By Jamie O’Dell
In response to the platforming of a speaker with anti-semitic views during the anti-lockdown protests that took place in Stroud last month, we received this letter from Hannah Basson. The letter had originally been intended for the Stroud News and Journal, but the accusations of anti-semitism contained within it were watered down by the paper to the point that the author approached us to publish it in full.
The letter reads:
With regard to the COVID protest in Stroud’s Stratford Park on 7th, to those that attended:
Yes, there are many issues with the government’s handling of the crisis but there are ways to air frustration and engage in discussion without giving a platform to Sandi Adams, whose blog reveals a divisive and deeply unpleasant agenda. In August she wrote that “Jewish lobbying groups in many areas of life are powerful and insidious”. She is mostly careful to restrict her comments to “extreme interpretations of Judaism” and “Zionism”, but the language conjures up the oldest conspiracy going, that of anti-Semitism. For example, she talks about “treacherous intent”, a global plan for “cultural destruction” and seeing people as “cattle”. She also says it is “vexatious” if people are not allowed to “question the holocaust”, and launches into a garbled discussion of the most notorious anti-Semitic hoax in history, the fake “Protocols of the Elders of Zion…real or not”.
The protest attendees’ behaviour is massively contradictory: whilst turning out for someone who peddles such harmful anti-Semitic stereotypes, they have nonetheless begun to call those who oppose them Nazis. Some shouted ‘Nazi’ at the police on the day, and some have used social media to compare lockdown with the lead up to Nazi rule in Germany, quoting members of Hitler’s government.
Aside from the irony, this is incredibly hurtful. I have elderly Jewish family, as I know local friends do too, who sleep with a packed bag under their beds still, just in case. Their histories are real, not some light-weight story for you to use as illustration for your frustrations.
You should all feel ashamed of yourselves,
If you have thoughts on this, or other issues, and would like to submit a letter or article to us you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header photo: Luke Coleman