What Europeans Don’t Understand about Anti-Semitism

Jan. 29 2019

In Europe, and to a lesser extent in America, two propositions about anti-Semitism are taken as articles of faith: first, that remembrance of and education about the Holocaust can guard against the proliferation of anti-Semitism, and second that the main danger to Jews comes from the extreme right and neo-Nazi groups. Fiamma Nirenstein, without downplaying either the importance of Holocaust education or the perils of the extreme right, argues that both propositions are fundamentally flawed:

[In a recent survey], almost all European Jews rated anti-Semitism as the biggest social problem in their countries. For 85 percent of respondents, the most common anti-Semitic statements they come across involve comparisons between what the Nazis did to the Jews with what the Israelis [allegedly] do to the Palestinians. Alongside this, there is the accusation that the Jews exploit the Holocaust for their own purposes, and therefore to Israel’s advantage.

Almost 90 percent of the European Jews polled declared they had suffered some violence (including threatening and offensive online messages, . . . phone calls, comments, and gestures, along with actual physical assaults). Thirty percent identified the perpetrator as “someone with an extremist Muslim view,” 21 percent as someone with left-wing political views, and 13 percent as someone with right-wing politics. . . . Those who . . . insist upon tying the new racist danger to the new “nationalist” political parties and their “populist” derivatives should inspect whom or what is responsible for this.

The Jews who have felt the rise of anti-Semitism the most (70 percent) live in France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands; . . . British Jews—at 84 percent—expressed the highest level of concern about anti-Semitism in political life today. Together with Germany and Sweden, the United Kingdom has also seen the highest increase in the number of Jews considering emigrating over the past five years due to safety concerns. [In none of these countries does the far right dominate.] . . .

In Poland and Hungary, [by contrast], fewer than half of their Jewish populations are worried. . . . In Hungary, where Viktor Orban’s right-wing government is suspected of racism, the number of Hungarian Jews saying anti-Semitism is a problem has significantly dropped. . . . . Analyzing the rest of the data in this survey, we reach the conclusion that anti-Semitism must not be solely fought through Holocaust commemorations or promoting school courses and pilgrimages (which are always welcome, in any case), but above all by demanding the dismantling of the horrible construction of lies about Israel inside the European Union.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, East European Jewry, Holocaust remembrance, Israel & Zionism

 

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics