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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Sting of Antisemitism: What We Can Learn from Europe

     I left Paris 28 years ago and decided to make America my home. Back then; the dream of being successful, respected and appreciated in the "Land of Opportunity" was a major reason why I left my "Old Europe" behind.
     Having been raised by a Jewish father who survived WWII and a Jewish mother who escaped the Holocaust after seeing her dad taken by the Gestapo from her own home when she was 15, I was aware of my Jewish heritage. I can't say that I fully understood or even appreciated that heritage, yet I was often reminded that we were Jewish, a fact that I was told not to advertise in school, just to be safe.
     I was never called a "Christ Killer" as a child or other derogatory names to describe Jewish people. Being born only 14 years after WWII, I can safely say that during my youth, the ghost of anti-Semitism while not dead, was quietly hiding behind the scenes, suppressed by European corporate guilt.
     Suppressed it was, but not for a very long time! As a matter of fact, the numbers are out for France and we saw a surge of anti-Semitism from 389 acts in 2011 to 614 in 2012, which is a 58% increase. Another alarming statistic is the fact that 50% of all xenophobic attacks in France in 2012 were against Jews. We certainly remember the tragedy of March 2012 when, after murdering three French solidiers in Montauban, Mohammed Merah barged into the courtyard of a Toulouse Jewish school and killed a rabbi/teacher and three children to "avenge the Palestinians"as he said. The sad part is that instead of giving France a "wake-up" call and prompting the country to work together against such crimes, it had the adverse effect of encouraging more radical acts of anti-Semitism, as we witnessed six more cases of aggravated assault against Jewish people in the months following "l'Affaire Merah". Yes, in the eyes of some, Mohammed Merah had become a hero!
     Additionally, these numbers represent all "reported" incidents, and it is well known that acts of anti-semitism are greatly under-reported either because of fear from the victim(s) or often cowardliness from the authorities. So realistically, numbers are higher that what has been published.
     There is no question in the mind of the Jewish community of France that the Toulouse massacre has become a clear marker on the ever-growing timeline of European antisemitism. As French writer and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, Michel Gurfinkiel states, that the future of Jews in France is looking very bleek:

"The second half of the 20th century was a golden age for French Jews, both in terms of numbers (from 250,000 souls in 1945 to 700,000 in 1970 due to population transfers and natural growth) and in terms of religious and cultural revival. There was only one shadow: the French government's anti-Israel switch engineered by Charles de Gaulle in 1966, in part as a consequence of a more global anti-American switch. The 21st century may however be a much darker age. After a first wave of anti-Jewish violence in the early 2000s, some Jews left for Israel or North America. Emigration never really ceased since then, and may soon reach much more important proportions."1

     To be sure, the Toulouse massacre was not the only antisemitic act leading to death out of France in recent years. Back in 2003, Sebastien Selam, a Jewish disc jockey, was stabbed to death by his neighbor and "friend" Abdel Amastaibou. Then in 2006, Jewish man Ilan Halimi was kidnapped, tortured for three weeks and burned all over his body before being dumped by the railroad tracks to eventually die on the way to the hospital. The leader of the "Gang of Barbarians" Youssouf Fofana, responsible for the death of Halimi, eventually got "life in prison". A prison from which he has the time and ability to create and publish antisemitic videos, recently published on the web. As a result, Fofana was just sentenced to 7 more years added to the minimum of 22 years before he could be out on parole.    
     All these crimes were committed by "devout" Muslims, and while it must be re-iterated that NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE JEW KILLERS, the last 9 deaths of Jewish people in France were all at the hands of radical Muslims.
     So, what can the United-States learn from the state of Antisemitism in Europe? As I see it, there are only three options: Ignore, move-out, or fight back!

1. Can we IGNORE Antisemitism?
     This question obviously begs for only one kind of answer: NO! Yet when we look around and witness the reactions of the media, government agencies and political figures, one is to wonder how much the world really cares about the monster of Judeophobia.
     French President Jacques Chirac in an interview with the New York Times in 2002 said:
"To imagine that France, the very first country to recognize the rights of Jews, could be Antisemitic, is propaganda, not reality"
     What color was the sky in your world Mr. Chirac? Well, to be fair, I must also mention that Mr. Chirac within a year after that statement, felt like adding that: "Attacking a Jew in France is an attack on all of France". Wow, quite a different statement from someone who one year prior declared that Antisemitism didn't exist in his country!
     Nicolas Sarkozy has done very little to combat "La Nouvelle Judeophobie" as French author Pierre-André Taguieff calls it. His relations with Netanyahu took a turn for the worse when he was recorded calling him a liar in a conversation he had with President Obama.
     As for François Hollande, he has the remainder of his 5 year mandate to "put his money where his mouth is", so to speak. As Europe continues to ostracize Jews in Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, Hungary and Spain to list just a few European countries, France, far from being immune to the "oldest hatred" is going to have to realize that antisemitism CANNOT BE IGNORED.

     As for us in the United-States, it is time we stop pointing the finger across the ocean to denigrate "those antisemites" on the other side, because we have plenty of work to do in our own backyard.
     Campus antisemitism is on the rise all across the country and remains basically unchallenged if not encouraged in some cases by school officials and the media.
     Muslim enclaves such as the Dearborn, Michigan are promoting hate and violence against Jews (and Christians for that matter). It has now become dangerous to walk some areas of Dearborn if you are Jewish, Christian or even slightly pro-Israel.
     As much as we try to define and re-define the commonalities and differences between Antisemitism, anti-Israelism and anti-Zionism, we need to accept that they are all rooted in a hatred for the worldwide Jew whoever he/she might be, wherever he/she might live, and whatever he/she might have done. The Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement is a perfect symptom of that chronic disease. SIMPLY PUT, WE CANNOT IGNORE ANTISEMITISM.

2. Should Natives MOVE OUT Because of Antisemitism?
     Great Britain has one of the most virulent Muslim communities in Western Europe. Muslim leaders such as Anjem Choudary who was behind the organization known as "sharia4UK"are very vocal proponents of Sharia implementation. Choudary has publicly proclaimed that sharia in the UK and the US is inevitable, but only a matter of time:
"I am 100 percent certain that the sharia will be implemented in America and in Britain one day. The question is, 'when?' and how it will come to fruition."2
     While Britons might be pondering about the future of their country, Belgium and the Netherlands are starting to see a flow of their respective natives leave their countries because of the rise of radical Islam and how it creates an atmosphere not conducive to "coexistence". Belgium even had its first Muslim Brotherhood Expo in 2012. Additionally, the Dutch Jewish community feels the need to flee the Netherlands because of Muslim influence making their own neighborhoods unsafe.
     Likewise, the French Jewish community has felt very uneasy for the last decade. As a matter of fact, the constant fear of Antisemitism has led many French Jews to immigrate to Israel or the United-States.
     Looking at the situation in Dearborn, Michigan or even other areas of the United-States where Islam is growing exponentially, I ask myself this question: "Why are we allowing a people group made of various ethnic background but sharing the same ideology to dictate what should take place in a country that welcomed them in the first place?"
     By all means if our country is too liberal, worldly or wicked for you...Just go back to where you came from, but please do not come to our cities, schools, governments and media outlets to tell us that we must comply with your barbaric medieval ideology. You are also doing a disfavor to the many Muslims who are very comfortable in a western civilization, and last time I checked they were still a majority. IF YOU DON'T LIKE US, FEEL FREE TO LEAVE OUR COUNTRY, BUT I WILL MOST CERTAINLY STAY HERE.

3. Should We Fight Against Antisemitism?
     I have come to the very sad realization that most people don't bother fighting against Antisemitism. It is too often ignored for lack of understanding or even worse, because of of a chronically apathetic condition of our postmodern society.
     While I frankly believe that the last 2000 years should serve as our teacher, if antisemitism still need to be defined, it is our responsibility to do so. But defining is only the first step, because once we have identified the problem and its source(s), it is incumbent on us to develop the tools and platforms to fight Antisemitism.
     Various organizations have sprung up in the last few decades in Europe to keep track, report and fight Antisemitism. Their work is tedious and emotionally draining, yet critical. They keep us all abreast of what is happening.
     We should also be aware of the history of the Jewish people through the lens of Antisemitism and I could recommend the reading of one book to start, and that is the superb work by Catholic priest Edward Flannery dated back to 1965 "The Anguish of the Jews". 3
     Additionally, we should speak up when we witness either words or deeds against the Jewish people. It should concern us as much as it concerns them. Reporting to the authorities is also necessary even if we feel that little might be done. IF WE DON'T SPEAK UP, WHO WILL?
     Europe should serve as a barometer for Antisemitism. We Americans can no longer ignore the gravity of the situation or try to convince themselves that it is Europe's problem not ours. We cannot ignore or move-out, and we must fight back!
     In a few days on the 14th of Adar (Feb 24, 2013), Jewish people around the world will celebrate the Feast of Purim and remember how a loving and just God protected the children of Israel against the enemy Persian Empire. The Book of Esther will be read in synagogues and we will be reminded that Esther was brave enough to speak up on behalf of her people.
     It doesn't matter if you are Jewish or not, but as you realize that the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people is at stake, you must do your part and speak up. After all it isn't just the welfare of the Jewish people that is in danger but also the welfare of western civilization as a whole. I would like to believe that in preserving western civilization, we also carve a place of respect for those of Muslim upbringing who want to live with us in harmony. Anything less would be unbiblical.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

1. Michel Gurfunkiel, Middle East Forum: No Future in France: Dire Times for French Jews (Aug. 2012). http://www.meforum.org/3304/french-jews.

2. Anjem Choudary on CBN News World: UK Islamist Leader:Islam will dominate America (Aug. 2012) http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2012/August/UK-Islamist-Leader-Islam-Will-Dominate-America/.

3. Flannery, Edward: The Anguish of the Jews: 23 Centuries of Christian Antisemitism (Quest Books, 1965)

1 comment:

  1. Regarding your comment:

    " Great Britain has one of the most virulent Muslim communities in Western Europe.

    Are you familiar with bible teacher David Pawson? He has an interesting series of talks here:


    In the first part he speaks of his belief that Britain will become an Islamic nation.