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Europeans turning a blind eye amid rising tide of anti-Semitism

A member of the Jewish community pictured last month at a cemetery in Sarre-Union, where

A member of the Jewish community pictured last month at a cemetery in Sarre-Union, where 300 tombs were desecrated. Source: AFP

The funeral in Jerusalem of a rabbi slain by Palestinians.

The funeral in Jerusalem of a rabbi slain by Palestinians. Source: Supplied

RIGHT across Europe, museums and memorials and special days of prayer commemorate the Holocaust. Dead Jews, then, get respect, but a majority of living Jews prefer survival.

To that end, they have Israel, a nation-state with a very strong identity, a citizens’ army and the will to defend its interests.

I happened to be a reporter in the Six-Day War of 1967. The general expectation was that the encircling Arab armies were about to wipe out Israel in a second Holocaust. This was nothing less than a challenge to civilisation, and I saw grown men shed tears over it.

The cunning of history, in Hegel’s immortal phrase, set to work immediately. Israel won that war and subsequent wars as well, but each time it is seen as the wrong kind of victory.

Half the Israeli population consists of refugees born and bred in the Muslim world, but Israel is unmistakably a Western country with a First World economy. Having just rid themselves of the British and the French, Arabs were not going to accept any Western successor in their midst.

Anti-Semitism always rests on attributing to Jews whatever is considered bad character in the culture prevailing wherever they might be living. To Arabs and Muslims, Israel is an unwanted coloniser, racist and imperialist, ­viciously victimising virtuous and innocent inhabitants of the Third World.

Partly this is a Western outlook derived by intellectuals at second hand from Marxism, and partly it is a traditional act of faith in the minds of Muslims themselves.

Three instances in the Koran tell of Allah turning Jews into apes and pigs. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, is only one eminent preacher who treats this trope as literal truth rather than metaphorical.

Reaching for a wider audience, a song running on the television channel of the Palestinian Authority responsible for the West Bank has a couplet, “O Sons of Zion, O most evil among creations / O barbaric apes, O wretched pigs.”

Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi is an elderly and much respected Egyptian Sunni cleric who implores, “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”

Preaching in al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in November, Sheik Omar Abu Sara declared, “I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come. The time to fight you has come. The time to kill you has come.” He is only one of innumerable imams urging on another Holocaust

Last northern summer, war between Hamas and Israel offered a copybook example of misrepresentation. In command of the Gaza Strip, Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a militarised jihadi group that very openly, even honestly, declares its aim is genocide, the complete eradication of Israel.

Over a limited period, Hamas had fired into Israel something in the order of 8000 missiles. Finally provoked beyond endurance, ­Israel put a stop to it with a military campaign that killed just over 2000 people, fairly equally divided between Islamist terrorists and ­civilians.

Hamas, the original aggressor, portrayed Israeli self-defence as a war crime. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as paymaster and armourer of Hamas, accused Israel of the genocide he had hoped his proxies would accomplish.

This stratagem frees Arabs to fire more missiles or to murder Jews as and when it suits them, and still more dramatically obliges Jews to take a position about Israelis. Some conclude that Israelis must take whatever steps are required for survival, others feel guilty at the violence involved, and a few, mostly intellectuals again, dissociate themselves altogether from Israel.

There are Jews so frightened and insecure about their identity that in a psychological defence mechanism they detach anti-Semitism from its historical context, blaming it instead on the contemporary determination of Israelis to keep their fate in their own hands rather than surrender it to Arab or Muslim opponents such as Hamas in Gaza.

European intellectuals are continually adding to this Jewish ­dilemma by misrepresenting ­either Jews or Israel, or both. Jostein Gaarder is a bestselling Norwegian novelist who comes up with an old, old smear, “to act as God’s chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity”.

The Portuguese novelist and Nobel laureate Jose Saramago seriously thought that the Israeli presence on the West Bank was worse than Auschwitz.

Another Nobel prize winner, Gunter Grass, kept his service in the SS a lifelong secret but declared that Israel was a threat to world peace.

Tom Paulin, a poet and university lecturer, writes about a Palestinian “gunned down by the Zionist SS”. A member of the European parliament, Gianni Vattimo, supposedly a philosopher in Italy, says: “I’d like to shoot those bastard Zionists.”

