Why Jew hatred and the BDS movement can't be separated.
Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
On March 19, it will be two years since Mohammed Merah slaughtered three Jewish children and a rabbi in the courtyard of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, France.
Far from being a wake-up call that forced the French to their senses, and compelled them to purge their society of the Jew-hatred that inspired Merah to film himself blowing his victims’ brains out, his act served as an inspiration for other anti-Semites.
According to the French Interior Ministry, anti-Semitic attacks rose 60 percent in 2012 over 2011 levels.
Over the past decade and a half, anti-Semitism has moved from the backroom to the living room throughout Europe.
All aspects of Jewish life are under assault.
Religious observance has become an act of near rebellion against social graces.
In 2009, the British Supreme Court ruled that Jewish schools that followed religious tradition and only admitted children who have a Jewish mother were guilty of racial discrimination.
In other words, the British Supreme Court said that traditional Judaism is racist.
In country after country, campaigns to ban Jewish ritual practices are in full swing. Government after government has passed or moved toward passing bans on shechita, Jewish traditional slaughter of animals. Mila, infant male circumcision, is also under assault. Both, of course, are foundations of Jewish observance.
Denmark is the latest European state to ban shechita. And the movement to implement a similar ban in Britain has grown so popular that Prime Minister David Cameron felt compelled to oppose it during his speech at the Knesset on Wednesday.
Of course, even more popular than accusing Jews of subjecting cows and chickens to monstrous slaughter is the practice of accusing Jews of subjecting Palestinians to monstrous slaughter.
For Europe’s elite, radical and increasingly, violent anti-Zionism has become the anti-Semitism of choice. Among other things, anti-Zionists believe that Israel is inherently illegitimate and necessarily, and purposely, evil. For them, Israel is Nazi Germany.
And supporters of Israel are for them the greatest evildoers in the world. They should be accorded no courtesy, and be treated as human scum.
This has been made clear, most vividly in recent years on college campuses where pro-Israel supporters are run off campuses, shouted off stages and barred from presenting their views.
One recent episode of this sort occurred on March 5 at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where British professor Alan Johnson tried to speak in opposition to an initiative to get the university to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
A YouTube video of the event showed how a mob of BDS supporters prevented him from speaking. They shouted curses at him and his colleagues and demanded they “get the f*** off our campus!” Writing of the experience and the hate movement that stands behind it in The Times of Israel, Johnson reported that the student leading the effort to silence him is the head of NUIG’s Palestine Solidarity Society named Joseph Loughnane.
In 2008, Loughnane said, “The Jews run the American media and push their agenda.”
Johnson wrote that “the border between being radical and transgressive [toward Israel] and being anti-Semitic is now porous.”
Although accurate, Johnson’s assertion understates the problem.
Opposing Judaism and Jews, denying Jewish rights to education and ritual observance, and attacking Jews; and opposing the Jewish state, denying Jews their right to self-determination and attacking supporters of the Jewish state, are two sides of the same coin. There is no border – porous or solid between them. They are one and the same.
And all anti-Semites know it.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that attempts by French authorities to silence the anti-Semitic comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala have backfired. The performer who invented and popularized the inverted Nazi salute has bridged the divide between French Muslim anti-Semites and French fascist anti-Semites.
The habit of Dieudonne’s fans to have their pictures taken at Jewish sites and Nazi death camps while performing the salute caused French officials to ban his public performances, arguing reasonably that his incendiary anti-Semitic incitement is a threat to public safety.
Rather than listen to authorities and recognize that Dieudonne’s actions are obscene, hateful and dangerous, the official ban on his performances has only raised his popularity. According to the Times, his most recent YouTube video had two million hits in its first week.
The Times argues that by banning Dieudonne, French officials only helped him by raising his public profile and transforming him into a martyr for freedom of speech.
But this is not the real reason that the ban has backfired.
The ban backfired because the French don’t take the government seriously.
