Europe Won’t Solve Its Anti-Semitism Problem by Expanding Bans on “Hate Speech”

July 13 2022

Not having, or desiring, American-style guarantees of freedom of expression, European countries tend to have laws prohibiting what has come to be known as “hate speech.” Recently, some have advocated expanding these laws to include the most vicious forms of anti-Israel rhetoric. Ben Cohen argues against such an approach:

Meeting last week with a group of visiting American Jews, the head of the city government in Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, informed them that she had submitted an amendment to the European Union’s comprehensive strategy to combat anti-Semitism that would criminalize calls for Israel’s destruction. While the exact details of the proposal have not been explained, it’s reasonable to assume that a slogan like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is precisely a call for Israel’s destruction, would theoretically fall foul of the law.

Not every aspect of this problem is so easily analyzed, however. . . . Those academics and pundits who demean Israel as an apartheid state, carefully [claiming] at the same time that they scorn anti-Semitism in all its forms, will not be silenced by such measures and will wear any bans or restrictions as a badge of pride.

Rather than seeking to criminalize anti-Zionism in toto, European governments would be better off carving out those aspects that can uncomplicatedly be dealt with by the law, such as preventing the public display of Hizballah or Hamas flags on the grounds that these incite violence and promote anti-Semitic organizations, and allow civil society to adjudicate the broader political debates.

Additionally, the cause of defending Israel would be severely compromised, perhaps fatally, by the shuttering of anti-Zionist associations’ . . . clamping down on the free speech of Israel’s adversaries sends the signal, however much we might wish otherwise, that the Jewish state’s allies have lost the argument.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Zionism, Europe and Israel, Freedom of Speech, Spain

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism