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.”
Netanyahu’s support for the settlement enterprise, is believed to have been reigned by former democratic US president Barack Obama who was in office from January 2009 to January 2017.
A man photographs a woman as she stands next to a mural depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and Is
Spending on West Bank settlements spiked by 39% in 2017, the first year US President Donald Trump was in office, the left-wing group Peace Now reported on Tuesday.
Weekend work permits for Eurovision complicate Netanyahu’s coalition bargaining with ultra-Orthodox parties
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.
Israeli singer and past Eurovision winner Dana International at the Orange Carpet event in Tel Aviv, May 13, 2019.Tomer Appelbaum
Seeking to quell ultra-Orthodox anger over holding the Eurovision Song Contest’s final in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it was an “individual international event” not sponsored by the state, and that the government doesn’t want to violate the Sabbath.
French Holocaust denier Alain Soral. Photo: Egalite et Réconciliation.
The mayor of one of southern France’s most picturesque towns expressed fury on Tuesday after learning that a group of right-wing activists and conspiracy theorists — including convicted Holocaust denier Alain Soral — were planning to hold a “summer school” there at the end of August.
“I say it clearly, Soral is not welcome here,” Alexandre Reynal — mayor of the town of Amelie-les-Bain in the spectacular Pyrénées-Orientales region — told a local news outlet on Tuesday.
I urge all visitors to join me in a conspiracy to violate the UN Security Council Resolution…Obama, himself, engineered the Resolution. He pushed it through the Security Council despite some reservations by other members, including Egypt, which believed that the Resolution itself could become a barrier to a negotiated two-state solution. After all, if Israel’s control over Judaism’s holiest site is deemed illegal, then Israel would have to negotiate its legality with the Palestinians.
The ruling Law and Justice Party views Poland as a victim of World War II, and that therefore Poland should not be required to pay damages to other victims.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government s
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacts after receiving his nomination during a government swearing-in ceremony in Warsaw, Poland, December 11, 2017..
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.