The Guardian discovers modern anti-Semitism

November 30, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "Good, bad and ugly" (By Julie Burchill, Guardian, Nov. 29, 2003)
2. "Anti-Zionism is anti-semitism. Behind much criticism of Israel is a thinly veiled hatred of Jews" (By Emanuele Ottolenghi, Guardian, Nov. 29, 2003)
3. "Letters Page" (Guardian, Nov. 27, 2003)
4. "The 'new' anti-semitism: is Europe in grip of worst bout of hatred since the Holocaust? Jewish leaders claim rising Muslim influence has altered mood of continent" (By Chris McGreal, Guardian, Nov. 25, 2003)
5. "Rising tension in France blamed on disaffected Arab youths" (Guardian, Nov. 25, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

A KNOCK-ON INFLUENCE BEYOND ITS IMMEDIATE READERSHIP

Many people have asserted that through its wildly distorted coverage of Israeli and Jewish affairs in recent years, the Guardian newspaper has done its fair share in whipping up latent anti-Semitic sentiment in Britain (where it is published), in the Arab media (where select Guardian articles are reprinted) and through much of the rest of the world (where its popular internet site is widely read). The Guardian also has a knock-on influence beyond its immediate readership, since it is the paper of choice for many teachers and media workers, including much of the BBC staff.

Yesterday The Guardian contained not one, but two articles in effect attacking its own record on the subject.

I attach those articles, along with an example of the kind of letters the Guardian chooses to publish on this subject on a typical day (letters published last Thursday, a day chosen at random).

There are summaries first.

 

SUMMARIES

“A QUITE STRIKING BIAS AGAINST THE STATE OF ISRAEL”

"Good, bad and ugly" (by Julie Burchill, The Guardian, November 29, 2003). (Julie Burchill is a well-known British writer and columnist.) She writes: "I'm leaving the Guardian next year for the Times. I admire the Guardian, I also find it fun to read... But if there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under.

... I don't swallow the modern liberal line that anti-Zionism is entirely different from anti-semitism... Jews historically have been blamed for everything we might disapprove of: they can be rabid revolutionaries, responsible for the might of the late Soviet empire, and the greediest of fat cats, enslaving the planet to the demands of international high finance. They are insular, cliquey and clannish, yet they worm their way into the highest positions of power in their adopted countries, changing their names and marrying Gentile women. They collectively possess a huge, slippery wealth that knows no boundaries - yet Israel is said to be an impoverished, lame-duck state, bleeding the west dry.

... The fact that many Gentiles and Arabs are rabidly Judeophobic, while many others are as horrified by Judeophobia as by any other type of racism, makes me believe that anti-semitism/Zionism is not a political position (otherwise the right and the left, the PLO and the KKK, would not be able to unite so uniquely in their hatred), but about how an individual feels about himself. I can't help noticing that, over the years, a disproportionate number of attractive, kind, clever people are drawn to Jews; those who express hostility to them, however, from Hitler to Hamza, are often as not repulsive freaks.

... How fitting that it was Richard Ingrams – who this summer proclaimed in the Observer [the Sunday edition of The Guardian] that he refuses to read letters from Jews about the Middle East, and that Jewish journalists should declare their racial origins when writing on this subject. Replying in another newspaper, Johann Hari suggested sarcastically that their bylines might be marked with a yellow star, and asked why Ingrams didn't want to know whether those writing on international conflicts were Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Hindu..."

ISRAEL DESERVES TO BE JUDGED BY THE SAME STANDARDS ADOPTED FOR OTHERS

"Anti-Zionism is anti-semitism. Behind much criticism of Israel is a thinly veiled hatred of Jews" (By Emanuele Ottolenghi, The Guardian, November 29, 2003). [Emanuele Ottolenghi is a lecturer at Oxford University. I recommend reading this piece in full, attached further down this email. But in summary for those who don't have time...]

"... There is nothing wrong, or even remotely anti-semitic, in disapproving of Israeli policies. Nevertheless... If Israel's critics are truly opposed to anti-semitism, they should not repeat traditional anti-semitic themes under the anti-Israel banner. When such themes – the Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, linking Jews with money and media, the hooked-nose stingy Jew, the blood libel, disparaging use of Jewish symbols, or traditional Christian anti-Jewish imagery – are used to describe Israel's actions, concern should be voiced. Labour MP Tam Dalyell decried the influence of "a Jewish cabal" on British foreign policy-making; an Italian cartoonist last year depicted the Israeli siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as an attempt to kill Jesus "again". Is it necessary to evoke the Jewish conspiracy or depict Israelis as Christ-killers to denounce Israeli policies?

The fact that accusations of anti-semitism are dismissed as paranoia, even when anti-semitic imagery is at work, is a subterfuge. Israel deserves to be judged by the same standards adopted for others, not by the standards of utopia.

... Last year, Louis de Berniθres wrote in the Independent [another supposedly liberal British newspaper – TG] that "Israel has been adopting tactics which are reminiscent of the Nazis". This equation between victims and murderers denies the Holocaust. Worse still, it provides its retroactive justification: if Jews turned out to be so evil, perhaps they deserved what they got.

... It could be suggested that nationalism is a pernicious force. In which case one should oppose Palestinian nationalism as well. ... Anti-Zionists deny Jews a right that they all too readily bestow on others, first of all Palestinians.

... The argument that it is Israel's behaviour, and Jewish support for it, that invite prejudice sounds hollow at best and sinister at worst. That argument means that sympathy for Jews is conditional on the political views they espouse. This is hardly an expression of tolerance. It singles Jews out. It is anti-semitism.

... Israel errs like all other nations: it is normal. What anti-Zionists find so obscene is that Israel is neither martyr nor saint. Their outrage refuses legitimacy to a people's national liberation movement. Israel's stubborn refusal to comply with the invitation to commit national suicide and thereby regain a supposedly lost moral ground draws condemnation. Jews now have the right to self-determination, and that is what the anti-semite dislikes so much."

THE PALESTINIANS ARE A SEMITIC PEOPLE

"Letters Page," (The Guardian, November 27, 2003) [These are extracts – The full letters are below].

Matthew Collins, of Erskineville, NSW, Australia, writes: "I find it absurd that criticism of the Israeli government should be seen as anti-semitism. This is particularly ridiculous when that criticism relates to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, a semitic people."

MM Austin, of St Andrews, Fife, writes: "If criticism of the policies of Israel amounts to anti-semitism, then there are a lot of anti-semitic Jews throughout the world and in Israel itself – Gush Shalom, The Other Israel, Rabbis For Human Rights, B-Tselem, Yesh Gvul, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and many others."

Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi, Director, Arab Media Watch, writes: "To state, as do Ariel Sharon and others, that the presence and growth of Muslims in Europe are "endangering the life of Jewish people" is purely Islamophobic, as is the abhorrent claim that they exert some sort of dark influence on the continent. These were exactly the excuses used to perpetrate and justify the Holocaust, regurgitated by those who, shamefully, claim to speak on behalf of its victims." [TG adds: The "quote" by Ariel Sharon repeated in this letter is taken completely out of context]

Ian Simpson of London, writes: "I deplore the current Israeli government's policies towards the Palestinians but am certainly not anti-semitic. Being able to make distinctions between people and the policies of those that govern them is at the heart of being non-racist in one's thinking."

THE “NEW” ANTI-SEMITISM

Below I also attach, in full, the article that gave rise to these letters: -
"The 'new' anti-semitism: is Europe in grip of worst bout of hatred since the Holocaust? Jewish leaders claim rising Muslim influence has altered mood of continent," (By Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian, November 25, 2003).

[TG adds: Following sustained criticism that The Guardian has woefully underreported on the multitude of attacks on Jews in Europe in the last three years, they commissioned this article by Chris McGreal, their current chief Middle East correspondent.]

[TG adds: The Guardian, inaccurate as ever when it comes to reporting on the sayings and quotes of Ariel Sharon, states in this article that Sharon said there are "approximately 70 million [Moslems] in the Europe." In the interview to which The Guardian refers, Sharon in fact said 7 million.]

