European Anti-Semitism
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European Anti-Semitism

European Anti-Semitism

And why it’s not only the Jews who should be concerned.


Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe.

A recent Tel Aviv University report found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe increased by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012.

A separate analysis of anti-Semitic incidents in France noted a jump of 58 percent in that same period, and that half of all racist acts in that country are committed against Jews, though Jews constitute just one percent of the population. Most striking last year was the targeting and murder of four Jews, including three small children, outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Moreover, there are today two aggressively anti-Semitic, xenophobic political parties represented in the parliaments of European Union member states– Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece. Other extremist political movements operating on EU soil have had some success on the local and regional levels.

As the British newspaper The Independent pointed out in a May 5th editorial referring to Jobbik, “Hungarian populists have come from nowhere in only a few years by attributing all their country’s ills to the enemy within – in this case, half-a-million Roma and 100,000 Jews.”

And Golden Dawn invokes Nazi-like images as it demonizes Jews and migrants to advance its agenda, making its relative success in a country brutally occupied by the Third Reich all the more shocking.

Further, polls show that anti-Semitic attitudes are stubbornly high in certain EU countries, including, notably, Spain and Poland.

In addition, anti-Semitism is expanding in cyberspace, prompting at least one government, the French, to seek aggressive ways of combating it.

And finally, the campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel grows stronger.

This goes beyond criticizing specific Israeli policies, which is a normal part of life for any democratic nation. Rather, per the EU Fundamental Rights Agency Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, it is about “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” “applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nations,” “using the symbols and images of classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis,” or “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Rising anti-Semitism in Europe is fueled by three main sources: the extreme right, largely boosted by concerns about the economic crisis and growing migration; the extreme left, which refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist; and those Muslims who espouse hatred for Jews and Israel. Apropos, a recent study in Belgium found that nearly half of Muslim teenage students held anti-Semitic views.

Why should Europe, amidst its many other challenges, be concerned?

The reasons are crystal-clear.

Europe, more than any other continent, knows something about the slippery slope of anti-Semitism – how it begins and where it can lead.

Moreover, history teaches that anti-Semitism may begin with Jews, but, ultimately, threatens the well-being of entire countries.

And finally, the EU has responded to centuries of war and persecution on European soil by championing humanistic values. Action is surely called for when these values are threatened.

Start by acknowledging the problem; stop the denial.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the age-old pathology of anti-Semitism, but a good place to start is to acknowledge the problem.

It sounds obvious, but such acknowledgement encounters resistance. Some European officials prefer to believe that attacks against Jews are acts of “hooliganism,” not anti-Semitism. Some spend endless hours questioning the methodology of polls, rather than digesting the consistently worrisome results. And some would rather debate ad nauseum where the line between “legitimate” and ‘illegitimate” criticism of Israel lies, instead of recognizing the stark fact that anti-Semitism has all too often been transferred from the individual Jew to the Jewish state of Israel.

The four layers of democratic nations must be fully mobilized – (a) regional bodies, such as the EU, Council of Europe, and OSCE; (b) the state – its political leadership, law enforcement and judiciary, and educational system; (c) civil society – religious groups, human rights organizations, and the media; and (d) individuals of good will.

There are, of course, many current examples of precisely this kind of mobilization. The OSCE has a special representative to combat anti-Semitism. Some governments have taken tough action to fight anti-Semitism. There are Christian and Muslim leaders who demonstrate solidarity with Jews, and vice versa, in confronting acts of bigotry. And there are spontaneous acts of good will, such as the students in Italy who stood up for a Jewish classmate shockingly attacked by her teacher.

Yet, as the problem grows, more such action is needed, on every level and in every country. Otherwise, not only the Jews are at risk, but the very fabric of society.

This op-ed originally appeared in El Pais, Spain's best-known and most influential daily newspaper.

Published: May 25, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 36

(29) J LaLone, April 18, 2014 7:29 PM

God Bless and Protest the Women and Children, The Righteous and the Gentle Among Us.

Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece..these are the ignorant, the ones who know in their hearts that they are they use hate and violence against others. And the better others are, the more these animals hate them. I am no longer young. I have suffered at the hands of monsters, and placating them is a bad idea. They are not hooligans, they are criminally insane. We must stop believing that being nice to evil people who commit verbal or physical violence against the innocent is necessary in order to turn these people around. When the haters gather together they are no more than a pack of dogs. Have you ever seen a pack of dogs tear a vulnerable animal apart? I have, and it is a nasty sight. That is exactly the mentality of these sub-groups. We must stop their reign of terror that will only get worse. Even worse are the sheep that follow them and the power hungry egomaniac leaders (Putin & the North Korean leader) who use them to subject us to their will.

