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Why some Jews are leaving the UK

By Laura Smith-Spark on 18/08/2018

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Mark Lewis, a famed libel and privacy lawyer, is leaving Britain. Worn down by years of anti-Semitic abuse and death threats, he has decided enough is enough.

The 53-year-old plans to begin a new life in Israel with his partner, Mandy Blumenthal, by year's end. Both were born and raised in England. Both are very ready to leave.

"I just want to get out of here. It's a massive thing to do but I've actually had enough," Lewis said. "People might dislike me in Israel because of my political views, might think I'm too right-wing or left-wing or whatever, but they are not going to dislike me for being Jewish."

Two people have previously been imprisoned for threatening to murder him for being Jewish, Lewis said. Now, he said, he's reached the stage where he's "almost being desensitized to the threats" -- from both right and left -- such is their regularity.

The couple's decision comes as accusations of anti-Semitism dog Britain's main opposition Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. At the same time, incidents of recorded anti-Semitism are near record levels.

Lewis sees Corbyn as a catalyst for anti-Semitism rather than a threat in himself, saying the Labour leader has "moved the rock and it's the people who are crawling out from underneath it who are the problem." As a public figure and prominent pro-Israel voice, Lewis is an easy target for abuse on social media.

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that fights anti-Semitism, recorded 727 anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2018, the second-highest total ever marked for the first half of a year since the CST began recording anti-Semitic incidents in 1984. Only the total for the first six months of 2017 has been higher.

The current climate has shaken Britain's roughly 300,000-strong Jewish community.

Since the UK took in some 90,000 Jews from the European mainland as World War II loomed, it has been considered one of the safest places in the world for Jews to live. Unlike in neighboring France, where a 2015 terror attack targeted a kosher supermarket and a Holocaust survivor was killed in her home in March, no lethal violence has occurred. But the conversation is changing.

"We are seeing British Jews increasingly talking about leaving and also seeing signs of people actually leaving, not just to Israel, but also to the United States and Canada -- and Australia is a destination as well," said Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA).

"Some of our volunteers from the coalition have become aware of so many incidents through their work with us that they have decided to leave and have moved with their families."

'We just want to find a safe homeland'

Meanwhile, Lewis, who was born and grew up in Manchester but now lives in north London, is in the throes of applying to move to Israel, a process that includes producing paperwork to prove he is Jewish and meets the requirements of the Israeli Law of Return.

It's a huge step, complicated by the fact that he has multiple sclerosis, doesn't speak Hebrew and won't be qualified to practice law in Israel.

But Lewis -- who plans to continue to practice in Britain through remote working where possible -- is adamant that it is necessary.

"At a point you think, enough is enough," he said. "I still get all this abuse and I think it's not worth a candle. I don't need to keep on fighting against people. It seems that my life is all about fighting to justify my own existence and I shouldn't have to do this.

"The biggest irony is, it's the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and ... all the anti-Israel people who make you want to live in Israel. They are trying to suggest that Israel caused anti-Semitism but historically it's the other way round. Anti-Semitism is what caused people to become Zionists and say, 'We just want to get out of here and find a safe homeland.'  (CNN)

Members of the Jewish community protest against Corbyn and anti-Semitism outside Parliament in March.

Source News Express

Posted 18/08/2018 11:58:35 AM

 

 

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