The recent CNN survey on Anti-Semitism in Europe is alarming, but not surprising. Anti-Semitism in Europe is a 2,000-year old malady with ever changing manifestations. As soon as Christianity became the State religion under Roman Emperors Constantine and Theodosius I, persecution of Jews began. Edicts against Jews appeared soon thereafter. The anti-Semitism of the middle ages was religious in nature, or as some would call it, anti-Judaism. Jews were forbidden from proselytizing, and offering circumcision to their servants. Jews were denied citizenship, and the rights that came with it. They were barred from holding posts in government and the military, excluded from guilds, and professions.
During the First Crusade (1096CE), Jews endured anti-Semitic violence in France (Metz) and Germany (Worms and Trier). Jews were herded into synagogues, and burned alive for alleged deicide (Killing of Jesus, a Jew himself). Jews were accused of desecration of the Host, and ritual murder, allegedly sacrificing Christian children to use their blood for Passover. The most famous case took place in 12th century England, with the murder of William of Norwich. Such unfounded accusations were revived periodically in Eastern and central Europe throughout the medieval and modern times. Consider the Beilis case. Menachem Mendel Beilis was a Russian Jew accused of ritual murder in Kiev (Ukraine’s capital). In the notorious 1913 trial, Beilis was ultimately acquitted, but the legal process sparked international criticism of the anti-Semitic policies of the Tsarist regime. The Inquisition in Spain, Portugal, and other parts of Europe was another chapter of European anti-Semitism based on religious intolerance and hate.
The economic success of Jews, particularly in trade and banking, elicited Christian envy which prompted the forced expulsion of Jews from several European countries. It began in England in 1290, followed by France in the 14th century, Germany in the 1350’s, Spain 1492, Portugal 1496, Provence 1512, and the Papal States in 1569. The Spanish Inquisition was the culmination of Catholic anti-Judaism. It forced Jews to convert to Catholicism or be expelled from Spain. Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation did not spare the Jews. At first Luther decried the Catholic treatment of the Jews, but when Jews refused to convert to his newly reformed Christianity, Lutheranism became notoriously anti-Semitic. Hitler and the Nazis invoked Luther’s calumny against Jews.
Modern anti-Semitism no longer focused solely on religion. With many European Jews being baptized (Benjamin Disraeli being one example), anti-Semites needed a new way to isolate and persecute Jews. Jewish intellectual and economic achievements fostered envy, and resentment. It gave rise to notorious political hate-mongers, and it ushered in anti-Semitism that was based on racist rather than religious grounds. Despite the liberating impact of the Enlightenment, nationalistic sentiments in Europe targeted Jews as the “outsiders.” The infamous Tsarist forgery called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion increased anti-Jewish violence. The Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906) exposed French anti-Semitism.
Racial theorists such as Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882) advanced the theory in which race explained everything in the human experience. Jews were relegated to be a non-Aryan, Semitic race. In 1873, Wilhelm Marr, a German agitator, coined the term “anti-Semitism.” He wrote a pamphlet titled “The Victory of Jewry over Germandom.” In 1879, he founded the League of Anti-Semitism. Also in 1879, Heinrich Treitschke, a German historian, wrote the phrase “The Jews are our misfortune,” later used by Hitler. In 1900, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, an Englishman who settled in Germany wrote, “The Foundation of the 19th Century,” in which he characterized Germans as honest, loyal, and industrious, to be contrasted by Jews who he argued, were materialistic, legalistic, and devoid of tolerance and morality. These are some of the sources that preceded the Holocaust and gave ammunition to Nazi Germany to perpetrate the greatest crime in history.
Today’s anti-Semitism in Europe has assumed a new phase. It is no longer religious, and its racist manifestations are hidden in the guise of anti-Israelism. The above mentioned CNN poll interviewed 7,092 adults online in seven countries between September 7 and September 20, 2018. The surveyed countries included Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Sweden. CNN indicated, “More than a Quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.” The poll disclosed that one in five Europeans, especially young Europeans, claimed they have never heard of the Holocaust. It confirmed my longstanding assertion that the moratorium over the shame and guilt due to Nazi Germany’s and the other European countries’ collusion in the murder of Six Million Jews, including 1,500,000 Jewish children, has long been over. Europeans have assuaged their guilt by maliciously and falsely equating Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with the Nazis treatment of the Jews.
A third of the people CNN interviewed said that “Israel uses the Holocaust to justify its actions.” Similarly, a third of Europeans said “supporters of Israel use accusations of anti-Semitism to shut down criticism of Israel, while only one in 10 said that was not true.” A third of Europeans said commemorating the Holocaust distracts from other atrocities today, with higher than average numbers of Germans, Austrians, Poles, and Hungarians stating that. Germans and Austrians were the main perpetrators of the Holocaust, while Poles and Hungarians murdered Jews in their own countries during the Shoah. More than a quarter of the respondents (28%) said “most anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to the actions of the state of Israel, and nearly one in five (18%) said “anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to the everyday behavior of Jewish people.”
Europeans and the European Union often condemn Israeli actions of self-defense, and responses to Palestinian terror. It is clear that Israel, being the corporate Jew is held responsible, or rather, is a traditional scapegoat for European frustrations with their own ineptness in combatting Islamist terror. It goes especially well with the traditional European anti-Semitism that also blamed the “Black Plague” on the Jews. Jews practiced ritual bathing and dietary cleanliness at a time when few Europeans did the same.
About two-thirds of the respondents guessed too high when asked what percentage of the world population was Jewish. Similar numbers got the answer wrong for their own countries. They were off by a factor of 100. Only about 0.2% of the world population is Jewish, according to Pew Research.
The overestimates came, according to CNN, even as majorities or near-majorities in every country polled said they were not aware of ever having met a Jewish person. Two-thirds of Germans, Austrians and Poles said they did not think they had ever socialized with a Jew, whereas about half of the people of Britain, France, Hungary and Sweden said the same.
Unlike Muslims in Europe, Jews were easy scapegoats because they were a smaller minority. At their highest number, on the eve of the Holocaust in 1939, 9 million Jews lived in Europe, compared to 25.8 million Muslims in Europe today. Jews moreover, were not violent, and did not pose a terrorist threat.
Anti-Semitism in Europe is an endemic virus, and it has been re-invigorated by the influx to Europe of Arab and Iranian Muslim migrants from the Middle East. In addition to traditional Islamic hatred of Jews (who did not accept Muhammad’s offer to convert to his new faith), these Muslim migrants brought with them a deep hatred for Israel, which has conveniently served native European anti-Semites from both the political far left and right.