THE GUARDIAN SUDDENLY DISCOVERS ANTI-SEMITISM EXISTS IN EUROPE

"Rising tension in France blamed on disaffected Arab youths," (By Jon Henley in Paris, The Guardian, November 25, 2003). I attach this as another example of how in the last week, Guardian reporters have suddenly discovered that anti-Semitism exists in Europe.

[In this article, it is stated that "the collaborationist wartime government oversaw the deportation of 750,000 French Jews to Nazi death camps." This is a gross exaggeration. One wonders what goes through the minds of Guardian staff when editing articles.]



FULL ARTICLES

GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

Good, bad and ugly
By Julie Burchill
The Guardian
November 29, 2003

www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,1094325,00.html

As you might have heard, I'm leaving the Guardian next year for the Times, having finally been convinced that my evil populist philistinism has no place in a publication read by so many all-round, top-drawer plaster saints. (Well, that and the massive wad they've waved at me.) Once there, I will compose as many love letters to the likes of Mr Murdoch and Pres Bush as my black little heart desires, leaving those who have always objected to my presence on such a fine liberal newspaper as this to read only writers they agree with, with no chance of spoiled digestion as the muesli goes down the wrong way if I so much as murmur about bringing back hanging. (Public.)

Not only do I admire the Guardian, I also find it fun to read, which in a way is more of a compliment. But if there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under.

I find this hard to accept because, crucially, I don't swallow the modern liberal line that anti-Zionism is entirely different from anti-semitism; the first good, the other bad. Judeophobia – as the brilliant collection of essays A New Antisemitism? Debating Judeophobia In 21st-Century Britain (axt.org.uk), published this year, points out – is a shape-shifting virus, as opposed to the straightforward stereotypical prejudice applied to other groups (Irish stupid, Japanese cruel, Germans humourless, etc). Jews historically have been blamed for everything we might disapprove of: they can be rabid revolutionaries, responsible for the might of the late Soviet empire, and the greediest of fat cats, enslaving the planet to the demands of international high finance. They are insular, cliquey and clannish, yet they worm their way into the highest positions of power in their adopted countries, changing their names and marrying Gentile women. They collectively possess a huge, slippery wealth that knows no boundaries – yet Israel is said to be an impoverished, lame-duck state, bleeding the west dry.

If you take into account the theory that Jews are responsible for everything nasty in the history of the world, and also the recent EU survey that found 60% of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world today (hmm, I must have missed all those rabbis telling their flocks to go out with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow up the nearest mosque), it's a short jump to reckoning that it was obviously a bloody good thing that the Nazis got rid of six million of the buggers. Perhaps this is why sales of Mein Kampf are so buoyant, from the Middle Eastern bazaars unto the Edgware Road, and why The Protocols of The Elders of Zion could be found for sale at the recent Anti-racism Congress in Durban.

The fact that many Gentiles and Arabs are rabidly Judeophobic, while many others are as horrified by Judeophobia as by any other type of racism, makes me believe that anti-semitism/Zionism is not a political position (otherwise the right and the left, the PLO and the KKK, would not be able to unite so uniquely in their hatred), but about how an individual feels about himself. I can't help noticing that, over the years, a disproportionate number of attractive, kind, clever people are drawn to Jews; those who express hostility to them, however, from Hitler to Hamza, are often as not repulsive freaks.

Think of famous anti-Zionist windbags – Redgrave, Highsmith, Galloway – and what dreary, dysfunctional, po-faced vanity confronts us. When we consider famous Jew-lovers, on the other hand – Marilyn, Ava, Liz, Felicity Kendal, me – what a sumptuous banquet of radiant humanity we look upon! How fitting that it was Richard Ingrams - Victor Meldrew without the animal magnetism – who this summer proclaimed in the Observer that he refuses to read letters from Jews about the Middle East, and that Jewish journalists should declare their racial origins when writing on this subject. Replying in another newspaper, Johann Hari suggested sarcastically that their bylines might be marked with a yellow star, and asked why Ingrams didn't want to know whether those writing on international conflicts were Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Hindu. The answer is obvious to me: poor Ingrams is a miserable, bitter, hypocritical cuckold, whose much younger girlfriend has written at length in the public arena of the boredom, misery and alcoholism to which living with him has led her, and whose trademark has long been a loathing for anyone who appears to get a kick out of life: the young, the prole, independent women. The Jews are in good company.

Judeophobia: where the political is personal, and the personal pretends to be political, and those swarthy/pallid/swotty/philistine/aggressive/ cowardly/comically bourgeois/filthy rich/delete-as-mood-takes-you bastards always get the girl. I'll return to this dirty little secret masquerading as a moral stance next week and, rest assured, it'll get much nastier. As the darling Jews them-selves would say (annoyingly, but then, nobody's perfect), enjoy!

 

ANTI-ZIONISM IS ANTI-SEMITISM

Anti-Zionism is anti-semitism
Behind much criticism of Israel is a thinly veiled hatred of Jews
Comment
By Emanuele Ottolenghi
The Guardian
November 29, 2003

Is there a link between the way Israel's case is presented and anti-semitism? Israel's advocates protest that behind criticisms of Israel there sometimes lurks a more sinister agenda, dangerously bordering on anti-semitism. Critics vehemently disagree. In their view, public attacks on Israel are neither misplaced nor the source of anti-Jewish sentiment: Israel's behaviour is reprehensible and so are those Jews who defend it.

Jewish defenders of Israel are then depicted by their critics as seeking an excuse to justify Israel, projecting Jewish paranoia and displaying a "typical" Jewish trait of "sticking together", even in defending the morally indefensible. Israel's advocates deserve the hostility they get, the argument goes; it is they who should engage in soul-searching.

There is no doubt that recent anti-semitism is linked to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And it is equally without doubt that Israeli policies sometimes deserve criticism. There is nothing wrong, or even remotely anti-semitic, in disapproving of Israeli policies. Nevertheless, this debate – with its insistence that there is a distinction between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism – misses the crucial point of contention. Israel's advocates do not want to gag critics by brandishing the bogeyman of anti-semitism: rather, they are concerned about the form the criticism takes.

If Israel's critics are truly opposed to anti-semitism, they should not repeat traditional anti-semitic themes under the anti-Israel banner. When such themes – the Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, linking Jews with money and media, the hooked-nose stingy Jew, the blood libel, disparaging use of Jewish symbols, or traditional Christian anti-Jewish imagery – are used to describe Israel's actions, concern should be voiced. Labour MP Tam Dalyell decried the influence of "a Jewish cabal" on British foreign policy-making; an Italian cartoonist last year depicted the Israeli siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as an attempt to kill Jesus "again". Is it necessary to evoke the Jewish conspiracy or depict Israelis as Christ-killers to denounce Israeli policies?

The fact that accusations of anti-semitism are dismissed as paranoia, even when anti-semitic imagery is at work, is a subterfuge. Israel deserves to be judged by the same standards adopted for others, not by the standards of utopia. Singling out Israel for an impossibly high standard not applied to any other country begs the question: why such different treatment?

Despite piqued disclaimers, some of Israel's critics use anti-semitic stereotypes. In fact, their disclaimers frequently offer a mask of respectability to otherwise socially unacceptable anti-semitism. Many equate Israel to Nazism, claiming that "yesterday's victims are today's perpetrators": last year, Louis de Berniθres wrote in the Independent that "Israel has been adopting tactics which are reminiscent of the Nazis". This equation between victims and murderers denies the Holocaust. Worse still, it provides its retroactive justification: if Jews turned out to be so evil, perhaps they deserved what they got. Others speak of Zionist conspiracies to dominate the media, manipulate American foreign policy, rule the world and oppress the Arabs. By describing Israel as the root of all evil, they provide the linguistic mandate and the moral justification to destroy it. And by using anti-semitic instruments to achieve this goal, they give away their true anti-semitic face.

There is of course the open question of whether this applies to anti-Zionism. It is one thing to object to the consequences of Zionism, to suggest that the historical cost of its realisation was too high, or to claim that Jews are better off as a scattered, stateless minority. This is a serious argument, based on interests, moral claims, and an interpretation of history. But this is not anti-Zionism. To oppose Zionism in its essence and to refuse to accept its political offspring, Israel, as a legitimate entity, entails more. Zionism comprises a belief that Jews are a nation, and as such are entitled to self-determination as all other nations are.

