* Anti-Semitism rises in Asia, even though few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew
* Modern-day Denmark: “Barbed-wire fences and security guards are a regular part of many Jewish children’s school day, while Jews are excluded from regular Danish schools”
* Chavez-controlled Venezuelan government website demands that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and calls for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue
* Tom Gross: Wave of attacks on Jews from Austria to Zimbabwe triggered by sensational and inaccurate media coverage of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza
[This dispatch concerns anti-Semitism. As a New York Times news story put it the other day, the continued existence of anti-Semitism worldwide complicates the search for Middle East peace.]
1. Survey: 31% of Europeans blame global economic crisis on Jews
2. “Anti-Semitic books read in the highest Chinese government circles”
3. With George W. Bush gone, Venezuela’s dictator has found new enemies
4. Denmark – no Jews at our schools please
5. Rise in anti-Semitic attacks “the worst recorded in Britain in decades”
6. “Anti-Semitism in London’s theatreland”
7. More from Spain, Norway, Holland, Brazil, Greece, S. Africa, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Slovenia and France
8. “Asia’s Jewish myths” (By Ian Buruma, The Australian, Feb. 11, 2009)
9. “Mr. Chávez vs. the Jews” (Washington Post, editorial, Feb. 12, 2009)
10. “Poll: 31% of Europeans blame Jews for global financial crisis” (Ha’aretz, Feb. 11, 2009)
11. “British Jews’ safety fears grow” (The Observer, Feb. 8, 2009)
12. “Europe reimports Jew hatred” (By Daniel Schwammenthal, Wall Street Journal Europe)
13. “Yes, it’s anti-Semitism” (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe)
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
SURVEY: 31% OF EUROPEANS BLAME GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS ON JEWS
According to a poll conducted in seven European countries by the Anti-Defamation League, 40 percent of Europeans believe “Jews have too much power” and 31 percent blame “Jews in the financial industry” for the current global economic crisis.
The poll was conducted between December 1 and January 13 among 3,500 adults in seven European countries: Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
(I attach a story about this from Ha’aretz in the “full articles” section below.)
“ANTI-SEMITIC BOOKS READ IN THE HIGHEST GOVERNMENT CIRCLES”
In a comment piece in The Australian last week (which was also republished in The International Herald Tribune), Ian Buruma writes:
“A Chinese bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.
Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I’d Like to Apologise to the Japanese – A Jewish Elder’s Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar’s army in 1905.
… Unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children’s blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad…
(The full article is below.)
WITH BUSH GONE, VENEZUELA’S DICTATOR HAS FOUND NEW ENEMIES
In a staff editorial, The Washington Post writes that:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who says he intends to remain in office for decades to come, has mounted a propaganda and intimidation campaign of a ferocity rarely seen in Latin America since the region returned to democracy 25 years ago. Pro-Chávez rhetoric dominates the national airwaves, from which opposition voices have been almost entirely excluded…
Venezuela’s Jewish community seems to have replaced George W. Bush as Chávez’s favorite foil. One television host close to Chávez blamed opposition demonstrations on two students he said had Jewish last names.
On a pro-government website, another commentator demanded that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue. On Jan. 30 the synagogue was duly attacked by a group of thugs ...
The oil-based economy is crashing; inflation, at over 30 percent, is the highest in Latin America, and shortages of basic goods are common. Venezuela ranks 158th out of 180 countries in a global corruption index, and its murder rate has tripled under Chávez… If Chávez loses the referendum… apparently, he’s already decided whom to blame.
(The full article is below.)
Tom Gross adds: Chavez has employed anti-Semitism before. See, for example, the dispatch of Jan. 2, 2006: Venezuelan President Chavez: “The descendants of the Christ-killers” control the world. It seems, however, that Chavez’s anti-Semitism – as well as his alliance with the Islamic regime in Iran – may now be growing. One of Chavez’s mentors was the Argentine fascist Norberto Ceresole.
VENEZUELA’S JEWS FEAR MORE ATTACKS
The Associated Press adds: “As President Hugo Chavez intensifies his anti-Israel campaign, some Venezuelans have taken action, threatening Jews in the street and vandalizing the largest synagogue in Caracas – where they stole a database of names and addresses. Now many in Venezuela’s Jewish community fear the worst is yet to come.
