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Anti-Semitism is on the Rise in Europe ...
By Uri Avnery
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, February 20, 2015
on the rise. All over Europe it is raising its ugly head.
Jews are in danger everywhere. They must make haste and come home to
Israel before it is too late.
PRACTICALLY ALL the alarming
incidents which have taken place in Europe recently – especially in
Paris and Copenhagen – in which Jews were killed or attacked – had
nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
All these outrages
were conducted by young Muslims, mostly of Arab descent. They were
part of the ongoing war between Israelis and Arabs that has nothing
to do with anti-Semitism. They are not descended from the pogrom in
Kishinev and not related to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
In theory, Arab anti-Semitism is an oxymoron, since Arabs are
Semites. Indeed, Arabs may be more Semitic then Jews, because Jews
have mingled for many centuries with Gentiles.
course, the German publicist Wilhelm Marr, who probably invented the
term Antisemitismus in 1880 (after inventing the term Semitismus
seven years earlier) never met an Arab in his life. For him the only
Semites were Jews, and his crusade was solely against them.
(Adolf Hitler, who took his racism seriously, applied it to all
Semites. He could not stand Arabs either. Contrary to legend,
he disliked the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who
had fled to Germany. After meeting him once for a photo-opportunity
arranged by the Nazi propaganda machine, he never agreed to meet him
SO WHY do young Muslims in Europe shoot Jews,
after killing cartoonists who have insulted The Prophet?
Experts say that the basic reason is their profound hatred for their
host countries, in which they feel (quite rightly) that they are
despised, humiliated and discriminated against. In countries like
France, Belgium, Denmark and many others, their violent rage needs
But why the Jews?
There are at least two
The first is local. French Muslims are mostly
immigrants from North Africa. During the desperate struggle for
Algerian independence, almost all the Algerian Jews sided with the
colonialist regime against the local freedom fighters. When all Jews
and many Arabs emigrated from Algeria to France, they brought their
fight with them. Since they now live side by side in the
crowded ghettos around Paris and elsewhere, their mutual hatred
lives on and often leads to violence.
The second reason is
the ongoing Arab-Zionist conflict, which started with the mass
immigration of Jews to Arab Palestine, continued with the long list
of wars and is now in full bloom. Practically every Arab in the
world, and most Muslims are emotionally involved in the conflict.
But what have French Jews to do with that far-away
When Binyamin Netanyahu does not miss
an opportunity to declare that he represents all the Jews in the
world, he makes all the world's Jews responsible for Israeli
policies and actions.
When Jewish institutions in
France, the US and everywhere totally and uncritically identify with
the policies and operations of Israel, such as the recent Gaza war,
they turn themselves voluntarily into potential victims of revenge
actions. The French Jewish leadership, CRIF, did so just now.
Neither of these reasons has anything to do with anti-Semitism.
ANTI-SEMITISM is an integral part of European culture.
Many theories have been put forward to explain this totally
illogical phenomenon, which borders on a collective mental disease.
My own preferred theory is religious. All over Europe, and
now also in the Americas, Christian children in their formative
years hear the stories of the New Testament. They learn that a
Jewish mob was shouting for the blood of Jesus, the gentle and mild
preacher, while the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilatus, was desperately
trying to save his life. The Roman is depicted as a humane, likeable
person, while the Jews are seen as a vile, despicable mob.
This story cannot be true. Roman rulers all over the Empire used to
crucify potential troublemakers. The behavior of the Jewish
authorities in the story does not conform to Jewish law. But the New
Testament story, written long after the death of Jesus (whose real
Hebrew name was Jeshua), was aimed at the Roman audience the
Christians were trying to convert, in hot competition with the
Also, the early Christians were a
small, persecuted sect in Jewish Jerusalem, and their grudge lives
on to this very day.
The picture of the evil Jews crying out
for the death of Jesus is unconsciously imprinted in the minds of
the Christian multitudes and has inspired Jew-hatred in every new
generation. The results were slaughter, mass-expulsions,
inquisition, persecution in every form, pogroms, and finally the
THERE has never been anything like this in
The Prophet had some small wars with
neighboring Jewish tribes, but the Koran contains strict
instructions on how to deal with Jews and Christians, the People of
the Book. They had to be treated fairly and were exempted from
military duty in return for a poll tax. Throughout the ages there
were some rare anti-Jewish (and anti-Christian) outbreaks here and
there, but Jews in Muslim lands fared incomparably better than in
If this had not been so, there would have
been no "Golden Age" of Muslim-Jewish cultural symbiosis in medieval
Spain. It would have been impossible for the Muslim Ottoman empire
to accept and absorb almost all the hundreds of thousands of Jewish
refugees from medieval Spain, driven out by their Catholic
Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella. The outstanding Jewish religious
thinker, Moses Maimonides (the "Rambam") could not have become the
personal physician and adviser of the outstanding Muslim sultan,
Salah-al-Din al-Ayubi (Saladin).
The present conflict
started as a clash between two national movements, Jewish Zionism
and secular Arab nationalism, and had only slight religious
overtones. As my friends and I have warned many times, it is now
turning into a religious conflict – a calamity with potentially
Nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
SO WHY does the entire Israeli propaganda machine,
including all Israeli media, insist that Europe is experiencing a
catastrophic rise of anti-Semitism? In order to call upon European
Jews to come to Israel (in Zionist terminology: "make Aliya").
For a Zionist true believer, every Jew's arrival in Israel is an
ideological victory. Never mind that once in Israel, new immigrants
– especially from countries like Ethiopia and Ukraine – are
As I have frequently quoted: "Israelis like
immigration but don't like immigrants".
In the wake of the
recent events in Paris and Copenhagen, Binyamin Netanyahu has
publicly called upon French and Danish Jews to pack up and come at
once to Israel for their own safety. The prime ministers of both
countries have furiously protested against these calls, which
insinuate that they are unable or unwilling to protect their own
citizens. I suppose that no leader likes a foreign politician to
call upon his citizens to leave.
There is something
grotesque in this call: as the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz
remarked, Israel is the only place in the world where Jewish lives
are in constant danger. With a war every few years and violent
incidents almost every day, he had a point.
But in the wake
of the dramatic events, many "French" Jews – originally from North
Africa – may be induced to leave France. They may not all come to
Israel. The US, French Canada and Australia offer tempting
There are many good reasons for a Jew to come
to Israel: a mild climate, the Hebrew language, living among fellow
Jews, and what not. But running away from anti-Semites is not one of
IS THERE real anti-Semitism in Europe? I
assume that there is.
In many European countries there are
old and new super-nationalist groups, who try to attract the masses
by hatred of the Other. Jews are the Others par excellence (along
with Gypsies/Roma). An ethno-religious group dispersed in many
countries, belonging and not belonging to their host countries, with
foreign - and therefore sinister – beliefs and rituals. All the
European nationalist movements which sprang up in the 19th and 20th
centuries were more or less anti-Semitic.
Jews have always
been, and still are, the ideal scapegoat for the European poor. It
was the German (non-Jewish) socialist August Bebel who said that
"anti-Semitism is the socialism of the stupid guys".
frequent economic slumps and a widening gap between the local poor
and the multinational super-rich, the need for scapegoats is rising.
But I do not believe that these marginal groups, even if some of
them are not so marginal anymore, constitute a real anti-Semitic
Be that as it may, the outrages in Paris and
Copenhagen have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
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