European Anti-Semitism Goes Well Beyond “Criticism of Israel”

While there is little doubt that hatred of Israel has become the dominant form of anti-Semitism in Europe, its more naked forms persist as well. Manfred Gerstenfeld writes:

Polls by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) show that the evil myth that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus is alive and well in Europe. It was found that 46 percent of Poles, 38 percent of Hungarians, 21 percent of Danes and Spaniards, and 19 percent of Norwegians and Belgians believe this. So do 18 percent of Austrians and British, 16 percent of the Dutch, 15 percent of Italians, and 14 percent of Germans. Once a belief is so deeply ingrained in a culture, it takes a very long time to flush it out. Rather than disappear, it will change its shape. . . .

From [another] study, it emerged that at least 150 million adult EU citizens agreed with the statement that Israel is conducting “a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” . . . In another new mutation of anti-Semitism, European Jews are now accused of being responsible for Israel’s actions. . . .

The way that ingrained anti-Semitism manifests itself varies not only from subculture to subculture but also from country to country. In January 2014, a mass rally in Paris took place. This “Day of Anger” was not related to any specific Jewish topic, and part of the protest was against French president François Hollande’s economic plans. However, various groups of participants started to shout anti-Semitic slogans. These included, “Jews, France doesn’t belong to you” and [the Holocaust denier] “Faurisson is right,” as well as “the Holocaust was a hoax.”

The same has happened recently in the “Yellow Vest” demonstrations. These are ostensibly a protest against the French president Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise fuel prices—again, a topic that has nothing to do with Jews. Yet during some of the demonstrations, there have been signs describing Macron as a “whore of the Jews” and as their “puppet.”

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Emmanuel Macron, France, Politics & Current Affairs

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