On Topic Links
NO FUTURE IN FRANCE: DIRE TIMES FOR FRENCH JEWS
PJ Media, August 12, 2012
"Any time young people approach me in order to get married, I ask them various questions about their future. Eighty percent of them say they do not envision any future in France." This is what one rabbi in Paris told me last week. I heard similar statements from other French rabbis and lay Jewish leaders: "We have a feeling the words are on the wall now," one leader in the Lyons area confided to me. "It is not just our situation in this country deteriorating; it is also that the process is much quicker than expected."
Even the chief rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, may be sharing that view now. A philosopher (holding a prestigious French agrégation degree in philosophy), a graduate of the French Rabbinical School in Paris, and a former student at some of the most orthodox yeshivoth (Talmudic academies) in Jerusalem, Bernheim was until recently very eager to reconcile traditional Judaism with Europe's "open society." He has just devoted a book to France as a nation and how Jews can contribute to France's public debates (N'oublions Pas De Penser La France), and in 2008, the year he was elected chief rabbi, he coauthored a book on Judeo-Christian dialogue (Le Rabbin et le Cardinal) with Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.
Despite all that, Bernheim suddenly warned Jewish leaders a few weeks ago about a growing "rejection" of Jews and Judaism in France, something he linked to the global passing of "Judeo-Christian values" in French society as a whole.
The immediate reason for Jewish pessimism in France and for Bernheim's change of heart may be the Toulouse massacre last March: the murder in cold blood of three Jewish children and a Jewish teacher by Mohamed Merah, a Muslim terrorist, on their school's premises. This crime, instead of instilling more compassion and understanding towards the Jewish community, has actually generated more anti-Jewish violence and hate talk, as if Merah was not seen as a vile thug but rather as a model by parts of the population.
There were no less than six cases of aggravated assault on Jewish youths or rabbis in France from March 26 to July 5, including one case in Toulouse again. According to the Representative Council of French Jewish Organizations (CRIF), anti-Semitic incidents of all sorts have increased by 53% compared to the same period last year.
President François Hollande and Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls must be credited for taking the present anti-Semitic crisis seriously, a noted departure from the ambivalent attitude of the last socialist administration of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin ten years ago. On July 22—on the seventieth anniversary of the "grande raffle" ("great round-up") of Jews by the Vichy government police in 1942 —Hollande drew a parallel between the Toulouse massacre and the deportation and mass murder of Jewish children during the Holocaust. As for Valls, he not only repeatedly acknowledged that "there was an upsurge of anti-Semitism in France," but on July 8 went so far as to stigmatize the "most stupid, most dangerous new anti-Semitism" brooding among "young and not-so-young people" in the "neighborhoods" (a code word for Muslim enclaves). Quite a bold statement, since the Socialist party and the Left at large primarily derive their present electoral edge in France from the Muslim vote. Valls and his staff may also have inspired several no-nonsense reports on anti-Semitism that were recently published in the liberal, pro-socialist press.
The connection between Muslim immigration—or Muslim-influenced Third World immigration—and the rise of a new anti-Semitism is a fact all over Europe. Muslims come from countries (or are culturally attuned to countries) where unreconstructed, Nazi-style Jew-bashing dominates. They are impervious to the ethical debate about the Holocaust and the rejection of anti-Jewish stereotypes that were gradually incorporated into the European political discourse and consciousness in the second half of the 20th century (to the point that lessons on the Holocaust are frequently dropped from the curriculum at schools with a plurality or a majority of Muslim pupils), and are more likely than non-Muslims to engage in assaults, attacks, or harassment practices directed at Jews. Moreover, Muslim anti-Semitism reactivates in many places a dormant, but by no means extinct, non-Muslim European anti-Semitism. Once Muslims are unopposed, or at least unprosecuted, when they challenge the historical veracity of the Holocaust or when they refer to the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an authentic document, a growing number of non-Muslims feel free to do the same.
