The secular jihadi two-step

In a previous post, I argued that the extreme Right has rebranded itself as a “secular jihad” against “Eurabia” to appeal to the liberal hawk/”decent left” tendency. Where once the New York Times‘s op-ed pages wrung hands and wagged fingers against the rise of Haider and Le Pen as a renaissance of anti-semitism, now Melanie Phillips flirts with the Vlaams Belang as strugglers for Western civilisation.

Blogistan reports that the BNP is trying to make nice with the Jewish Chronicle over an article, ironically by Melanie Phillips, which accused them of being anti-Semitic and allies of Hezbollah. (One wonders exactly how.) Amusingly, she quotes the Communist Morning Star‘s pointing out that BNP leader Nick Griffin has both supported Israeli military action in Lebanon and crazy Eurabia propagandist Bat Ye’or as evidence that the Left is anti-Semitic and so is the BNP. The only logical route to this proposition is that “the Left criticise the BNP for being pro-Israel, therefore the left is anti-Semitic because all criticism of Israel, or even the Eurabia mythos, is anti-Semitic by definition” – something which a lot of JC readers would have been outraged by had it been made explicit.

The further leap, that the BNP is really anti-Semitic despite its explicit and noisy support for the Israeli hard right, is based on a statement by some BNP “theorist” that the party needs to stop being obsessed by Jews. At some point here, clearly, we have slipped the surly bonds of logic and sailed off into the pure air of propagandist ravings. This is an example of using a point in debate that means the exact opposite of what you wish to say. There is absolutely no doubt that the BNP *is* anti-Semitic, in that many if not most of its members are and much of its past history is. But it is very significant that its leadership and its “theorist” are trying to retarget its hatred onto Muslims.

Phillips’ mental model is founded on the assumption that a) the CPGB is representative of all leftwing opinion, a highly noticeable step, and b) not only is criticism of Israeli policy equivalent to Nazism, but this protection extends to the Eurabia meme, rather as “extended deterrence” was held to protect Western Europe as well as North America.

This kind of ideological acrobatics is usually a signal of a big realignment a-coming. It is reminiscent of the good communist who had to believe in the necessity of war against fascism up to the moment he or she learnt of the Nazi-Soviet pact, then of the essential non-dangerousness of Hitler, and then the exact opposite immediately on hearing the morning news on June 22, 1941. After all, precisely the people in Europe who believe in the Eurabia meme are…the BNP and Co. And if it is now the acid test of fascism, then Melanie Phillips can’t logically avoid lining up with Nick Griffin.

Slight update: I recall that a few years ago, the “Loyalists” in Northern Ireland were reported to have started adopting Israeli iconography, and the Republicans had begun to wave Palestinian flags in response. No doubt part of the reason is that the colours were roughly right for Glasgow Rangers, but still. The BNP, C18, NF and Co are known to have contacts with the “Loyalist” paramilitaries.

News About The Rift.

David at Dialog International has an interesting review of a new book by Anrei S. Markovits, Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, The book is called “Amerika, Dich hasst sich’s besser” (America, it’s easier to hate you) and tries to give the popular recent Bush-related European “anti-americanism” (and anti-semitism) some historical context. Apparently, the core arguments of Mr Markovits’ book are available to English readers in this Harvard European Studies working paper.
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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.

Anti-Semitism in Europe, take two

This was all over the blogosphere a week ago. I didn’t get around to finishing this post until now. EU body shelves report on anti-semitism

I’m with Eugene Volokh, we should withhold judgement. It may be that the report was no good. This pasage makes me suspect so:

“When the researchers submitted their work in October last year, however, the centre’s senior staff and management board objected to their definition of anti-semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts. The focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, meanwhile, was judged inflammatory.

‘There is a trend towards Muslim anti-semitism, while on the left there is mobilisation against Israel that is not always free of prejudice,” said one person familiar with the report. “Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”

Some EUMC board members had also attacked part of the analysis ascribing anti-semitic motives to leftwing and anti-globalisation groups, this person said. “The decision not to publish was a political decision.”‘

Bullshit anti-semitism charges are frequently used by likudnik partisans and various other elements as a rhetorical bludgeon, and it sort of sounds like this was the case here. Note that this was the spin of the ones critical of the EUMC.

However, this passage makes me fear a good report would also have met with restistance: ‘”Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”‘

I hold that there is a fair amount of anti-semitic sentiment among some of the arab immigrants in Europe, and this is something many have been reluctant to acknowledge, out of a misplaced concern about fuelling anti-muslim xenophobia. We must deal with this problem, and we can’t do that if we pretend there is no problem.

Update: Apologies for all the typos.
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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 CommonDreams.org 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? Wikipedia.org 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…