In Britain’s House of Lords, Jenny Tonge suggested the Israeli medical team helping victims of the earthquake in Haiti had come to harvest human organs.

Henryk Broder, a brilliant polemicist, was addressing his fellow Germans when he said, “You’re still your parents’ children. Your Jew today is the state of Israel”, but he was putting his finger on a much wider instinctive reaction.

In Paris during the Gaza crisis, pro-Palestinian rioters armed with axes and knives were prevented at the last moment from storming a synagogue with a large congregation inside. Nothing like this had occurred in that city since the German occupation when the SS blew up seven synagogues.

At that same moment in Berlin — of all places — demonstrators charged towards a Jewish couple shouting, “Jew! We’ll get you!”

In Wuppertal, a judge ruled that the town’s synagogue had been torched for no reason except to draw attention to conflict. A man whose name is given as Mahmudul Choudury put a photograph of Hitler on Facebook and has him saying, “You were right. I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to let you know why I was killing them.”

Demonstrators carry placards, “Jews to the gas” and “Hitler was right”. French comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala said of a colleague, “When I hear him talking, I say to myself, Patrick Cohen, hmm … the gas chamber.”

In the atmosphere of rising moral chaos, Jewish institutions make sure to have as much human and physical protection as possible. Jewish children enter schools that are little fortresses, and they are taught how to defend themselves as street-fighters.

Going about their daily lives, Jews cannot help thinking about those who have been murdered just because they were Jews: among them, Ilan Halimi, kidnapped and tortured to death by Muslims in Paris; a teacher and three children in Toulouse; four visitors in a Jewish museum in Brussels; shoppers in the kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes; a security guard in Copenhagen; and Alberto Nisman, the public prosecutor investigating the bombing in Buenos Aires of a Jewish community centre that left more than 80 dead, himself murdered hours before he was due to reveal some findings.

Howard Jacobson, the novelist who specialises in weighing Jewish hopes and fears, finds that the mood music of the moment is “ugly”. Danny Cohen, ostensibly secure as the BBC’s director of television, confesses, “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually?” Emma Barnett, a lively journalist on Britain’s The Telegraph, recently wrote that for the first time in her life as a British Jew she feels scared, anxious and bewildered.

Pressure groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement demonise Jews. Various unions, professional associations and 700 individuals in the world of pop culture are busy boycotting Israel, apparently oblivious that Hitler launched his persecution with a boycott campaign. Roland Dumas, a former French foreign minister, takes it for granted that Prime Minister Manuel Valls is “under Jewish influence”.

On Swedish public broadcasting, Helena Groll revealed a mindset when she asked the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, “Do the Jews themselves have any responsibility for the growing anti-Semitism that we see now?”

Commenting to the daughter of Holocaust survivors in the aftermath of the massacre of journalists and Jewish shoppers in Paris, Tim Willcox of the BBC said, “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer tragedy at Jewish hands as well”, managing the double feat of treating anti-Semitism as evidence of Jewish wrongdoing and patronising Palestinians for their passive suffering of it. This was “poorly phrased”, he had to concede later.

The Community Security Trust is a voluntary body set up to safeguard Jewish lives and property in Britain. It reports that in 2013 there were 535 anti-Semitic incidents, and 1168 in 2014, the highest level ever recorded.

Since the year 2000, 7650 anti-Semitic incidents have been reported in France. The number of French Jews estimated to be leaving this year for Israel is 15,000, twice as many as last year. Michel Gurfinkiel, one of the most thoughtful intellectuals in France, foresees a time when there will be none left in the country. Menachem Margolin, a rabbi who speaks for Jewish organisations in Europe, on the contrary, calls on governments to make it easier for Jews to arm themselves.

The German Chancellor, the British Prime Minister, the French President and his Prime Minister have all made high-flown declarations that their countries are home to their Jews and there is no need to seek refuge in Israel. There are no meaningful measures to be taken to back up such assurances.

Europe is set on a future without nation-states and no discernible identity, but a Muslim population estimated at anywhere between 20 and 50 million.

That doesn’t look like doing any Jews a favour.

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