Anti-semitism take three

“The EU report on anti-Semitism that the EU decided to shelve has been leaked to the Jerusalem Post, and is available here.” Via Eugene Volokh, and the Head Heeb. Neither them nor I have read it yet.

There’s undoubtedly anti-semitism in European countries. Speaking of Europe as one entity here is inappropriate, by the way.

There’s a fair amount of anti-semitsim among Arab immigrants, and some other immigrant communities, but not “Muslims.” Most people in the arab world are anti-semitic, often virulently, so immigrants take it with them, pass it on to their children. Isolation from their adopted countries limits positive influences. Subjected to racsim, feeds militancy, need for people to hate. Radicalized Arab youth appear to be the ones behind most harassment and violent incidents.

The general population: Anti-semitism, once quite non-trivial, has trended downwards since WWII. Now I read unsubstantiated claims it’s trending upwards. I think I’ve read substantiated claims it is still trending downwards (ie it is rarer the lower you go in the age brackets), but no link at the moment, sorry. May be as some say that more of them are less reluctant to voice their beliefs, in opinion polls or whatever, feeling the taboo is less strong.

Third category, strangely absent from the present debate, are Nazis. Nazis are a very small group, but violent. Not wayward youth or whatever, but serious-minded, militant, nasty people. Surely much of the violence comes from them.

The antisemitism of everyman bigots in contrast is rather passive in contrast, I don’t know if jews ever notices it, and it doesn’t appear to hold them down in their proffessional careeers and such, unlike anti-immigrant bigotry. So, relatively “harmless”?

Where do you find anti-semitic sentiment. I’d venture they’re overrepresenteed in anti-immigrant parties, Haider, i Haugen, etc, and probably underrepresented in leftist parties. (I’m center-right, btw.) This is connected to the question of a connection between anti-semitism and criticism of Israel. There’s a NYRB piece somewhere, citing polls saying that people supportive of Israel are more likely to be anti-semites than critics, and I think validating my claim about rightist/leftists, but I can’t find it anywhre on their site, even though it should still be there.

What percentage of pop. is mildly or strongly anti-semitic in the various countries? Surely far from a majority but more than you’d think (unless you’re a crazed likudnik.) What are the differences between countries?

Is anti-semitsism in fact more widespread in any or most European countries than it is in the US?

Lots of conjecture in this post, and plenty elsewhere too (some less upfront.) I need data!

Maybe I should read that report.

Update: Or maybe not. Jonathan Edelstein writes in the comments to this post:
“Actually, I have read it, and it does blur the lines somewhat – some of the incidents listed in the report involved offensive anti-Israeli slurs but nothing anti-Semitic as such. The report is also anecdotal rather than statistical and thus suffers from the flaws of all anecdotal evidence. There are certainly some scary incidents described in the report, and that in itself should be a wake-up call, but there’s no real way of judging how representative these incidents are or placing them in context.

I’ve never personally encountered anti-semitism any of the times I’ve been in Europe and I’ve seen the surveys suggesting that anti-Semitic opinions among non-Muslims are at historic lows, but I do know that a lot of European Jews are genuinely scared. Hopefully someone will conduct a rigorous study soon to see how serious and deep-rooted the problem really is.”

Amen to that. In the comments on his blog, Miranda, a Jewish German who’s strongly pro-Israeli, also says the report is crap. That good enough for me. The pre-fooled will of course still cite the report, but their minds were made up long before it even surfaced.

37 thoughts on “Anti-semitism take three

  1. Actually, I have read it, and it does blur the lines somewhat – some of the incidents listed in the report involved offensive anti-Israeli slurs but nothing anti-Semitic as such. The report is also anecdotal rather than statistical and thus suffers from the flaws of all anecdotal evidence. There are certainly some scary incidents described in the report, and that in itself should be a wake-up call, but there’s no real way of judging how representative these incidents are or placing them in context.

    I’ve never personally encountered anti-semitism any of the times I’ve been in Europe and I’ve seen the surveys suggesting that anti-Semitic opinions among non-Muslims are at historic lows, but I do know that a lot of European Jews are genuinely scared. Hopefully someone will conduct a rigorous study soon to see how serious and deep-rooted the problem really is.

  2. “There’s a NYRB piece somewhere, citing polls saying that people supportive of Israel are more likely to be anti-semites than critics, and I think validating my claim about riggtist/leftists…”

    I am sure there’s a “not” or an “un” missing somewhere in there, right? You can’t actually mean that support of Israel is symptomatic of anti-Semitism, right?

  3. No. Le Pen for example is supportive of israel, and virulently anti-semitic, as are other far-rightist. So why not?

    To be fair, and the NYRB didn’t mention this, maybe leftist lie more in polls. But I don’t think so. Stating it outright is an indication of feeling strongly about it, and while we can’t know the hidden numbers, it seems likely the numbers we have should give an indication of the relative sizes of the hidden numbers. That’s all idle speculation, anyway.

    It’s possible I misremember the whole article. I almost didn’t mention it, but it’s quite noteworthy. Any NYRB readers there who can enlighten us?

  4. I wonder about the motivation vs. outcome, though. If I am not moitvated by jew-hatred, but by anti-Israeli feelings, and deal with this motivation by torching the nearest French synagogue, does that make my actions anti-Semitic?