“Venezuela’s Jewish leaders, the Organization of American States and the U.S. State Department say Chavez’s harsh criticism has inspired a growing list of hate crimes, including a Jan. 30 invasion of Caracas’ largest synagogue.”
15,000 Jews remain in Venezuela. Others have left.
DENMARK – NO JEWS AT OUR SCHOOLS PLEASE
(This item is from last month but I held back from mentioning it at the time because of the large number of other dispatches on this website in January.)
The Copenhagen Post reports:
Barbed-wire fences and security guards are a regular part of many Jewish children’s’ school day.
A number of school administrators have come forth in recent days to confirm that they recommend Jewish children should not enroll at their schools.
According to school administrators, law enforcement officials and social workers, the on-going conflict in Gaza has led to heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs here in Denmark.
And although few headmasters of schools have faced the situation, most of those at schools with a high percentage of children of Arab descent say they try to prevent Jewish parents from enrolling their children there.
On Monday, headmaster Olav Nielsen of Humlehave School in Odense publicly admitted he would refuse Jewish parents’ wish to place their child at his school.
The comments were made following an incident last week in which two Israeli citizens were shot and wounded at a city shopping centre.
Other headmasters have now come forth to support Nielsen’s position, adding that they are putting the child’s safety first.
At Caroline Jewish Skole in Copenhagen’s Østerbro district, video cameras watch over the playground and entrances of the school, which is surrounded by a 2.5 meter-high barbed-wire fence.
One parent whose child goes to the Jewish school said thinking about the extra security can be disturbing at times, but she felt it was necessary.
[The story can be found here.]
As one of The Copenhagen Post’s readers writes on the paper’s comments section:
“So much for the Danes teaching their Muslim children that violence isn’t an acceptable means of attaining goals or resolving problems; that hating an entire group of people and lashing out at them because of what some of that group are doing in another part of the world is not acceptable.”
Tom Gross adds:
The schools story is all the more regrettable because Denmark was one of the very few countries to help Jews during the Holocaust. The vast majority of Danish Jews were smuggled into Sweden by the collective efforts of the Danish population (although a number of German Jewish refugees who had sought refuge in Denmark were turned over to the Gestapo in 1942 at a time when it was already clear what their fate would be).
RISE IN ANTISEMITIC ATTACKS “THE WORST RECORDED IN BRITAIN IN DECADES”
The Observer (the Sunday sister paper of Britain’s Guardian) reports:
Police patrols have been stepped up in Jewish neighborhoods following the most intense period of anti-Semitic incidents to have been recorded in Britain in decades. Safety fears are so acute, with anti-Semitic incidents running at around seven a day this year, that reports have emerged of members of Britain’s Jewish community fleeing the UK …
Scotland Yard is understood to have placed prominent Jewish communities on heightened alert, while the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national community tension team is responding to intelligence by issuing weekly patrol directives to chief constables instructing them of threats to Jewish communities in their areas.
Incidents include violent assaults in the street, hate emails and graffiti threatening “jihad” against British Jews. One disturbing aspect involves the targeting of Jewish children. A Birmingham school is investigating reports that 20 children chased a 12-year-old girl, its only Jewish pupil, chanting “Kill all Jews” and “Death to Jews”.
(The full article is below.)
Tom Gross adds: Among 88 violent assaults on Jews was the random stabbing to death of a Jewish man in Manchester by an attacker shouting anti-Semitic slurs. The incident was the first anti-Semitic killing in Britain in over a quarter century.
“ANTI-SEMITISM IN LONDON’S THEATRELAND”
Commenting on the wave of invective directed against Israel in recent weeks, veteran British Jewish director and actor Steven Berkoff said: “England is not a great lover of its Jews. Never has been.”
Berkoff, whose production of “On The Waterfront” opens this month at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, points out that journalists and academics are not the only intellectuals in Britain stirring up anti-Semitism, but some among the theatrical establishment too.
“There is an inbuilt dislike of Jews,” he said. “Overt anti-Semitism goes against the British sense of fair play. It has to be covert and civilized. So certain playwrights and actors on the Left wing make themselves out to be stricken with conscience.
“They say: ‘We hate Israel, we hate Zionism, we don’t hate Jews.’ But Zionism is the very essence of what a Jew is. Zionism is the act of seeking sanctuary after years and years of unspeakable outrages against Jews. As soon as Israel does anything over the top it’s always the same old faces who come out to demonstrate. I don’t see hordes of people marching down the street against Mugabe when tens of thousands are dying every month in Zimbabwe.”
