Resurgent Anti-Semitism In Europe: Myth or Reality?

David is right. Islamist terrorism has now finally reached Europe for real.

Not just because the tragic terrorist attacks against the Neve-Shalom and Beth-Israel Synagogues took place in the undisputedly European part of Istanbul. Not just because the fear of a rising tide of al-Qaida triggered fundamentalist terrorism could once again lead to a round of attempts to legalise previously unimaginable governmental infringements of civil liberties. And not just because such attacks could actually happen around the corner of our very own house, church, or temple.

Yesterday, Europe – or the European public, published and otherwise – has been accused by a number of Israeli politicians of having watered the seed of Islamist terrorism by continuous criticism of Israel and its military with respect to the handling of the second Intifada: In a joint statement with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said the Istanbul bombings had to be seen “in the context of … recent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks heard in certain European cities in recent months”.

Even discounting the fact that these statements were made under the immediate impression of the attacks, they are certainly remarkable. Not only because they are suggesting that – in the words of Mr Shalom – “verbal terrorism” is being perpetrated against Israel or Jews in Europe these days but also that it should be seen as promoting the kind of abhorrent deadly terror we witnessed yesterday.

I suppose it is hardly deniable that criticism of Israel has recently been more pronounced in Europe than, notably, in the United States. Earlier this year, Timothy Garton Ash remarked, that this criticism could even be the origin of the transatlantic communicative difficulties, because of it’s alleged link to anti-Semitism – a link once again made yesterday, a link that certainly requires some analysis. In the words of Mr Garton Ash –

“The Middle East is both a source and a catalyst of what threatens to become a downward spiral of burgeoning European anti-Americanism and nascent American anti-Europeanism, each reinforcing the other. Anti-Semitism in Europe, and its alleged connection to European criticism of the Sharon government, has been the subject of the most acid anti-European commentaries from conservative American columnists and politicians. Some of these critics are themselves not just strongly pro-Israel but also “natural Likudites,” one liberal Jewish commentator explained to me. In a recent article Stanley Hoffmann writes that they seem to believe in an “identity of interests between the Jewish state and the United States.” Pro-Palestinian Europeans, infuriated by the way criticism of Sharon is labelled anti-Semitism, talk about the power of a “Jewish lobby” in the US, which then confirms American Likudites’ worst suspicions of European anti-Semitism, and so it goes on, and on.[A problem] difficult for a non-Jewish European to write about without contributing to the malaise one is trying to analyze…”

Maybe. Maybe I am contributing to the malaise by trying to analyse it. But then again, the unqualified allegation against Europe and its people of giving at least negligent if not malevolent ideological support to terrorism is too serious to be simply brushed aside as an expression of anger and despair even in the light of yesterday’s attacks. It is too serious to be brushed aside even if, as the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports today in a story that was likely written before the attacks, more and more Jews in many parts of the world are personally feeling more and more uneasy because, as they see it, criticism against Israel is always likely to be at be least partly directed against themselves.

This is a valid fear. One that can also not be brushed aside. All over Europe many Synagogues are now being protected by police – for a reason. As a German, I may be particularly sensitive about this, but it has never been a good sign for any society when its Jews started to feel uneasy. And there are certainly people around who “hide” their anti-Semitism behind “legitimate” criticism of Israel. From said Haaretz article –

“Those who worry about the low point Israel has reached in global public opinion are sharply divided over the reasons for it. Is opposition to Israel rooted in its military policy toward the Palestinians, or has anti-Semitism awoken after a long hibernation? As time passes and the negative attitude toward Israel intensifies, many Jews are beginning to feel that these sentiments are more anti-Semitic than anti-Israeli. Prof. Shmuel Trigano of the University of Paris X, a prominent French Jewish intellectual, believes that the clash between the Jews and the non-Jewish world started out as anti-Israeli, in the wake of the intifada, but has spilled over into anti-Semitism. In France, he says, people are no longer embarrassed to express views about the Jews that were taboo until just a little while ago.”

But does this mean that all non-Jewish criticism of the Israeli government’s and military’s policies – often harshly critized by Israeli citizens and soldiers alike – or even anti-Zionism, is simply old-style anti-Semitism that comes in new bottles? Hardly.

Yet there are people who seem to claim just that. About a year ago, Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman published an article on about A Day At The American Enterprise Institute, home to many of the “natural Likudites” mentioned in the Garton Ash piece cited above. In the morning of that day they listened to a panel discussion titled “Europe: Anti-Semitism Resurgent?” that

“… was supposed to be a debate between two right-wingers, Ruth Wisse of Harvard University and John O’Sullivan, of United Press International. But there was little debate. Everyone agreed that the issue wasn’t anti-semitism, as traditionally defined, but anti-Israel views. In fact, Wisse and O’Sullivan had now effectively redefined the term anti-semitism to mean anti-Israel. We had suspected this, but didn’t get a confirmation until a questioner in the audience asked Wisse about Billy Graham’s 1972 conversation with Richard Nixon, memorialized on the White House tapes, and made public earlier this year by the National Archives.

In the conversation, Graham says to Nixon that “a lot of Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me, … Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country.” And how does he feel? Graham tells Nixon that the Jews have a “stranglehold” on the country, and “this stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” “You believe that?” Nixon says. “Yes, sir,” Graham replies. “Oh boy,” Nixon says. “So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”

So, the questioner wanted to know whether Professor Wisse considered these sentiments, as expressed by Graham, and widely publicized earlier this year, to be anti-semitic. No, they are not anti-semitic, Professor Wisse says. Not anti-semitic? No, anti-semitism exists today in the form of “political organization” against Israel.”

Anti-Semitism is a camelion – what was once purely religious suddenly turned “racial” in the 1880s when religion lost much of its function as social glue in the heyday of industrialization. So could Professor Wisse’s assertion that the camelion has once again changed its colour be correct? defines the term as

“… either of the following: (1) hostility to Jews as a group which results from no legitimate cause or greatly exceeds any reasonable, ethical response to genuine provocation; or (2) a pejorative perception of Jewish physical or moral traits which is either utterly groundless or a result of irrational generalization and exaggeration”

This might be a good starting point. But there is no straight forward way to define anti-Semitism – well, maybe in a Habermasian ideal speech situation. But in the real world? Guess what – the Wikipedia definition’s “neutrality” is disputed, just as pretty much every article in their database that is conceptually remotely related.

Yet it must be possible to find a way to discern truly legitimate criticism of Israeli policies from the kind that is merely a vehicle for anti-Semitism in order to be able to usefully discuss and if possible refute general accusations against “Europe” and be able to point to those who are really guilty as charged.

How? I don’t know yet, but it seems the discussion has just been declared open.

PS.: Done. Now my left hand is really happy that I have a physio-therapy session in a few hours…

18 thoughts on “Resurgent Anti-Semitism In Europe: Myth or Reality?

  1. This article may help you: Anti-Semitism and Ethnicity in Europe.

    QUOTE:::”Shortly after the string of synagogue burnings in spring 2002, journalists from the French weekly L?Express conducted interviews with young North Africans, or ?beurs,? from one of the problem neighborhoods of Strasbourg. While indeed discovering notable hostility to Israel and ?the Jews,? the reporters also found that their interviewees had virtually no concrete knowledge of the Middle East conflict. They were evidently not even able to say what the plo is. ?No,? one young man responded, ?all we know is what we see on the television.?

    The question, then, is this: What do they see on the television? After all, a first spike in anti-Jewish incidents in France occurred shortly after the showing on French television of the now-internationally famous images of the killing of the 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura, ostensibly by Israeli fire. As related by James Fallows in the Atlantic Monthly (June 2003), investigations have since uncovered evidence suggesting that the entire episode may have been staged. Whether or not this is the case, it is certain, by virtue of simple considerations of geometry, that the supposedly fatal shots could not have come from the position of the Israeli army unit that virtually the entirety of world opinion held responsible for the boy?s death. It so happens that the only footage of the alleged shooting was filmed by a Palestinian cameraman in the employ of the French public television channel France 2. France 2 has refused to release its complete rushes of the scene, which could once and for all clarify what really occurred.