It could be suggested that nationalism is a pernicious force. In which case one should oppose Palestinian nationalism as well. It could even be argued that though both claims are true and noble, it would have been better to pursue Jewish national rights elsewhere. But negating Zionism, by claiming that Zionism equals racism, goes further and denies the Jews the right to identify, understand and imagine themselves - and consequently behave as – a nation. Anti-Zionists deny Jews a right that they all too readily bestow on others, first of all Palestinians.

Were you outraged when Golda Meir claimed there were no Palestinians? You should be equally outraged at the insinuation that Jews are not a nation. Those who denounce Zionism sometimes explain Israel's policies as a product of its Jewish essence. In their view, not only should Israel act differently, it should cease being a Jewish state. Anti-Zionists are prepared to treat Jews equally and fight anti-semitic prejudice only if Jews give up their distinctiveness as a nation: Jews as a nation deserve no sympathy and no rights, Jews as individuals are worthy of both. Supporters of this view love Jews, but not when Jews assert their national rights. Jews condemning Israel and rejecting Zionism earn their praise. Denouncing Israel becomes a passport to full integration. Noam Chomsky and his imitators are the new heroes, their Jewish pride and identity expressed solely through their shame for Israel's existence. Zionist Jews earn no respect, sympathy or protection. It is their expression of Jewish identity through identification with Israel that is under attack.

The argument that it is Israel's behaviour, and Jewish support for it, that invite prejudice sounds hollow at best and sinister at worst. That argument means that sympathy for Jews is conditional on the political views they espouse. This is hardly an expression of tolerance. It singles Jews out. It is anti-semitism.

Zionism reversed Jewish historical passivity to persecution and asserted the Jewish right to self-determination and independent survival. This is why anti-Zionists see it as a perversion of Jewish humanism. Zionism entails the difficulty of dealing with sometimes impossible moral dilemmas, which traditional Jewish passivity in the wake of historical persecution had never faced. By negating Zionism, the anti-semite is arguing that the Jew must always be the victim, for victims do no wrong and deserve our sympathy and support.

Israel errs like all other nations: it is normal. What anti-Zionists find so obscene is that Israel is neither martyr nor saint. Their outrage refuses legitimacy to a people's national liberation movement. Israel's stubborn refusal to comply with the invitation to commit national suicide and thereby regain a supposedly lost moral ground draws condemnation. Jews now have the right to self-determination, and that is what the anti-semite dislikes so much.

(Emanuele Ottolenghi is the Leone Ginzburg Fellow in Israel Studies at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and the Middle East Centre at St Antony's College, Oxford)

 

A NEW ANTI-SEMITISM?

A new anti-semitism?
Letters Page
The Guardian
November 27, 2003

www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1093956,00.html

• Europe may well be in the grip of the worst bout of hatred since the Holocaust (The 'new' anti-semitism, November 25). If this is the case, European governments must ensure such attitudes remain anathema to mainstream society.

However, I find it absurd that criticism of the Israeli government should be seen as anti-semitism. This is particularly ridiculous when that criticism relates to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, a semitic people.

Attacks against the Palestinians must be condemned, just as anti-semitic attacks in Europe must be condemned.

Matthew Collins
Erskineville, NSW, Australia


• If criticism of the policies of Israel amounts to anti-semitism, then there are a lot of anti-semitic Jews throughout the world and in Israel itself – Gush Shalom, The Other Israel, Rabbis For Human Rights, B-Tselem, Yesh Gvul, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and many others, including all those who refuse to serve in the occupied territories and are prepared to go to jail.

Something is changing in Israel, as the positive response of Israeli and Palestinian public opinion to the Geneva accords shows, and that is what is alarming Sharon and his supporters.

MM Austin
St Andrews, Fife


• To state, as do Ariel Sharon and others in Chris McGreal's article, that the presence and growth of Muslims in Europe are "endangering the life of Jewish people" is purely Islamophobic, as is the abhorrent claim that they exert some sort of dark influence on the continent.

These were exactly the excuses used to perpetrate and justify the Holocaust, regurgitated by those who, shamefully, claim to speak on behalf of its victims.

Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi
Director, Arab Media Watch


• The "new" anti-semitism of the liberal left in the west is rooted not in bigotry but in a fashionable but false perception, fuelled by ignorance and propaganda: that Israelis are guilty of the "original sin" of displacing the "native" Palestinian Arabs. In fact, the real victims have been the million Jews displaced and dispossessed by Arab nationalism.

Greater awareness of the injustice done to these native Jews of the Middle East – most of whom sought refuge in Israel – could pave the way to reconciliation between Israel and the Arabs.

Lyn Julius
London


• I oppose current US foreign policy in the Gulf but am not anti-American. Nor am I anti-British as a result of Tony Blair's support for the US. I believe human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are appalling, but I am not anti-Saudi, anti-Arab or anti-Muslim. I deplore the current Israeli government's policies towards the Palestinians but am certainly not anti-semitic.

Being able to make distinctions between people and the policies of those that govern them is at the heart of being non-racist in one's thinking.

Ian Simpson
London


• Jewish people must be careful not to equate the legitimate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-semitism, but equally, there has to be more awareness about those who use the cover of anti- Israelism or anti-Zionism to peddle what genuinely is anti-semitism.

Europe should take notice of the singling out of Israel for special censure, when many countries are far more guilty of human rights abuses. Criticism of the Israeli occupation must not be allowed to provoke question marks over Israel's very right to exist.

Paul Gross
Harrow, Middx

 

THE “NEW” ANTI-SEMITISM

The 'new' anti-semitism: is Europe in grip of worst bout of hatred since the Holocaust?
Jewish leaders claim rising Muslim influence has altered mood of continent

By Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
The Guardian
November 25, 2003

Sixty years after the Holocaust, European Jews and Israelis are increasingly wondering if Europe is being sucked into the worst wave of anti-semitism since the second world war. In the past few weeks, a German MP was forced to resign after saying that Jews were responsible for Soviet atrocities, and the commander of the German army's special forces was sacked for agreeing with him.

Then came the observation by the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis that Jews are at the root of all evil, and the firebombing of a Jewish school in Paris.

But Israelis felt their fears were confirmed by an opinion poll of EU citizens that placed Israel as the greatest danger to world peace. Israelis were shocked, perplexed and outraged that they should be seen as a bigger threat than North Korea or Iran.

"Anti-semitism has become politically correct in Europe," said Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and minister in Ariel Sharon's government.

Yesterday Mr Sharon warned European governments that they need to do more to combat a revival of old hatreds responsible for rising anti-semitism. He described Europe's burgeoning Muslim population as a threat to Jews and dismissed accusations that rocket attacks on Gaza and tanks in Jenin have contributed to growing hostility.

"What we are facing in Europe is an anti-semitism that has always existed and it really is not a new phenomenon," the prime minister said in an interview with EUpolitix.com, an online newswire dedicated to EU affairs.

"This anti-semitism is fundamental, and today, in order to incite it and to undermine the Jews' rights for self-defence, it is re-aroused.

"These days to conduct an anti-semite policy is not a popular thing, so the anti-semites bundle their policies in with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Last week, Mr Sharon said growing anti-semitism in Europe contributed to the bombing of two synagogues in Istanbul, the destruction of part of a Jewish school in Paris and a series of smaller attacks on Jewish targets.

"It's 60 years since the Holocaust and we are again the target of attacks, fires," said Cobi Benatoff, president of the European Jewish Congress. "Anti-semitism should have been part of the history of old Europe by now, but unfortunately it is very present and alive in the Europe of today."

For the chairman of Israel's Holocaust memorial council, Avner Shalev, Mr Theodorakis's anti-Jewish statement is a "symptom of the systematic flooding of Europe with incitement against the Jewish people and the state of Israel".

The Israeli Forum to Coordinate the Struggle Against Anti-semitism – a group of Israeli intelligence and foreign ministry officials - defines anti-semitism in three forms: classic, new and Muslim.

The forum asserts that the most dangerous strand has its roots in Islam and that the rising number of Muslims in Europe is responsible for fuelling terror attacks, street violence and general harassment of Jews.

