Jan. 25, 2010
BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, Jerusalem Post correspondent in BERLIN , THE JERUSALEM POST
The result of the Jewish Agency’s report released on Sunday showing global anti-Semitism spiraling out of control recalls the memorable line in the film Casablanca, in which police Captain Renault announces that Rick’s Cafe must be closed because of illegal activity. “I’m shocked, shocked to discover that gambling is going on here!” says Renault while being handed the proceeds of his gambling wins.
While some observers of Jew-hatred in Western Europe are not shocked by the largest wave of anti-Semitism since the Hitler movement, many European governments, policy makers, and academics, however, tend to feign shock like Renault or simply cannot fathom that hatred of Israel is the most ubiquitous form of contemporary anti-Semitism.
As documented by the Jewish Agency report and the 2009 German University Bielefeld study, there is no shortage of hostile anti-Israeli acts and attitudes within such European countries as Sweden, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Italy, Spain and Greece. The intense alliance between Hugo Chavez’s populist leftist Venezuelan government and the Islamic Republic of Iran has opened the flood gates of anti-Semitism in Latin America.
Ballooning global anti-Semitism may contribute to a growing aliyah rate. According to the Jewish Agency, there was a 17 percent increase in 2009 aliyah compared to 2008. Across Europe, aliyah spiked from 2,402 to 2,600, and South American Jewry showed immigration rising from 1,078 to 1,230.
Last December, while speaking at the third annual Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Dr. Daniel Pipes predicted that an “exodus” of Diaspora Jews in Europe could take place because European Jews are facing lethal anti-Semitism. According to Pipes, the migration could “replicate the post-World War II exodus of Jews from Muslim countries, where the Jewish population has collapsed from about a million in 1948 to 60,000 today.”
The Jewish Agency study shows the obvious links between Diaspora Jews and Israel. While Nazi racial anti-Semitism has largely drifted into oblivion, European countries fail to see that the new outbreak of anti-Semitism revolves around turning Israel and Diaspora Jewry into a punching bag.
As the study highlighted, a broad-based coalition among left-wing and Islamic organizations is coupled with an understanding that chalks up violent attacks on Jews and Israeli as a justified byproduct of the Israel-Palestinian situation.
A telling example was the marriage of the German Left with Muslim organizations during Operation Cast Lead. While over 100,000 Germans participated in anti-Israeli rallies, where incitement to murder Jews and Israelis was chanted, the police instead seized Israeli flags for “provoking” anti-Israeli demonstrators. One young student in the gritty industrial city of Bochum was arrested and fined for waving an Israeli flag at a pro-Israel protest. The German Parliament ignored the explosion of anti-Semitism and did not open an investigation into the mass festivals of Israel hate.
Large European trade union federations, such as the Irish Trade Union Congress and the British Trades Union Congress, have spearheaded efforts to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and sponsor economic and cultural boycotts of the Jewish state. A 2008 Irish Trade Union report drew parallels between Israel’s efforts to block weapons smuggling into Gaza and the Nazi creation of the Warsaw Ghetto.
While England and Germany have formed commissions to monitor anti-Semitism, one commission member in Germany urged a focus on extreme right-wing anti-Semitism instead of the dominant form of Jew-hatred – Islamic and leftist anti-Semitism.
The same holds true for President Shimon Peres’s audience in the German Parliament. He is slated to speak on Wednesday, International Holocaust Day, to members of the German parliament, many of whom from the Left Party participated in pro-Hamas and pro-Hizbullah demonstrations, where calls for Israel’s destruction were advocated. Eleven Left Party MPs voted against a parliamentary resolution equating opposition to the Jewish state with anti-Semitism.
The more than 100 members of the German-Israeli parliamentary group spanning the six major parties (Greens, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Christian Social Union, Free Democrats and Left) will also attend Peres’s speech. While those MPs are supposed to advance the security of Israel, they have neither initiated a bill to ban their government’s insurance coverage for firms active in Iran nor introduced legislation seeking to curtail the flourishing German-Iranian trade relationship. The chairman of the German-Israel parliamentary group, Jerzy Montag from the Green Party, has difficulty understanding that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism.
Israel’s decision to convene an inter-ministerial task force to combat global anti-Semitism will do little to stem international anti-Semitism. Observers in Europe note that mainstream Europeans view anti-Semitism as a Jewish problem to be remedied by Jews instead of a problem driven by non-Jews who are also responsible for the cure. That helps to explain the unsettling statistics in the Bielefeld and Jewish Agency report throwing the blame back on Jews.
The results of the Jewish Agency study reveal a mushrooming anti-Israeli atmosphere in Europe and South America that will probably spur new increases in aliyah rates. Yet European policy makers, academics and politicians should not express that they are”shocked, shocked” to discover that Jews will once again flee Europe for refuge in the Jewish state.
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