Daily Briefing: European Antisemitism Burrows into European and British Culture (November 26,2019)

In honour of Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld who will be the keynote speaker at the CIJR’s 31st Annual Gala in Montreal on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, we will be highlighting this week Dr. Gerstenfeld’s works on the subject of contemporary anti-Semitism.  For tickets call:  514-486-5544.


Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany. The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script. (Source: Wikipedia)

Table of Contents:

Antisemitism Is Woven into Western Culture:  Manfred Gerstenfeld, BESA, Oct. 24, 2019
An Ancient Enemy, Reconfigured:  Fred Siegel, City Journal, Autumn 2019

Berlin: Capital of European Antisemitism: Manfred Gerstenfeld, BESA, Oct. 3, 2019
Antisemitism Is Woven into Western Culture
Manfred Gerstenfeld
BESA, Oct. 24, 2019One of the few Europeans to have stated unambiguously that antisemitism lurks within Western culture is Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. In 2016 he wrote:“Antisemitism is an insidious evil. The habits of antisemitism have been burrowing into European and British culture for as long as we can remember. In England, during the late medieval period, the Jewish community faced constant persecution: Shylock, the great villain of the Merchant of Venice, was a cliché of his time. By the time Cromwell reopened England to Jewish settlement under the Commonwealth in the 1650s, antisemitism had mutated within common parlance and culture. It is a shameful truth that, through its theological teachings, the church, which should have offered an antidote, compounded the spread of this virus.”

The centuries-old interweaving of antisemitism into Western culture shows up in many ways. Contemporary antisemitism contains not only major elements of medieval antisemitism but also newer manifestations. In many new ideologies, movements, and intellectual currents, expressions of antisemitism eventually come to the fore. The hatred may focus on Jews or on Israel. The phenomenon can be found in a variety of arenas.

In the human rights arena, for example, antisemitism is clearly visible. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is at the top of the list of promoters of the newest type of antisemitism, the endorsement of Israel-hatred. Many of its member states are dictatorships. Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, summarized it thus: “The United Nations Human Rights Council, located in Geneva, has a standing agenda item against Israel. Israel is the only country specifically targeted at every meeting. Not even major human rights abusers like China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria or Zimbabwe are subjected to such treatment.”

Feminism is another movement in which antisemitism frequently manifests itself. American emeritus professor of psychology and women studies Phyllis Chesler, herself a prominent feminist, was invited in 2003 to speak to a mainly African-American and Hispanic-American feminist audience at a conference at Barnard College. She was asked where she stood on the issue of women in Palestine. Chesler answered that Islam is the largest practitioner of gender and religious apartheid in the world. She backed up her statement by referencing forced veiling, arranged marriage, polygamy, honor-based violence, and honor killing in Palestinian society. Chesler says, “A near riot broke out. I was hustled out for my safety. These feminists didn’t care about Palestine, but about demonizing Israel.”

American academic and feminist Angela Davis, a former Black Panther and communist, is an extreme anti-Israel inciter. She is among those who have compared the killing of an African-American man by a white policeman in Ferguson, MO to alleged, entirely unrelated Israeli actions in Gaza. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

An Ancient Enemy, Reconfigured
Fred Siegel
City Journal, Autumn 2019

The Western world, at least since the Enlightenment, was built on evidence-based argument. But in the last quarter of the twentieth century, Enlightenment ideals were undermined by postmodernism, with its shift to “narrative” as the source of meaning—an invitation to fraud. What followed, eventually, was the era of fake news and out-and-out hoaxes, as in the case of the concocted “Russian collusion” narrative, which has produced one of the greatest political scandals in American history.

