Europeans Must Stop Telling Lies about Anti-Semitism

Europeans Must Stop Telling Lies about Anti-Semitism

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January 31, 2019

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European politicians and intellectuals are happy to hold forth on the evil of hating Jews, but tend to address the problem with clichés, ignorance, and sometimes a stubborn unwillingness to face facts, as Monika Schwarz-Friesel writes:

[Often, Europeans] hear passionate affirmations, long since rejected by empirical research, that “rightist populism is responsible for contemporary anti-Semitism,” or that “the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the main cause,” or that “classical Jew-hatred is in retreat.” Completely misleading, too, is the assertion that “anti-Semitism and Muslim-hatred are closely related,” or that present-day Muslims suffer the same discrimination Jews once did. . . .

As in the past, present-day anti-Semitism reproduces and multiplies Jew-hating tendencies deeply rooted in Western consciousness. It follows the age-old pattern that attributes to the Jews all the miseries of the world. Anti-Semitic rancor is always directed against Jewish existence per se—and today, this means the most vital symbol of Jewish existence, the state of Israel. The opposition to Israel is now the meeting point for all sorts of haters of Jews, the common ground of present-day anti-Semitism. . . . Tirades of hate against the Jewish state, [moreover], are found not on the margins but in the center of Western society. Rancor against Israel feeds the dissemination of present-day anti-Semitism more than any other factor. . . .

When political spokespeople (rightly) criticize the new German right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland because of its refusal to confront the frequent anti-Semitic utterances of its supporters, but at the same time overlook (or even applaud) when [the Palestinian Authority president] Mahmoud Abbas spouts well-known Judeophobic stereotypes in the EU parliament, or when [the Turkish president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan rages against Israel with surreal accusations, or when [the British Labor party’s leader] Jeremy Corbyn defames the Jewish state as an unjust colonial creation—these officials have a serious credibility problem.

It is not enough to criticize low-level neo-Nazis, Islamists, or boycott-divestment-and-sanctions (BDS) activists. Anyone who seriously wants to address the problem should look to the stage of international politics and step in forcefully.

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