Anti-Semitism in Europe has increased to a level where many committed Jews ask themselves if they should emigrate. The same is true for a significant number of more assimilated Jews. Even more widespread across the Jewish community is the question of whether their children should remain in their native country.
In an environment where the Jewish community has great doubts regarding its future, it helps to get a greater perspective by looking back to the European anti-Semitism that reached unprecedented post-war levels after the Second Intifada in 2000.
Of all the European countries, France is a good one to use as an example, for a number of reasons. Since 2000, the level and nature of anti-Semitic incidents occurring in France which included several murders of Jews by Muslims have been more severe than in other European countries. France not only has the largest Jewish community in Europe, with half a million Jews, but also has the largest Muslim community, with an estimated five million. In addition, the first high-level analysts who came forward to assess the new anti-Semitism which differs, to a large extent, from the classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism, did so in France.
The work of these analysts is not well-known internationally because most of it was published in French. It remains of great importance, however, because so much of what they originally observed has expanded to even greater proportions. This is due, to a large extent, to the failure of governmental authorities. The sociologist Shmuel Trigano, one of Europes leading Jewish thinkers, was one of the first to make a substantial contribution in exposing and assessing the situation. At the end of 2001, Trigano began publishing a series of articles titled, Observatoire du monde juif. (Observatory of the Jewish world), a series which lasted more than two and a half years.
Trigano succeeded in organizing the collaboration of a substantial number of authors who analyzed many aspects of the hate-fueled outbursts. The first issue, dated November 2001, contained titles indicative of the climate for the French Jewish community: The Jews of France Targeted by the Intifada?, An Atmosphere of Insecurity, The Middle East Conflict is Exported to Western Democracies, The Anti-Jewish Aggressions, The Perverse Logic of French Politics, Religious Anti-Semitism, Political Anti-Semitism, and The Extreme Left and its Ideological Manipulations. These could very well be titles of current essays. since the situation has only worsened.
In another issue published in 2002, Alexandre del Valle explained the convergence of various totalitarianisms in an article titled, The New Red, Brown, and Green Faces of Anti-Semitism, referring to the coming together of communism, fascism and Islamism in regard to anti-Semitism. In the next issue, Michle Tribalat described how the Islamist social network was full of messages comparing Israel with Nazis.
Another important scholar who greatly contributed to diagnosing the anti-Semitic reality in France is Pierre-Andr Taguieff. This non-Jewish philosopher published his book, The New Judeophobia in 2002, which made a major contribution to the understanding of anti-Israelism. Taguieff discussed this latest mutation of anti-Semitism and how it hit French Jewry. He noted that although classic anti-Semitism is considered to be politically incorrect, anti-Israelism did not encounter such resistance and was thus able to expand rapidly.
…[Taguieff] identified the new myth of the intrinsically good Palestinian, or, in other words, that the Palestinians can do no wrong. Taguieff exposed the process by which the crimes of the allegedly deprived, a group to whom the Palestinians claim to belong, are condoned. He described the role of the media in justifying violence and portraying criminals as victims. He pointed out that the next step in the distortion process was to declare that the criminals, now disguised as victims, were not to be held responsible for their acts because they are molded by their socio-economic conditions.
Taguieff also exposed other key issues such as the belief that Muslims and Arabs behave as they do because they are supposedly humiliated or persecuted. He identified the new myth of the intrinsically good Palestinian, or, in other words, that the Palestinians can do no wrong. Taguieff stated that blind pacifism places both the aggressor and his victim at the same level of morality and turns legitimate self-defense into a criminal transgression. These days we can see many examples of this phenomena, including the newly published report of the United Nations Human Rights Commission report on the 2014 Gaza war.
Taguieff also exposed the widespread fallacy that Islamophobia was a larger problem than anti-Semitism. The risk for Jews of being attacked in France was and remains many times greater than the risk of Muslims being attacked.
