French Jews Face the Hatred That Can’t Be Named

April 3 2018

In Paris, two Muslim men, one of them yelling “Allahu Akbar,” recently murdered the eighty-five-year-old, wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. Noting that this is hardly an isolated incident, Bari Weiss scrutinizes the official French response:

Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler. . . .

[Knoll’s] neighborhood . . . has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a sixty-five-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, twenty-seven-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below. It took months for Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. . . . This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. . . . But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists. . . .

Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims . . . found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. . . .

Whatever else the investigation of Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: the men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which [supposed] sensitivity toward cultural differences has driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, European Islam, France, French Jewry, Politics & Current Affairs

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times