European Anti-Semitism Starts from the Top

By Evelyn Gordon, COMMENTARY

The Obama administration’s inexplicable denial that last month’s attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris could possibly be anti-Semitic overshadowed yesterday’s other interesting tidbit from the anti-Semitism front: German Jewish organizations are furious because a blue-ribbon panel set up by the German government to advise it on fighting anti-Semitism doesn’t include a single Jew. It’s hard to imagine that a panel on, say, prejudice against Muslims or blacks would exclude representatives of the targeted community. But the more serious concern is that a panel without Jews will ignore one of the main manifestations of modern anti-Semitism, as exemplified by another German decision just last week: a judicial ruling that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about torching a synagogue to protest Israeli actions in Gaza.

The case involved two German-Palestinian adults who threw Molotov cocktails at the Wuppertal synagogue in July, causing 800 euros worth of damage. The court decided the attack wasn’t anti-Semitic and therefore let them off with suspended jail sentences and community service. And why wasn’t it anti-Semitic? Because, said the court, the perpetrators were simply trying to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict” then raging between Hamas and Israel. And of course there’s nothing anti-Semitic about attacking Jews in one country to “bring attention” to acts by other Jews in another country; they’re all Jews, aren’t they? Doubtless the court would be equally understanding if Israelis torched a German church to “bring attention to” this abhorrent ruling.

Nor is the ruling an aberration; it’s quite representative of elite German thought. Last year, Prof. Monika Schwarz-Friesel of the Technical University of Berlin published a study that analyzed 10 years’ worth of hate mail sent to the Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Israeli embassy in Berlin. To her surprise, only 3 percent came from right-wing extremists, while over 60 percent came from educated members of “the social mainstream.” And these letters weren’t mere “Israel criticism”; they contained classic anti-Semitic statements like “It is possible that the murder of innocent children suits your long tradition” or “For the last 2,000 years, you’ve been stealing land and committing genocide.”

Needless to say, educated elites in other European countries aren’t much better. Last month, for instance, a BCC reporter drew fire for implying that the kosher supermarket attack in Paris was somehow justified because “Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.” And just last week, Britain’s Sky News “apologized” for showing footage from the Gaza war above a strip saying “Auschwitz remembered” during a Holocaust Memorial Day interview with Britain’s chief rabbi; the “apology”defended the original decision as “logical” even while admitting that in retrospect, it was “unfortunate.” After all, what could be more logical than implicitly comparing a war that killed some 2,100 Palestinians (and 72 Israelis) to the deliberate extermination of six million Jews?

Indeed, this comparison is so “logical” to many educated Westerners that during the Gaza war, Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum felt the need to publish a special FAQs section on its website explaining why the war wasn’t comparable to the Holocaust, why Palestinians aren’t victims of genocide, and why Gaza isn’t a ghetto. You’d think this would be self-evident, but in a world where 35 percent of Germans say Israel treats Palestinians just like the Nazis treated Jews, and where Briton’s loathe Israel more than any other country except North Korea, it clearly isn’t.

In short, modern anti-Semitism can’t be fought without addressing a problem that too many members of Europe’s educated elites refuse to see: The propagators of today’s anti-Semitism come primarily from their own Israel-obsessed ranks, not from the far-right fringes. And one can’t help wondering whether Jews were left off Germany’s blue-ribbon panel precisely because they might have the temerity to point this out.

February 12, 2015 | 5 Comments »

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  1. Another Tack: The Crusades Aren’t Our Problem

    Last week, at Washington’s annual National Prayer Breakfast, US President Barak Obama admonished us all lest “we get on our high horse and think that this [religious fanaticism] is unique to some other place – remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ … So, it is not unique to one group or one religion.”

    This presidential platitude looks innocuous enough except that it’s deceptively simplistic. For one thing it casually glosses over the fact that the crimes it alludes to aren’t contemporaneous.

    I am the last who’d seek to whitewash the Christian record. I hazard a guess that my family line was affected way more by Christian brutality than were any of Barack Obama’s ancestors. (Even if we accept his thesis that slavery in the American South and its Jim Crow laws were imposed in the name of Christ, none of Obama’s forebears suffered therefrom).

    But one quick glance at my uniquely long genealogical chart will show many names accompanied by the notation “killed for Kiddush Hashem” – the sanctification of the Holy Name – Jewish euphemism for martyrdom. Read More

  2. Would the attempted immolation of a Mosque been interpreted as bringing attention to the murderous activities of angry Muslims?

  3. Would this very same judge have concluded that the murder of a European Jew was simply bringing “attention to the Gaza conflict”? Perhaps yes!

  4. Antisemitism is in Europe for ever and is metastasizing to the US at the speed of the light. Liberal Jews think they will escape!!! They won’t. They are the main enemy of IL.

  5. Enough is enough! How can anyone have the temerity to say that antisemitism is rampant after Don Peres himself solemnly admonished that there is NO antisemitism in France.
    Do we have any respect for such an illustrious, honorable? What????
    Remember he, the Peres, brought us, THE OSLO PEACE!
    So, how do we dare not to believe him?
    Even if it kills us all we must believe him… right.