  5. If I am not moitvated by jew-hatred, but by anti-Israeli feelings, and deal with this motivation by torching the nearest French synagogue, does that make my actions anti-Semitic?

    I’d say it does – your act is directed against non-Israeli Jews, and you obviously have some reason for connecting them to your feelings about Israel.

    There are three types of anti-Israeli actions that are also anti-Semitic: (1) acts directed at Jews in general (e.g., torching a synagogue or scrawling anti-Israeli graffiti in a Jewish cemetery); (2) use of anti-semitic themes to criticize Israel (e.g., calling Israelis by anti-Semitic slurs or portraying Israeli troops as deicides); or (3) use of Jewish conspiracy theories to explain phenomena associated with Israel (e.g., “those Americans would support the Palestinians if not for their Jewish-controlled media”). Other types of criticism aren’t inherently anti-Semitic, although they may sometimes be advanced for anti-Semitic reasons.

  6. The Guardian has an article that purports to explain some of the terms used here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1098542,00.html

    Anti-semites with racist motivation can be pro-Israel since that means there would be no more Jews in “their” country.

    It seems some racists simply think that “different” “races” should not mix. Not that they hate anybody, so as long as they remain separated, that is alright. The establishment of Liberia was partly an expression of this kind of thinking, as I understand it.

    DSW

  7. I am not convinced that this separation between anti-semitism and anti-Isreali feelings is nearly as clear as people state above, especially for Palestinians.
    The fact is that Israel justifies its existence in the Middle East not simply on the grounds of power or suchlike, but on the grounds that this land was promised to them by god. If you are someone who has been adversely affected by the creation of Israel, it then seems not unreasonable to hate not just the Israeli state but also the religious infrastructure by which it justifies its existence.
    This is thus quite different from the situation that would obtain if the 40’s had gone a little differently. We might then have aggrieved Madagascans or Brazilians, pissed off at having been turfed off their land for the creation of Israel; however there would be much clearer grounds for separating their anger at the behavior of the state and its settlers from their (possible) anger at judaism in general.

  8. Then of course it is reasonable for anyone aggrieved by, say, Iran or Saudi Arabia to hate all Muslims?

    Earth to Maynard: Lots of countries, including the United States and Britain, have justified their national missions in full or in part by religious reasons. It’s still possible – and necessary – to separate nationalism from religion.

  9. “I am not convinced that this separation between anti-semitism and anti-Isreali feelings is nearly as clear as people state above, especially for Palestinians.”

    Try Jews for Justice for Palestine at: http://www.jfjfp.org/

    But then Sharon would like dismiss them all as anti-semites.

  10. Maynard,

    >The fact is that Israel justifies its existence
    >in the Middle East not simply on the grounds of
    >power or suchlike, but on the grounds that this
    >land was promised to them by god.

    I guess you may have a point in saying that the different brands of Zionism aren’t too well explored in the debate. And there is certainly a minority of Jews who want to rebuild a Eretz Jisrael stretching not only to the Jordan but almost to Amman, a faction whose inspiration is clearly religious.

    But I think it is a bit unfair to say that all critics of Israel’s military policy, as well as their unwillingness to give up settlements, in the West Bank are not able to see that there are a variety of reasons for this and that the religious motivation for a continuing struggle for “the promised land” is far more important politcally than it is religiously important.

    I’m just pointing at the remarks recently made by the leader of the American Union for Reform Judaism, who is, according to the Haaretz article below “apparently the most important figure in the American Jewish establishment”

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/364514.html

    And another quote:

    “As usual in these situations, the question of
    American Jews? right to criticize the
    Israeli government actions and work to change
    them arises. On this matter as well, Yoffie is
    unequivocal. ?The notion that we are
    obliged to support particular policies, but are
    prohibited from addressing others is not one
    that I accept,? he says and adds that if
    American Jews are not allowed to influence the
    administration regarding the settlement issue,
    then they also may not use their influence with
    regard to financial aid to Israel, military aid
    and the political backing Israel receives from
    the U.S. … Yoffie, 56, has headed the Reform movement since 1996
    and during his tenure has launched some
    near revolutionary changes within it, starting
    with a move back toward Torah study and prayers
    and an emphasis on Jewish ritual that the
    Reform movement had in the past shifted away
    from.”

    There is clearly a difference between Religion and policy. When founding myths of a society, whether religious or not, are preventing an adaption to circumstances or even preventing this society from accepting other people’s rights that would be a problem. But for a strong majority of Jews all over the world as well for Israelis, this is simply not the case.

    And it is not either for – most of – the critics of Israel’s policies in the territories.

  11. I agree that not everyone – and unfortunately far too many Arabs – have difficulty drawing clear lines between anti-Israeli ideas and ones that approach anti-semitism. I’ve met a lot of Arabs who say things like how they haven’t got a problem with Jews or that the Jews who used to live in their country were okay, but that there cannot be a Jewish state on Arab land. To me, the idea that land belongs to races and ethnic groups as opposed to the people who live on it is an offensive idea, but that’s a complaint that goes both ways.

    However, you can hardly expect most people to make clear distinctions when there are violent passions involved. During WWI, there was significant anti-German violence in the US, resulting in the closure of German schools and the end of tacit German bilingualism in a large part of the US. What is remarkable is not that some people are not able to clearly distinguish between anti-semitism and hatred of Israel, but that so many people are able to make that distinction. This is a relatively new phenomenon that would have probably been impossible three generations ago.

    As for the Le Pens and Haiders, it’s difficult not to laugh at what appears to be their position: for Israel, but against Jews. In my experience, at least one out of every five people – in any state or ethnic group – are idiots willing to blame anyone they’re told to. That’s about as well as the far right has been able to poll in western Europe. I don’t see a great deal of difference between the Pat Buchanans in the US and the Le Pens and Haiders in Europe.

    Is anti-semitism more widespread in the US than Europe? It’s genuinely hard to say. I’ve heard more complaints about Jews here in Europe than in the US, particularly from Antwerpers because the very powerful diamond industry draws heavily on a very isolated Orthodox community present in the city. On the other hand, I’ve never heard anyone here say that the Jews bear a “national sin” for rejecting Christ, which I did here in very conservative churches in the US. In both places, I feel pretty confident claiming that the worst xenophobia is not directed at Jews but at other minorities.

  12. “There’s a fair amount of anti-semitsim among Arab immigrants, and some other immigrant communities, but not ‘Muslims.'”

    I surely do not want to tar an entire community with one brush, but I’ll note that I was unaware that Matathir Mohammed was an Arab. Or that Pakistan was an Arab land. Or that Afghanistan was an Arab land. Or….

    With respect, David, I think your piece would have been better served by waiting until morning and taking a bit more time with it. Not that I’ve not given in to the urge to wax wroth and incoherent from time to time, myself.

    I’ve also read the report now, and, again with respect, I’ll take my reaction to it over your decision to not actually bother to read it but tar those who have read it, somehow, as “pre-fooled.” The sight of someone attacking people who have actually read a text in this way when the writer has not, himself, read the text, is rather remarkable. I’m glad that you, unlike anyone else, have not had a “mind made up long in advance.” (Over what particular charge, exactly, you don’t even bother to state: what, exactly, are you debating and defending?)

    It’s certainly natural that there are a number of people, particularly many Jews, who are frightened by the spectre of anti-semitism, and who are apt to leap to listen to reports of it, and feel alarmed. Discussing such reports, and their degree of accuracy or inaccuracy, need not involve feelings of personal and national offense.

    No one is suggesting that the plurality, let alone majority, or anything close to it, of Europeans, in any country, have taken up goose-stepping around, denying the Holocaust, or twirling mustaches while delighting in making remarks about damned Jews. That there has been, on the other hand, a rise in incidents of violence, a lot of ugly rhetoric, and a certain degree of offended ostritch-like behavior by a few, might be more subject to useful discussion.

  13. I posted a good chunk of the Executive Summary of the report here, by the way. Comments on which parts are “crap” may be posted in comments there.

  14. The distinction between anti-Israel and anti-Jew is artifical and a smoke screen for the anti-sematic to hide behind.
    “You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely ‘anti-Zionist.’ And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews. this is God’s own truth.”
    – Dr. Martin Luther King.
    And the good doctor knows about discrimination. Plus it is kind of difficult to document anything when the documentation is supressed. And No, I won’t vote for this blog. Chalk up another for Merde in France. Here is a little factoid for the Euros; Your pet snake, Koffi Anal, admitted last March that Israel had the best legal claim to the West bank and Gaza. That is why SCR 242 was a chapter 6 (non-binding) And not a chapter 7 (Binding) resolution. The Lawyers at the UN gave an opinion that if Israel took it to court, they would win and Egypt and Jordan would have to face the fact that they stole the land in ’48. So the “occupied” land has actually been part of Israel since ’48 because it was part of the original land package given to Israel by the UN. This would totally blow away the Arabs claim to the WEst bank and Israel show the entire Palastinian issue to be the Trojan horse it is.
    919

  15. ‘”There’s a fair amount of anti-semitsim among Arab immigrants, and some other immigrant communities, but not ‘Muslims.'”

    I surely do not want to tar an entire community with one brush, but I’ll note that I was unaware that Matathir Mohammed was an Arab. Or that Pakistan was an Arab land. Or that Afghanistan was an Arab land. Or…’

    I’d wager muslim immigrants from Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, subsaharan Africa, Surinam and Turkey are not radically more anti-Semitic than the general population.

  16. “No one is suggesting that the plurality, let alone majority, or anything close to it, of Europeans, in any country, have taken up goose-stepping around, denying the Holocaust, or twirling mustaches while delighting in making remarks about damned Jews.”

    Gary, that is just what has been and is being suggested.

    We have this:

    “But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.” – from: http://president.harvard.edu/speeches/2002/morningprayers.html

    That wasn’t just from anyone but from Larry Summers, President of Harvard and previously Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration.

    Sharon has also dubs his critics as anti-semites: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-893591,00.html

    The natural suspicion is that the anti-semitism smear is being widely applied to deflect criticism of Sharon and he certainly has much to answer for as readers of Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall (Penguin) appreciate – and btw as well as being an Israeli, Avi Shlaim is professor of international relations at Oxford.

