Scores of disturbing examples reflect Europe’s failure to address the “oldest hatred.” The European Union should turn to the United States as a paradigm country for adopting policies to combat Jew-hatred.
The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, captured the anti-Jewish atmosphere: “These are the worst times since the Nazi era. On the streets, you hear things like ‘The Jews should be gassed, the Jews should be burned.’"
Anti-Semitic rhetoric that bleeds into violence led to the arson attack by German teenagers on a synagogue in Wuppertal, near Dusseldorf. The first torching of the synagogue took place during the Nazi pogroms in 1938. In Brussels, a Belgian doctor refused to provide vital medical care to a Jewish woman, telling her, “I’m not coming…Send her to Gaza for a few hours, then she’ll get rid of the pain.”
Last week, a Swedish demonstration to protest anti-Semitism was canceled by organizers because of expected anti-Semitic violence.
Two Jewish women in the Netherlands merely hung Israeli flags from their balconies. As a result, anti-Semites beat one woman and the second woman was victim of an arson attack. The front door of Amsterdam’s Rabbi Binjamin home was vandalized in a stoning attack.
Roger Cukierman, the president of France’s Jewish umbrella association CRIF, said, “They are screaming ‘Death to the Jew.”’ Eight French synagogues, many full of Jews, were attacked by “anti-Israel protestors” over the last four weeks.
It is no longer possible to decouple hatred of Israel from anti-Semitism. Organizations such as the Berlin-based German-Israel Friendship Society are supposed to advance Israel’s security. The German government funded NGO—and its director Reinhold Robbe—praised the activities (and whitewashed her anti-Israel work) of Green Party MP Marieluise Beck. She pushed in the Bundestag for the punitive labeling of Israeli products.
The labeling of Israeli products from the disputed West Bank territories is a sad reminder of the demarcation of Jewish businesses in the 1930s. Europe should follow the U.S. lead and reject all anti-Israel boycotts.
Post-Holocaust Europe still has a problem with Jews. The anti-Semitism is just manifesting itself in a new form. Israel has become the “Jew among the nations,” as the Léon Poliakov, the French historian of anti-Semitism, put it.
Europe has helped turn Israel into a punching bag by not accepting the fact that lethal anti-Semitism is linked to opposition to Israel’s right to self-defense. Take the example of Hezbollah. The EU still fails to completely ban the Lebanese terrorist organization, which receives financial and military aid from the Islamic Republic of Iran—the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
European Hezbollah members hold annual Al-Quds Day demonstration across the continent, calling for the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah murdered five Israelis and their Bulgaria bus driver in a 2012 bombing in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas. In 1995, the U.S. designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
Samuel Salzborn, a leading expert on anti-Semitism at the University of Göttingen in Lower Saxony, said in early August, “There is a startling indifference in the German public to the current display of anti-Semitism.”
Europe, in contrast to the United States, faces a great lack of countervailing societal forces to blunt the ubiquitous loathing of Israel.
The United States, of course, does not have a history of eliminatory anti-Semitism, namely, the Holocaust. America’s strong support for Israel has helped to diminish contemporary anti-Semitism and provides a blueprint for Europe.
Organizations such as Christians United for Israel play an important role on the grassroots and political levels in the US. In a show of solidarity with the Jewish state, politicians including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Israel during the FAA’s short-lived and misguided July ban of air carrier service to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and a bipartisan group of state politicians leave for Israel on Tuesday to show their solidarity with the fight against Hamas terrorism. In July, the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed resolutions supporting Israel’s right to self-defense and condemned Hamas for its use of “human shields” in the Gaza Strip.
Why aren’t major European politicians traveling to express their solidarity with Israel—the only country in the Middle East that embodies European and American values?
It is worth recalling the response of European countries and the U.S. to an obscenely one-sided July United Nations Human Rights Council vote blasting Israel’s for its self-defense, as well as triggering an inquiry into alleged Israeli “war crimes.” The U.S. opposed the resolution and European countries, including Israel’s most important EU ally Germany, abstained during the vote. The UNHRC vote was an anti-Semitic sham.
The lack of moral clarity in European capitals surely sends signals to their citizens that there may be good cause to bash Israel in UN fora.
European nations should institute a zero-tolerance policy for violent anti-Semitism among segments of their Muslim communities. Absent grassroots efforts to change mainstream attitudes of indifference, mass anti-Israel demonstrations will continue to attract a growing mix of Muslims, leftists and right-wing extremists.
European politicians have showed little appetite (perhaps none) to go to their constituents and have conversations about the need to support Israel in its fight against terrorism.
Grassroots efforts, particularly among European Christians, combined with political will can stem some of the mushrooming anti-Semitism. To significantly reduce anti-Semitism over the long term, Europe will need to look a lot more like the New World.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal