Interviewed by Martin Bright for the JC, Shami Chakrabarti says:
“”I have witnessed the prevalence of a casual antisemitism that troubles me and it is probably greater today than it even was at times in my youth,” she said.
Ms Chakrabarti, who grew up in north-west London as the daughter of immigrants from Calcutta, said her parents’ Jewish friends had been a key influence on her during her youth.
But she had witnessed a worrying trend in recent years, especially on Israel. “I do think that sometimes it is because people are eliding, or think it is acceptable to elide, the criticism of Israeli government policy with peoples’ race. And I have heard it done, and it turns my stomach.
“It’s when, for example, the word Zionist is used in some parts of political debate, but not used in a political sense. It is not used to mean someone who believes in the State of Israel for example, but you feel it’s used euphemistically and pejoratively. Or it’s when people make assumptions about somebody’s politics because they are Jewish. Or they make assumptions about how somebody will feel about some of the issues I work on, like anti-terror policy, because of their race. I have seen it, I have heard it, I have watched it – and it makes me incredibly uncomfortable.”
Her comments mirror those made by the Conservative Baroness Warsi, who had witnessed a growing dinner-party Islamophobia.
“When, for example, centre-left liberal British Jews are feeling uncomfortable amongst their friends because assumptions are being made about their politics or their views on the Middle East, that’s not a good thing. It’s not my job to comment on what the government of Israel does. But what is definitely wrong is to make an automatic association between what any government does and what a group of people do all over the world.”