    Gerald kaufman, a British MP, whose ethnicity is beyond challenge, has been quite explicit: “Israeli leader Ariel Sharon has been branded a ‘war criminal’ and a ‘fool’ by former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman.” – at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1933309.stm

  17. I rather regret how I phraseed that last sentence. I emphatically do not consider you pre-fooled. I was thinking more of LGF-commenters and the like, that crowd.

    In this particular matter I trust Jonathan’s and Miranda’s judgement more than I trust my own.

    I was not dismissing the conclusions of the report, rather dismissing it as a source of information (data rather than conjecture.

  18. Gary: “No one is suggesting that the plurality, let alone majority, or anything close to it, of Europeans, in any country, have taken up goose-stepping around, denying the Holocaust, or twirling mustaches while delighting in making remarks about damned Jews.”

    Bob: “Gary, that is just what has been and is being suggested.”

    Bob, what you are saying may be true. However, you do realize that the quotes you sited do nothing to refute Gary’s point, right?

    I am trying hard to understand your argument, though. So, please humour me: What do you consider anti-Semitism? My list would include things like desecration of semeteries and places of worship, physical violence or threats towards persons based on their religion, etc. Are you saying these things are not anti-Semitic? (I.e., it’s OK to beat up a Jewish anti-war protestor in France, because Israel is an apartheid state.) Are you saying these things don’t happen in Europe? Are you saying this things not been increasing over the last couple of years? Are you saying that it’s irrelevant whether or not these things happen/are on the increase, because some Jews and Israelis support Sharon and some don’t? (I am getting this from your last two quotes.)

  19. David,

    If I was going to dismiss the report without reading it, I woud dismiss the conclusions (which are, after all, subjective). I am not sure the purpose of dismissing the data, which is all based on other reports.

    For example, the country reports list various incidents. Even if you ignore/dismiss cases where anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic distinctions blur, there are enough incidents there to be a cause for concern. Not huge concern, but I think people really would be better off noting the concern than dismissing it outright.

    I, for one, can take or leave the idea that the moronic Sharon eating babies cartoon is anti-Semtic, other than just badly expressing whatever point the guy was going for. (Palestinians are Sharon’s children? Sharon is fat, he-he?) But it is difficult to dismiss arson on Jewish schools in France as valid commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And if you want to know the incidence of these events, the report has data you can work with.

  20. Anqua,

    “What do you consider anti-Semitism? My list would include things like desecration of semeteries and places of worship, physical violence or threats towards persons based on their religion, etc. Are you saying these things are not anti-Semitic?”

    Anti-semitism, like all the other -isms, is an abstract noun we use to label a selected bunch of ideas and associated events or actions. We choose the selection and not all of us will likely make the same selection or apply the selection in the same ways, such is pluralism. It also happens to be the case that for reasons of history, anti-semitism usually carries powerful emotive associations because of the holocaust and the pogroms in mainland Europe before that.

    As awful as it may seem, the desecration of synagogues and cemetries in Britain may not mean anything more than with the average of four churches a week which get vandalised, according to official advice on the web about the best precautions to take. On the crime stats, there has been an increase in violent crime in Britain in recent years even though total crime is falling. In the nature of things, some victims may be jews. But it is plainly absurd to attribute any case of desecration of a synagogue or any victim of a crime who happens to be a jew as compelling evidence of a mounting tide of anti-semitism sweeping Britain.

    Of course, there are a few anti-semites around – the infamous libel trial in 2000 of Professor Lipstadt and Penguin Books is evidence of that but their acquittal with an award of the costs was widely acclaimed in the media as a just verdict. The scathing description of David Irving, the plaintiff, by the trial judge was not fudged by any ambiguities or equivocation.

    British troops were the first to come upon the Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 1945 towards the end of WW2 and some testified to that experience in BBC interviews in recent years. As a small boy, a treat in wartime London was to be taken to a movie theatre to see cartoons and the newsreel. I can still recall the horrific graphic images implanted in my head from the news report on Belsen – in one of the BBC interviews, it was said that the report had to be extensively edited down because so many of the film clips were unacceptably horrific and I can understand why. Holocaust deniers are quite generally regarded here as an extremist fringe. Unlike several mainland European countries I might mention, fascists don’t get elected to Britain’s Parliament and weren’t even in the 1930s.

    Something I found on the web: “If Britain had not stood up to Germany not one of us Jews would be here in Britain today or indeed anywhere in Europe. If Winston Churchill had not spearheaded British resistance we might well have become like France, a country ruled by Nazis and we know what the French did with their Jews, both those directly under the Nazis and those under the Vichy stooges.” – from: http://www.somethingjewish.co.uk/articles/568_poppy_day.htm

    Of course, there is some racism and certainly more than a little racial discrimination in a variety of manifestations but there is virtually no classic anti-semitism to speak of. At least since WW2, most if not all governments have regularly included ministers who happen to be jews but that is so unremarkable that the media doesn’t even comment on it. Historically, the important religious division in British history, at least since Oliver Cromwell invited jews to settle in England in 1650, has been between catholics and protestants. The Gordon Riots of 1780 in London amounted to an anti-catholic pogrom. Disraeli, a grandson of immigrants to Britain, was prime minister in 1868 and 1874-80 and much preferred by Queen Victoria to Gladstone, his opposite number on the other side of the Commons, if you read our history of those times.