London’s esteemed Royal Court theatre – the same theatre at which the notorious piece of agitprop “My name is Rachel Corrie” was given its premiere – is again being accused of promoting anti-Semitism with its new 10 minute play about Gaza by Caryl Churchill called “Seven Jewish Children”.
The website of The Spectator magazine has already termed it “a ten-minute blood-libel.” The play is also said to be replete with historical inaccuracies about Israel and the Palestinians.
The play has even been compared to so-called “mystery plays” of the Middle Ages, which portrayed the Jews as Christ-killers and helped fuel pogroms against European Jews.
John Nathan, the mild-mannered theatre critic of the Jewish Chronicle (a paper which is often quite critical of Israel) writes:
“As if sensing this, Cooke [the director] has recruited Jews for his cast. Not, it appears, to bring Jewish insight to their roles but to provide crude cover against criticism. It won’t work. For the first time in my career as a critic, I am moved to say about a work at a major production house that this is an anti-Semitic play.”
Another objector, Jonathan Hoffman, said “It draws on several anti-Semitic stereotypes, from the blood libel through to the ‘chosen people’ trope. It is a grotesque parody of Jewish history.”
The Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington, who has been criticized before in his reviews for presenting Palestinian propaganda as it were fact, wrote: “Caryl Churchill’s 10-minute play, Seven Jewish Children, typifies what the stage does best: address the world as it is right now… Churchill also shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the ‘otherness’ of Palestinians and how, for generations to come, they stand to reap the bitter harvest of the military assault on Hamas.” (It is in fact the Palestinian education curriculum that is designed to show the otherness of Jews. The Israeli curriculum is more inclusive than almost any other school curriculum in the world. Billington doesn’t know what he is talking about.)
Responding to accusations that Churchill’s play was anti-Semitic, a spokeswoman for the Royal Court angered critics even more by saying: “The Stone, which is currently running before Seven Jewish Children, asks very difficult questions about the refusal of some modern Germans to accept their ancestors’ complicity in Nazi atrocities.”
MORE FROM SPAIN, NORWAY, HOLLAND, BRAZIL, GREECE, S AFRICA, GERMANY, SCOTLAND, SWEDEN, SLOVENIA
ANTI-SEMITISM OF SPANISH, NORWEGIAN OFFICIALS CRITICIZED
Jewish leaders have criticized Trine Lilleng, the first secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, who sent out a mass email saying: “The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany.”
Accompanying her text were photos seeking to juxtapose images of the Holocaust with the recent Israeli military operation in Gaza.
Jewish leaders have also have criticized a local city official in Barcelona who told the leading Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia that “marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right.”
Yad Vashem has launched a YouTube Channel in Spanish, to combat growing anti-Semitism in the Spanish-speaking world: www.youtube.com/user/yadvashemspanish (English, Hebrew and Arabic channels were launched last year.)
DUTCH MINISTER: ARABS NEED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOLOCAUST
Dutch integration minister Eberhard van der Laan said that Arabs needed to learn about the Holocaust. The comments came after Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende met with Jewish leaders, who told him they were concerned about a rise in anti-Semitism in Holland and asked for additional security from police.
Three synagogues in the Netherlands were attacked by arsonists earlier in January.
ANTI-SEMITIC CARTOONS, HEADLINES IN SPAIN, BRAZIL, GREECE
Jewish leaders also issued a strong protest to the leading Spanish newspaper, El Pais, over the publication of a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon about the conflict between Hamas and Israel. The cartoon featured a grotesque caricature of a Jewish man with a prominently hooked nose.
A Brazilian newspaper published two cartoons – one of Hitler wearing an armband emblazoned with the Star of David and swastika, saluting, “Heil Israel!”; the other of a Star of David casting a shadow in the form of a swastika over the Gaza Strip.
A Greek newspaper ran a banner headline “Holocaust,” referring to Israel’s alleged actions in Gaza.
SOUTH AFRICAN JEWS LODGE COMPLAINT AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has lodged a complaint with the country’s Human Rights Commission against South African Deputy Foreign Minister Fatima Hajaig for anti-Jewish hate speech. Addressing a pro-Palestinian rally two weeks ago, she said “The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money.”
