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Don't Blame Jews For Anti-Semitism

Don't Blame Jews For Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism, far from being a product of the Mideast conflict, is increasingly a cause of it.


Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Week

It was probably inevitable. Amid the greatest explosion of anti-Semitism since the 1930s, several key Jewish figures (and non-Jewish critics) have now suggested that this upsurge of hatred is a product of the Sharon government's policies. Most notable were international financier George Soros and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Some have claimed that these comments reflect the health and openness of Jewish life and should not be viewed with disdain. Is it not healthy for a community, they say, to look at its own responsibility?

Of course, there is no shortage of debate within Israel and beyond over the wisdom of any Israeli government's policies. It is vital that there be continuing options presented to Israeli leaders and the public, particularly because solutions have not been reached, not only for peace but for security as well.

That being said, there is a dramatic difference between raising questions about current Israeli policies and framing the explosion of anti-Semitism in the Islamic world and Europe in terms of those policies. Indeed, the true linkage of anti-Semitism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the opposite of what Soros and Peres maintain: It is the hatred reflected in anti-Semitism that has made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even harder to solve. Anti-Semitism, far from being a product of the conflict, is increasingly a cause of it.

Not surprisingly, many Jews are distressed by this tendency, now spilling over to our own community, of blaming Jews for anti-Semitism. That is why I have called Mr. Soros' comments obscene. But there is something far more at stake here than emotions. At play is the sense of purpose needed to do what has to be done about this new anti-Semitism.

This new anti-Semitism is the greatest threat to the Jewish people since the days leading up to the Holocaust.

Make no mistake about it, this new anti-Semitism is the greatest threat to the Jewish people since the days leading up to the Holocaust. It has within it the key components of that great catastrophe: an ideology of hatred that takes over millions of minds and hearts; a military capability to inflict huge casualties; and the complicity of leaders and individuals.

Millions of Muslims believe they are the victims of Jewish control over international policies and economics. Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia knew to whom he was speaking when he told the Islamic Conference that "Jews rule the world by proxy." Whether it is Holocaust denial, blaming the Jews for 9-11 or the second dramatic presentation in a year on Arabic television based on the legitimacy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," Muslims -- like Germans in the '30s -- are being told day in and day out that they are the victims of the all-powerful Jews.

This ideology of hatred, combined with the designs of the terrorists to develop delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction, poses an unprecedented threat to Jewish communities around the world.

Into that mix, the essential ingredient is whether there will be complicity with these evil intentions or whether this time the nations of the world will stand up. The tragic weekend of the Istanbul synagogue bombings and the arson of the French Jewish school offered hope that counteraction was in the offing. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reaction to the bombings -- that they were not anti-Semitic, not anti-Turkey, but anti-freedom and democracy -- offered hope that leaders are beginning to understand that anti-Semitism is truly the canary in the mine shaft.

When President Jacques Chirac described anti-Semitism as a serious threat to France, there was hope. When Tony Blair was asked if British citizens died in Istanbul because of Britain's support of America in Iraq and he responded that the cause of terrorism is the evil of the terrorists, there was hope.

It will be a major struggle, led by the United States and supported by American Jews, to broaden and deepen the understanding that anti-Semitism is part of the assault on the Western world by Islamic extremists that threatens us all. At this moment when the Western world is beginning to wake up to the meaning of anti-Semitism, it is uncommonly destructive to give an out by suggesting that in fact the blame lies with the Jews.

Let's be frank. These charges are not true and they can seriously undermine our common struggle. Yes, they are obscene.

December 6, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 12

(12) Robert Gustafson, March 3, 2005 12:00 AM

Stupid remarks by Foxman.

What was Mr Foxman thinking when denouncing Sen. Byrd. The analogy was not unreasonable and for someone who states never again, he was at least imprudent in these comments. Is he not aware of the context of the comments? Does he think that throwing support to the Republican efforts to erode protections that the filibuster gives that these people won't turn on him or the Jewish people? He could have least confronted Sentorum on his disingenuous attacks on Sen. Byrd. This reminds me of those who in the past said appeasement was the answer. Sad, sad, sad.

(11) joel steinberger, December 15, 2003 12:00 AM

How do you counter our own lefty media?

Thousands of people read the L.A. Times every day where they get a very subtle and steady supply of anti-Israel innuendos. Example: Recent editorial speaks of Palestinian terrorism AND SHARON'S INTRANSIGENCE as both being contributory to the conflict. My letter to the Times was, of course, not published. It defined the meaning of that word, and asked if standing stubbornly against terrorism was an action that could be correctly defined as 'intransigent", as if there was any room for compromise with terrorism. How to counteract our own U.S. media constant stance against Israel. I know Anti-Semitism when I smell it.

(10) Shmuli Wagner, December 10, 2003 12:00 AM

Torahs answer

The Oral law, the Written law and the commentaries all clearly classify anti-semitism to be an impetus for Jewry to get back to being 'Jewish'. When Jewry will explify the beauty of Torah, the world will stand in awe of us instead of disdain. So, it would seem that we are at some 'fault'. The solution then lies in the hope of the 'Aish' of Torah
lighting up the world!!

(9) George Allen Ward, December 9, 2003 12:00 AM

A House Divided?

Although I am not Jewish, my appearance is more Jewish than most of my Jewish friends, and have experienced first hand the experience of blatant anti-Semitism(because I look Jewish) in Europe on two separate occasions. The analogy made by Mr. Foxman of the "canary in the coal mine" is quite apt...there is a level of hatred in hearts both European and Muslim that is as irrational as it is dangerous. When Hitler began unleashing his hatred, the Gypsies were the first to be slaughtered, followed by millions who did not object to having a few Gypsies killed. I believe that the poisonous air that threatens all of us is typically lethal mixture of ignorance and hopelessnes. A suicide bomber cannot be reasoned with, for suicide is an irrational act which has only exacerbated the plight of the Palestinians and any other group that has employed terrorism. We must be careful of our own hearts...that they not be filled with another form of ignorance. Not all Muslims harbor this evil in their hearts. Not all Europeans hold anti-Semitic views. While the comments of those who hold Israeli policy guilty of creating anti-Semitism undermine the House of Israel that must stand united against terror and its incitor, hatred, the issue is really much, much broader...the House of Reason must hold firm against ALL forms of ignorance and hatred, wherever they are to be found. The shadow of terror will vanish in the sunlight of truth, and that truth is a universal one, that all of humankind is made by God and thus must respect each other as we respect the mere words of God. I believe it is vital that the evil inherent in terrorism be re-labeled for what it is...ignorance.
George Allen Ward

(8) steinberg, December 9, 2003 12:00 AM

Jews must wake up !

In the eyes of the "liberal press and institutions" sharon has always been the Jew of Jews. European closet antisemites blame Sharon so as to remain politically correct,
Will the Jews leave Europe?
The exodus has already started - I for one moved to Australia !
I am sickened by the Idea that Europe will one day become Islamic but they have pnly themselves to blame.
In the meantime antisemetic attacks will get worse each year and gp unreproted in the press and unregulated by the dhimified european governments.
Unless Jews are preparted to defend themselves in europe as jews defend themselves in Israel, they will be mercilessly preyed on by the muslim community,
it is time for action for the Jews of Europe !

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