When it comes to fake news, Jews have heard it all for the past 2,000 years—from the charge of deicide to the poisoning of wells, from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford’s fervid speculations to more recent false narratives about the perfidies of the Zionist State. But twenty-first-century France has sadly added some new twists. In his pathbreaking article “Revisiting Netzarim Junction and the Birth of Fake News,” Boston University professor Richard Landes unpacked the notorious al-Durra affair, which occurred in 2000 and involved the apparent murder of a nine-year-old boy by Israeli soldiers during a supposed gunfight in the Gaza Strip. Filmed with the contrivance of French public television, the scene depicting Israelis in an ugly light went viral. It helped produce an intifada in Israel; in France, it generated Arab and Islamic hostility toward French Jews, as Mark Weitzman chronicles in his fascinating book Hate: The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism in France.

Weitzman’s book originally appeared as a series of articles in the American online magazine Tablet, to which he turned because of lack of interest in France, where elites feared that even discussing the topic would encourage Islamophobia. The modern use of the term “Islamophobia” was largely initiated by Iranians in the wake of their country’s disastrous 1979 revolution. As philosopher Pascal Bruckner has explained, this new thought crime was designed with a dual aim. First, it equated criticism of Islam with racism—an odd concept, since Islam includes whites of Bosnia, blacks of the Cameroons, and olive-skinned Arabs of North Africa, as well as their darker-skinned religious brethren. “The second, even more important aim,” notes Bruckner, “was to forge a weapon of enforcement against liberal Muslims, who dared to criticize their faith and who called for reform.”

Hate examines a number of Islamist murders of French Jews in considerable detail, including the 2005 kidnapping, torture, and murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi; the 2012 attack on a Jewish religious school in Toulouse; and the 2017 beating, torture, and killing of Jewish doctor Sarah Halimi (not related to Ilan Halimi). Mohammed Merah, the perpetrator of the Toulouse attacks, first murdered three French soldiers and then attacked a Jewish day school, where he murdered the rabbi, two of the rabbi’s young children, and an eight-year-old girl. Merah, who made no secret of his allegiance to al-Qaida, was shot by police after a long siege.… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Why I Warned Non-Jews About Jeremy Corbyn on the Front Page of the Jewish Chronicle
Stephen Pollard
New Statesman, Nov. 8, 2019

There is a fine line between frustration and anger and, truth be told, last week, as election campaigns creaked into action, I may have slipped into the latter. Watching assorted Labour MPs, from Corbynite hardliners to so-called moderates, extolling the need for a Labour government and talking about the NHS, schools and other public services, I found it hard not to scream at the TV. So hard, in fact, that I did scream.

My words were mainly unprintable but were variations on one theme: that their party is led by a man I believe to be a racist and that the vast majority of British Jews fear the prospect of him becoming prime minister. How could that not be a pretty big – fundamental, indeed – election issue?

But there was barely more than the odd mention of any of it. Labour politicians, as one would expect, ran a mile from acknowledging any of it. But so, too, did reporters and interviewers. The one time it surfaced was when Andrew Marr lobbed a question at John McDonnell. But rather than then cross-examining the shadow chancellor on his answer, Marr sat back and allowed him to spout his usual guff about how Labour is now doing everything asked of it by Jewish groups and is, verily, the very model of a modern anti-racist party. There was not a word in response from Marr to point out that this was pure rubbish.

Every communal organisation, from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council through to the Jewish Labour Movement itself remains incandescent with anger at Labour’s ongoing refusal to deal in any way satisfactorily with anti-Semitism. The JLM – the oldest affiliate to the Labour Party – is so angry that it is now refusing to campaign for any Labour candidates, bar the two remaining Jewish women, Ruth Smeeth and Dame Margaret Hodge.

But as a newspaper editor, I do not just have to scream at the TV. I am in the privileged position of being able to do something. Indeed, after over a decade as editor of the Jewish Chronicle, I have a relatively good feeling for what our readers expect. And having led the way in investigating this story from the very start, when we asked seven questions of Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism in a leader on our front page during the leadership campaign in 2015, I knew they would expect us to do something.

I had an idea.

The problem is that not enough people are taking notice of an issue that is of all-consuming importance to the Jewish community. Writing about it for our fellow Jews is all very well but misses the point. We needed to highlight it for non-Jews. How about, I asked our team, using our front page to speak to those non-Jews?