How can it be wrong for Frenchmen to parade through the streets of Paris ordering the Jews to leave the country, when the French government also trucks in anti-Semitism? How can French authorities’ 14-year defense of France 2 television network’s invention of the Muhammad al-Dura blood libel be squared with their denunciation of Dieudonne? It will be recalled that in October 2000, France 2’s Israel correspondent Charles Enderlain broadcast a story where he presented doctored footage that created the illusion Dura had been killed while crouching in fear, by venal IDF soldiers in Gaza. That doctored footage served as the impetus for massive anti-Semitic demonstrations, and murderous anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Israel, throughout Europe and around the world.
In January 2006, Ilan Halimi was kidnapped and tortured to death because he was a Jew.
Despite the fact that during his 26 days in captivity Halimi’s kidnappers telephoned his mother 700 times, during which she heard the tortured cries of her son while his kidnappers recited verses from the Koran over the phone, French law enforcement officials insisted that Halimi’s abduction was a run-of-the-mill kidnapping for ransom, rather than an anti-Semitic hate crime. Consequently they refused to accept that his life was in danger, or that they should devote resources to finding and saving him.
And their denial of the nature of the crime didn’t end when Halimi turned up naked, at the railway siding, with burns over 80 percent of his body, only to die shortly thereafter.
It took French authorities another week to acknowledge that Halimi was murdered because he was a Jew.
Two years ago, French authorities tried to hide the fact that Merah was a Muslim, claiming instead that he was a Nazi. When they were finally forced to acknowledge the truth, they blamed Israel for his crime.
Speaking to reporters, then-French interior minister Claude Gueant said that Merah was associated with al-Qaida and that he was upset about what Gueant referred to as Israel’s “murder” of Palestinian children.
The 17,000 Frenchmen who marched through the streets of Paris on the eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day in January and called for the Jews to get out of France see through French authorities’ hypocrisy.
French and other European authorities who libel Israel by projecting onto the Jewish state the crimes committed by Muslim terrorists against Jewish children do not scare the likes of Dieudonne and his millions of supporters.
They know it is a joke when the same officials who cultivate and legitimize anti-Semitic blood libels profess shock and outrage at their unvarnished Jew-hatred. They are not intimidated.
And they certainly are not convinced of the error of their ways.
The simple fact is that you cannot fight anti-Semitism by endorsing it. The only way you can fight anti-Semitism is by fighting all forms of anti-Semitism, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.
The European have good company in denying this basic fact. Senior American Jewish leaders similarly ignore it.
EARLIER THIS month, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee announced their opposition to state bills barring universities from using public funds to fund academic organizations that participate in boycotts against Israel. Bills of this type are being debated by the Maryland and New York state legislatures and are being drafted at the federal level by members of Congress.
Both groups claimed that they oppose the bills even though they oppose the BDS movement, because they claim that such actions limit academic freedom.
Three things stand out in their explanation.
First, preventing taxpayer money from being used to fund campaigns to demonize and criminalize Israel and so promote hatred of Jews has nothing to do with limiting academic freedom.
Second, the actions of BDS activists have nothing to do with academic freedom. By demonizing and intimidating students and faculty who oppose them, their aim is to end both free speech and academic freedom.
And conversely, fighting them advances both free speech and academic freedom.
Finally, it is simply bizarre that the ADL and the AJC felt compelled to weigh in on this issue to begin with. If they didn’t want to be associated with this action, they could have kept their mouths shut.
By entering the fray on behalf of the BDS movement, they gave legitimacy to it, despite their claims that they oppose anti-Israel boycotts.
Both the ADL and the AJC present themselves as among other things, Jewish civil rights groups that aim to defend Jews, including the Jewish state.
And yet, here they are making an artificial distinction between the two – a distinction not shared by the haters.
It is no doubt tempting to accept the artificial distinction between rejecting Israel’s right to exist and rejecting the right of Jews to practice Judaism. Doing so allows you to pretend that the problem isn’t as bad as it is, and to pretend that the fates of Israel and Jews of the Diaspora are not directly linked. It allows you to pretend that Jewish Americans who join the BDS movement are not anti-Semites. And it allows you to pretend that European leaders who minimize real anti-Semitic crimes by equating them with imaginary Israeli crimes are not inherently hostile to Jews.
But you cannot fight Jew-hatred by making distinctions between its various forms. They are all components of the same thing. And either you fight all of them, with no distinction, or you fight none of them, and even legitimize the bigotry.
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