Anti-Semitism Has a Lot to Do with the French Riots—Just Not in the Way Many Think

When riots swept through France following the death of a seventeen-year-old at the hands of the police, it was hard not to see important resonances with the recent experiences of French Jewry: the rioters tended to be young Muslims of African origin from the slum-like suburbs known as banlieues—in other words, they came from the same population that has been the source of pervasive, and sometimes murderous, anti-Semitism. Many observers cited the vandalization of a World War II memorial in the city of Nanterre; one article described the outbreak of violence as an intifada. But Marc Weitzmann argues that it is wrong to see the rioters as motivated by anti-Semitism:

There is a reason why [so many writers are] using the Nanterre memorial as evidence of the riots’ anti-Semitism: there is no other even vaguely plausible example. In fact, even the case of Nanterre is deceiving. First of all, the Nanterre wall is neither “a Holocaust memorial” nor a “memorial of deportation” [of French Jews by the Nazis] but a monument dedicated to “the martyrs of deportation and of the Resistance.” . . . If the Nanterre memorial symbolizes anything, . . . it is the ambiguity of French memory regarding World War II.

Were kosher restaurants and Jewish stores ransacked during the riots? Of course they were—but no more than non-kosher restaurants and stores that happened to be within reach of the rioters and looters. In fact, from a Jewish standpoint, if anything is remarkable, it is the almost complete lack of specificity in the choice of the businesses targeted.

What this outburst of anti-French violence shares with previous instances of anti-Jewish violence, according to Weitzmann, is a common cause: France’s failure to integrate immigrants from Muslim countries and their descendants into its society—and their refusal to integrate.

Aside from racism, one of the most underestimated reasons for why the French failed to develop any active policy to integrate migrants from their former colonies was that this would have been seen as a casus belli by the new nationalist Algerian and Moroccan regimes, whose oil and gas were vital to the French economy. . . . The former colonies made a point of directly controlling their nationals on French territory, a deal to which the French state assented. As a result, the ex-colonies also controlled the mosques and migrant culture in France.

In that regard, it is therefore tempting to see the random, spontaneous, anti-Semitic attacks that plagued France between 2000 and 2014 and beyond—that is to say before and after the terror wave—as a non- or pre-verbal designation of the enemy: the energetic condition, so to speak, for the subsequent terror to fall on everyone.

Read more at Tablet

More about: European Islam, France, French Jewry


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University