When I was receiving the worst possible abuse, there was a letter saying that my children, as they are half-Jewish and half-Indian should be put down as mongrels from the two worst ‘breeds’. It was terrifying to think such extreme views were being so openly expressed. The extremism we always knew existed on our society’s fringes was now openly being expressed in letters, on social media platforms and even in Daily Mail headlines. ‘Enemies of the People’, a 2016 headline, arguably bore an uncanny resemblance to the front page of a German newspaper from the 1930s.
Across the world, we are witnessing the rise of extremism and populism. A tug of war between the far-left and far-right is resulting in significant political polarisation among the public.
France’s Eric Zémmour makes Marine Le Pen appear moderate. Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, Jimmie Åkesson in Sweden, Santiago Abascal in Spain. And let’s not forget Trump. For these illiberal leaders, the next two years could see a bonanza of election wins as they stoke the misery to come – a global food, cost of living and energy crisis as the perfect storm of the Ukraine war, post-Covid and climate change hits their populations.
Across the world, we are witnessing the rise of extremism and populism
Fate appears to be conspiring against those of us who believe in tolerance, compassion and fairness.
The populist pendulum is also swinging in extreme directions across South America. In 2021, there were contentious elections in Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Honduras. In 2022, there will be key elections in Brazil and Colombia, with increasing fears of alliances with Venezuela’s populist regime.
Extremism from one side ignites extremism from the other. This is why it is crucial to move away from a right and left political spectrum to a right and wrong perspective, where we always put fairness and humanity first.
Each country has its own unique issues, but political divisions and polarised societies have historically targeted Jewish communities. Look at the inflammatory language and propaganda Putin uses in connection with the Ukraine invasion. Another example of the rise of antisemitism. Extremists and antisemites across the ideological spectrum have jumped on Putin’s narrative to promote antisemitic conspiracy theories. Antisemites and white supremacists across the globe – QAnon influencers and the Nordic Resistance Movement – all reuse classic tropes of Jewish power, financial control, and ‘abuse’ of the Holocaust. Putin’s claim that the military action is aimed at the ‘de-Nazification of Ukraine’ and Russian foreign minister Lavrov calling the Ukrainian president “a Nazi and a neo-Nazi”.
Each country has its own unique issues, but political divisions and polarised societies have historically targeted Jewish communities
In the UK, the Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism, recorded 2,255 incidents last year – the highest annual tally of antisemitic hatred the CST has recorded – including a surge in people shouting abuse from passing cars as well as 173 violent assaults.
As a woman of colour, married to a Jewish man, I was subjected to the most appalling racism when I took the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson to court to defend our parliament. My personal experience has increased my passion to fight against the poisonous polarisation of our societies.
The fightback begins with the True and Fair Party, whose mission is to end the poisonous ‘othering’ in politics. The future of our country’s stability and success must not be based on division and abuse.
The moral principles in Judaism should also be the principles that underpin our politics.
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