    Of course, the threat of al-Qaeda linked terrorism has escalated since 9-11 and that is taken very seriously here. Just within the last fortnight there has been a further series of arrests across the country under the anti-terrorism acts by the security services.

    Instead of making sweeping charges about anti-semitism in Europe, it would perhaps be more relevant and timely to focus on Israel’s government and Sharon in particular. Some of us are sufficiently aware of international news to know of reports in international media such as this:

    “JERUSALEM, Oct. 30 – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was questioned by police Thursday in two corruption investigations, Israeli media reported. . .” – at: http://www.msnbc.com/news/986936.asp?0sl=-13&cp1=1

    As remarked above with a link, Sharon is one of those prone to smear his critics as anti-semites. The effect, intended or otherwise, is to distract attention from his problems in politics at home and from mounting criticism of him and his Palestine policies in the international media, not least by jews as with: Jews for Justice for Palestine at: http://www.jfjfp.org/about.htm

    Those inclined to persist in their charges of rising anti-semitism in Britain are well advised to first read up references to Sharon’s military and political career in Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall, starting with what happened at Qibya in 1953. Gerald Kaufman, one of our MPs, has been quite explicit in calling Sharon “a war criminal.” I can understand why.

  21. I agree with Summers’ comment, so I’m afraid citing it as, somehow, being the equivalent of accusing the plurality of Europeans as taking up goose-stepping is something I’m inexplicably blind to.

    I will resoundingly declare that a disturbing proportion of LGF commenters — last I looked, which is quite some months ago at this time — was made of raving loons, many expressing many hateful and racist comments viciously and unjustly derogatory to Muslims, Arabs, “towelheads” in general, and anyone else in their line of fire.

    The poster above, “ableiter,” certainly doesn’t speak for me, either.

    But that’s not a source of what I regard as anything resembling serious or credible discussion. Lawrence Summers, certainly, is a credible interlocutor. Haaretz is a credible publication. So is The New York Times.

    I can call Ariel Sharon names, too, and have at times, but I’m a loss as to what that proves. I was disagreeing with Sharon in the Sixties. And?

    There’s plenty of legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, and plenty of illegitimate criticsm, for various reasons. Then there’s “anti-Zionism,” which is yet a third thing from anti-semitism or criticism. Any of those three things may or may not be combined with one or two of the others. That any specific one of those things is or isn’t combined with one or both of the others proves or disproves nothing about any other statement. Did I lose anyone with that?

    A bit more specifically, in case: you can denounce Sharon with utter legitimacy, or you can denounce him as a “Zionist,” or you can denounce him in a way that is implicitly or explicitly anti-Semitic. And you can combine any for extra points!

    I’ll set aside the discussion as to whether “anti-Zionism” can be legitimately utterly free of anti-semitism, or not, and, more importantly, whether the former, in practice, functions in the same fashion and to the same end, as the latter, as it’s not the simplest of debates, and it is separable from mere criticism, however strong, of Israeli policy.

    What we’re left with is that one can criticize Israeli policy without being anti-semitic — as, curiously, most of the population of Israel manages — and one can criticize Israel in ways that range from explictly anti-Semitic (“they need babies to eat!; it’s proven in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion!”) to ways very subtle and not visible to those not educated in the history of the topic.

    And pointing out anti-semitic aspects or flavorings or shadings or implications can, of course, be anything from utterly spot on to entirely mistaken to calculated attempts at dishonest debate.

    Pointing to examples of any of these forms of statements does, logically and factually, nothing whatever to disprove the existence of any other form of these statements.

    So I’m at a loss as to your point, Bob, since you seem to be trying to do just that, somehow. How, I don’t understand, so you’ll have to try explaining your point to me again, if you care to.

  22. “‘d wager muslim immigrants from Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, subsaharan Africa, Surinam and Turkey are not radically more anti-Semitic than the general population.”

    You may be right. I don’t believe I’ve read anything substantive, let alone in Concorde range of “definitive,” on the question. I’d be loath, therefore, to venture a strong opinion, or place a bet. You appear more confident on the topic, David. Could you give a cite for some relevant information, please? What are you basing your opinion upon?

    What if we phrased the question as “What percentage of people [of given population] are apt to assume, absent proof, that Israel is, in any given action, behaving in a brutal and reprehensible fasion?” or that “Israel is the greatest danger to world peace” or that “most of the world’s media is controlled by Jews,” or “American foreign policy is controlled by Jews”?

    Would any of that count as “anti-semitism” or would it have to involve baby-eating to qualify?

    How about being apt to assume that “Jews are likely to unreasonably defend the actions of Sharon”?

  23. Bob,

    Is your point, then, something like this “anti-Semitism is very bad, but also note that Sharon is a bad, bad man; he is so bad that even lots of Jewish and Israeli people hate him”?

    You seem to be trying to say that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, which is undoubtedly true. And you are saying that some people accuse well-intented critics of Israel of anti-Semtism in order to silence them. Which I haven’t personally seen, but am willing to believe happens.

