Jews Feel Safer in “Right-Wing” Eastern Europe Than in the “Liberal” West

Nov. 30 2018

In a survey published last week, European Jewish leaders and professionals were questioned about their own experiences with anti-Semitism and asked to gauge its extent in their countries. By a margin of about 20 percent, respondents in Western Europe were more likely to feel unsafe than those in the east; the former were also more likely to consider anti-Semitism a threat. Evelyn Gordon comments that this upends current assumptions about the resurgence of right-wing nationalism in Eastern Europe:

There are two reasons for these . . . results. . . . The first is the politically incorrect fact that violence against Jews in Europe comes mainly from Muslim anti-Semites rather than from either the right or the left. (See, for instance, the shootings at a Jewish museum in Brussels, a Jewish school in Toulouse, and a kosher supermarket in Paris.) And in Western Europe, liberal governments spent decades implementing liberal immigration policies that have produced large Muslim populations. Eastern Europe has very few Muslims, initially because decades of Communist rule made these countries economically uninviting and more recently because rightist governments have imposed restrictive immigration policies.

The second reason is more speculative, since correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causality. Nevertheless, as the report noted, the findings are suggestive: “Hostility toward Israel in the general society is perceived to be fiercer in Western Europe.” . . . [O]bjective data seem to support this hypothesis: whenever Israel launches a major counterterrorism operation, anti-Israel sentiment spikes, and so do anti-Semitic attacks, [perhaps because] rampant anti-Israel sentiment often makes anti-Semites believe that society will tolerate such attacks so long as they can be portrayed as “anti-Israel.” And this belief is hardly unfounded. . . .

[Moreover], since hostility toward Israel emanates primarily from the left these days, it’s no surprise that such hostility is higher in liberal Western Europe than in conservative Eastern Europe. Thus, both of the main contributors to anti-Semitism in Europe today—Islamic anti-Semitism and left-wing hostility toward Israel—are more prevalent in the liberal West than in the allegedly “fascist, anti-Semitic” countries of Eastern Europe.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, East European Jewry, European Jewry, Jewish World

 

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat