European Anti-Semitism: The Unpleasant Truth

Author suggests ‘humanitarian racism’ behind demonization of Israel.

Tue, 07/30/2013
Gary Rosenblatt
Gary Rosenblatt

Anti-Semitism in Europe, often in the guise now of anti-Israel rhetoric and actions, has become too big a problem to ignore or rationalize away. And it is taking place on two levels: as official policy, and within societies where, according to recent polls, Israel is considered the most dangerous nation in the world, more of a threat to world peace even than Iran or North Korea.

But getting the word out about this deeply disturbing trend has not been easy.

The latest European Union attempt, in advance of Mideast peace talks, to, in effect, determine Israel’s borders as those of pre-June 1967, underscores the views of national leaders in the sophisticated capitals of the 28 countries making up the EU. Their new guidelines banning support for projects beyond the Green Line indicate that the EU does not recognize the West Bank, Golan Heights or east Jerusalem — including the Western Wall — as being part of Israel.

Defenders of the move say it is a reflection of Europe’s frustration with Israel for the lack of progress in dealing with the Palestinians, and specifically with the continued growth of Jewish settlements. Critics of the EU action say it only adds to Israel’s reluctance to trust the international community in peace efforts, and fails to distinguish between areas that clearly will remain part of Israel in any future deal and those that will not. Is the EU, for example, insisting Israel “give back” the Golan Heights to Bashar Assad in the midst of a civil war that is turning Syria into a failed state? (The EU itself has called for Assad’s removal; to whom, then, should Israel cede the Golan?)

Further, how can the EU maintain its seemingly objective role in advancing the Mideast peace process as part of The Quartet (along with the United Nations, United States and Russia) if it has already determined that Israel should revert to what legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban famously called “the Auschwitz borders” of 1949?

To be clear, the EU represents Israel’s major trading partner, and its member states call for a two-state solution and insist on their support for Israel. But many of those states are guilty of what Manfred Gerstenfeld, an Austrian-born Israeli economist and author, calls the double standard of “humanitarian racism,” which he describes as “attributing intrinsically reduced responsibility to people of certain ethnic or national groups regarding their criminal acts and intentions.”

In this case, he asserts, “Israelis are blamed for whatever measures they take to defend themselves” while “Palestinian responsibility for suicide bombers, murderous missile attacks, glorification of murderers of civilians, and promoting genocide, is reduced, at best.”

Gerstenfeld, former chair of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, points out that “totally irrational” views about Israel go unquestioned, like accusing Jerusalem of seeking to eradicate Palestinians when in fact Israeli medical facilities treat Arab and Jewish patients with equal care.

He has a new book out entitled “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” made up of a series of 57 interviews with academics, politicians, journalists and others in Europe, America and Israel who offer testimony of a variety of factors contributing to negative views among Europeans about Jews and Israel. Those influences range from traditional European anti-Semitism and guilt over Europe’s role in the Holocaust, to sympathy for the Palestinians and the influence of Muslim immigrants in European countries.

“There is no one single frontal attack” against Jews or Israel, he says, but rather “a thousand little cuts,” like statements from European political leaders that single out Israel among other nations for alleged wrongdoing, or praising the U.S. for killing Osama bin Laden while criticizing Israel for eliminating terrorist leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Gerstenfeld cites several polls that find about 40 percent of Europeans over the age of 16 harbor anti-Israel, if not anti-Semitic, feelings, agreeing that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians. That comes out to about 150 million European citizens who feel Israel has genocidal intentions, he says.

According to Gerstenfeld, whereas “absolute evil” in medieval Christian society was defined as the killing of Jesus, attributed to Jews, today such evil is seen as behaving like the Nazis did, namely committing genocide.

“It’s a new mutation” of a centuries-old irrational and “diabolical belief” held by many in Europe about Jews, the author says. What’s more, he charges, no one in power really wants to be confronted with this disturbing reality — not the leaders in Europe or foreign ministry officials in Israel.

“It’s tiresome to them and embarrassing,” Gerstenfeld tells me. “Acknowledging this would force them to take some kind of action.” He describes their attitude as, “this shouldn’t be true, therefore it cannot be true.”

Gerstenfeld contends that the European press has been equally reluctant to expose these widespread negative views of Israel and Jews. He says he was interviewed at length about his book three months ago by a reporter from Bild, the German tabloid and largest newspaper in Europe, but to date nothing has appeared in print. Similarly, he says other media, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, have blocked coverage of his book.

What, if anything, can be done to reverse this dangerous development? Some Israeli officials tell Gerstenfeld his efforts are futile, that the problem is too big, that Europeans who pride themselves on human rights don’t want to hear charges against them of ethnic bias. But he points out that the Netherlands instituted a program to combat anti-Semitism among its Moroccan and Turkish populations, and the statistics, though still troubling, indicate improvement. (Positive views of Jews increased from 34 percent to 50 percent.)

He plans to keep up his efforts, and just added 25 interviews to the German edition of his book. “You can’t fool all the people all the time,” he says.

Some will write Gerstenfeld off as an alarmist, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the rhetoric and accusations against Israel in Europe and other countries have deteriorated in recent decades as the demonization factor has increased. Only Israel among the nations of the world must defend its right to exist, the subject of more critical UN resolutions than any other country, etc. Perhaps we’ve grown immune to the bias, just as we take for granted the daily hatred spewed against Jews in the Arab media, or by Arab national leaders.

Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. Increased attention to the problem, a calm recitation of the facts, and efforts to educate the population are a start on the long path toward righting an awful wrong.

Gary@jewishweek.org 

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Anti israel is just another versioneof antisemitism. it will never ever end. started with the pharaohs and continues and will continue on and on. but jews never get it. the next wave is likely in the us and will bring israel to the end. iteis not that jews are bad, it is they are tle perpetual highly influential outsiders never trusted.

I have significant difficulties agreeing with Gary Rosenblatt : EU policy = anti-Semitism. Or The EU resolution determines Israel's borders.

As an Israeli who lives predominantly among non Israelis (both within Israel and out of it) and think in less ethnocentric way of thinking – I live with the impression of Jews living under a sense of paranoia: Whoever does not support Israeli policies must be an anti-Semite.

How many Jews are willing to scream out: "The emperor is naked!" Israeli policy regarding the territories is ruining Israel and endangering Israel, the Middle East and the world.

The EU does not determine Israeli borders. Israel determines its own borders. And Israel, deliberately, since 1967, refrained from doing so. The territories occupied by Israel since 1967 had never been included by the Israeli governments – all governments, dovish and hawkish, within its borders. For 46 years Israel runs a deliberate policy of not determining its borders. It enables Israel to expand its territories step by step, without offering a responsible solution to a population of 700,000 Palestinians (1967) and 2,500,000 Palestinians (2013).

Israel must believe in a miracle of a disappearance of the 2.5 million Palestinians. The Europeans do not believe in miracles, neither the US adminiatration.

No political leader among the Israeli leaders had ever offered an answer to the situation Israel had created. Officially – Israel annexed Jerusalem only, no other borders have been changed.

The Europeans are sticking to the signed agreements: Bilateral agreements between Israel and the EU. As long as Israel does not define, in an acceptable way, any borders different than those of 1967, why should the agreement include external territories – especially that this crawling expansion creates misery and a danger of explosion?

Anti Semitism? A Jewish paranoia. The Jews in Israel are harming themselves while the Europeans are trying to get them to their senses (as well as the US administration).

The "most dangerous country in the world"

Which are the criteria?

As an Israeli – I can understand those who place Israel as one the dangerous countries in the world.

One of the most dangerous ones? It takes evaluating tools no one really has.

Yet: When the chief rabbinate of the Israeli army distributes photos of Temple Mount without the Dome of the Rock in its center, when fanatic settlers run a DVD showing Israeli air force leveling the Muslim shrines, when Rabbi Kahana's successors are making part of the legislative body of Israel – It may only take a spark to ignite WWIII.