    But this still does not really answer my question about whether is still exists in Europe, is on the rise, should be a concern to people, etc?

  24. “Instead of making sweeping charges about anti-semitism in Europe, it would perhaps be more relevant and timely to focus on Israel’s government and Sharon in particular.”

    Perhaps it might be even more relevant to leave Ariel Sharon and his virtues and crimes out of the discussion entirely, since his existence neither justifies the existence of anti-semitims or false charges of anti-semitism. Leaping from topic a to topic b might be considered just the sort of sweeping attempt at a distraction as you yourself are suggesting others are engaging in, Bob. What on earth does topic b have to do with topic a? How does the existence of topic b make irrelevant discussion of topic b?

    I am, incidentally, entirely cognizant of the role of Great Britain in fighting Hitler and fascism while America was isolationist, and of the long years the United Kingdom engaged in desperate war while America preserve de jure, though scarcely de facto, neutrality, and I’m emphatically grateful to Great Britain and its Dominions for the heroic role it played.

    It seems to me there’s a lot of pointless generalized statements being flung around here. I repeat: no one (here or sensible) is making generalized charges that suddenly, or at all, a plurality of Europe is stalking about burning synagogues or engaging in vast amounts of anti-semitic demogogary. So defenses on that sort of charge are pointless and a waste of time, as is defensiveness towards such inane and non-existent (by serious interlocutors) charges.

    What might be seriously discussed is whether there are small and alarming signs of anti-semitism, here and there, in small corners, whether in Europe or America or Antartica, and how real or alarming, or not, such suggested signs are, and whether it is more useful to discuss them and put them in perspective, or whether it is more useful to argue in a pointless defensive way over red herring charges that no one is making.

    Meanwhile, I’m not defending Ariel Sharon, so going on about what he or his supporters say or don’t say is irrelevant. At best.

    “Instead of making sweeping charges about anti-semitism in Europe, it would perhaps be more relevant and timely to focus on Israel’s government and Sharon in particular. […] Those inclined to persist in their charges of rising anti-semitism in Britain are well advised to first read up references to Sharon’s military and political career in Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall, starting with what happened at Qibya in 1953. Gerald Kaufman, one of our MPs, has been quite explicit in calling Sharon ‘a war criminal.’ I can understand why.”

    That’s nice. What’s your point? I assume you’re not suggesting that there is anti-semitism hither or yon, but that it’s justified because Ariel Sharon is a war criminal, but I’m at a complete loss as to what point you think you are making. It’s like someone suggesting discussing racism being responded to with “well, anyone who wants to talk about racism against blacks should look into the record of Idi Amin!” What, actually, would be the point of such a response?

  25. Then of course it is reasonable for anyone aggrieved by, say, Iran or Saudi Arabia to hate all Muslims?

    Earth to Maynard: Lots of countries, including the United States and Britain, have justified their national missions in full or in part by religious reasons. It’s still possible – and necessary – to separate nationalism from religion.

    Posted by Jonathan Edelstein at December 4, 2003 01:27 PM

    Well, Jonathan, since you appear to have been asleep at the time, PRECISELY this thing happened two years ago in a little incident called 9/11. At the time there was a whole lot of punditing going on about whether there is an intrinsic element to Islam that puts it in irreconcilable conflict with the west. Now this whole debate was mostly fudged and allowed to die down, largely, I suspect, not because GWB and friends are great and good people, but because they are madly in love with the Saudis. The fudge, for the most part, came through saying things like “well jihad should be interpreted as meaning a personal struggle”.
    But let’s not kid ourselves; the real reason this went away is simply that the US and the Middle East are too far away from each other for much Middle Eastern terrorism to occur on US soil. If there were daily incidents of terrorist attacks on US civilians, whose perpetrators claimed to be doing what Islam commanded them to do, you can be damn sure the US press would be full of stories about how the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.

  26. “[After 9/11] there was a whole lot of punditing going on about whether there is an intrinsic element to Islam that puts it in irreconcilable conflict with the west.”

    Sure, and there still is now. On the other hand, I haven’t seen very many liberal and progressive people trying to explain this away as an understandable or acceptable reaction, in the way that many have done with respect to anti-semitism. What you don’t seem to be getting through your head is that war or terrorism is not an excuse for racism, and that if racism does arise as a result of conflict, it should be fought rather than justified.

  27. “What’s your point? I assume you’re not suggesting that there is anti-semitism hither or yon, but that it’s justified because Ariel Sharon is a war criminal, but I’m at a complete loss as to what point you think you are making.”

    The point is simple and must be starkly obvious.

    Criticising policies and actions of governments of the state of Israel, or political leaders there, as many jews have done and do, does not amount to anti-semitism.

    It is both proposterous and dangerous to suppose otherwise; dangerous, because it is apt to impede progress to any peace settlement for Palestine and also blocks off the normal political discourse which most regard as fundamental to the process we label “democracy.”

    Equating criticism of Israeli governments or Sharon with anti-semitism looks amazingly like a concerted campaign of mendacious political spin to shut critics down and cover up unacceptable conduct.

