The wraiths and witches of Halloween have retreated once more to the crevices of youthful imagination, but real ghosts continue to stalk our humanity. None are so spooky as the costumes of the anti-Semites who once more grow bold. When the grim outlines of the Holocaust were first revealed, a mantra of "never again" echoed sympathy for the Jews and translated into support for the state of Israel. Nowhere was this more dramatic than in Europe, where six million Jews died as bystanders insisted they didn't know what was going on.
A new hostility toward Jews is emerging in England, like Germany, one of the most civilized of nations. This time it's difficult to avert the eyes. The anti-Semites of Nazi Germany are easy to characterize as thugs and brutes who threw people and pianos out windows, but other anti-Semites listened to Mozart, Beethoven and Bach while plotting the Holocaust.
In England today anti-Semites read poetry, enjoy fine arts and sip fine wines, sneering at Jews with haughty abandon. Anti-Jewish themes gain acceptability. "In public and private discourse in Britain . . . there is a danger that this trend will become more and more mainstream," a Parliamentary survey warned only last year. Melanie Phillips, author of "Londonistan," documents how rife the Jew-hating disease is in the growing Muslim communities of England. But she shows how it also permeates the elite cultures of the media, the political and academic Left and even the Church of England. The targeting has been recalibrated from the Jewish race to the Jewish state.
"Zionism is now a dirty word in Britain, and opposition to Israel has become a fig leaf for a resurgence of the oldest hatred," she writes in City Journal. "What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people." The old Jew haters wanted the religion to disappear. The new haters want Israel with all those Jews to disappear.
The ghost of Winston Churchill, who admired Jews for their energy, their intellect and their creative drive, is surely spinning in a narrow English coffin. "He was both a friend in their hours of need and a friend in deed," writes British historian Martin Gilbert in his new book "Churchill and the Jews." It has never been more relevant. America's favorite prime minister couldn't understand why the Arabs refused to learn agricultural techniques from the Jews of Palestine eight decades ago. He couldn't understand why the presence of Jews was considered an injustice to Arabs, nor why certain Englishmen thought they had more to gain from the Arab occupation of the unworked arid land than the Jews who transformed the desert into a vast oasis.
"Why is there harsh injustice done if people come and make a livelihood for more and make the desert into palm groves and orange groves?" Sir Winston asked. "Why is it injustice because there is more work and wealth for everyone? There is no injustice. The injustice is when those who live in the country leave it to be a desert for a thousand years."
He defended the Jewish presence in Palestine as historical precedent. Jews arrived before the Arabs, who arrived as outsiders and conquerors. "In the time of Christ," Churchill observed, "the population of Palestine was much greater when it was a Roman province." The majority in that Roman province were Jews.
Journalists in England today are not just selective in their historical facts, but adopt the language of the worst of the anti-Semites, sprinkling their commentary with allusions to the fraudulent "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." Sometimes they freshen up the label with code words. The influential New Statesman illustrates what it calls the "Kosher conspiracy" with the point of a gold six-pointed Star of David piercing the Union Jack. Critics of the Iraq war blame American "neoconservatives" -- a fashionable euphemism for Jews, however inaccurate. British Jews who support Israel are accused of "dual loyalty." Boycotts of Israel have failed, but not without support of a wide range of professionals academics, journalists, architects, doctors. The boycotters ignore the abundance of tyrants in the region to target only Israel.
The Anglican Peace and Justice Network compares Israel's defensive fence, which has thwarted most of the suicide bombers, to the barbed wire of the Buchenwald concentration camp. In this Orwellian world self-defense is denounced as aggression. The only virtuous Jews are dead Jews.
Gordon Brown, the new British prime minister, says he stands with Israel "in bad times as well as good times." The rest of the civilized world must hope the bad times won't get worse. The precedent is not encouraging.