The city has survived epidemics before – read Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year – including cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, influenza and polio. It cleaned up the Thames after the Great Stink of 1858 and the atmosphere after the Great Smog of 1952. And so it has recovered after Covid.
Despite the unmistakable signs of incipient decline, London remains the greatest city on earth. But even the most resilient metropolis cannot thrive if it succumbs to tribal conflict and the persecution of a minority rendered all the more vulnerable by its unique record of achievement.
Few Londoners have been more productive or done more to add to the lustre of the capital than its Jewish community. Expelled under Edward I, reinstated under Oliver Cromwell, for centuries the Jews of London have played an outstanding role in the arts and sciences, in politics and commerce, in every aspect of public and private life.
The death of Henry Kissinger, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy in 1938, is a reminder that London was then a safe haven for Jewish refugees from occupied Europe. They and their descendants have repaid that hospitality with their ingenuity and their industry. No less than New York and Los Angeles, or even Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, London owes an incalculable debt to the fact that Jews feel entirely at home here.
Yet that sense of belonging is now in doubt. Anthony Julius, who knows about the “trials of the diaspora” in England, both as an historian and as a lawyer, says that Jews are now living through an “anti-Semitic moment”.
By November 22, the Community Security Trust, which protects Jewish schools, synagogues and other institutions, had reported 881 anti-Semitic incidents in London, more than half of the national total of 1,563, which included 70 assaults.
Jews have just learned that British institutions cannot be trusted to defend them against those who wish them harm. Julius says: “Unless this current moment abates, the great Anglo-Jewish compact, which has endured for nearly 400 years, will fracture.”
Mayor Khan has done little to tackle this unprecedented threat to Jewish life in London over the past two months. He appears to prefer to appease the Corbynite far-Left and turn a blind eye to hardline Islamists for fear of a splinter party undermining his chances at the ballot box. There is little attempt to reassure some 150,000 Jewish Londoners.
In London, pro-Palestinian Saturday marchers have targeted Jews as they leave Sabbath services at their synagogues. Adults and children are warned not to wear anything that identifies them as Jewish.
To give a flavour of the torrent of abuse and hatred unleashed in the name of “anti-Zionism”, one Jewish community organisation was told by a caller: “Hitler did not kill enough Jews.”