    Quite likely, anti-semites do criticise Israel but then they also most likely also subscribe to the proposition that: 2 + 2 = 4. As best as I can tell, it is not yet being seriously proposed that we reform the theory of numbers or reprogramme store checkout tills just because anti-semites are known to subscribe to it.

    Btw as diligent history students have noted, there are states and countries which rather take to political leadership by military men or supposedly contrite terrorists and those which do not. Britain is one that does not. Our historic experience with military leaders, like Oliver Cromwell and the Duke of Wellington, did not prove encouraging. A documented remark by Wellington following his first cabinet meeting as prime minister shows why: “An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.”

  28. Bob, did anyone on this thread make the assertion that criticizing Israel is equivalent to anti-Semitism? Because you’ve done a great job of disproving that, but, um… no one ever actually argued otherwise.

    So far, your argument is equivalent to the following:
    “Is there racism in the US?” — “Robert Mugabe is a very nasty man! Look, even black people say so!”
    “I agree, but is there racism in the US?” — “Criticizing Mugabe’s policies in Zimbabwe is not racism!”

    The points you are making are absolutely true. Nobody is saying otherwise. It’s just that you do not seem to be answering, well, the actual questions, and do wonder why.

    They are actually fairly easy yes or no questions, and do value your opinion on the subject. Is there anti-Semtism in Europe? Has it been increasing? Should this be a concern for progressive people? Is it justified?

    Notice that I am not asking whether Sharon is a nice guy, or whether Israeli policies can be criticized. To pre-empt you, I will even agree: Sharon is not a nice guy. Israeli policies can and should be criticized. So how about it, now — can you answer my questions?

  29. Anqua,

    “Is there anti-Semtism in Europe? Has it been increasing?”

    Europe is a big place and I’ve not been outside London for quite a while but then as Samuel Johnson, the famed lexicographer, said: “The man who is tired of London is tired of life.” That was more than a couple of centuries back and London has got a lot bigger since. Besides, as Disraeli wrote: London is the modern Babylon, and that was in 1847.

    There are some fairly clear signs of increasing xenophobia in the European Union, as reported in the news, but that seems mainly related to fears at the prospect of East European migration to the relatively affluent countries of Western Europe when the EU expands to include the accession countries, and also because of continuing illegal migration from Africa. Not many weeks pass before news surfaces of the Italian navy encountering another ship in the Mediterrean crammed full of would-be migrants trying to make it to settle in Europe. There is also a steady flow of news stories about slave traffic relating to vice – impressionistically, Albania seems to be the originating source most often mentioned.

    The issues and sentiments underpinning the concerns are many, complex and often inter-related. Western Europe is confronted by the problems associated with population ageing over the next half century, especially the associated trend increase in dependency ratios which raises fundamental questions as to who is going to pay for the future pensions in the European Social Model. Inward migration could help to abate such problems but other concerns impinge, notably the persisting high average unemployment rate in the Eurozone, relatively low employment rates by American or British standards, and low rates of generating new jobs to replace the inevitable job losses induced through technical change, trade and switches in consumer preferences.

    Much of the illicit migration traffic is connected with international criminal gangs so the migrants become vulnerable to all sorts of blackmailing pressures by the traffickers. Predictably, that also connects with security concerns about the increasing threat of terrorism which, in the case of France and Germany, pre-dates 9-11, while Britain has had separate terrorist problems connected with Northern Ireland for the last 30 something years. Judging by blog reading, some Americans seem to believe Europeans are unfamiliar with terrorism and doing little to avert the threat – emphatically, not so.

    In all this, classic anti-semitism is relatively small scale and marginal. What there is seems linked with either extremist muslim groups infected by al-Qaeda or with the mostly small, fascist fringe groups, endemic in mainland Europe at least since the 19th century. As best I can gather, these latter are not making much collective headway and their present main focus is with East European migration, asylum-seekers or illegal migrants, not with anti-semitism.

    Some years back now, a British commercial TV channel produced an enlightening programme on nationalist and neo-fascist fringe groups. Quite deadpan, the programme gathered a collection of about half a dozen young people from across Europe who each subscribed to some variant of Holocaust denial and persuaded them to go on an expenses paid trip to visit Auschwitz. Once there, the group was introduced to a guide who was to show them around what remains of the camp. The guide was an engaging lady who had been an inmate there as a young girl, with her mother at the time, until the end of the war when she had somehow got to Britain and had lived here since.

    In a sort of quiet and friendly way she started to relate on camera her everyday experiences of life in Auschwitz, after displaying her tatoo mark, in much the way she might have talked of experiences in a holiday camp – except that she in passing mentioned seeing a camp guard pick up a child by the legs in order to smash the child’s head against a wall. The group of young people walked off. They simply couldn’t handle her story. Asked later about why they had walked away they said she was just talking lies and propaganda. There was no possibility of rational dialogue. They just didn’t want to know.

    Perhaps because of that, I doubt the value of discussing xenophobia in a general way without focusing on its recruiting territory – typically, the disaffected young, usually male, under-achievers with job problems who are also targeted by al-Qaeda recruiters.

  30. “Criticising policies and actions of governments of the state of Israel, or political leaders there, as many jews have done and do, does not amount to anti-semitism.”

    Absolutely right. What’s this got to do with anything?

