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Campaign Against Antisemitism – The Fight of Our Generation

By October 29, 2019 Interviews-Manchester
A crowd of protesters campaigning against antisemitism as part of the Campaign Against Antisemitism movement

In the face of a national antisemitism crisis, Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism issues a rallying cry, urging readers to join “the struggle for the future of British Jewry ”.

Battling the tide of hatred and division, Gideon Falter has faced up to the grim reality that Britain is changing for the worse: “In my lifetime, this has been one of the best places to live as a Jew, but the sun is setting on the golden era we’ve all enjoyed. If we don’t fight hard now, we will have left the next generation with a changed Britain where they will have no future – and that’s not a fight we can afford to lose.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) is a volunteer-led charity founded in 2014 as a response to the surging levels of antisemitic crime on British streets: “We were witnessing a climate where people were becoming bolder and bolder about expressing open hatred towards Jews, because they didn’t fear any consequences. That was a time people were literally walking down London’s Oxford Street with big signs saying: ‘Save Gaza: Hitler You Were Right’. We set out to ensure that those perpetrating these acts, whether conducting acts of violence or incitement on social media would face ruinous criminal, reputational and financial consequences.”

Gideon stepped up to his role as chief executive after five years of volunteering with the charity. His work sees him in constant dialogue with the national media, addressing parliamentarians in the House of Commons, and presenting evidence to police forces in an effort to ensure the evidence is out there.

“As a data-driven organisation, everything we do we want to substantiate; so much of our work has been to get our message across and ensure our government can take action against some of the manifestations of antisemitism we’re seeing now.”

A photo of Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, giving a speech

Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, stepped up to his role after five years’ volunteering with the charity

CAA believes in zero tolerance when it comes to enforcement of the law, bringing together 1,200 volunteers, including some of the nation’s top lawyers, to execute its growing agenda of legal work and tireless public policy campaigning.

“We’ve brought lawsuits which have forced the Crown Prosecution Service to imprison antisemitic leaders, we’ve had the first conviction of a Holocaust denier and we’ve brought actions for defamation which have forced notorious antisemites to apologise and pay substantial damages. We’ve also filed police reports leading to arrests for incitement of racial hatred, which carries a prison sentence of up to six years.”

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015, Gideon believed antisemitism in politics has reached a level that had become an “existential threat to the future of British Jewry”. CAA have since been at the forefront of the media campaign to expose the antisemitism at the heart of the Labour Party.

“We’ve seen antisemitic crime surge, with people being attacked in the streets, bullied off social media and even schoolkids involved in spreading Holocaust denial. It’s a growing societal problem which threatens the fabric of British society and on top of that, we’ve seen this incitement seep into and poison our politics.

“We’ve instigated the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into antisemitism within the Labour party, which will force them to change their attitude or face serious consequences.”

Protesters protesting antisemitism in Britain as part of the Campaign Against Antisemitism action

All photos: Nathan Lilienfeld

These efforts rely on a growing pool of volunteers, as people from composers to geneticists choose to give up their time to support the cause. Many roles are non-specialist, such as monitoring social media and video platforms, following an agreement with Google to flag antisemitic videos. The organisation also trains volunteers to put together evidence packs to aid the police in proceeding with hate crime cases.

“People often come to us unsure of how they can help. Whether it’s speaking at universities, or helping us with our bookkeeping, it may take time to find the right role, but there’s something for everybody.”

“Our work costs a lot of money, and if people can’t give their time, we welcome any financial contributions to help us cover the costs of what we do.”

Although Gideon admits he has himself been a victim of antisemitic abuse, the catalyst for taking action was the desire to play a part in changing the direction of the broader social landscape.

“That’s why people volunteer, it’s not always that people have attacked them personally, but they feel there’s a serious societal change taking place and they want to be part of the fight against that.

“A lot of readers will be familiar with the Friday night dinner conversation about how times are changing, things have got out of hand on university campuses and social media has become an open sewer of Jew-hatred. They will be constantly hearing people talk about whether they have a future in this country, whether they feel secure and whether their children will be British.

“What we’re saying, is there is something we can do about it and it’s incumbent on everyone, Jewish and non-Jewish to join the cause. Online or on the streets, we’re dealing with it one way or another. This is the fight of our generation.”

For more information about volunteering or donating to the CAA, visit Antisemitism.uk.