Muslims are also blamed for the spread of anti-semitism to countries such as Denmark, previously renowned for its efforts to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. Mr Sharon described the growing Muslim population in Europe as "endangering the life of Jewish people."

"Of course the sheer fact that there are a huge amount of Muslims, approximately 70 million in the EU, this issue has also turned into a political matter. I would say, in my opinion, EU governments are not doing enough to tackle anti-semitism," he said.

That view was confirmed for many Israelis when it was revealed that the EU's racism watchdog has suppressed a report on anti-semitism because it concluded that Muslims were behind many incidents.

Israeli officials say the comments of Mr Theodorakis and the German MP, and a claim by the outgoing Malaysian leader, Mahathir Mohamad, that Jews rule the world by proxy and get others to fight and die for them, fall into the category of "classic" anti-semitism.

But it is the "new" anti-semitism that most disturbs some Jewish leaders because they say it emanates from influential groups such as academics, politicians and the media and is dressed up as criticism of Israel's occupation of Palestinian land.

Deborah Lipstadt, the academic who won a libel victory after describing the rightwing historian David Irving as a Holocaust denier, this month described the "new" anti-semitism as directed at the "Rambo Jew, the Jew who is the aggressor".

"What we have seen in these attacks is an obsession with the vilification of Israel; a use of Nazi and Holocaust images to describe Israel and its politics, and a focus on Israel's failures regarding human rights, while totally ignoring the Arab world's failures of human rights," she told a conference in Jerusalem.

Some Israeli critics say a country that claims to be at the forefront of defending western civilisation cannot then demand to be judged by the standards of the states it portrays as terrorist regimes.

But Robert Wistrich, director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's international centre for the study of anti-semitism, says human rights is merely a cover.

"On the left we see a trend to believing there is a worldwide conspiracy in which Jews and Zionists are implicated," he said. "You have a link of money, Jews, America, world domination, globalisation.

"The notion that the Jews are a superpower that controls America is both a classic and revamped form of anti-semitism.

"The most interesting phenomenon is the singling out and demonisation of the state of Israel, that brands it as a Nazi-like state or accuses it of genocide.

"This kind of discourse is often put forward under the banner of human rights. This is new."

Many on the Israeli left are sceptical.

"We should bear in mind that during the time of the peace process, when Rabin and Peres were leading, Israel was the favourite of the west," said Yaron Ezrahi, an Israeli political scientist.

"There was so much support from Europe and its public. Why was anti-semitism so limited during the time Rabin and Peres led the peace process and gave the world the message that Israel was prepared to abandon the occupied territories?

"Sharon has a long record of calling Israeli critics of his policies traitors, and foreign critics anti-semites. The left is concerned that Sharon's policies are endangering Israel's future by fuelling virulent and violent anti-semitism."

Attacks in Europe

Britain: The Hillock Hebrew Congregation synagogue near Manchester, damaged in an arson attack this month.In August, vandals smashed headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Prestwich and In May, 386 Jewish graves at the Plashet Cemetery London were desecrated.

Germany: In Gundesberg last month vandals sprayed Nazi slogans on headstones and the cemetery gate. Wreaths laid at a memorial for Kristallnacht were defaced.

France: This month, the Mercaz Hatorah school in Paris was set on fire, while in July, a synagogue in Saint-Denis was ransacked, prayer books were torn and "Juif-mort" (Jew-death) written on a wall.

Italy: In March, in Milan, anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the office of the state-owned radio and television network, after a journalist of Jewish origin was named director.

Austria: A rabbi was assaulted by two youths as he walked home from prayer in Vienna. The attackers kicked the victim and struck his head with a bottle.

Belgium: In June, a man of Moroccan descent attempted to explode a vehicle loaded with gas canisters in front of a synagogue in Charleroi, Belgium. In April 2002, the same synagogue was the target of gunfire.

 

RISING TENSION IN FRANCE BLAMED ON DISAFFECTED ARAB YOUTHS

Rising tension in France blamed on disaffected Arab youths
By Jon Henley in Paris
The Guardian
November 25, 2003

Hurrying down the steps outside the Merkaz Hatorah school in the Paris suburb of Gagny, they did not want to stop, let alone give their names. "We're to go straight home, we're not to travel alone, we're to cover our kippas with baseball caps," said one teenager. "We're not to draw any attention to ourselves and if we get any, we're to ignore it."

