Participants at the fourth conference of the Global Forum for Combating anti-Semitism, held under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry this week in Jerusalem, will be provided with data highlighting the accelerated global erosion of the status of Jews and Israel.
In the post-Holocaust era, many had predicted, mistakenly, that the world’s oldest hatred would recede, even anticipating that anti-Semites would soon become an extinct species. Instead, defaming Jews has emerged as the greatest global political growth industry – a virtual tsunami. In fact we are witnessing a resurrection of the medieval paranoia which effectively blamed Jews for all the disasters of mankind.
The most concentrated venom is relentlessly directed against ‘the state of the Jews’ (anti-Israelism) which is now the principal vehicle employed to demonize Jews. It dominates debates at the UN and other international organizations where rogue states and barbaric regimes seek to delegitimize the state of the Jews.
The bias and double standards against Israel became so intense that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) decided to explicitly define such behavior as anti-Semitic (see page 29).
The escalation of Jew hatred over recent years has been greatly accelerated by the economic meltdown and surge in unemployment throughout Europe. Such an environment breeds xenophobia which, since time immemorial, was always directed against Jews, exploiting them as scapegoats.
The era of the internet and electronic global communications has been a boon to Jew baiters, enabling them to globally disseminate their hatred instantly and effectively.
New varieties of Judeophobia have emerged and integrated with the traditional anti-Semitism which had been temporarily muted due to revulsion at the horrors of the Holocaust. The new blend fuses traditional right wing religious, racial and economically inspired hatred of Jews with leftist varieties which now dominates indigenous Western anti-Semites. Ironically, the left bases its demonization of the Jewish state on bogus Israeli human rights violations whilst avoiding condemnations of Arab anti-Semitism and abdicating its traditional long standing role of purporting to champion rights of the oppressed and condemning human rights violations – an area in which the Arab world excels.
The greatest outpouring of anti-Jewish hatred emanates from the newly empowered Moslem countries with its combined population of 1.6 billion. In conjunction with their diasporas in Western countries, they frenziedly promote a devilish brew of unique Islamic anti-Semitism combined with the traditional Western varieties. They depict Jews as vampires; descendants of apes and pigs; evil creatures disseminating AIDS; the masterminds behind 9/11; etc. Their incitement is at least as potent as the worst Jew-hatred promoted during the Nazi era. In addition, the Jihadist component has been the principal element stoking the escalation of global violence, terror and murder against Jews.
We also witnessed the emergence of Jewish anti-Semites, who are now increasingly promoted to the forefront by our enemies as representing “decent” Jews. They legitimize Holocaust inversion as a vehicle to besmirch their kinsmen – comparing Israelis to Nazis and Palestinians to Jews during the Holocaust.
The hatred has reached epic levels in Europe, the continent whose soil was drenched in Jewish blood only 70 years ago and ironically today commemorates an annual Holocaust Memorial.
Incredibly, European Jewish communities probably face greater anti-Semitism today than prior to the Holocaust. Then, at least liberals and much of the left were willing to condemn the Nazis and speak out on behalf of Jews. Today, under the guise of promoting human rights, the left is usually heading the anti-Jewish pack.
This is cogently summarized in the introduction to Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld’s new book “Demonizing Israel and the Jews” where he states “today well over 100 million Europeans embrace a satanic view of the state of Israel. They believe that Israel is exterminating the Palestinians… This current widespread demonic view of Israel is an imitation of the diabolical beliefs about Jews which many held in the Middle Ages, and those promoted more recently by the Nazis and their allies”.
Opinion polls confirm that nearly 50% of Europeans regard Israel as a greater threat to the peace and stability of mankind than North Korea, Iran or Syria.
There is also increasing anti-Jewish street violence in European cities, much of which is understated as hooliganism. In many cities Jews are advised not to wear kippot (Jewish skullcaps) or other signs of Jewish identification.
In France, the aggressive approach of sectors of Islamic migrant communities has resulted in murders.
Attitudes in the UK have also dramatically changed as reflected in the frenetic and shameful hostility and bias towards Israel and the Jews expressed by the bulk of the media.
These attitudes even permeate the British judiciary, with one judge acquitting a group which had vandalized products designed for Israel on the grounds that it was engaging in justified opposition to the “occupation”. More recently a judge upholding the right of UK Teachers Union to boycott Israel condemned the plaintiff for behaving inappropriately by suggesting that Israel was relevant to the Jewish religion. The UK Protestant Churches have reverted to their former hostility to the Jews with some even challenging Israel’s legitimacy.
Even Germany, despite its special relationship with the Jews, has been displaying signs of growing anti-Semitism and Holocaust fatigue.
Other European countries are witnessing a resurgence of xenophobia and neo-Nazism. The situation in Hungary is especially stark where Jobbik, the Nazi party whose supporters proudly chant Heil Hitler and other Nazi slogans, gained 17% of the vote. In Greece its Neo-Nazi counterpart “Golden Dawn” recently polled 12% of the vote.
Belgium, Holland and the Scandinavian countries, especially those hosting substantial Muslim immigrant communities with electoral clout, have also registered major upsurges in anti-Semitism.
In these communities, many Jews are in denial. Leading somewhat cloistered lives and not personally encountering anti-Semitism, they refuse to acknowledge the intense hostility saturating their societies.
The greatest impact is on the younger Jewish generation whose parents grew up in an environment in which they took pride in their Judaism and association with Israel. But in a climate in which the media and society continuously bombard them with defamatory reports about Israel Jewish pride and dignity is undermined and increasing numbers of younger Jews seek anonymity. Some even engage in anti-Israeli rhetoric to attain social acceptability.
Such a pariah lifestyle is not an environment likely to inculcate a positive Jewish identity and there is now serious concern about the long-term survival of many established Jewish communities.
Some read the writing on the wall and recognize that there is no future for their children in Europe, and contemplate emigration or encourage their children to leave.
There is no denying the fact that the government of Israel has badly mishandled the situation. It has merely paid lip service to the problem and its diplomats abroad ceremoniously condemn anti-Semitism. But there has been no real effort to coordinate a global campaign to confront the hostility and systematically promote our position in the battle of ideas in which the struggle against anti-Semitism should have been a priority.
The Israeli government’s hosting of a global conference with endless speeches on anti-Semitism every three years is surely not the answer. What is required is the creation of a global operating center to coordinate an ongoing campaign to combat the plague. However, there is no indication of any intention to create a permanent Secretariat to deal with the issue.
There are many talented diaspora Jews and non-Jewish friends willing to cooperate with us in such a project. This is one area in which the resources of major US Jewish agencies like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, with numerous years of experience and engagement in this arena, could provide considerable assistance.
Yet, to date we have failed to take effective action to confront this scourge which in the long run extends beyond Jew hatred and will damage Israel no less than diaspora Jews. Many Israeli leaders fail to appreciate that the battle for the mind, which we are losing, is an extension of the military conflict.
The writer’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
He may be contacted at [email protected]
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom