Portrayal of the Holocaust as a hoax

Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence, which has made it the most researched and documented genocide in history, it is portrayed as a hoax perpetrated on the world by the Jewish people for two reasons: financial gain and the acquisition of the State of Israel.

Mockery

Frequently, Holocaust denial manifests itself as a form of mockery that is intended to wound the families of victims and survivors, as well as the Jewish community as a whole.

Cultural appropriation

Antisemites who have attached themselves to the Palestinian cause use terms such as ‘Holocaust’ and ‘Shoah’ to advance their particular narrative about Israel. In so doing, they contrive to suggest that the Holocaust either didn’t happen or was exaggerated, and that Israeli Jews have become the new Nazis.