    The young beurs interviewed by L?Express (April 25, 2002) also were not found to have any particularly profound interest in Islam, even if the same young man who spoke of ?only knowing what we see on the television? added obligingly, apparently with reference to anti-Jewish violence, that ?we want to show that we?re Muslims here too.? A relative lack of interest in Islam has also been confirmed by the French police in interviews with many of the young persons of North African descent who have been apprehended and charged in the attacks.”:::QUOTE

    What I think has happened is that the constant, unending as well as vituperative criticism of Israel to the exclusion of criticism of the Palestinians has created a situation where anti-Semitism is now common, more in the open as well as encouraging serious violence. Perhaps the lack of balance in the news is what is responsible. When Europeans march through the streets with a sign equating Judaism with Nazism, as I have seen often, then something is seriously wrong. From my conversation with friends in Europe, they are severely uninformed about the Palestinians but can tell me all about the latest outrage committed by the Israelis without any sort of understanding why certain things happen. “Why on earth would the Israelis want to build a fence?”

    There is a reason the BBC has felt it necessary to hire someone to oversee its reporting for pro-Arab/anti-Israeli bias.

  2. Recently, during the hudna between the Israelis and Palestinians, there were many non-suicide bombing attacks against Israelis, but once there was a suicide bombing on a bus full of children, Israel struck back. From what I read in the European press at the time, this was billed as Israel breaking the ceasefire. Does this correspond with reality in any way? No, but this is what Europeans were apparently told. (I’ll look for this link. I forget where it was.) What did you see on tv at that time? This columnist at the Washington Post explains what I think is the biggest gulf between the US and Europe: Parallel Universes. Here’s an index of her columns. She’s an excellent writer and has a lot of good commentary on recent events.

    In the US, conservatives like to complain we have a liberal press. They would pass out if they saw how “liberal” the European press is.

  3. Also, given what I’ve been reading for quite some time about the escalating violent attacks against Jews in Europe, the idea that you would title this post “Resurgent Anti-Semitism in Europe: Myth or Reality” is mind-boggling to me. Is there really any question about this? Have they not been reporting on it in Europe?

  4. I do no approve of violence in any case and certainly the Arabs/Palestinians have caused a lot of sorrow during their 55-year fight against the state of Israel. The Balfour declaration probably was one of the bigger mistakes in history, but the Jews are living there now and everybody should accept that. However, fear for being seen as Anti-Semitic should not stop Western countries to criticize Israeli violation of human rights. The Holocaust is not a licence to kill off other people in the same way. On the other hand, Israel is a recognized independent state and it has the right to defend itself. It has a democratic tradition, which the Palestinians lack for the most part. But I fear this conflict has gone too far to be solvable by themselves. There are too little reasonable people at both sides. Only when the international community (i.e. the US, Europe, Russia and China) will be on the same wavelength and be willing to force (even manu militari) both parties into peace, this conflict will start disappearing. And then it will take at least a generation or two to forget the vengeance feelings (cfr. Bosnia).

  5. Linden,

    I posted this below in an earlier thread but it relates here too:

    I’ve been messaging in a range of international online boards for many years now. Sad to say, it has been a recurring personal experience that posting any criticism of military actions by the state of Israel is apt to get me denounced as “anti-semitic” even though my personal views of the context converge with those of Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief Rabbi, or Gerald kaufman MP.

    Try:,2763,781113,00.html or and

    Any readers here interested in knowing of a widely acclaimed book, which for me shed altogether new light on the tragic history of the conflict in Palestine, may like to know of: Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall; Penguin Books (2001). The author, an Israeli, is professor of international relations at Oxford University.