GERMAN JEWS BOYCOTT HOLOCAUST SERVICE IN PROTEST AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM
In an unprecedented move, the leaders of the Jewish community in Germany decided to boycott the state ceremony marking International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27. The service, which was held in the Bundestag in Berlin, was attended by the German president and chancellor, and most government and parliament members. Community leaders said they were protesting the growing anti-Semitism in Germany in recent years and the failure of the government to take sufficient measures to combat it.
During Israel’s offensive in Gaza, attacks on Jews in the country rose exponentially, without a proper response by the authorities, they said. A televised debate on the Mideast conflict which aired on the public network ARD last week was also filled with blatant anti-Semitism, Jewish leaders said.
Among other incidents, a police employee guarding a synagogue in the Berlin district of Mitte was beaten by a man with an iron bar.
ISRAEL ACCUSES VATICAN OFFICIAL OF HOLOCAUST DISTORTION
In January, Israel protested comments by the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Minister Cardinal Renato Martino, in which he compared the Gaza Strip to a Nazi concentration camp.
Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, infamous for his anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, has also been in the news recently. Elie Wiesel, the death camp survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said Pope Benedict had given credence to “the most vulgar aspect of anti-Semitism” by rehabilitating Williams. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel broke off official ties with the Vatican in protest over the pope’s decision to reinstate a known Holocaust denier, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the unusual step of severely criticizing the German-born pope for playing with fire by rekindling anti-Semitism.
SCOTTISH GROUP ACCUSED OF HIJACKING HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY
A Scottish group hosted what it claimed to be a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on January 27 by inviting a Hamas supporter who justifies suicide bombings.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign hosted an event titled “Resistance to Genocide: from Europe in the 1940s to the Middle East Today” to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Speaking at the event at the University of Glasgow was Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter who calls for the destruction of Israel. Tamimi is also regularly invited to write comment pieces for The Guardian.
ATTACKING THE DEAD IN SWEDEN
The burial chapel in the Jewish cemetery in Malmö, Sweden, has been fire bombed. It is the third time the chapel has been attacked in recent weeks, according to a report in Sydsvenska Dagbladet. Emergency services managed to put the fire out.
VANDALS DEFACE HISTORIC SLOVENIAN SYNAGOGUE
Even in Slovenia, where almost no Jews have lived since Jews were expelled at the end of the 15th century, a historic medieval synagogue in Maribor that was renovated in 2001 and now serves as a cultural center, was daubed with slogans saying “Juden Raus” and “Israel must die.”
There were reports in France yesterday that a young Jewish man who was attacked last month has lost his sight in one eye.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]
ASIA’S JEWISH MYTHS
Asia’s Jewish myths
By Ian Buruma
February 11, 2009
A CHINESE bestseller titled The Currency War describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.
Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I’d Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder’s Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar’s army in 1905.
The Chinese picked up many modern Western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed has said that “the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” And a recent article in a leading business magazine in The Philippines explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the US today.
In the case of Mahathir, a twisted kind of Muslim solidarity is probably at work. But, unlike European or Russian anti-Semitism, the Asian variety has no religious roots. No Chinese or Japanese has blamed Jews for killing their holy men or believed that their children’s blood ended up in Passover matzos. In fact, few Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, or Filipinos have ever seen a Jew, unless they have spent time abroad.
So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.
Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of Western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonised, but it too felt the West’s dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on Western terms.
The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.
One of the great ironies of colonial history is the way in which colonised people adopted some of the same prejudices that justified colonial rule. Anti-Semitism arrived with a whole package of European race theories that have persisted in Asia well after they fell out of fashion in the West.
In some ways, Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia have shared some of the hostility suffered by Jews in the West. Excluded from many occupations, they too survived by clannishness and trade. They too have been persecuted for not being “sons of the soil”. And they too are thought to have superhuman powers when it comes to making money. So when things go wrong, the Chinese are blamed not just for being greedy capitalists, but also, again like the Jews, for being communists, as both capitalism and communism are associated with rootlessness and cosmopolitanism.
As well as being feared, the Chinese are admired for being cleverer than everybody else. The same mixture of fear and awe is often evident in people’s views of the US and, indeed, of the Jews. Japanese anti-Semitism is a particularly interesting case.
