Quotes of the day

Yad Vashem is deeply alarmed by the recently escalating antisemitism and violence against Jews around the world. This virulent hatred is finding various expressions, ranging from attacks on synagogues in France and physical attacks against Jews, to pejorative name calling and refrains such as “Jews to the Gas” in Germany, to the use of swastikas at anti-Israel demonstrations, and antisemitic caricatures in newspapers and social media. Physical and verbal violence against Jews in purported response to the events in Gaza, is antisemitism…

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said, “We call on the governments of the democracies around the world, particularly in Europe, to take immediate steps, using the legal and moral tools at their disposal, to protect Jewish citizens in their countries, and combat the expressions of antisemitism which we are witnessing in recent weeks.”


In Britain, police have recorded more than 100 anti-Jewish hate crimes since the Gaza conflict began, including an attack on a rabbi by four Muslim youths in Gateshead, a Hassidic enclave in north-east England, and bricks thrown through the windows of a Belfast synagogue on two successive nights.

In Norway, police have recommended the temporary closure of two Jewish museums, for fear of attack, while in Copenhagen on the weekend police dispersed a pro-Israel rally out of concern for the safety of the participants.

German TV showed protesters from the country’s Arab minority threatening violence against Jews at a demonstration in Berlin on Thursday. Similar incidents took place in Frankfurt and Essen recently, according to police.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that he had never thought it possible that “anti-Semitic slogans of the worst and most primitive kind could be chanted on German streets,” in his lifetime.


At around 2PM, hundreds of demonstrators started to gather on the avenue, which had been lined with riot police trucks. At first, people calmly chanted slogans such as “Palestine will live, Palestine will overcome,” “Zionists, fascists, you’re terrorists!” and “Israel murderer, [President] Hollande accomplice,” but the mood began to heat up once some Israeli flags were burned on the roof of a nearby building. Organizers had asked the demonstrators not to bring anything other that Palestinian and French flags, but many still exhibited Algerian, Turkish or pro-Muslim Brotherhood symbols. As the march was about to set off, the use of the slogan “Allahu akbar” became more and more frequent and a young man started waving the ISIS flag. At the same time, to the dismay of some non-asshole demonstrators, a team of journalists from the French channel, Télé channel was forced to leave as several individuals were threatening them with violence…

As the day drew to a close, the police ran out of ammunition. They tried to regain control by calling the units based in the suburbs of Paris, for backup. According to a young protester who was taking photographs of the clashes, the situation worsened because the policemen, “are on the side of the Jews who own all the stores in the area.”

At about 7PM, passing the Barbès metro station I saw two friends taking pictures of each other while miming the “quenelle” gesture — which is seen by many as anti-Semitic — in front of a couple of exhausted policemen. One of the officers turned to his colleague and said that it’d been a long time since he had last seen such violent riots in Paris…

In an interview with the pro-Israeli website lemondejuif.info, Roger Cukierman, president of the official French affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, said that “this kind of new anti-Semitism could lead to the departure of all Jews.”


As Operation Protective Edge continues in Gaza, the Jews of the European diaspora are looking about and seeing an increasingly hostile home. A pair of particularly violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism in France and the Netherlands seems to foreshadow a future conflagration fueled by moral relativism and sparked by Europe’s growing Islamic slums. Muslims spouting Sharia and jihad have no room for Israel and Jews in their future world, and post-Christian Europe offers little resistance to those who promise hate and violence.

Paris’s Jews suffered attacks on three synagogues and a series of assaults and attempted fire bombings in recent weeks. Phrases like “Death to the Jews” are commonplace now in European protests, used almost to the point of trope, retaining raw force only through the sheer strength of the speakers’ hate. Berlin’s air, too, is again polluted by anti-Semitic chants and clamor. More and more, what claim to be “pro-Palestine” or “anti-Zionist aggression” demonstrations are nothing more than platforms to cry for the deaths of Jews everywhere…

German National Socialism is a very particular political system, perhaps unique to the inter-bellum period. Accusations of Nazism are incongruous when applied to Jews, or even Muslims for that matter. But ignoring the definitional incoherence of the attack, it boggles the mind to see racism accepted as political dialogue. Through passivity before radical Islam, Europe attacks Jews who are her citizens, salving her burning conscience by equivocating them with the state of Israel. It is one thing to accuse another nation of using disproportionate force in self-defense. It’s another thing entirely to allow anti-Semitism to flourish.


“Death to the Jews” chanted the crowd waving the black flags of the Islamic State, or ISIS as it used to be known. They were looking for new supporters for their cause, the creation of a worldwide caliphate answering to the man who now calls himself Ibrahim: a zealot too radical even for Al Qaeda who has stormed through Syria and Iraq carrying out mass executions, crucifying rivals, beheading enemies. But these marchers were not in Syria or Iraq; they were in The Hague in The Netherlands. And their message was one tailored to the disaffected young descendants of Muslim immigrants in Europe…

Many of the demonstrators covered their faces with Palestinian scarves or balaclavas. “Anyone who doesn’t jump is a Jew,” someone shouted as the whole group started jumping in a scene that might have been ludicrous if it weren’t for the hateful message. “Death to the Jews!” the crowd shouted in Arabic.

This scene last Thursday came in the wake of an earlier demonstration supposed to defend the Palestinians suffering in Gaza, which turned quickly into a hatefest targeting Israel, with people carrying placards that screamed “Zionism is Nazism.” But while the comingling of pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment has become all too common in European protests in recent weeks, that the battle flag of the Islamic State waved in the streets of The Netherlands on July 24 is something new and particularly dangerous.


Even before the recent conflict in Gaza, anti-Semitic incidents were on the increase in France. Last year more than 3,000 Jews decided to move and make their future in Israel.

In May four people were shot dead at a Jewish museum in Brussels.

Governments face a dilemma: they want to defend the right to protest against Israel’s attacks in heavily-populated Gaza and yet they are not prepared to have anti-Semitic slogans once again shouted on the streets of Europe…

A former Israeli minister, Natan Sharansky, was quoted at the weekend as saying “we are seeing the beginning of the end of Jewish history in Europe”.


There has been also been an explosion of anti-semitic abuse on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter.

One man called for a Jewish neighbourhood in London to be bombed so ‘Jews feel the pain’ of the Palestinians.

In a separate incident, a BBC journalist was reprimanded after seeming to suggest western politicians failed to intervene in the Middle East because they had been ‘bought’ by the Jews…

In Germany an Imam reportedly called on Muslims to murder ‘Zionist Jews’ and Jewish people have been attacked in the street.

Police had to step in to protect an Israeli tourist couple from protesters who charged at them shouting ‘Jew! We’ll get you.’


Meanwhile in Austria this week, a friendly football match between the Israel’s Maccabi Haifa and a French team had to be called off, after protesters stormed the pitch and fought with the players. The Haifa captain, Yossi Benayoun, defended his players for fighting back, saying “We had no choice but to defend ourselves”.

The pitch invaders in Austria were mostly immigrants of Palestinian origin, and around Europe the new anti-Semitism is being seen a phenomenon confined to Arab and Muslim communities.

The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, claimed this week that the protests against Israel are attracting an “unholy alliance” of Islamists, neo-Nazis and extreme leftists

“Islamists and Nazis share ‘the Jew’ as the enemy,” Raphael Gross, director of Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Historically, this coalition is therefore not inconceivable.


Very often, anti-Israel protesters treat Israel not just as a nation at war – like Britain, America or France, which also frequently launch wars that kill huge numbers of civilians – but also as the warper of policy and morality in the West, as a source of poison in global affairs, as the architect of instability across the globe. Indeed, a few years ago a poll of Europeans found that a majority of them view Israel as “the biggest threat to world peace”. So Israel is undoubtedly singled out by Leftists and others, and even more significantly it is singled out in a way that the Jews used to be singled out – that is, as a sinister, self-serving corrupter of nations and causer of chaos.

Much of today’s anti-Israel protesting has a conspiracy-theory feel to it, with its talk about powerful lobby groups designing wars behind closed doors in order to isolate Israel’s enemies and boost Israel’s fortunes. And this is in keeping with Left-wing politics generally, today. The Left has increasingly embraced a conspiracy-theory view of the world. It is now very common to hear Leftists talk about the “cabals of neocons” who control world affairs, or the “cult of bankers” who wreak havoc on our economies, or the Murdoch Empire that “orchestrates public life from the shadows” (to quote Labour MP Tom Watson). All seriously analytical and nuanced readings of international trends and political dynamics have been elbowed aside by contemporary Leftists, who prefer instead to argue that dark, hidden, mysterious forces are ruining politics, plotting wars, and enriching themselves at the expense of the poor. And, as history shows us, there is a thin line between railing against wicked cabals and cults and wondering out loud whether the Jews are secretly running world affairs, or at least wielding a disproportionate influence…

It is not an accident that the three key planks of the Left-wing outlook today – the anti-Israel anti-war sentiment, the shallow anti-capitalism of Occupy, and the worship of those who leak info from within the citadels of power – should all have had issues with anti-Semitism. It is because the left, feeling isolated from the public and bereft of any serious means for understanding modern political and economic affairs, has bought into a super-simplistic, black-and-white, borderline David Icke view of the world as a place overrun and ruled by cabals and cults and sinister lobby groups. And who has always, without fail, been the final cabal, the last cult, to find themselves shouldering the ultimate blame for the warped, hidden workings of politics, the economy and foreign turmoil? You got it – the Jews.


These days, though, it’s not always subtext. Listen to the Occupy protesters in the clip above. Read this chilling article from a Chavist newspaper in Venezuela. Worst of all, consider the slogans chanted by the crowds around Europe as they attack Jewish shops. Ponder this shaming statement that the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial organisation has felt driven to put out. This isn’t about Israel now, if ever it was. It’s about something altogether older and uglier.

Our political opinions often reflect our character traits. If you’re a generous and optimistic person, if you take pleasure in the success of others, you’re likely to be cheered by the story of the Jewish people, their success against the odds, their disproportionate intellectual contribution to mankind. Far from decrying commercial and financial accomplishments, you recognise them as a source of happiness for everyone.

If, on the other hand, you are determined to see every exchange as a form of exploitation, every success as someone else’s defeat, every trade as a swindle, then the same promptings that make you anti-Israel may well make you anti-Semitic. It’s a tragic condition, a form of existential envy, and it goes back, if the Book of Esther is to be believed, at least 2,500 years:


And again, you have to ask yourself, what do these groups want? What would they accomplish if they could accomplish anything? What would the Israelis do if they could do what they want? They would live in peace with their neighbors, if they had neighbors who would live in peace with them. They would simply continue to build out their high tech sector and thrive…

What do groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and even Hamas want? They want to impose their religious views on the rest of humanity. They want stifle every freedom that decent, educated, secular people care about. This is not a trivial difference. And yet judging from the level of condemnation that Israel now receives, you would think the difference ran the other way.

This kind of confusion puts all of us in danger. This is the great story of our time. For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way. The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.