    Bob. Simple question: do concerned people have any grounds to examine whether there has been any increase in anti-semitism in Europe in the last five years? Yes, or no? Is this: a) something that bears investigation; or b) should it simply be dismissed out of hand as a false charge from Jews with ulterior motives?

    (Minor point: “Jews” and “Jewish” are generally capitalized.)

  31. “If I am not moitvated by jew-hatred, but by anti-Israeli feelings, and deal with this motivation by torching the nearest French synagogue, does that make my actions anti-Semitic?”

    Yes it does.
    Why attack French citizens (who incidentally happen to be jewish) & their synagogue ? This is weird ! Instead you ought to demonstrate in front of Israel’s embassy in Paris if you want the ***SHAROGNARD*** to be aware of your contempt or anger.

    The French -whatever their “religion” (at least for the minority of them who believe in “god”: 80 % of the French are wise enough to rank religion along with astrology, cartomancy or fortune-telling – they do have spiritual lives, but they needn’t any “religion” to be elevated Human beings) are not responsible of the atrocities committed by fascists of all kinds: sharognards and islamoterrorists alike.

  32. Gary,

    “What’s this got to do with anything?”

    Errm . . . for the umpteenth time, a lot of high profile people, ranging from Sharon to Larry Summers, are saying criticism of policies and actions of the state of Israel amounts to anti-semitism. I’m saying that is just rubbish but what is far more significant, so are Jews for Justice for Palestine and the more who recognise Sharon for what he is. In Friday’s news from Reuters:

    “Half of Israelis regard Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as untrustworthy after he said he might take unilateral steps to resolve conflict with Palestinians on Israel’s terms, an opinion poll has indicated. The Dahaf Institute survey published in the Israeli daily Maariv showed 50 percent felt Sharon was untrustworthy or somewhat untrustworthy, compared with 40 percent last August. Forty-seven percent saw him as reliable in the latest poll.” – at: http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=421224&section=news
    “Simple question: do concerned people have any grounds to examine whether there has been any increase in anti-semitism in Europe in the last five years? Yes, or no? Is this: a) something that bears investigation; or b) should it simply be dismissed out of hand as a false charge from Jews with ulterior motives?”

    I’ve already attempted to respond to that above in general terms in answer to Anqua. But I’m not really the person to ask since I’m a Londoner and London is hugely cosmopolitan by any measure and generally recognised as tolerant of political, ethnic and religious diversity.

    Plainly, the recent European poll in which 60% something said Israel is a threat to world peace is telling us something but I don’t believe that reflects a growing sentiment of anti-semitism across Europe. The libel trial in 2000 of Professor Lipstadt and Penguin Books also shows us that there is a marginalised fringe of politicised anti-semitism but that has verging on zero influence on most, if not all, west European governments as well as on popular sentiment.

    The factor of growing significance is the infection from al-Qaeda among disaffected and militant Muslim youth. However, it has to be said that prior to US Presidential in 2000 comments were made that for many years London has provided a place of refuge to a huge variety of exile groups and an international rallying point for radical movements of many kinds but then it always has.

    Apart from Disraeli, a grandson of immigrants who became prime minister of Britain, remember that Karl Marx is buried in Highgate cemetry in London. The famous conference in 1903 of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, which lead to the emergence of the Bolsheviks, was held in London – Lenin and Trotsky both came for the meeting. London has historically had a long and proud tradition of independence and radicalism: it declared early for Parliament against the King in what developed into England’s civil war in the 1640s.

    Something that came out in the news relating to the trial of Reid, the shoe bomber, is that the security services had been warned over years before that a handful of radical Muslim clerics had been trying to stir up ethnic animosities, albeit with little observable effect. In terms of real politicks and political savvy, the great majority of Britain’s Muslim population of 1.6 million is too deeply engaged in business and work to wish to promote inter-ethnic enmities, let alone terrorism.

    The situation is different in France where 5m Muslims, mainly from France’s ex-colonies in north Afria, amount to getting on for 10% of the population. In addition to the depressed state of each of the major Eurozone economies in mainland Europe at present, France has a highly regulated economy with a high tax burden by comparison with most European countries and a relatively high statutory minimum wage. One (predictable?) outcome is a high average unemployment rate among the under 25s, even by EU standards, with, unsurprisingly, well above average unemployment rates among Muslim youth resident in the housing estates on the fringes of France’s major cities. The social consequence is a degree of disaffection and militancy which connects with the item in the news about the proposed ban on display of conspicuous religious symbols in school. If implemented, the headscarves worn by Muslim girls would be proscribed as would skullcaps worn by Jewish boys.

    Synagogues and Jewish cemetries have been attacked or defaced in France – and in Britain too. But we need to read that in a context where, according to official figures, an average of four churches a week in Britain have been subjected to arson attacks. For what it’s worth, I believe the security services are right to prioritise tracking potential terrorists rather than vandals and minor pyromaniacs. The spate of arrests in recent weeks in Britain under the anti-terrorism laws is a clear sign that the security services are very active in pursuing their mission.

    Believe me, around where I live the extent of ethnic and linguistic diversity is so wide that racism becomes laughable. The more likely and threatening prospect is of terrorist sleeper cells which very intentionally maintain low profiles.

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