Japan was able to defeat Russia in 1905 only after a Jewish banker in New York, Jacob Schiff, helped Japan by floating bonds. So The Protocols of the Elders of Zion confirmed what the Japanese already suspected: Jews really did pull the strings of global finance. However, instead of wishing to attack them, the Japanese, being a practical people, decided they would be better off cultivating those clever, powerful Jews as friends.
As a result, during World War II, even as the Germans were asking their Japanese allies to round up Jews and hand them over, dinners were held in Japanese-occupied Manchuria to celebrate Japanese-Jewish friendship. Jewish refugees in Shanghai, though never comfortable, at least remained alive under Japanese protection.
This was good for the Jews of Shanghai. But the very ideas that helped them to survive continue to muddle the thinking of people who really ought to know better by now.
(This article was edited and distributed by Project Syndicate)
CHÁVEZ VS. THE JEWS
Mr. Chávez vs. the Jews
With George W. Bush gone, Venezuela’s strongman has found new enemies
The Washington Post (Editorial)
February 12, 2009
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who says he intends to remain in office for decades to come, lost a referendum 14 months ago that would have removed the constitutional limit on his tenure. When he announced another referendum in December, the first polls showed him losing again by a wide margin. Yet, as Sunday’s vote approaches, his government is predicting victory – and some polls show him with a narrow advantage.
How did Latin America’s self-styled “Bolivarian revolutionary” turn his fortunes around? Not through rational argument, it is fair to say. Mr. Chávez’s regime has mounted a propaganda and intimidation campaign of a ferocity rarely seen in Latin America since the region returned to democracy 25 years ago. Pro-Chávez rhetoric dominates the national airwaves, from which opposition voices have been almost entirely excluded. Pro-government thugs have targeted student demonstrations, the home of an opposition journalist and the Vatican’s embassy, which gave shelter to one student leader.
Then there is the assault on Venezuela’s Jewish community – which seems to have replaced George W. Bush as Mr. Chávez’s favorite foil. After Israel’s offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip last month, the caudillo expelled Israel’s ambassador and described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide.” Then Mr. Chávez turned on Venezuela’s Jews. “Let’s hope that the Venezuelan Jewish community will declare itself against this barbarity,” Mr. Chávez bellowed on a government-controlled television channel. “Don’t Jews repudiate the Holocaust? And this is precisely what we’re witnessing.”
Government media quickly took up the chorus. One television host close to Mr. Chávez blamed opposition demonstrations on two students he said had Jewish last names. On a pro-government Web site, another commentator demanded that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue. On Jan. 30 the synagogue was duly attacked by a group of thugs, who spray-painted “Jews get out” on the walls and confiscated a registry of members. Mr. Chávez denied responsibility; days later, the attorney general’s office said that 11 people detained in connection with the attack included five police officers and a police intelligence operative.
It is fair to infer that Mr. Chávez doesn’t care to dwell on more mundane domestic issues in Venezuela. The oil-based economy is crashing; inflation, at over 30 percent, is the highest in Latin America, and shortages of basic goods are common. Venezuela ranks 158th out of 180 countries in a global corruption index, and its murder rate has tripled under Mr. Chávez, making Caracas one of the most dangerous cities in the world. If Mr. Chávez loses the referendum, he could very well join the country’s eclipse, which appears likely to accelerate in the next year or two. Apparently, he’s already decided whom to blame.
ALMOST A THIRD OF EUROPEANS BLAME JEWS FOR GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS
Poll: 31% of Europeans blame Jews for global financial crisis
By Natasha Mozgovaya
February 11, 2009
A recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic attitudes in seven European countries have worsened due to the global financial crisis and Israel’s military actions against the Palestinians.
Some 31 percent of adults polled blame Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown, while 58 percent of respondents admitted that their opinion of Jews has worsened due to their criticism of Israel.
The ADL, a Jewish-American organization polled 3,500 adults - 500 each in Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom - between December 1, 2008 and January 13, 2009.
According to the survey, 40 percent of polled Europeans believe that Jews have an over-abundance of power in the business world. More than half of the respondents in Hungary, Spain and Poland agreed with this statement. These numbers were 7 percent higher in Hungary, 6 percent higher in Poland and 5 percent higher in France than those recorded in the ADL’s 2007 survey.
Nearly half of the respondents in each of the countries said that Jews were more loyal to Israel than to their home country. Twenty-three percent said that their opinion of Jews was influenced by Israel’s military and political activities.
