THE BRITISH UNION OF FASCISTS AND THE 'SPORTING JEW', 1935-1939
Speaker: Dr David Dee (De Montfort University)
As Richard Thurlow has noted, the only Fascist ‘organisation with any pretension to significance’ during the first half of the twentieth century was the British Union of Fascists, founded by ex-Labour MP Oswald Mosley in 1932. Although the BUF experienced little political or electoral success, its presence exerted a significant effect on the British-Jewish community – against whom the BUF launched an anti-Semitic campaign from 1934 until the organisation was banned by Government order in 1940.
This paper will examine the way that sport was used to express anti-Jewish sentiment in the party’s two main publications – The Blackshirt and Action – between 1935 and 1939. Although most of the BUF’s verbal and written propaganda surrounding Anglo-Jewry focused on the supposedly negative Jewish effect on politics, business and high and low culture, the paper will show that sport also became a prominent vehicle for expressions of anti-Semitism during the late 1930s.
This paper will demonstrate that this ‘sporting’ anti-Semitism reflected, and sought to strengthen, long-standing negative myths and notions surrounding Jews within Western society. As well as touching on ideas of a national and international Jewish sporting conspiracy, the party also claimed that Jewish involvement in sport provided another indication of the inherent racial, social and cultural difference of the Jewish population. In effect, through sport, the BUF tried to further emphasise supposed Jewish ‘difference’ – as a means of using Jews as a political scapegoat and as a way of emphasising the ‘Britishness’ and ‘patriotism’ of the BUF leadership, membership, programme and ideology.
David Dee is a Lecturer in Ethnic History within the Department of Historical and Social Studies. Before then, he was a PhD student at DMU and worked on an Arts and Humanities Council funded PhD entitled ‘Jews and British Sport: Integration, Ethnicity and Anti-Semitism, c1890-c1960’.
Time and Date: 5:15 PM, Monday, 9 May
Location: Ecclesiastical History Room, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
All are welcome. For more information, please contact Dion Georgiou, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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