    For another perspective, this is from the text of a speech by Lawrence Summers, now President of Harvard and previously Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration:

    ” . . 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:

    Post Script: Europeans don’t accept Summers’ assessment, nor that of Sharon who also tries to tag critics as anti-semitic:,,3-893591,00.html But then the Bushies in America claim any criticism of his administration by Europeans amounts to anti-Americanism. None of that washes down well in Britain. We are aware of this: In case any suppose we have been brainwashed by the BBC, some of us are also aware of this from an American-based human rights group in 2000: We have also read in the Financial Times of 14 November:

    “Israel is heading for a ‘catastrophe’ unless government policy switches course to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, four former heads of the Shin Bet security service said on Friday.

    “The unprecedented attack, in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper, follows recent criticism by Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli army chief, who said the crackdown in the occupied territories was against Israel’s ‘strategic interest’ in fostering militancy. However, the current Shin Bet leadership favours maintaining tough restrictions to prevent attacks. . .”

  6. Linden, you might note how in the very next issue of The Atlantic, Fallows retreats significantly from his claims. He certainly does not claim that it is impossible that the IDF shot al-Dura, nor, as far as I can tell, does anyone else who’s looked into it. Furthermore, Fallows is the only source of the claim that France 2 is sitting on footage that might clear the IDF. France 2’s bureau chief in Jerusalem denies that this is the case. Can you find me the name of someone who has actually asked France 2 for the rest of their film? I haven’t been able to track down anyone who bothered to ask.

    Fallows (nor you) seems to realise that there is an implicit contradiction in claiming that the European press is out to get Israel, while leaving unexplained the German ARD network’s support for Esther Schapira’s documentary which makes the same claims as Fallows. She claims that the cameraman said he took six minutes of film, while France 2 claims to have 52 seconds. This is quite different from claiming that France 2 is unwilling to release footage. It strikes me as a red herring much more likely to be either a communication error or poor memory.

    I’m really shocked that you would rely on – and repeat – so many of John Rosenthal’s claims in his article in Policy Review. His claims are incoherent if not contradictory. He points to anti-Arabism (and anti-Frenchism) among radical Corsican nationalists, and Green support for fairly minor autonomy laws for Corsica supported by many mainstream people in Corsica and elsewhere, as proof that the European left is complicit in anti-semitism. I find it absolutely bizarre that he would claim that the French television news is more anti-Israel than Lib?. The ARTE network (which he cites as anti-semitic without a hint of context) is even less likely to be seen among “beurs” (by the way, try calling them “Arabs” – slang terms for ethnic groups quickly become demeaning outside of their original context) than a copy of Le Monde.

    Rosenthal offers nothing to suggest that Jews are particularly at risk either in France or Germany, as the number of racially motivated assaults on Jews is not placed in the context of crime in general or acts against other ethnic groups. (Hint: It’s still a lot riskier to be an Arab in France.) He offers nothing to explain why Arab sympathy with Palestinians under occupation is somehow worse, or even different, than Jewish sympathy with Israelis living with ethnic and sectarian violence.

    Rosenthal is dismissive without ever making a substantial point.

    The leaps of logic Rosenthal goes through are just astounding. He points to a survey in L’Express claiming that young French Arabs aren’t terribly well informed about what goes on in Israel and draws the conclusion that Arab anti-semitism is therefore caused by Paris’ intellectuals and has nothing to do with anything that actually happens in the Middle-East. Since these same intellectuals are rarely seen outside of the pages of Le Monde, Lib? and the rest of the intellectual press that he claims no one reads, this is rather contradictory.

    Rosenthal admits that a fair amount of what gets classed as anti-semitism in France is little more than hooliganism that would find some other target if the Jews weren’t around, but then uses this to conclude that the whole of French society is anti-semitic rather than suggesting that anti-semitism isn’t really terribly acute.

    And consider these two paragraphs:

    Ironically, in light of the post-reunification recrudescence of anti-Semitism, the vast majority of Jews living in Germany today are in fact recent immigrants. Most of them have come to Germany from the countries of the former Soviet Union under the provisions of a law inherited by the Federal Republic from the last East German government. Whereas the number of Jews living in Germany was estimated at somewhat less than 30,000 at the time of reunification, it is perhaps four times that many today. More ironically still, the German government?s assumption of the obligations created by the East German law was presented as a ?humanitarian? measure aimed at populations presumed to suffer from anti-Semitic persecution in their countries of origin. The immigrants are thus treated as refugees ? so-called ?contingent refugees,? meaning they are not required to pass through the usual asylum procedure ? and classified by the German authorities, following former Soviet and current German practice, as being ?of Jewish nationality.? Unlike refugees from former Soviet lands presumed to be ?of German nationality? (i.e., ?ethnic Germans?), they are not given German citizenship.

    In what is perhaps the bloodiest and most gruesome incident of anti-Semitic violence in postwar European history, in July 2000 a cluster bomb was detonated on the platform of a D?sseldorf train station as a group of ?contingent refugees? were waiting there for their train. Ten people were wounded. A five-months-pregnant Jewish woman from the Ukraine had her leg ripped off in the explosion. Her unborn child was killed as a bomb fragment pierced her womb. Although the same group of refugees, all of whom were enrolled in a German course at a nearby school, took the same train at the same time every weekday, the German authorities have declined to qualify the incident as a racist or anti-Semitic attack. No arrest has been made.

    What the hell is the first paragraph for? Is the use of scare quotes supposed to convince us that Germany is rife with anti-semitism because it has laws that make it easier for Jews to immigrate there than other people?

    And the second paragraph… If this was the worst anti-semitic attack in postwar European history, it only killed one Jew. Why does Rosenthal imply that this was an anti-semitic incident? The people on the train weren’t especially Jews and no one has claimed responsibility. Does every act of violence that encompasses anyone Jewish have to be classed as anti-semitic? Even when it was likely more general xenophobia?

    The Marinus Sch?berl case is also a red herring. His killer admits that he didn’t really know what a Jew was, which might explain why the guy he killed wasn’t even Jewish. I can’t say that I blame the German policy for chalking this case up to violent, brutal stupidity rather than anti-semitic motives.

    It’s articles like this that make it very hard to actually address European anti-semitism, which does exist but pales in significance compared to other varieties of xenophobia. I’ve met a few Europeans who’ve said things that struck me as pretty anti-semitic and that few people would dare to say in America, but none of them had any meaningful opinion of Israel and all of them had fairly poor opinions of Arabs. In the US, however, I find lots of pro-Israel Christian evangelicals who think that one day, the Jews will have to confess to their “national sin” of rejecting the Messiah. These are usually the same folks who blame “the Arabs” for 9/11. I’m not really sure which one is worse, but neither tends to explode into violence against Jews these days.

    Europe has more Muslims and more Arabs as a proportion of the population than the US has. They are more sensitive to what is going on in the Middle-East than many other people. They tend to be poor and some of them take out their poor situations on Jews because they’re idiots. Rosenthal dismisses this as if it wasn’t a quite adequate explanation of events, choosing instead to pursue ad hominem against Peter Beaumont. He hasn’t a shard of evidence that anti-semitism has become respectable in France or anywhere else. Just innuendo and slander.

    This is exactly the kind of article that builds up an ominous growth of anti-semitism in Europe out of nothing at all.

  7. Speaking from purely anecdotal experience, anti-Semitism among “native” Europeans doesn’t seem to me to be on the rise. If anything it is on the decline. And criticism of Israel by this particular group pales in comparison with the venom addressed at Muslim immigrants, especially after september 2001.

    Anti-semitic *sentiment* among Muslim (primarily north-african) immigrants seems to me to be stable, neither rising or declining, but I arrived in Europe in 1991, at the end of the first intifada, so I have no pre-1987 benchmarks to judge this against. What has increased, though, is the crime rates among Muslim immigrant youths, and I think this translates into a rise in incidents which quite probably increase the general unease among European Jews: defacings of synagogue walls, graffiti on cemetery headstones and the like.

    Having worked in jobs with large numbers of Moroccan colleagues, I personally find that reflexive anti-Semitism is quite common among them (and relatively undiminished by education), though few actually spend any time thinking about it, and even fewer give it any prominence among their personal priority lists (get laid, earn money etc.)