Another 44 percent of respondents said it was “probably true” that Jews reference the Holocaust too much, while 23% said that they still blame Jews for the death of Jesus.
“This poll confirms that anti-Semitism remains alive and well in the minds of many Europeans,” said Abe Foxman, the National Director of Anti-Defamation League. “In the wake of the global financial crisis, the strong belief of excessive Jewish influence on business and finance is especially worrisome.”
Late last year, the ADL reported a major upsurge in the number of anti-Semitic postings on the Internet relating to the financial crisis engulfing the United States.
The Jewish-American organization cited hundreds of posts regarding the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers and other institutions affected by the subprime mortgage crisis.
The messages railed against Jews in general, with some charging that Jews control the U.S. government and finance as part of a “Jew world order” and therefore are to blame for the economic turmoil.
The arrest of Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who allegedly swindled $50 billion from investors, prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites, according to the ADL.
The ADL said some of the posts on the highly trafficked sites spread conspiracy theories about Jews stealing money to benefit Israel and suggest that, “Only Jews could perpetrate a fraud on such a scale.”
These and other anti-Jewish tropes about Jews and money have appeared on popular blogs devoted to finance, in comment sections of mainstream news outlets and in banter among users of Internet discussion groups, according to the ADL.
“Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites,” Foxman said last year, following news of the Internet hate messages.
“THE MOST INTENSE PERIOD OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN BRITAIN IN DECADES”
British Jews’ safety fears grow after Gaza invasion
The Observer (News item)
8 February 2009
Police patrols have been stepped up in Jewish neighborhoods following the most intense period of anti-Semitic incidents to have been recorded in Britain in decades. Safety fears are so acute that reports have emerged of members of Britain’s Jewish community fleeing the UK with anti-Semitic incidents running at around seven a day this year. Around 270 cases have been reported in 2009, according to figures compiled by the Community Security Trust (CST), the body that monitors anti-Jewish racism, with most blamed on anti-Israeli sentiment in reaction to hostilities in Gaza. Attacks recorded during the first Palestinian intifada of the late 1980s averaged 16 a month.
Scotland Yard is understood to have placed prominent Jewish communities on heightened alert, while the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national community tension team is responding to intelligence by issuing weekly patrol directives to chief constables instructing them of threats to Jewish communities in their areas.
Incidents recorded by the CST include violent assaults in the street, hate emails and graffiti threatening “jihad” against British Jews. One disturbing aspect involves the targeting of Jewish children. A Birmingham school is investigating reports that 20 children chased a 12-year-old girl, its only Jewish pupil, chanting “Kill all Jews” and “Death to Jews”. In another incident a Jewish schoolgirl reported being bullied at a non-Jewish school because of the Gaza conflict.
CST spokesman Mark Gardner said the current fear of persecution was so profound that some members of the Jewish community were seeking to emigrate to countries where they felt more secure, such as Israel, the United States or Australia. “I know two families, one of which has already moved and the other which is in the process of moving, who don’t see the point of putting up with this,” he added.
This week the CST will publish its annual report on anti-Semitic incidents for 2008, which will reveal that around 550 were recorded in the UK last year, slightly less than the record of 594 in 2006, when Israel and Lebanon waged a brief but bloody war.
Veteran director and actor Steven Berkoff recently explained the anti-Israeli reaction over Gaza by saying: “England is not a great lover of its Jews. Never has been”.
Some within Britain’s 350,000-strong Jewish community accuse the government of not doing enough to condemn the increase in anti-Semitism. However, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it had recently received a letter from the communities minister, Hazel Blears, stating that she was “deeply concerned about the dramatic rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the UK”.
Mark Frazer, spokesman for the Board of Deputies, said: “We are seeing an unprecedented level of attacks directed at the Jewish community, both physical and verbal. It is incumbent upon us all to isolate and marginalize those who would derail the legitimate political debate with an extremist and hateful ideology.” Recorded attacks have centered on the Jewish communities of Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb in north London.
EUROPE REIMPORTS JEW HATRED
Europe reimports Jew hatred
By Daniel Schwammenthal
Wall Street Journal Europe
January 13, 2009
Give Giancarlo Desiderati credit for his unintellectual honesty. While most left-wing detractors of Israel claim their animosity toward the Jewish state has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, the head of a small Italian union, Flaica-Uniti-Cub, wasted no time with such sophism. Having long called for a boycott of Israeli goods, Mr. Desiderati last week made the logical next step. “Do not buy anything from businesses run by the Jewish community,” his group’s Web site urged Italians.