I can usually tell when they think I’ve gone mad. There’s a silence followed by a Yes Minister-esque, “That could work, yes. Let’s have a think.” But this seemed to go down well. They liked it. So I mulled it over for a couple of days and in my mind drafted the leader I’d write. On Monday, I sat down and bashed out some words which I circulated. With some helpful tweaks, we had the words. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Berlin: Capital of European Antisemitism
Manfred Gerstenfeld
BESA, Oct. 3, 2019

For years, experts viewed Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, as the capital of antisemitism in Europe. Incidents of anti-Jewish hatred occurred there on a regular basis. Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, a former socialist, was an antisemite. A bomb was thrown at a local synagogue. Complaints filed by Jews were ignored by judges. The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) put out a travel warning concerning the town.

Antisemitism in Malmö has not weakened significantly, but even a superficial look at the scale of classic antisemitism and anti-Israelism in Berlin shows that it by far surpasses Malmö. There are so many facets to antisemitism in the German capital that any summary remains incomplete.

With 3.5 million inhabitants, Berlin is a much larger city than Malmö, the population of which is less than 350,000. Berlin contains 40,000 Jewish citizens to Malmö’s approximately 500. A report published by Berlin’s Research and Information Center on Antisemitism (RIAS) recorded 1,083 antisemitic incidents in 2018 compared to 951 during 2017. This is but a fraction of the total, as many incidents go unreported.

One much publicized case among many occurred in July 2019, when Berlin’s Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal was spat on and insulted by Arab speakers on his way home with his son from synagogue. In August, Rabbi Jan Aaron Hammel was aggressively shoved, spat upon, and verbally abused in Arabic. The attack sent him to the hospital, and after it he had to walk with crutches.

In 2012, Rabbi Daniel Alter was severely beaten on a Berlin street by four Arab- looking youngsters in the presence of his seven-year-old daughter. Berlin antisemitism commissioner Lorenz Korgel, who was appointed in May 2019, warned that Jews who wear a kippah in public could experience frequent attacks.

Gideon Joffe, chairman of Berlin’s Jewish community, said one-third of the pupils at the Berlin Jewish High School had suffered harassment at non-Jewish public schools. “In the year 2019 our high school is full of Jewish refugees,” he said. The alleged perpetrators are often the children of Muslim immigrants.
The most publicized case of such antisemitism occurred in 2017 at a public school. It concerned a Jewish boy whose first name was changed in the media to Oscar Michalski. His tormenters were pupils of Arab and Turkish descent. An older student shot at the child with a realistic-looking gun and choked him to the point of unconsciousness.

In August 2019, graves of Jewish soldiers killed in WWI were defaced at a large Jewish cemetery. In the same month, a Berlin Jewish woman received a letter containing ashes. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Jerusalem to Host Largest-Ever Event on Anti-Semitism; Putin, Macron To Attend:  Times of Israel, Nov. 20, 2019— President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday that some 30 world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, will be coming to Israel in January to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem, in what is expected to be the largest-ever gathering focused on combating anti-Semitism.

Judging the Netherlands: The Renewed Holocaust Restitution Process, 1997-2000 Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011 — “To pass judgment on the restitution of property rights after the war is to pass judgment on the Netherlands and its people. That complicates any efforts to write the history of the restitution process.”1 These words by the historian Prof. Peter Klein in the Van Kemenade Commission report summarize much of the theme of this book.

Only Half of Europeans Think Anti-Semitism is an Important Problem:  Manfred Gerstenfeld, Mar. 12, 2019 — In recent months substantial attention has been given to how European Jews perceive anti-Semitism in their countries.

Pope Blasts ‘Inhuman, Un-Christian’ Rebirth of Anti-Semitism: Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2019 — Pope Francis has denounced the “inhuman, un-Christian” rebirth of anti-Semitism, weighing in on an issue that has convulsed Italy in recent weeks.