    Nevertheless, although the hyperventilating rants about an imminent return of the Third Reich one sees from some US pundits are not grounded in any sense of reality, it’s also wise to look carefully at the situation on the ground. Though most expressions of anti-Semitism is at the level of random acts of vandalism by bored youths, there is a reservoir of reflexive anti-Semitism which can be tapped by skillful manipulators. This is what we have to be careful about.

  8. Addendum: By “reflexive anti-semitism” I mean instinctively siding against Jews in much the same manner that people side with football teams: unthinkingly.

  9. There are many comments here to the effect that criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Of course this is true, but criticizing Israel only and not criticizing the Palestinians much less the large number of Islamic countries whose human rights infractions are much worse than anything Israel has done is anti-Semitic. Singling out Israel and holding it to standards you don’t hold other countries to is anti-Semitism. Making such spurious claims that Israel is an apartheid state or that Zionism is Racism is anti-Semitism. When criticism is coached in these term, yes, it’s anti-Semitic. Physically and verbally attacking or harrassing Jews living in Europe for the actions of Jews living in Israel is anti-Semitism.

    Here’s an article that ran in Vanity Fair last spring in the US on hate crime toward Jews in France. It also addresses bias in the European press and the apathy of France’s elites.

    Here’s some more interesting as well as uncontested information on Mohammed al-Dura from The Atlantic article:

    “What is known about the rest of the day is fragmentary and additionally confusing. A report from a nearby hospital says that a dead boy was admitted on September 30, with two gun wounds to the left side of his torso. But according to the photocopy I saw, the report also says that the boy was admitted at 1:00 P.M.; the tape shows that Mohammed was shot later in the afternoon. The doctor’s report also notes, without further explanation, that the dead boy had a cut down his belly about eight inches long. A boy’s body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag but with his face exposed, was later carried through the streets to a burial site (the exact timing is in dispute). The face looks very much like Mohammed’s in the video footage. Thousands of mourners lined the route. A BBC TV report on the funeral began, “A Palestinian boy has been martyred.” Many of the major U.S. news organizations reported that the funeral was held on the evening of September 30, a few hours after the shooting. Oddly, on film the procession appears to take place in full sunlight, with shadows indicative of midday.”

    You cannot deny that something’s fishy.

    In fact, Fallows does not “retreat significantly” from his claims. Perhaps you should read the entire article. Doesn’t this strike you as being contradictory? Indeed, on that page there are letters to the editor who back his claims and others that don’t. But one is very interesting. It is from France 2 and they admit to cutting the scene.

    “Furthermore, Fallows is the only source of the claim that France 2 is sitting on footage that might clear the IDF.

    She [Schapira] claims that the cameraman said he took six minutes of film, while France 2 claims to have 52 seconds. This is quite different from claiming that France 2 is unwilling to release footage.”

    If they claim there is more footage, but France 2 denies its existence. (Assuming France 2 is lying) then this would mean they are unwilling to release footage.

    Schapira even wrote a letter to The Atlantic. From her letter:

    “My film does not conclude that I know the answer to the question “Who shot Mohammed al-Dura?” I’ve always said that I see more significant hints (but no proof) that he was shot by Palestinians. The film doesn’t present a final conclusion. It presents the findings of my own research and no speculations.”

    I have not heard that the Bush administration is claiming that any and all criticism of them is anti-Americanism. I do believe that quite a bit of the criticism is based on distortion, lies and willful misrepresentation (Bush is easy to criticize and deserves criticism but let’s make sure it’s criticism based in reality) and the more hysterical criticism is about anti-Americanism. For the opinion of some Europeans: “Today, Anti-Americanism is the closest we come to a common ideology in Europe.” There are a couple other French intellectuals like Jean Francois Revel who’ve addressed this topic.

    Regarding the Financial Times article you cited from Nov. 14, here is some commentary that essentially rolls its eyes at these people.

    “(by the way, try calling them “Arabs” – slang terms for ethnic groups quickly become demeaning outside of their original context)”
    I don’t understand. I never called anyone a “beur”. Could you be any more condescending?

