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by Guy Millière
In 2012, the number of anti-Semitic crimes in France sharply increased. The six-month period that followed the March killings in a Jewish school in Toulouse were particularly harsh. The killer , Mohammed Merah, became a hero in many suburbs, his name on many graffiti. For some people, apparently, shooting children in the head just because they are Jewish is inspiring.
Although acts such as as the killing in Toulouse had no equivalent elsewhere, France is not an exception: statistics show that insults, assaults, and cries of hatred against Jews multiply throughout Europe. Jewish schools, synagogues and Jewish cultural centers are everywhere threatened and urgently require more stringent security measures.
Political leaders say they are aware of the problem and are determined to act. In November, French President François Hollande said that “the struggle against anti-Semitism is a top priority.” Angela Merkel used the same words a few weeks later in Germany. In the beginning of December, after a spike in verbal and physical anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, David Cameron said that he wanted to “tackle Antisemitism head on.”
Words such as that were uttered many times in recent decades, but clearly had no effect. They did not reverse the trend.
When European political leaders and commentators speak of anti-Semitism, they are vague and almost never give more detailed explanations. They never say why anti-Semitism is despicable and dangerous. They perform a sort of abstract ritual that seems more and more detached from reality.
On the other hand, when European political leaders and commentators are more precise, they generally refer only to a certain type of anti-Semitism: fascist anti-Semitism. Even if fascist anti-Semitism has not disappeared, it is not the most virulent anti-Semitism in Europe now, and no longer involved in much anti-Semitic crime. It is as if they are fighting a sickness by designating only one aspect of the sickness and sparing its most important dimensions.
European political leaders and commentators almost never speak of the most virulent strain of anti-Semitism in Europe today: Islamic anti-Semitism. They are afraid to combine the two words “Islamic” and “anti-Semitism.” They know that if they do, they will be immediately accused of being “racist” and “Islamophobic.” They know that Muslim organizations will start to say in the mainstream media that Muslims are being unfairly “stigmatized.” They also know that the Muslim population in Europe is increasing quickly, and that some of its members may react with violence.
There is no fight against Islamic anti-Semitism in Europe today. If a non-Muslim bookseller wanted to sell The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Paris, Berlin or Brussels, the police would intervene immediately, and he would be arrested and prosecuted. If a Muslim bookseller wants to do the same thing, he can, without risking anything. If a French or a German television station decided to broadcast anti-Semitic programs, it would be shut down, and it would cause a scandal. Islamic TV channels broadcast anti-Semitic programs that attract a wide audience in Europe, and nobody dares talk about it.
A further cause of anti-Semitism never evoked in Europe is the spread of “anti-Zionism.” The “Palestinian cause” and the “suffering of the Palestinian People” have become the main concern of a growing number of Europeans who, strangely, are not interested in the suffering of any other people — Syrians for example. Israel has become the country that it is fashionable to hate. Widespread hatred of successive Israeli governments in Israel has led to hatred toward the Israeli population, and hatred toward the Jews in general, especially if they support Israel.
European political leaders and commentators do not fight “anti-Zionism” except when it becomes extreme and when its anti-Semitic dimension becomes impossible to hide. Many seem to have anti-Israel prejudices and consciously or unconsciously contribute to the spread of this hatred.
Anti-Semitism in Europe today is like a complex dark nebula. It includes remnants of fascist anti-Semitism and increasing levels of Islamic anti-Semitism, with “Anti-Zionism” added to the mix. Fascist anti-Semites, to hide their anti-Semitism, often join “anti-Zionist” movements, where they work hand in hand with Islamic anti-Semites to organize protests against Israel. Islamic anti-Semites use elements of fascist propaganda and disseminate them without any barrier.
European political leaders and commentators pretend to fight anti-Semitism; some of them might think they really are fighting anti-Semitism. But as long as they will not take into account the whole nebula, and as long as they will not speak clearly of all its components, what they say and what they do will be useless.
Jews who can do so, leave Europe. Those who do not have the means to leave know they must be extremely careful: it is dangerous again to be a Jew in Europe. It is even more dangerous to be a Jew who supports Israel.
Jews who publicly despise Israel, or who say that the Jewish people does not exist, are widely praised. What Theodor Lessing called “Jüdische Selbsthass” (Jewish self-hatred), in a book published in Germany in 1930, impregnates the atmosphere again.
Calling to mind the darkest period of the history of Europe may seem pessimistic. And those who say that history does not repeat itself are probably right, but certain forms of malevolence seem particularly able to find new clothing to survive and thrive again.
In an interview in a French magazine a few years ago, a man who survived the death camp in Auschwitz said: “In the 1930s, the pessimists found ways to survive; it was the optimists who died.”