As we still work our way through this pandemic, the numbers of people who are being made redundant is rapidly growing. More and more people are losing their jobs, this after a decade plus of austerity that was felt in local communities by pressures on local services, including slow rates of wage growth.
History has shown us that a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions, including large scale unemployment, political instability, societal changes and a declining level of trust in state institutions and political structures, create the perfect environment for individuals and groups to manipulate and whip up hatred towards others. Within these conditions, in their minds, it is the ‘fault’ of minorities, or migrants or refugees, who have led to the dead-end place and sense of hopelessness that these individuals feel.
Covid has added a further layer to these dangerous conditions, and super-charged an unemployment curve that will be rising for the next year; this at a time when the impacts of Brexit are not fully clear, and when the costs of basic items continue to rise.
Depressingly, there are two communities that may well find themselves at the sharp end of individuals who seek to blame others, and having to counter political rhetoric which seeks to de-legitimise the history, feelings and experiences of both communities. Jews and Muslims may therefore find themselves, once again, at the front-line of having to counter, challenge and deconstruct narratives of hate that are sure to be woven and targeted at them, whether at a street or online level.
Now is the time for British Muslims and Jews to look ahead and to develop stronger bonds and foundations that can enhance and facilitate the local resilience of communities and provide allies who can stand together with Jews and Muslims, when these challenges arise; and they will surely arise.
Now more than ever, British Muslims and Jews need to move beyond the ‘interfaith’ and into the realm of practical support and help for one another; we need leaders bold enough to stand up in the defence of one another and willing to defend the space of mutual co-operation, trust and joint mobilisation.
There are tough times ahead, but they will be overcome quicker if we join together.