    “He offers nothing to explain why Arab sympathy with Palestinians under occupation is somehow worse, or even different, than Jewish sympathy with Israelis living with ethnic and sectarian violence.”
    Hmmm…maybe it’s worse because Arab sympathy is manifesting itself in serious violence toward Jews in Europe, but this would require that you admit anti-Semitic violence in Europe is increasing. I don’t see Jews attacking mosques in Europe.

    As for your comments about “scare quotes”, I believe there’s just one “scare quote” in the f*cking paragraph. The others seem more like y’know quotes.

    “If this was the worst anti-semitic attack in postwar European history, it only killed one Jew.”

    Yes, this just makes it alllll better.

    “Why does Rosenthal imply that this was an anti-semitic incident? The people on the train weren’t especially Jews and no one has claimed responsibility. Does every act of violence that encompasses anyone Jewish have to be classed as anti-semitic? Even when it was likely more general xenophobia? ”

    Possibly because the bomb was clearly timed to go off in order to kill a number of Jews who were on that train at a specific time every day. If a bomb goes off in a black church while a large number of black Americans are there, is it logical to assume it’s a hate crime? Yes.

    Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

  10. “Does the Agence France-Presse, the third largest global wire service, respect its obligations to “accuracy, balance and objectivity” that the law requires or, on the contrary, does it violate this principle by providing its subscribers with partisan information? This is the question to which I have tried to bring some concrete elements of an answer in examining the AFP’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, particularly since the 28 September 2000 beginning of what is often called the “second Intifada.” ”


  11. Linden,

    As you say, Denial ain’t a river in Africa. What comments have you on this, from the report by a US-based group, in November 2000?

    “Physicians for Human Rights USA (PHR) finds that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has used live ammunition and rubber bullets excessively and inappropriately to control demonstrators, and that based on the high number of documented injuries to the head and thighs, Israeli soldiers appear to be shooting to inflict harm, rather than solely in self-defense. . .” – from:

  12. Linden, denial may not only be a river in Egypt, but I just saw on TV today prominent French Jewish leaders proclaim that France is not an anti-Semitic country.

    Maybe he’s in denial, maybe he’s lying, maybe he has no idea about what he’s saying, but I would personally take his word for it.

    It does mean that he understands that criticism of Israel is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. And no, it is not true that Israel is being held to higher standards than other countries. Ask Turkey.

  13. Obsessive European anti-Americanism is a daily reality for me. The other day Norm Geras asked whether this is what it felt like to live in the Weimar Republic. It has felt like that to me since October or November, 2001.

    I’m thankful that, since I’ve lived in Europe for the past six years, I was here to see what happened. Those I know in the States have no idea.

    I’ve seen and heard the new antisemitism here in Europe first-hand, and I’ve also witnessed the epiphany of a Belgian at the moment when she learned that she was being systematically lied to by the media here about the reality of the Israeli/Palestinian Isreali/Arab conflicts.

    Those who are beginners in trying to come to grips with the new antisemitism might try some of the lectures at a recent conference on the subject. I especially recommend those by Finkielkraut, Berman, Caldwell, Joffe, and Lilla.

    Also, Thomas von der Osten-Sacken speaks of the ideology in which the new antisemitism is manifested in this interview.

    Todd Gitlin reminds us that it’s not just in Europe.

  14. Linden,

    >Singling out Israel and holding it to standards
    >you don’t hold other countries to is anti-

    Is it really? If it’s true – and let’s assume for a moment that it is, wouldn’t this simply be a – possibly inadvertent – sign that Israel is considered part of a club of “civilised” nations that has established a certain set of rules of behavior for itself? So I suppose, pointing at Israel for not adhering to these standards could be partly interpreted as ignorance regarding some facts of life that lead such non-adherence on the part of a “civilised” country, but it is hardly anti-semitic per se. Just as pointing out that the US are on the verge of non-adherence to some standards is not anti-American per se. Perception is a different thing, of course, as is public exploitation of perception for political reasons. I suppose that we agree to differentiate one from the other. The kind of language used is paramount in this sensitive area.

