Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Director of Investigations and Enforcement, Stephen Silverman, joined the cricketer Azeem Rafiq on a tour of the Jewish Museum, organised by the JC, with a Holocaust survivor.
Mr Rafiq recently highlighted the problem of racial abuse in cricket before it emerged that he had made antisemitic comments when he was nineteen.
The thirty-year-old former Yorkshire cricketer has been praised for exposing racism in the sport, including during his tearful testimony at a hearing of the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, where he said that racism destroyed his career.
But he then had to apologise after it was revealed that he and former Leicestershire cricketer Ateeq Javid, in an apparent discussion about another professional cricketer, appeared to accuse the latter of being reluctant to spend money on a meal out because “he is a Jew”. Mr Rafiq joked that he will “probs go after my 2nds again ha…Only Jews do tht sort of shit [sic].”
Mr Rafiq has since apologised and looked to learn more about anti-Jewish racism. In a JC-organised tour of the Jewish Museum, Mr Rafiq was accompanied by Holocaust survivor Ruth Barnett and Mr Silverman, who explained the history of the antisemitic trope of Jews and money and why Mr Rafiq’s historic remarks had been so hurtful.
Mr Silverman also told Mr Rafiq of his own experiences of being teased and insulted as a child because he was Jewish: “It was always two things, either ‘you killed Christ’ or comments about Jews and money. The word ‘Jew’ used as an insult was a constant soundtrack.” Mr Silverman added that “Forty years later, my daughter joined the same school. And she experienced exactly the same antisemitism.”
Mr Rafiq said: “Racism can be subtle and discreet. It breaks you slowly. I was constantly asking myself if I was being too sensitive, if it was only a joke. Now that I’ve learned about the history of my comments, I understand the hurt and I’m really sorry to the Jewish community.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism continues to act against instances of anti-Jewish racism in all sports.
Image credit: Rick Findler