America Should Learn from Europe’s Mistakes When It Comes to Ignoring Anti-Semitism

Last week, CNN released the results of a survey of European attitudes toward Jews that, although shocking to many, will come as little to surprise to anyone who has paid attention to the issue over the past two decades. Nearly one in four respondents, for instance, reported believing that Jews have too much influence on conflict and wars, and a similar number said the same about business and finance. Yet, writes Bari Weiss, these data don’t capture the “three-headed dragon” that is anti-Semitism in Europe today: violent and often deadly attacks perpetrated almost exclusively by Muslims, obsessive hatred of Israel from a hard left that is becoming increasingly mainstream, and a resurgent anti-Semitic far right. And these trends might not stay in Europe:

[On the far right] is the anti-Semitism of the “Jews will not replace us” marchers in Charlottesville and the killer at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh who ranted against globalists and the “kike infestation.” . . .

Islamism is far less of a threat in the United States than in Europe—we do not, contrary to what the president would have you believe, have caravans of terrorists crossing our border. Still, a Muslim American who expressed hatred of Israel shot six people, killing one of them, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, in 2006. Four Muslim men were arrested in a plot to bomb two Bronx synagogues in 2009. A Muslim convert was thwarted by the FBI in his plan to blow up a Florida synagogue in 2016. Just last week, Mohamed Mohamed Abdi, a Somalian immigrant, shouted anti-Semitic slurs while trying to run down with his car people leaving a Los Angeles synagogue.

[Then] there is the hatred from the left, which comes cloaked in the language of progressive values. This includes the perhaps unwitting anti-Semitism of college professors who refuse to write letters of recommendation for students wanting to study abroad in Israel or who seek to suspend study-abroad programs to Israel entirely, without thinking of sanctioning, say, China or Russia. Or turning a blind eye to unconscionable comments like one from Minnesota’s new congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who tweeted in 2012 “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel”—because she is breaking ground as a Muslim woman of color.

For reasons historical, aesthetic, and political, we Jews are most attuned to the anti-Semitism of the far right—and we find the most sympathy among our progressive allies when these are our attackers. But when Jews point out the other two kinds, we are often dismissed as sensitive or hysterical, or as mistaking legitimate criticism of Israel for something darker. This is nonsense. The same was said of the Jews in Europe when they sounded the alarm bells. Look where they are now.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, European Islam, 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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More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat