This article originally appeared in The National Review
Last weekend in Washington, D.C., crowds seeking to save the "oppressed" from globalization also marched against Israel's West Bank war against the campaign of terror launched by Hamas, Hezbollah, and Yasser Arafat's own Al Aqsa brigade against Jewish civilians. In seeking to impose their sense of justice on Israel, is the world waging a war against Jews? Let us consider the actions of their more mature "moral trading partners" in Europe: U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen criticized the Israeli military action in Jenin as having caused a human catastrophe "horrifying beyond belief." And recently, European Union Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten told a BBC radio interviewer that even in democratic societies it's hard to distinguish terrorism from legitimate political opposition. This is Europe's point man in brokering a peace between Israel and Arab states.
Two weeks ago, the European parliament -- which is directly elected by Europeans -- decided to slap billions of dollars worth of economic sanctions on Israel because it believes "the military escalation pursued by the Sharon government ... violates international and humanitarian law and will provide no effective solution to the terrorist attacks." The resolution failed to include a direct appeal to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to call -- in Arabic -- for a halt to suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians. (The EU has declined to impose sanctions -- for now.) Meanwhile, on the same day the parliament voted not to impose economic sanctions on Russia for their alleged violation of human rights in their treatment of the mostly Muslim Chechen rebels and surrounding populations.
French Foreign Minister Hubert Verne told the Arabic daily Al-Hayat that sanctions against Iraq have become "cruel, inefficient and dangerous." In April 2000, the European parliament passed a resolution on Iraq in which it noted that "the Iraqi people are in a tragic situation as a result of the imposition of sanctions" and called upon the Security Council for "the lifting of Sanctions as a matter of urgency."
No, Europe -- and the Left -- seem to muster all their moral courage when it comes to the Jewish state. EU foreign ministers decided not hold an extraordinary meeting of the Association Council, which oversees the agreement with Israel, to put pressure on Israel to halt its West Bank incursion. But the fact that they continue to talk about them -- the threat of sanctions because of Israeli military action were also raised last year -- is still revealing. The European community feels that sanctions are not cruel, inefficient, and dangerous when applied against a Jewish state but are when applied to Iraq, Russia, and other evil regimes.
Europe's leaders are itching to go after Israel.
Indeed, it appears that the many of Europe's leaders are itching to go after Israel. They are sickened by the vision of a Jewish state at war. Europe considers Israel's actions against terrorism to be more inhumane than the behavior of Iraq. More to the point, either the Europeans' sanctions threshold for Jews is very low or else their tolerance for collective Jewish defensive action is paper-thin.
Europe hates it when Jews fight back. Maybe that explains why Germany is halting shipment of parts for Israel's Merkava tank, even as it supplies Iran with parts for its long-range missile program. Maybe it explains the beatings and desecrations and riots against Jews in France this time around. Sixty years ago, Jews were in denial and in fear and in shock. This time we are ready, determined, and not surprised. We had hoped far better from Europe but did not expect anything different than what we have seen and experienced.
Europe may not want its Jews dead, as it did a half-century ago, but it does wants them supplicants at best. Israel is a defiant reminder that Jews will not forfeit (despite our best efforts to assimilate) our status as a nation or nation-state. The Palestinian solution to the Middle East conflict -- Jews living as "citizens" in a democratic and secular Palestine -- fits the formula for Jewish existence Europe is comfortable with: for Jews as individuals, everything; for Jews as a group, nothing.
It is from this specific perspective that both protests and sanctions against Israel in its war against terror constitute part of a war against the Jewish state. So too are efforts to apply sanctions against a largely Jewish state fighting terror, while at the same time withdrawing sanctions against a brutal regime that subsidizes terror. The French foreign minister to England may have been speaking for all of Europe when he described Israel as "that shitty little country" which threatens world peace. That he couldn't generate that level of hatred towards Iraq or Iran or Hamas speaks volumes about the anti-Semitism of Europe's political class. Europe's Jewish war and worry render it useless and impotent against terror around the world. My survival as a Jew will never depend on that continent of cowards. It depends on the courage of Israel and America.
In this regard, it is sad that despite its forcefulness in other respects, the Bush administration has failed to restate in the Middle East the demand it made at the beginning of America's war against terror: Either dismantle the apparatus of terror against Israel or be considered a terrorist. I can understand why it's hard for Europe to issue and implement that ultimatum -- they have a problem with the concept of Jewish survival. It is time for America to regain its moral clarity and implement that ultimatum in the Middle East. There is no other way to end the Arabs', the Left's -- and the Europeans' -- war against Israel.
