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Second, it was in France, specifically Paris, in the 1890s that Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl experienced a revelatory sense that European Jewry was in grave trouble when he witnessed anti-Semitic mobs incensed by the trial of Alfred Dreyfus—a French Jewish army officer who was accused of treason and later exonerated.
Herzl’s sense of an emergency is considered to have been vindicated, negatively, by the Holocaust, and positively by the rebirth of Israel in 1948. Yet, today, “enlightened,” democratic France is once more a dangerous hell for Jews. There are some things that even monumental events like the Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel do not seem to change.
And finally, it is not, of course, the case that the Arab and Muslim world alone is responsible for the current plight of French and other European Jewry. As Jonathan Tobin notes,
The flow of raw hate speech against Jews from Cairo and Tehran and other Arab and Muslim capitals is not to be underestimated, but the willingness of European intellectuals to lend their support to the demonization of the Jewish state has given these sentiments a patina of undeserved legitimacy.
Under a thin veneer of “anti-Zionism” or “anti-Israelism,” homegrown European anti-Semitism has returned in full force as the Jewish state is singled out for boycotts and obsessive vituperation.
Some of the effects were evident in a study finding that 40 percent of Europeans believe Israel is waging an extermination war against the Palestinians. Here, sheer disinformation plays a part as a viciously anti-Israeli “elite” media portrays the Jewish state as singularly evil. But such disinformation is also an excellent way to awaken latent anti-Semitism.
If there is any redeeming feature to this situation, it is the growing realization by French and other European Jews that Europe is perhaps a lost cause.As Muslim populations grow, along with their electoral clout, and homegrown European viciousness toward Israel and Jews shows no sign of abating, there is no reasonable prospect that European Jewry’s lot will get much better.
Hence, this population should not wait for another Herzl to clarify things for it. Even the actual Herzl was only able to do a limited amount of good.
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