Jews around Europe are increasingly under attack since Israel decided two weeks ago to defend itself after years of rocket fire at its civilian population. There have been arson attempts on synagogues in Britain, Belgium and Germany. Police last week arrested Muslim protesters who wanted to enter the Jewish quarter in Antwerp. Several Danish schools with large Muslim student bodies say they won’t enroll Jewish kids because they can’t guarantee the children’s safety. In France, a group of teenagers attacked a 14-year-old girl last week, calling her “dirty Jew” while kicking her.
At rallies in Germany and the Netherlands over the past two weeks, protesters shouted, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas.” In Amsterdam, Socialist lawmaker Harry van Bommel and Greta Duisenberg, widow of the first European Central Bank president, marched at the front of one such “peace” demonstration. They didn’t join in the background chorus calling for another Holocaust. Instead, they chanted, “Intifada, Intifada, Free Palestine.” Mr. Van Bommel later insisted this wasn’t a call for Jewish blood but for “civil disobedience” – a laughable defense given that terrorists during the last intifada murdered more than 1,000 Israelis.
Most of the anti-Jewish violence and protests in Europe come from immigrants. In what may have been a Freudian recognition of the changing face of Europe, CNN two weeks ago used footage of anti-Israeli protesters in London in a report about the growing anger in the “Arab and Muslim world.” The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid.
After a burning car was rammed into a gate outside a synagogue in Toulouse last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement that was as morally confused as his judgment of Israel’s Gaza offensive. Mr. Sarkozy, who condemned both Hamas terror and Israel’s attempt to stop it, also blurred the distinction between the victims and perpetrators of anti-Semitism in France.
His country “will not tolerate international tensions mutating into intercommunity violence,” he warned, suggesting that the violence in France comes not only from French Muslims but Jews as well. Mr. Sarkozy’s comments also suggest that the fighting in Gaza is the cause for attacks on Jews in France – that is, that the Mideast conflict is fueling anti-Semitism in Europe. It is exactly the other way around.
The rage against the Jews that is exploding in Europe has been carefully nurtured; it is not spontaneous sympathy for fellow Muslims in Gaza. How else to explain the silence when Muslims in other conflicts, from Darfur to Chechnya, are being killed?
The depth of anti-Semitic propaganda in Palestinian and other Muslim societies is one of the most underreported facts about the Middle East. It is this anti-Semitism that predisposes Muslims in Europe to attack Jews and fuels the Mideast conflict. The hatred predates Israel’s creation. To illustrate this point: The Palestinian leader during World War II, Hajj Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, conspired with Hitler to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Luckily, the British stopped the German troops in Africa. The Mufti spent the war years in Berlin and was later indicted for war crimes but with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood escaped to Egypt. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas and other Islamists continue what the Mufti had helped to start: a blend of European anti-Semitism and Islam-inspired Jew hatred. The rejection of Israel’s right to exist is what drives their attacks. The media, though, largely ignores Hamas’s ideology and its crimes of hiding its leaders and weapons among its own civilian population, and demonizes Israel’s attempt to protect its citizens.
Hamas and other Islamists are not even trying to hide their ideology. Just read the Hamas charter or check out Hamas TV, including children’s programs, for a nauseating dose of murderous anti-Semitism. Last week, the French broadcasting authorities banned Hamas TV for inciting violence and hatred. Unfortunately, just like Hezbollah TV, which is also banned in Europe for its anti-Semitic and jihadi content, audiences here can still receive these programs due to Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat and Egyptian satellite provider Nilesat.
The Islamist variation of Jew hatred is now being reimported to Europe. Muslims in Europe, watching Hamas and Hezbollah TV with their satellite dishes, are being fed the same diet of anti-Semitism and jihadi ideology that Palestinians and much of the Middle East consume.
This brings a unique challenge to the difficult integration of Muslims in Europe. When it comes to issues like Shariah law and terrorism, one can expect a true “clash of civilizations.” There is no Western tradition that would justify “honor killings.” Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is not alien to Europe’s culture – to the contrary, the Continent once excelled at it and many still share the feeling.