Alex, October 7, 2014 10:09 AM


Thank you for this....agree with much of what you wrote. Just one wee thing....I always feel uncomfortable when the word 'animals' is used as a descriptor for bad people: animals don't behave like these wishes from Scotland

(28) Haydee, November 13, 2013 11:56 AM

Stand as One

I believe with the writer. We must fight together with dignity and justice for all. All my life I stood against BULLIES who pick on ny one. I didn't have to know who you were! I saw it and I called it out. I had too because oneday I hope that someone will stand with me and I would not be alone. My family started in Spain and they move d to the Caribbeans Island and lost their Identity due to this desease called ANTI-SIMITISM. I asked some of my Jewish friends; why did they married non-Jews? They all seem to have the same answer, "I don't want to be Jewish, no one cares". I say; I care! That is why I wasn't raised Jewish, yet my youngest children I raised them to be Jewish. Now, they are telling me:" Mom, the world hates the Jewish people." I tell them; "G-d loves the Jewish people". They need as all of us to stand up and SPEAK out loud. Spain? That's where my Great-great-grand parents came from. A Hollocaust within our family. Secrets of our identities. Now, I live as a Jewish woman and I come across with Anti-Jew but hey, I do speak up and even if they fire me from my job as I was, i am glad! Im doing onestep at a time and when I get to meet others I will fight for them too. Shalom...

(27) Anonymous, June 6, 2013 2:20 AM

Concern is a Necessity!!

This is deeply shocking a text, yet, it speaks to the necessity of consistent effort in the exercise of Honesty and Integrity. All Human, Monotheistic religions, however young, OWE their existence to the "Guardians of Torah." Without the Jewish Peoples, without Jewish Texts, whatever else is exercised, lacks the necessary acknowledgment of its' true source. Thus, to in any way disparage, slander, cause harm, denigrate, distress, Violate, the Sanctity of the Jewish People is to disregard Monotheistic Origins. The Human Family, NEEDS to respect its diversity, by proclaiming its unity and this can only be done by extending, at all times, in all places, in all circumstances, RESPECT, HONOURING, and Showing Solidarity with its' different Nations. Israel is the "First-Born" of Humankind, and to in any way disparage and bring slander, defamation, libel, and or distress, hatred, harm and destruction to its Nation is to do the same to one"s "self - one's Nation". Essentially, Humankind is Utterly connected, and reflects an innate Holy Spark in Each Human Being, which has been Created and breathed into this world. When there is Harm, or any kind of destruction is incurred - the ENTIRE Family of Humankind is Assaulted, and "suffers."

Given Human History, this should be Very self-evident.

(26) Albert Hache, June 2, 2013 4:24 AM

Ugly heads of anti-Semitism raising in Europe

There is no doubt the people who organized the final solution are still here today, ever ready to spring forth and impose their sinister laws when the occasion presents itself. As Bertold Brecht put it : " The belly is still fertile from which the foul beast sprang". These many dissatisfied psychopaths are momentarily being suppressed, not by their conscience but by unfavorable circumstances.
The holocaust was the result of a deliberate manipulation by an utter social failure, who owed much to the goodness of Jews (possibly his own life) and resented their success to the point of a savage hatred which had to find an outlet.
To counteract anti-Semitism it is useful to understand the lies from which it arises. It finds fertile ground in stupidity, according to the infamous monster himself . Here are a few of his statements, they show the low opinion he had of the superior Aryan race:

“The chief function (of propaganda) is to convince the masses, whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time in order that they may absorb information; and only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on their mind ... The success of any advertisement, whether of a business or a political nature, depends upon the consistency and perseverance with which it is employed.”

“I am ready to swear six false oaths every day.”

“What luck for the rulers that men do not think.”

“The masses are like an animal that obeys instincts.”

"The masses of our people, whose sheepish docility corresponds to their want of intelligence.”

“These tactics are based on an accurate estimation of human frailties and must lead to success,  with almost mathematical certainty.”

“Only the fanaticized masses can be guided.”

“Close your hearts to pity. Act brutally. The strongest man is right.”

“I am Europe’s greatest actor

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