It did not take much more to Ignite the Crimean War, or World War I.

So Shrugging off the danger is not exactly a responsible political conduct.

http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.1609482

Link: Temple Mount photo, wiping out the Dome of the Rock, distributed by the Chief military rabbinate

unfortunately jews are not as numerous and powerful as conspiracy theories claim. however if all jews who have the money and opportunity to travel state publicly that they will not travel to or spend money in europe or on any european products and stick to that promise perhaps it might get some attention and even perhaps results.

Main european towns are no longer safe for the Jews who are facing
a lot of different troubles in their daily life.Reports only available
on european jewish newspapers.

Sadly, while all this is happening in Europe, we, Jews, are too busy fighting among ourselves, splitting into smaller and smaller denominations which do not recognize each other's standards, even when they agree on 99% of the issues.

What bothers me is how rarely American Jewish leaders talk about the problem. Rabbis hardly ever raise anti-Semitism in sermons. Our leadership is more concerned about setting the earth's temperature (which man can not do) than facing up to modern anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism.

The problem is not that Israel behaves badly.

The problem is that Israel behaves more ethically than any European country in history.

Europeans don't like having to live up to Jewish ethics...and they don't like Jewish ethics proving wrong Europe's laughable pretensions of class, sophistication, enlightenment and supercessionism.

What about Jewish "ethics" discriminating non Jews?
Does this not go against all universal ethics in humanity? In unity of diversity we will succeed, in seperation we will fail!

Since the EU gives no aid to Israel, it has little right to hector it. After all, many far worse human rights violators, such as Zimbabwe, exist, yet no call for economic boycott exists in that case. Beyond this small point, there exists issues within Europe that must be addressed should they wish to be seen as not being anti-Jewish. First, Polish & Hungarian Jew hatred must be vigorously attacked by Europe. Programs against Spanish Jew hatred should be instituted. Countries that ban Kosher slaughter & especially countries that ban circumcision (only at birth is when they argue for its ban, of course, not at 13 y when Islam suggests) should be taken to task. Given that none of these things is happening, it's good old fashioned anti-Semitism that exists.

I'd say keeping Jerusalem just as it is, with the Temple Mount just as it is, proves those Europeans wrong. Now, and into the future.

All Jews must unite now! They must come out from their "comfort zone" and launch a "frontal attack" on the ignorant haters who spew and perpetuate lies, upon lies. It is, and it has been, the expressed will and goal of the PA, Hamas, and most Arabs, to liquidate the Jewish state and make the Middle-East a, "Jew-free zone." This hoax has gone on for, far too long! It must be reversed! The Jews need to confront and label these hordes of "liars," at every opportunity. They must shout at the top of their lungs, so that, the whole world will hear them and, the truth. Israel belongs to the Jewish People. A "Two-State-Solution" is not an option. It is sheer madness, pure lunacy! Submission to the PA is tantamount to trying to insert a square peg into a round hole. It just ain't going to work. The EU, is another run-away-train filled with anti-Semites, which, if not soon confronted and denounced will, once again, be filled with Jews on their way to the gas chambers!

There is no solution to anti-semitism or, euphamistically, anti-Israel bias. If World War II did not eradicate this scourge, then what could possibly happen to change today's thinking? It is apparent that European schools do not teach the lessons of the war. Blaming Germany solely for what happened is sophomoric, at best, and is just factually wrong. Europe fails to accept its individual countries' responsibility for what happened and has apparently passed this on to the current generations. Adding the ever expanding Muslim population to this mix and you have a disaster that no one may be able to stop. That being said, it would be a wonderful step for the current Pope to issue an edict that anti-semitism is against church doctrine. He may not be able to stop anti-Israel sentiment as this would be construed as a political issue, However, he can say that such a feeling must be supported on a factual basis and not blind hatred. The Vatican stayed silent about this issue pre-World War II. It cannot do so again.

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