A Pew study from September shows 25% of Germans and 20% of French are still affected by this virus. In Spain, 46% have unfavorable views of Jews. Is there really no connection between this statistic and the fact that the Spanish media and government are among Europe’s most hostile toward the Jewish state? Is it just a coincidence that Europe’s largest anti-Israel demonstration took place Sunday in Spain, with more than 100,000 protesters?
A 2006 study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution based on the survey in 10 European countries suggests otherwise. Yale University’s Edward H. Kaplan and Charles A. Small found “that anti-Israel sentiment consistently predicts the probability that an individual is anti-Semitic, with the likelihood of measured anti-Semitism increasing with the extent of anti-Israel sentiment observed.”
With little hope that the media coverage will become more balanced and the incitement of the growing Muslim community will abate, the Jews in Europe are facing uncertain times.
YES, IT’S ANTI-SEMITISM
Yes, it’s anti-Semitism
By Jeff Jacoby
January 8, 2009
Criticizing Israel doesn’t make you anti-Semitic: If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times. Yet somehow that message doesn’t seem to have reached the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who turned out last week to protest Israel’s military operation in Gaza. As their signs and chants made clear, it isn’t only the Jewish state’s policies they oppose. Their animus goes further.
Demonstrators chanted “Nuke, nuke Israel!” and carried placards accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and bearing such messages as: “Did Israel take notes during the Holocaust? Happy Hanukkah.” To the dozen or so supporters of Israel gathered across the street, one demonstrator shouted: “Murderers! Go back to the ovens! You need a big oven.”
The Arab-Israeli conflict induces strong passions, and the line that separates legitimate disapproval of Israel from anti-Semitism may not always be obvious. But it’s safe to assume the line has been crossed when you hear someone urging Jews “back to the ovens.”
The Danish website Snaphanen posted a photo the other day of a pamphlet being distributed in Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. On one side it proclaimed: “Never Peace With Israel!” and “Kill Israel’s People!” On the other side: “Kill Jewish people evry where in ther world!” The leaflet’s spelling left something to be desired, but its message of genocidal anti-Semitism couldn’t have been clearer.
Likewise the message in Amsterdam on Saturday, where the crowd at an anti-Israel rally repeatedly chanted, “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas.” And the message in Belgium, where pro-Hamas demonstrators torched Israeli flags, burned a public menorah, and painted swastikas on Jewish-owned shops.
Only marginally less vile is the message that has been trumpeted at demonstrations from Boston to Los Angeles to Vancouver: “Palestine will be free/ From the river to the sea” – a restatement in rhyme of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be “wiped from the map.”
Let’s say it for the thousand-and-first time: Every negative comment about Israel is not an expression of bigotry. Israel is no more immune to criticism than any other country. But it takes willful blindness not to see that anti-Zionism today – opposition to the existence of Israel, rejection of the idea that the Jewish people are entitled to a state – is merely the old wine of anti-Semitism in its newest bottle.
The hatred of Jews has always been protean, readily revising itself to reflect the idiom of its age. At times, it targeted Jews for their religion, demonizing them as Christ-killers or enemies of the true faith. At other times, Jews have been damned as disloyal fifth columns to be suppressed or expelled, or as a racial malignancy to be physically exterminated.
In our day, Jew-hatred expresses itself overwhelmingly in national terms: It is the Jewish state that the haters are obsessed with. “What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people,” the British commentator Melanie Phillips has written. “First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear.”
The claim that anti-Zionism isn’t bigotry would be preposterous in any other context. Imagine someone vehemently asserting that Ireland has no right to exist, that Irish nationalism is racism, and that those who murder Irishmen are actually victims deserving the world’s sympathy. Who would take his fulminations for anything but anti-Irish bigotry? Or believe him if he said that he harbors no prejudice against the Irish?
By the same token, those who demonize and delegitimize Israel, who say the world would be better off without it, who hold it to standards of perfection no other country is held to, who extol or commiserate with its mortal enemies, who liken it to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, who make it the scapegoat not only for crimes it hasn’t committed, but for those of which it is a victim – yes, such people are anti-Semitic, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Criticize Israel? Certainly. But those who so loudly denounce Israel in its war against Hamas are siding with some of the most virulent Jew-haters on earth. They may tell themselves that that doesn’t make them anti-Semites. But it does. “When people criticize Zionists,” Martin Luther King said in 1968, “they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.”