A ‘Bagelstein’ cafe in Paris targeted with antisemitic graffiti. Photo: Twitter.
2019 may only be two months old, but it’s already become painfully clear that antisemitism around the world will be the issue that dominates the Jewish media throughout this year. From Crown Heights to Buenos Aires, from Paris to Melbourne, antisemitic outrages of some sort are being reported on a near-daily basis.
The statistics tell an equally sobering story. In Germany, violent attacks on Jews rose by 60 percent in 2018. In France, there was an overall rise of 74 percent in the number of antisemitic actions. In the UK, the number of antisemitic incidents climbed to 1,652, the highest number recorded in more than three decades. In the US, murders committed by far-right extremists increased by 37 percent in 2018, incorporating in their number the eleven Jewish worshippers murdered by a neo-Nazi gunman at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27.
But as one of the more seasoned observers of antisemitism explained to The Algemeiner on Tuesday, this constant stream of disturbing images and rising numbers didn’t come out of nowhere. Rather, he said, the degree of intensity is reflective of society’s ability to control the latent antisemitism that always lies beneath its surface.
“To believe that we can eradicate antisemitism is a pipe dream,” said Abraham Foxman, the national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League and the head of an antisemitism study program at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. “If we didn’t find a vaccine after Auschwitz, we’re not gonna find one now.”
FEBRUARY 26, 2019 5:51 PM
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The persistence of antisemitism in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust led Jewish organizations to develop containment strategies, Foxman said. “Whether Jews are seen as a religion, or a race, or a nation, we’ve always been the target, regardless of the regime that’s in charge, regardless of the success of Jewish communities,” he argued. “But this is a virus that still remains latent for millions of people. What we have done in the last 50 years is build a firewall around this latency that more or less worked.”
The firewall, however, is no longer as secure. “Many of the elements of containment are disappearing,” Foxman said, citing as an example the role played by historical memory as an “antidote” to antisemitic beliefs. In addition, whereas previously there was a recognition that “there was a price to be paid for hatred and antisemitism,” in that antisemitic individuals or institutions could face a range of sanctions from profound social embarrassment to courtroom litigation, “the taboos now are coming down,” Foxman said.
The cause of this atmospheric change is complex, Foxman stressed.
“It’s chic to put the blame on [US President Donald] Trump,” Foxman said. “But Trump isn’t responsible for what’s going on in Europe.”
Moreover, nearly every country in Europe has a long-established tradition of antisemitism. “France was the place where the Dreyfus affair happened,” Foxman pointed out, referring to the 1894 conviction of the French Jewish army officer Capt. Alfred Dreyfus on false charges of treason, following an infamous trial that came to symbolize the antisemitic obsession with the supposed duplicity and disloyalty of “the Jews.”
“There was a national hysteria of antisemitism that took over France 125 years ago,” Foxman said, and the same basic elements remain in place. “In France now, you have political and economic instability, and that foments antisemitism,” he noted. “Look at the protests by the ‘yellow vest’ movement: what does the price of gas have to do with Jews? There’s no reason or rationale.”
Even if a clear majority of people remain unsympathetic to antisemitism and its claims, that does not necessarily translate into a decisive show of public support for Jewish communities. In Paris last week, 20,000 people out of a city of 2.2 million rallied in the Place de la Republique, in response to a call endorsed by 14 political parties for national rallies against antisemitism issued five days earlier. For Foxman, that was reminiscent of the French public mood in Jan. 2015, during a week of Islamist terror that began with a massacre at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and ended with the murders of four Jewish hostages at a kosher market in eastern Paris. “One million people came out for Charlie Hebdo, 5,000 people came out for those Jewish victims,” Foxman said. “There is apathy and there is indifference.”
Still, Foxman does not deviate from the conviction he upheld at ADL that sustained education is the only serious response to antisemitism. In that regard, he pointed out that the shifting public perception of media reliability was a growing challenge. “The media was an important part of the firewall,” he said. “We used the media to expose antisemitism, to educate against it, to shame the antisemites themselves. Today, when the media has lost its credibility, we have lost one of those platforms.”
Other safeguards are more securely in place, Foxman said. “Today, unlike in previous periods, there is a strong awareness in Jewish community and a willingness to stand up,” he remarked. “The Christian world has moved from antagonist to an ally. Israel, the Jewish state, stands up for Jews and is a place of refuge.”
There was another important and relatively recent change, he added. “Governments are against antisemitism,” Foxman said. “In the past, law enforcement and governments were not our ally. They would instigate, they would use antisemitism for political advantage, or they would remain silent.”
Even here, though, there are no guarantees. Asked about the prospect of a government in Great Britain led by Jeremy Corbyn — the leader of the opposition Labour Party regarded who is seen by a clear majority of British Jews as a threat to their community — Foxman expressed disappointment that the widespread perception of Corbyn as an antisemite had not ended his leadership.
“The fact that he’s an antisemite does not negate him as the leader of his party — that’s what is scary here,” Foxman said. “Tolerance for bigots is what’s scary.” In the US, Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam had been similarly indulged, often by those whom Foxman called “good people,” and his bigotry became even more entrenched as a result.
Foxman has little time for those in Europe who argue that America’s free speech tradition is helping to spread antisemitism in Europe, on the grounds that internet companies can run their operations in this country while hiding behind the First Amendment. “That’s a cop-out,” Foxman asserted. US technology companies were “finally starting to take some responsibility” for content posted online, while more broadly, “we’ve done pretty well with our First Amendment” in the fight against hatred, he said.
“Let the Europeans deal with this problem using their own laws,” Foxman said. “They’ve got them.”
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei speaks following his election victory. Photo: Reuters/Jose Cabezas.
A prominent Guatemalan supporter of Israel who once said, “He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy,” won the country’s presidential election with 58.5 percent of the vote, results on Monday confirmed.
Conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei emerged victorious in the vote in the second round of elections on Sunday, beating his rival Sandra Torres, a former first lady.
Aerial view of containers at a loading terminal in the port of Hamburg, Germany August 1, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer.
German exports to Iran fell by nearly half in the first six months of 2019, data showed on Monday, suggesting companies are scaling back business ties with Tehran to avoid trouble with the United States after Washington reimposed sanctions.
Sales to Iran plunged by 48 percent to 678 million euros ($758.8 million) from January through June year-on-year, data from the Federal Statistics Office reviewed by Reutersshowed. Imports from Iran declined by 43 percent to nearly 110 million euros.
The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
A New York Times editor is in trouble for what the Times calls repeated poor judgment on social media.
The editor, Jonathan Weisman, works in the Times Washington bureau with the title “deputy Washington editor” and is the author of the 2018 book (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in the Age Of Trump.
Canadian Observer to Post: Canada has niche capabilities to help in such a scenario.
“Mighty Waves,” the Navy’s large-scale multinational exercise simulating the aftermath of a major earthquake. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)
The five-day, large-scale multinational exercise, with 10 foreign fleets off the Haifa coast simulating the aftermath of a major earthquake, has brought the Israel Navy to “another level” of preparedness.
Dubbed “Mighty Waves,” the drill saw the participation of hundreds of troops on six ships at sea. Five helicopters also took part in the exercise, which focused on the after-effects of a significant 7.5 earthquake that leaves thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
A food market in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher vis Wikimedia Commons.
CTech – Israel has a reputation for being the Startup Nation, but Marcelle Machluf, dean of biotechnology and food engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, predicts that in coming years Israel will be known as the FoodTech Nation.
“Foodtech and biotech are two fields that are climbing to the top of the tech industry,” Machluf told Calcalist in a recent interview. “This push is happening for a reason.
Mass shootings are nothing new in the United States, but their sudden rise is ballooning into a shocking nationwide epidemic. Many blame a toxic political culture that is accentuating divisions rather than commonalities between Americans, and the ease in which Americans can access guns, including automatic assault rifles.
If Saturday’s horrifying terrorist attack in an El Paso Walmart had taken place in Jerusalem, leaving 22 Israelis dead, the killer would rot in jail knowing his family would be taken care of, paid every month by his government.
What, one has to ask, does Iran’s Islamic regime have to fear from the country’s Christians, Baha’is, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, or Jews? Yet its treatment of these minorities is so repressive that it seems not unreasonable to ask if the clerics might be afraid of what they consider challenges to their fantasy of pure Islamic identity.
The fate of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 executive order barring state contractors from participating in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is in the hands of a federal judge. The order violates First Amendment rights, a lawsuit filed by a former Maryland state legislator claims. wsuit.
This week my family and I have the privilege of celebrating two significant and interrelated milestones. We celebrate the 15th anniversary of our arrival in Israel, taking on citizenship and planting our roots firmly in our historic homeland. And we celebrate (yes, celebrate) the induction into the IDF of our oldest son.
When our youngest son was born in Jerusalem, we knew that he would serve in the army, an obligation and privilege as an Israeli Jew, pretty much as genetic as his actual DNA. But when our oldest son was born in N.J., we didn’t know this would be his destiny.