Each had tales to tell: spat on in the station, skullcap torn off in the street, cries of "dirty Jew" on the train. They put on a collective show of bravado, but the arson attack on their private school last weekend had plainly shaken them. "When you see all that twisted metal, the scorched bricks, it evokes... certain things, it's scary," another boy said. "You get a vision of where all this could end."

The speed with which Jacques Chirac responded to the firebombing, which destroyed a new wing of the school due to house a primary section, was an indication of Paris's anger at its portrayal as the acquiescent capital of a deeply and increasingly anti-semitic nation.

Describing "an attack on a Jew [as] an attack against France", the president called an emergency cabinet meeting and announced an interministerial committee on anti-semitism that will meet once a month to review incidents and recommend responses.

Police are to increase surveillance of synagogues and Jewish schools; prosecutors will demand maximum sentences for offenders; teachers must reverse a rising tide of anti-semitism in classrooms. France's Jewish leaders praised the president's determination.

In recent months, Jewish groups in the US and Israel have criticised France's "shameful acceptance" of a rash of anti-Jewish acts, claiming to see an "echo of the dark days of Vichy", the collaborationist wartime government that oversaw the deportation of 750,000 French Jews to Nazi death camps.

Is anti-semitism rampant in France? The evidence is inconclusive. Police figures show physical and verbal attacks on Jews have fallen sharply, to 96 in the first 10 months of 2003, against 184 in the same period last year. The number of insults and threats fell from 685 to 129, and the number of police investigations into alleged anti-semitic offences fell from 129 to 29.

The figures are not disputed by the Jewish community, although some point out that a hostile climate cannot necessarily be measured in numbers. They note that teachers, for example, are expressing increasing alarm at the way terms like "dirty Jew" have become routine playground insults.

But not even the most radical French rabbi would accuse Paris of standing by as anti-Jewish sentiment inexorably mounts: parliament unanimously passed legislation earlier this year that allows far more severe penalties for offences inspired by racial or religious hatred, which become classified as "hate crimes".

The head of the Crif umbrella group of Jewish organisations, Roger Cukierman, publicly slapped down the Israeli ambassador to France, Nissim Zvili, who said last week that French Jews were now "so afraid of anti-semitic attacks that many of them are thinking of emigrating".

After the Gagny attack, Joseph Sitruk, the chief rabbi of France, urged Jewish men not to wear their skullcaps in public, to "avoid becoming a target for potential assailants".

But Theo Klein, Mr Cukierman's predecessor as head of Crif, disagreed. "There's no need for fear," he said. "The Jewish community has been in France for 2,000 years, it is completely integrated. I see discomfort, yes; worry, certainly, but not danger."

What both Jews and non-Jews are all agreed on, however, is that the new wave of anti-semitism is different from the older, institutionalised variety promoted here by the Roman Catholic church until the early 1960s. It has clearly coincided with the flare-up of violence in the Middle East, the start of the second intifada.

At five million and 650,000 respectively, France has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe, and government officials and most Jewish leaders argue that the rising inter-community tensions are almost invariably the consequence of political, rather than religious or racial, differences.

Police and court records show that almost all the perpetrators of the latest anti-semitic attacks are young Muslims. Arab youths whose parents emigrated from France's former North African colonies and now live in grim high-rise suburbs feel they have become the victims of racism, and see the Jewish community as both more affluent and better integrated than they are.

According to Mr Klein, "what we are suffering from is the consequences of France's failure to educate and integrate a certain number of young people of immigrant origin. They feel they belong nowhere. They are involved in violent incidents regularly, against policemen, firemen, even ambulance crews. These anti-Jewish acts are a part of that."

Not that such comprehension was helpful to the boys and parents of the Merkaz Hatorah school. "Our fears and suspicions are raw," said one father picking up his son by car. "The Arabs hate us; the police let the culprits go after 48 hours; and for you journalists it's all Ariel Sharon's fault. We need protection."


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.