    >Making such spurious claims that Israel is an
    >apartheid state or that Zionism is Racism is

    It can be. But I don’t think that pointing out obvious difficulties in the relationship between the Jewish majority and the non Jewish minority of a Jewish state that is also democracy should be confined to Jewish commentators – who by the way do discuss these questions extensively for they are of existential importance for Israel. Off the top of my head I remember two recent articles published in German by Fania Oz-Salzberger, a professor of history at the University of Haifa, and one by a former president of the Knesset, Avraham Burg –,3858,4753390-103677,00.html

    Again, language is extremely important here. But it is not helpful to discredit possibly important arguments per se as anti-Semitic – while it is obviously possible to disagree with them.

  15. I’ve seen and heard the new antisemitism here in Europe first-hand, and I’ve also witnessed the epiphany of a Belgian at the moment when she learned that she was being systematically lied to by the media here about the reality of the Israeli/Palestinian Isreali/Arab conflicts.

    Firstly, please tell us in what ways she was being misinformed.

    Secondly, please prove that she was being “lied to” by mass media, as opposed to being informed by mistaken mass media.


    Quite frankly, increasingly Jewish nationalists are sounding more and more like Greater Serbian nationalists in the 1990s. There certainly are differences, but the rhetoric is identical, right down to the condemnation of the West (or selected portions thereof) as inherently bigoted against Our Nation and Its Rightful Goals (whether a Serbian Bosnia or an Israeli West Bank).

    Herzl must be turning over in his grave.

  16. “the reality of the Israeli/Palestinian Isreali/Arab conflicts.”

    “With the Israel Defense Forces in the fourth year of battle with the Palestinians, the most dominant institution in Israeli society is also embroiled in a struggle over its own character, according to dozens of interviews with soldiers, officers, reservists and some of the nation’s preeminent military analysts. . . Nearly 600 members of the armed forces have signed statements refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories. Active-duty and reserve personnel are criticizing the military in public. Parents of soldiers are speaking out as well, complaining that the protection of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not worth the loss of their sons and daughters.”
    – from:

    Nuff said.

  17. Quite frankly, increasingly Jewish nationalists are sounding more and more like Greater Serbian nationalists in the 1990s. There certainly are differences, but the rhetoric is identical, right down to the condemnation of the West (or selected portions thereof) as inherently bigoted against Our Nation and Its Rightful Goals (whether a Serbian Bosnia or an Israeli West Bank).

    It seems that the they’re not just similar but connected. After all, they share a common enemy — Muslims. I remember that, when the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation’s report about the Srebrenica massacre came out, it mentioned among other things that Israel had supplied arms to the Bosnian Serbs in return for assurances that the Jewish community of Sarajevo would not be harmed. (Unfortunately the website won’t let me access the whole report.)

    Meanwhile, apparently, the US was channeling arms to the Bosnian government through networks of mujahadin who had fought in Afghanistan, thereby helping to bring radical Islamic forces and ideas into the country and playing into the hands of the Serbian nationalists, who were thundering that Bosnia would become an Islamic state that would pose a grave threat to the whole of Europe (the Serbs’ bravery in confronting the Islamic menace going unrecognised by those they were protecting, who once again manifested their eternal hatred of the Serbs, etc., etc.).

    Anyway, Serbian and Israeli nationalism boil down to pretty much the same thing, namely “This is our land, not yours, and you [Palestinians or Bosnians] aren’t even a real nation anyway so just disappear from the face of the earth already”.

  18. I don’t think what’s happening in Europe is “anti-Semitic,” at least not most of it. I think it’s more, “Europe used to have colonies. Now we don’t. Israel is, in a sense, a colony. How dare the Jews do what we aren’t allowed to? (Not that we would want to, of course. We realize what a mistake colonies were and we’re terribly sorry.)”

    This suggests that there is really nothing that the Israeli government can do to get on the right side of history, or on the right side of European public opinion.

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