THE CANARY IN EUROPE'S MINE
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
April 28, 2002
The rocks have been lifted all over Europe, and the snakes of Jew-hatred are slithering free.
In Belgium, thugs beat up the chief rabbi, kicking him in the face and calling him "a dirty Jew." Two synagogues in Brussels were firebombed; a third, in Charleroi, was sprayed with automatic weapons fire.
In Britain, the cover of the New Statesman, a left-wing magazine, depicted a large Star of David stabbing the Union Jack. Oxford professor Tom Paulin, a noted poet, told an Egyptian interviewer that American Jews who move to the West Bank and Gaza "should be shot dead." A Jewish yeshiva student reading the Psalms was stabbed 27 times on a London bus. Antisemitism, wrote a columnist in The Spectator, "has become respectable . . . at London dinner tables." She quoted one member of the House of Lords: "The Jews have been asking for it and now, thank God, we can say what we think at last."
In Italy, the daily paper La Stampa published a Page 1 cartoon: A tank emblazoned with a Jewish star points its gun at the baby Jesus, who pleads, "Surely they don't want to kill me again?" In Corriere Della Sera, another cartoon showed Jesus trapped in his tomb, unable to rise, because Ariel Sharon, with rifle in hand, is sitting on the sepulchre. The caption: "Non resurrexit."
In Germany, a rabbinical student was beaten up in downtown Berlin and a grenade was thrown into a Jewish cemetery. Thousands of neo-Nazis held a rally, marching near a synagogue on the Jewish sabbath. Graffiti appeared on a synagogue in the western town of Herford: "Six million were not enough."
In Ukraine, skinheads attacked Jewish worshippers and smashed the windows of Kiev's main synagogue. Ukrainian police denied that the attack was anti-Jewish.
In Greece, Jewish graves were desecrated in Ioannina and vandals hurled paint at the Holocaust memorial in Salonica. In Holland, an anti-Israel demonstration featured swastikas, photos of Hitler, and chants of "Sieg Heil" and "Jews into the sea." In Slovakia, the Jewish cemetery of Kosice was invaded and 135 tombstones destroyed.
But nowhere have the flames of antisemitism burned more furiously than in France.
In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In Montpellier, the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseille; so was a Jewish school in Creteil. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, the words "Dirty Jew" were painted. In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months. According to the police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents per day since Easter.
Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming "Jews to the gas chambers" and "Death to the Jews." The weekly journal Le Nouvel Observateur published an appalling libel: It said Israeli soldiers rape Palestinian women, so that their relatives will kill them to preserve "family honor." The French ambassador to Great Britain was not sacked -- and did not apologize -- when it was learned that he had told guests at a London dinner that the world's troubles were the fault of "that shitty little country, Israel."
"At the start of the 21st century," writes Pierre-Andre Taguieff, a well-known social scientist, in a new book, "we are discovering that Jews are once again select targets of violence. . . . Hatred of the Jews has returned to France."
But of course, it never left. Not France; not Europe. Antisemitism, the oldest bigotry known to man, has been a part of European society since time immemorial. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, open Jew-hatred became unfashionable; but fashions change, and Europe is reverting to type.
To be sure, some Europeans are shocked by the re-emergence of Jew-hatred all over their continent. But the more common reaction has been complacency. "Stop saying that there is antisemitism in France," President Jacques Chirac scolded a Jewish editor in January. "There is no antisemitism in France." The European media have been vicious in condemning Israel's self-defense against Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank; they have been far less agitated about anti-Jewish terror in their own backyard.
They are making a grievous mistake. For if today the violence and vitriol are aimed at the Jews, tomorrow they will be aimed at the Christians.
A timeless lesson of history is that it rarely ends with the Jews. Militant Islamist extremists were attacking and killing Jews long before they attacked and killed Americans on Sept. 11. The Nazis first set out to incinerate the Jews; in the end, all of Europe was ablaze.
Jews, it is often said, are the canary in the coal mine of civilization. When they become the objects of savagery and hate, it means the air has been poisoned and an explosion is soon to come. If Europeans don't rise up and turn against the Jew-haters, it is only a matter of time until the Jew-haters rise up and turn against them.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe. To receive his columns by e-mail, send a note with your name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org).