I was asked this week whether the wave of anti-Semitism in Western Europe and the UK in particular is just a phase whipped up by the summer's hostilities in Gaza. I cannot predict the future, but I do notice that over the last two decades there does seem to be a gradual creep of anti-Semitism throughout the Western world, a frenzied and fashionable hatred of all things Israeli which utilises age old libels and stereotypes used for centuries to demonise European Jewry.
The last twenty years have seen increasing demonisation of all things Israeli and Jewish, an ever widening campaign of delegitimisation of both Israel and any Jewish right to self-determination, growing calls for a one state solution (meaning the eradication of Israel) and the rise of the infamous BDS movement with its false accusations of apartheid.
I note that twenty years ago was the beginning of the Oslo peace process which led to a string of drastic Israeli concessions, including the creation of the Palestinian Authority, the ceding to Palestinian control of most Palestinian population centres, a huge surge in Israeli popular support for drastic concessions for peace and the entrenchment in the Israeli political centre mainstream of what had until then been left wing views on Palestinian statehood, final status borders and acceptance of the PLO as face to face negotiating partners. Never before had the Israeli public been prepared for such far ranging concessions on matters of principle and territory.
This huge surge in anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment didn't happen under the "hardline" governments of Begin or Shamir, but during the far more conciliatory governments of Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and most recently Binyamin Netanyahu, who though from the same party as Begin and Shamir, now espouses the sort of positions on Palestinian statehood that in their time would have been considered left wing.
Anyone with eyes in their head just needs to look at the worsening of attitudes towards Israel and the Jewish people in the years since the Oslo peace accords and wonder how it is that the more Israel has conceded, given up, restreated and agreed to Palestinian demands, the more Israel is hated, attacked and reviled by the other nations, and the more the Jewish people are demonised and bullied around the world as the source of all our planet's troubles.
As a friend recently said to me, looking around at the attitude of many in supposedly "polite society and among the intellectual classes to Jews today one has an inkling of the atmosphere in 1930s Europe.