Two weeks ago, I wrote about the achievement of my old school, St Ninian’s, Kirkintilloch, in reaching its 150th anniversary. In particular, I’m proud that, a few years ago, it was awarded one of the highest-ranked reports ever by Scotland’s school inspectors.

What made me feel equally proud though, was an email I received yesterday from the head teacher, detailing what St Ninian’s had done last week to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The school’s presentation didn’t mess about in telling it like it was. “The Holocaust was the attempt by the Nazis and their collaborators to murder all the Jews in Europe. Six million Jewish men, women and children were killed in ghettoes, mass-shootings, concentration camps and extermination camps.”

It explained that January 27 had been chosen as the annual day of remembrance because that was when Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945. And then, in defining what is meant by "genocide" it gave other examples: Cambodia between 1975 and 1979; Rwanda in 1994; Bosnia in 1995 and Darfur in Sudan from 2003 until the present day. The Nazis murdered people from other groups whom it considered to be something less than fully human, among them gypsies, gay people, the mentally and physically impaired. The Holocaust though, was what resulted from the “the Final Solution”, their insidious euphemism for the extermination of Europe’s entire Jewish population.

Read more: St Ninian's, Kirkintilloch: A school at the heart of its community

Compare St Ninian’s’ uncompromisingly authentic description of the Holocaust with the callously craven insult offered by Humza Yousaf. Our First Minister managed to achieve what, until now, I hadn’t thought possible from the leader of a civilised nation: deliver a two-minute video marking Holocaust Remembrance Day without making a single reference to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.

Instead of speaking the truth of the Holocaust he hid behind phrases such as “it has never been more important to remember the victims of the Holocaust” and the “millions of lives cut short, with the utmost cruelty and brutality”.

Mr Yousaf wasn’t alone in choosing to erase the Jews in this way. Several other politicians chose the coward’s path too as well as Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. Of course, none of this is anti-Semitic, but it’s rooted in cowardice.

Before the savages of Hamas raped and butchered 1,200 innocents on October 7, I’d have dismissed any claims that anti-Semitism was present beyond the confines of extreme right-wing hate groups, channeling Nazi ideology and the swastika as a means of expressing how hard and muscular they are. It’s become clear though, that the oldest hatred has risen like scum to the surface once more and looks to have some life in it yet. It’s inadvertently aided by people who are afraid to speak the whole truth. Late last year I was in a university lecture room to hear a talk by a Scottish academic with Middle East connections. It was a crude, anti-Israel propaganda stunt. You know you’re in the presence of malign idiocy when a talk starts with “let there be no doubt that despite any provocation, what Hamas did was wrong”.

The Herald: Humza Yousaf's video marking Holocaust Remembrance Day without making a single reference to the six million Jews killed by the NazisHumza Yousaf's video marking Holocaust Remembrance Day without making a single reference to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis (Image: PA)

What Hamas did matched the inhuman barbarity of the Nazis between 1941 and 1945. It was characterised by a profound belief that Jews are less than human and should be abused and slaughtered with the utmost ferocity.

This old clown then produced a set of slides depicting the historical timeline of the Middle East conflict. It included the line -and I kid you not - that two million Jews died in the Holocaust. After this was challenged by another academic it became clear that it wasn’t a typo. What was equally stunning was how many in the audience had been prepared to accept this.

It’s how ignorance, laziness and moral cowardice insinuate themselves itself into the truth of Holocaust: play it down and diminish its historical importance by reducing it to the status of one among many. And, in the case of the First Minister, don’t mention the Jews.

Four months after October 7, the sense that an old and malignant beast has been unleashed is everywhere. It’s in the sight of a single female Jew in Glasgow being verbally set upon and abused by some pro-Palestinian supporters for daring to shout “what about the hostages” just a few days after the Hamas slaughter and subsequent kidnappings. It’s since become evident in the insidious comparison of Israel’s military response to the Holocaust and in the description of Israel as an apartheid state.

There are several other conflicts around the world in which subjugated peoples are being killed in their hundreds of thousands. In parts of Africa the mass slaughter of Christian communities by militant Islamists is routine, notably in Nigeria. The Chinese Government’s repression of the Muslim Uyghurs amounts to a cultural genocide through a programme of forced labour, political indoctrination; forced sterilisation and forced abortion. It’s designed slowly to eradicate this people and arises from long-planned intent.

These are fuelled by cultural and ethnic hatred which rests on the belief that the victims are less than human. To suggest that these characterise the actions of Israel, surrounded as it is by several states who want to annihilate it, exists on the same page as anti-Semitism.

My position on the Middle East conflict is that the only chance for a lasting peace lies in a two-state solution; that the bulk of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank should be dismantled; that the right-wing administration of Benjamin Netanyahu must be deposed and that the evils done by Hamas on October 7 do not justify the deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

Read more: A show of support for Glasgow's Jews that was an antidote to hate

This is informed by mainstream Christian and Socialist principles. Israel though, did not start this war and is fighting an enemy whose vicious cruelty towards its own people almost matches its hatred of Jews and the democratic, progressive and enlightened modern state of Israel.

It’s entirely reasonable to hold to such views and also be alarmed by the increase in anti-Semitism across the civilised West since October 7. In Glasgow this is manifest in elderly Jewish people now taking care not to wear any symbols of their religion or culture. It’s seen in the unprovoked and violent attacks on Jewish people.

According to the Jewish charity, the Community Security Trust, anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have more than quadrupled since the Hamas atrocities on October 7.

There’s justified anger at Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct of this war. It’s clear to me though, that hiding not far below the surface lurks the world’s oldest hatred. And that the Jews are fair game once more.