“A Jew, I cannot believe that you cannot be a Jew in Sweden!” says Siavosh Derakhti.
The 23-year-old Muslim is the child of Iranian parents, refugees of the Iran-Iraq war. He has become a champion in the fight against anti-Semitism in Malm, a town a little smaller than Halifax perched on the southern tip of Sweden.
Muslim immigrants, most with roots in the Middle East, make up nearly a third of Malm’s population.
Cultural tension in the town has been building for years, much of it directed against the new immigrants, but anti-Semitism has also been rising. The Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles issued a travel advisory to Jews in 2010 don’t go to Malm. It reissued the warning last year.
Derakhti gets hate mail from the far-right and death threats from fellow Muslims.
“When we have let the world into our town, we have the political controversy you have in the Middle East,” says Anders Ekelm, vicar of the Church of Sweden in Malm. “Among those people you will find anti-Semitism. We have to be honest about it.”
Sweden has a generous immigration policy last year, this country of nine million took in 85,000 refugees.According to an OECD study citing 2013 figures, Sweden took in more than twice as many asylum seekers per capita as any other member country, and roughly20 times as many per capitaas Canada.
Masked protesters engage in a confrontation with police in Malm, Sweden. In recent years, protests for and against Muslim immigrants have been frequent and sometimes violent. (Drago Prvulovic/Associated Press)
In Malm the immigrants are concentrated in one pocket of the city, Rosengaard. Unemployment in the area runs at 70 per cent, stones are thrown regularly at mail carriers and police, and 150 cars were torched during summer riots in 2013. Protests for and against Muslim immigrants are frequent and tough.
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Orthodox Judaism is the approach to religious Judaism which adheres to the interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Tanaim and Amoraim and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim. Orthodox Judaism generally includes Modern Orthodox Judaism and ultra orthodox or Haredi Judaism, but complete within is a wide range of philosophies. Orthodox Judaism is a modern self-conscious identification that, for some, distinguishes it from traditional premodern Judaism, although it was the mainstream expression of Judaism prior to the 19th century. As of 2001, Orthodox Jews and Jews affiliated with an Orthodox synagogue accounted for approximately 50% of British Jews (150,000), 25% of Israeli Jews (1,500,000) and 13% of American Jews (529,000). (Among those affiliated to a synagogue body, Orthodox Jews represent 70% of British Jewry and 27% of American Jewry). The majority of Jews killed during the Holocaust were religiously Orthodox. It is estimated that they numbered between 50-70% of those who perished. Orthodoxy is not a single movement or school of thought.
Poland, the country on whose soil Nazi Germany carried out the darkest acts of the Holocaust, is starting to re-connect with its other role in Jewish history, as a home for 1,000 years to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities.The country will take a step in that direction next week with the opening of the main exhibition at Warsaw’s newly built Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a project that sets out to remember not just how Jews in Poland died, but how they lived. Poland’s effort to reach out to its Jewish heritage, tentative and incomplete though it is, contrasts with the mood in other parts of Europe, where Jewish groups say Jews are subject to hostility and sometimes violent attacks.Some in the Jewish community say Poland — site during the German occupation of the Warsaw ghetto and the Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor camps where millions of Jews were killed — is now more welcoming than many western European countries. “When you take into account that Jews are being beaten up in the streets in Germany or France or Scandinavia, you even have synagogues being burned down, murders — we don’t have any of that,” said Piotr Kadlcik, vice-president of the Jewish community of Warsaw, one of the country’s biggest Jewish groups.”I think that right now it’s safer to walk around Warsaw in a yarmulke than it is in certain neighbourhoods in Paris.” On May 24, a man with a Kalashnikov rifle walked into a Jewish museum in Brussels and killed three people, while in July people protesting against Israel’s military operation in Gaza clashed with riot police outside two Paris synagogues.Incidents like that have created a climate of fear among Europe’s Jews, even though some data from Jewish groups point to a decline last year in the number of anti-Semitic acts recorded in Britain and France.
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