Among the findings of a new international survey, commissioned by the BBC and performed by an outfit called Globescan, is that the four least popular countries in the world, or at least in the 22 countries surveyed, are Pakistan, Iran, North Korea – and Israel.
Polling residents of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Australia, Indonesia, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, and Nigeria, Globescan found that only 21 percent of respondents had a positive impression of Israel, and that the only one of the Western countries surveyed whose residents have an overall positive view of Israel is the U.S.
Looking at the study in its entirety, one discovers that while 50 percent of Americans took a positive view of Israel and 35 percent were negative, the breakdown in Canada was a very different 25-59. Of Russia, France, Britain, Germany, and Spain, guess which had the most positive view of Israel? Believe it or not, Russia – land of the shtetls and pogroms, of Sakharov and Sharansky. While French attitudes toward Israel split 20-65, British 16-68, Germans 16-69, and Spaniards 12-74, the Russians broke almost even, 25-26. Indeed, Nigerians (54-29) and Kenyans (45-31) were far friendlier to Israel than any of the Western European countries. Unsurprisingly, the Muslim countries surveyed were not terribly pro-Israel: the figures for Egypt were 7-85, for Pakistan 9-50, for Indonesia 8-61. But the country that was most hostile of all was Japan, where only 3 percent had an affirmative view of Israel.
The report, of course, only confirms what many of us already know: that with the exception of the U.S., the countries of the West – in which diaspora Jews have lived for centuries and which, in the wake of the Holocaust, fell all over themselves apologizing for, and trying to atone for, their roles in the destruction of the Jews – are today no friends of the Jewish state. Mountains of anecdotal evidence, moreover, make it clear that it is impossible to separate this antagonism from pure and simple anti-Semitism.
American Jews who still believe that they are living in a world – or, at least, in a Western world – in which anti-Semitism is, by and large, a thing of the past need to open their eyes. They should be aware of what is going on in the minds of many of the people they encounter when they travel to places like Paris or London. They should recognize that the relative lack of Jew-hatred that they experience in the U.S. is an outright aberration – an aberration, moreover, that, as rhetoric emanating from the Occupy Wall Street movement has suggested, may not persist for much longer.
Similarly, Western European gentiles who think that they inhabit the most civilized, tolerant, and peaceable corner of the world need to think again. For the ancient prejudice that led Europe down the road to the Holocaust has come crawling back out of its dark hole.
Clearly, the main reason for the widespread enmity toward Israel in Western Europe is that left-leaning individuals in positions of influence – from politicians and journalists to schoolteachers and professors – have been engaged for quite a long time in a relentless campaign of disinformation and demonization directed against Israel and, frankly, Jews generally. In turn, a major (if not the only) reason for that effort is a misbegotten desire to please, and appease, European Muslims.
“I am so tired,” complained Søren Espersen of the Danish Folkeparti last Friday on his Jyllands-Posten blog, “of all the lies about Israel.” He elaborated:
I am often invited to high schools, where both teachers and students get such a very special masochistic thrill out of seeing and meeting someone like me - the very epitome of Danish political evil ....! It is, of course, [my] foreign policy they most want to be outraged by, but the second most important topic at Danish schools is actually the Middle East. The relationship between Israelis and Arabs, between Jews and Muslims.
And time after time it has struck me that even in a situation where the interest in the Middle East conflict is burning hot, for the most part neither the teachers nor the students are aware of the historical background.
Esperson notes that at school after school, “talented and obviously articulate” kids explain to him the history of Israel as it's been taught to them. After the Holocaust, they inform him, the Western countries, led by the U.S. and Britain, flew “massive numbers of American and English and German and Polish Jews” to Palestine, where “they chased all the Palestinians out of their houses with gunpowder and cannons and other modern weapons, helped by the British and Americans, and sent them to refugee camps, where they have been ever since.” This twisted version of history, Esperson explains, is so ubiquitous in Danish schools that he's begun passing out a “fact list” in which he seeks to correct all the lies these kids have been fed about the history of Jewish settlement in Palestine, the events of 1947-48, the current situation in Gaza, the rights of Israeli Arabs, and so on.
Last Wednesday, a 17-year-old Norwegian Jew whose byline identified him only as “Daniel” wrote a piece in Aftenposten headlined “Universally accepted anti-Semitism.” “Why,” he asks, “should I, as a Jews, feel insecure in Norway at times? Because there are many who say they want to kill me.” He tells an anecdote: “I'm sitting at the library playing an Internet game that involves shotting the greatest possible number of people with bows and arrows when a kid walks in....'Pretend you're shooting a Jew,' he comments enthusiastically.'”
Daniel recalls that during his school years, “the epithet 'you Jew'” has been “as common as faen” (Norway's F-word). But in all those years, he's only heard teachers react to “you Jew” a total of five times. “People have said 'you Jew' in the classroom and the teacher has heard it, but do they do anything about it? No. Even though the teacher knows that I'm a Jew and people have said 'you Jew' so that both I and the teacher could hear it, the teacher never does anything other than to tell them to stop it.” Kids who say faen in class have their names taken down – but never kids who say “you Jew.”
Daniel eventually learned that “you Jew” was only the tip of the iceberg. “During the Gaza demonstrations, people went around with posters in Arabic saying 'Kill all Jews.' I have been asked if I support Israel, and after saying yes, I get immediate follow-up questions about whether I support child murderers.” He points out that if he were to call in school for the murder of all Muslims or Christians, he would probably be sent to the principal; but when people call for the murder of all Jews, it's treated as a question of free speech.
To be sure, if a Norwegian student were to stand up in class and call in school for the murder of all Muslims, his fate might well be something considerably worse than a visit to the principal. And that's why, for all the huffing and puffing about Islamophobia, such things virtually never happen. Kids in European schools are not going around taking the word Muslim in vain because they know very well that there'd be hell to pay if they did. Not only would they risk retribution from their Muslim classmates; they'd be left high and dry by their teachers and principal, who'd rush to distance themselves from their “Islamophobia” and to apologize for Muslims' hurt feelings.
None of what Esperson and Daniel are describing, needless to say, is confined to just Denmark and Norway. This, alas, is Western Europe today: a part of the world that was once the very definition of civilization and enlightenment, but that, having exposed in the last century its capacity for irrational, murderous barbarism, now seems inexorably drawn, like an addict unable to resist his drug, back into that vile darkness.
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