Viewpoint: Anti-Semitism Never Goes Away

A new report charts the rise in anti-Semitic incidents across Europe

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Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

A Jewish man looks at anti-semitic graffiti which was sprayed on the gate of a synagogue March 5, 2006 in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, in central Israel

On a recent trip to Paris with my 16-year-old daughter, we visited a score of museums: The Louvre of course, the magnificent Quai Branly, the Rodin museum, the Pompidou center, the Hugo house. Each had a small if cursory security check. Then we sought out the small, very fine Jewish museum in the Marais. Here, we passed through a double glass door that did not allow you to continue to the front until the back had closed. The saddest part was my daughter’s insouciance. “Did you notice the security?” I asked. She nodded, “Dad, it’s the Jewish museum.” There was nothing more to be said.

My daughter was raised in Los Angeles. She and I live almost untouched by anti-Semitism, a blessing our ancestors could not have imagined. But the experience in Paris reminded us that we carry a deep, persistent awareness that many people in the world quite simply hate us.

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During our trip, the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress, issued a report that showed that there had been a significant jump in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe last year, with France leading the way. Researchers noted that there had been many “copycat” attacks following a shooting at a school in Toulouse in which a Muslim extremist gunned down 3 children and a Rabbi, and that physical assaults on Jews in France had almost doubled. Researchers also drew a connection between the rise in anti-semitic incidents and the ongoing economic crisis. As the world witnessed in Weimer Germany, mounting stress activates the scapegoat syndrome, and anti-Semitism often spikes with financial downturns. Uncertainty about the Euro and unemployment contribute to the phenomenon of targeting Jewish institutions and individuals.

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But it’s not just France — anti-Semitism persists in some degree in a depressing range of cultures and countries. You can tour Europe, east and west, and find a resurgence of parties like Greece’s Golden Dawn or Hungary’s Jobbik party, which are openly anti-Semitic. Roughly 10 days ago, Turkish police uncovered a plot linked to al-Qaeda to bomb a synagogue in Istanbul, along with the United States embassy. When one’s antennae are up, vibrations of anti-Semitism surface in unexpected places: In tributes to the late Margaret Thatcher, Tina Brown singled her out for being virtually the only important leader of the Tory party without the traditional distaste for what a Tory grandee once sniffily described to me (not knowing I was Jewish) as “the gentlemen of the star.”

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Anti-Semitism is a protean hatred. Jews have been hated for being communists and capitalists, for being weak and for being strong, for living in others’ lands and for establishing their own, for reasons theological, historical and purely visceral. The closing of a museum door is a small but potent reminder that hostility toward Jews still infects the world’s bloodstream. And it is an even more shattering moment  when one realizes that one’s child takes that painful reality for granted.

8 comments
lazarus00000
lazarus00000

The world court needs to be involved to stop the organizations like the NAZIs and all haters need to be removed fro the world equation.

These people are ignorant as were all the Religious zealots of the past and present. Thank GOD we have a Bill of Rights that protects us from Religion.

Lazarus

damremont22
damremont22

I personally as a non-Jew do not understand anti-semitism. Why so much hate for a people who have done so much for mankind? Is it jealousy, envy, uncharitability? Is it that baser part of our human nature that dislikes people who succeed? I have a son who is very good at his job. Someone in his company broadcast a very unpleasant email tearing him down. I told him not to let anyone steal his joy. That mean-spirited people are like a virus that can take up residence in your brain. Anti Semites are thieves of joy with hearts the size and shape of a walnut. I just don't know how Jewish people manage. It must be a horrible thing to put up with year after year, generation after generation. All respect to Jewish people who have given us so much.

paulgeorges
paulgeorges

Anti semitism ,anti islam,anti-christian and so on, are quick and easy way to insult someone else. Because it's more easy to criticise other than to let other thinking a different way (peacefull manner only). Someone are against Ebrew because someone hasn't a good behaviour . Okay but do we speak against the  Christian religion because of Berlusconi s behaviour ? No of course ,it will be silly. As silly to insult someone on religious or racial roots. Intolerance bring with it war and poverty .Both poverty in mind and economic one !

teknodum
teknodum

Suhail You get over it.  You are a racist bigoted tool. The fallacy you promote is based on propaganda you've been spoon fed.

Terrorists one and all have no claims!

SuhailShafi
SuhailShafi

Get over it - at least Jews in Europe and America don't have to live under siege like the poor Palestinians in Gaza or under military occupation like in the West Bank.

MitchellWachtel
MitchellWachtel

The difference from days gone by is murder is the metier. Quite open are requests for death of every Jew, quite oft without a justification that would permit a week's incarceration. Not even Hitler said he'd execute the Jews. Moreover, when this odd plea was made in Germany a few short years pre-1900, Germany's then Jew baiting Protestants demurred, proclaiming vile such notions. Check right now to see the Jews proclaimed to cause of Boston's bombs. 

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

The question of Anti-Semitism is a complicated question as the really important ones are. The popular answer is that Jews killed christ. This was used by the Romans to justify the demonization of the religion and its folowers.

The true answer though is based in Greed as the most used motive. As you thoughtfully stated, Jews are successful in business. This has always been true even when they were being subjected to Genocide, and all sorts of group malteatment.

Read the history a bit to see how these people have taken lemons and made lemonaid.

There is one very important observation point though as a student of history. The Hebrew faith historically claimed that they were destined to rule the Earth. This is not such a strange thing to say since the Muslims also make such a claim, as well as the Roman Christians, Protestants, and orthodox. What is the one common denominator ofall of these religions? They all adopted the Writings of the Author of that claim, Abraham and later Moses.

It is strange that they all have the same origin and all continue to want to exterminate each other.

That ole tim religin is truly a great thing.

Lazarus 

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

Anti-Semitism and Homophobia are both based in the Christian Faith/Religion. Please do not argue or call me names, just Google it and learn a bit of historical facts.

Lazarus