Muslim immigration is nurturing European anti-Semitism in more surprising ways as well. One unintended and ironic consequence of European Islam's demographic growth is that Jews are frequently amalgamated with Muslims. Many people use a widespread concern about a growing influence of Islam in Europe as a way to hurt Jews as well, or to hit them first.…
A 2009 poll shows a 72% rejection of "ritual slaughtering" writ large. And Marine Le Pen, the far-right presidential candidate, dwelled on that issue for a while.… In an even more ominous instance, Judaism has been singled out in a protracted intellectual debate in France since early June, as the fountainhead, past and present, of totalitarianism and political violence and thus as a more dangerous religion than radical Islam.…
The second half of the 20th century was a golden age for French Jews, both in terms of numbers (from 250,000 souls in 1945 to 700,000 in 1970 due to population transfers and natural growth) and in terms of religious and cultural revival. There was only one shadow: the French government's anti-Israel switch engineered by Charles de Gaulle in 1966, in part as a consequence of a more global anti-American switch. The 21st century may however be a much darker age. After a first wave of anti-Jewish violence in the early 2000s, some Jews left for Israel or North America. Emigration never really ceased since then, and may soon reach much more important proportions. (Top)
National Post, Aug 18, 2012
In 1979 the Ayatollah Khomeini designated the last Friday of Ramadan as Al-Quds Day to signify the Islamic world’s aspirations for Jerusalem. Some say it was just an expression of piety, but whatever the founder of theocratic Iran intended, Al-Quds Day has become an annual hate-fest and expansionary symbol for vocal Islamists around the world.
Hate-tourists gather in cities with significant Arab and/or Muslim populations such as Toronto to denounce what they call “world Zionism” and express loathing for Israel. During the 2011 Al-Quds Day rally held outside the Ontario legislature, demonstrators brandished the flag of Hezbollah, while a featured speaker, Zafar Bangash, delivered himself of the view that “Allah willing, I see that day when we, the Muslims, will march on Palestine and liberate Palestine for all the people in the world.”
What the speaker saw and proclaimed last year from Queen’s Park, the grounds of Ontario’s provincial legislature, wasn’t some namby-pamby two-state solution, but the demise of the Jewish State. While he expounded on his vision, someone behind him waved the flag of a terrorist organization, which is what Hezbollah is in the view of Canada’s government. Little wonder that this strikes a person like Sayeh Hassan, a dissenter who fled the theocratic tyranny of Iran in 1987, as “a cynical abuse of Canadian pluralism and accommodation.” This week Hassan wrote an online Post column jointly with David Spiro of the Greater Toronto’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, denouncing Al-Quds Day for being “nothing less than a pep rally for an abhorrent, hate-filled ideology.”
It certainly is, I agree—but I’m not sure about cynical abuse. I think Bangash & Co. are simply using Canadian pluralism and accommodation as the manufacturer intended, which is what’s wrong with the multicultural model. Chances are they—or like-minded colleagues—will use it this year again, despite protests from Jewish organizations or Muslim dissidents, shocked at hearing the very voices they’ve tried to escape coming at them from the legislative grounds of their new country. As I’m writing this, Legislature Sergeant-at-Arms Dennis Clark has approved the use of Queen’s Park once again to the organizers of Al-Quds Day. In effect, Clark told the media that he realized the demonstrators went a little overboard last year, waving terrorist flags and all, but he approved because this year the organizers promised to behave.
“You’re big on free speech—what do you say now?” someone asked me triumphantly. He was so sure he got me, I almost felt sorry to disappoint him. I had to, though, because I’m still big on free speech. I’m just not big on providing soapboxes. I’ve always had an issue with expropriating public spaces for private or sectarian purposes (other than the annual Santa Claus parade, perhaps). Much as I abhor what Mr. Bangash is saying, I would go to the barricades for his right to say it. What I question is Sergeant-at-arms Clark’s decision to lend the grounds of Ontario’s Parliament to the ayatollahs’ agenda.
What’s free speech? It’s freedom to speak my mind on any topic about which I have an opinion. It means I can say what I like regardless of how demonstrably false it may be; how much it may grate on the sense or sensitivity of others; how profoundly it may irk or offend the powerful and the fashionable, or how painfully it may hurt the feelings or self-esteem of the impoverished. Freedom of speech protects both speech and speaker from being silenced or censored because of what others may regard as requirements of social harmony, good taste, decorum, history, science, political correctness, or the truth itself—but can’t protect anyone from being regarded by contemporaries as unpleasant, indecorous, shrill, uncouth, hysterical, tasteless, false, ignorant or stupid.
Freedom of speech isn’t my guarantee of being heard. I can’t make my freedom your obligation. Freedom of speech entitles me to the first available spot in Hyde Park. It doesn’t entitle me to halt traffic in Piccadilly Circus. My freedom of speech isn’t a key to your front door. I’m free to speak but not to enter your parlour or your legislative building, or the public roads and parks surrounding them, or any of your spaces not specifically set aside for assemblies and demonstrations.
Those who want to limit free speech claim that it’s not absolute but this is false. Free speech is absolute; it’s just that using words doesn’t amount to a pass to break the law. It’s no licence to defraud, defame, incite a riot, enter a criminal conspiracy, betray an official secret, impersonate an officer, misrepresent a qualification, breach a fiduciary obligation, etc., nor should it be. Free speech should eliminate the censor and the “human rights” commissioner, but it’s not doing it yet. A pity…. (Top)
Bloomberg, Aug 6, 2012
A travel tip for the international executive class: If you find yourself doing business in Egypt and you feel the urge to insult your interlocutor, 1) try not to insult your interlocutor; and 2) if you must, cast aspersions on the chastity of the person’s mother or sister. This insult will be taken hard, but it may eventually be forgiven.
Whatever you do, don’t accuse the person of being Jewish. That may cause an irrevocable breach, and could even provoke violence. Anti-Semitism, the socialism of fools, is becoming the opiate of the Egyptian masses. And not just the masses. Egypt has never been notably philo-Semitic (just ask Moses), but today it’s entirely acceptable among the educated and creative classes there to demonize Jews and voice the most despicable anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Careerists know that even fleeting associations with Jews and Israelis could spell professional trouble.
The level of anti-Semitism in Egypt has consequences, of course, for Middle East peace and for the safety of Jews. But, importantly, it has consequences for the welfare of Egypt itself. The revolution that overthrew the country’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, held great promise, but it also exposed the enormous challenges facing Egyptian politics and culture. And anti-Semitism, if nothing else, has always been a sign of a deeply damaged culture.
As Walter Russell Mead has written on his blog, countries “where vicious anti-Semitism is rife are almost always backward and poor.” They aren’t backward and poor because the Elders of Zion conspire against them. They’re backward and poor because, Mead argues, they lack the ability to “see the world clearly and discern cause and effect relations in complex social settings.” He calls anti-Semitism the “sociology of the befuddled.”
Egyptian television is filled with such sociology. One popular series depicts an Egyptian diplomat stationed in Tel Aviv who robs Israeli banks on the side. The show was promoted by a Middle East satellite channel, which claimed that it would “surprise the audience with the sweetest jokes about the cheap Jew.”
A television show called “Il Hukm Ba’d il Muzawla,” a kind of “Candid Camera” knockoff, provides further evidence that Judeophobia in Egypt has become pathological. The show lures celebrities into an interview under the pretense that it will air on a foreign television station, and then tries to discomfit them by claiming they’re actually being interviewed for an Israeli show.
Recently, the show targeted actor Ayman Kandeel. The episode didn’t proceed as smoothly as planned. According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the interviewer, an Egyptian woman named Iman Mubarak, surprises Kandeel by admitting that he’s appearing on Israeli television, and not German, as he was promised. A producer named Amr Alaa appears on set and asks Kandeel if there’s a problem.…
Kandeel then attacks Alaa, slapping him and shoving him, throwing chairs and cursing. He wheels on Mubarak, slaps her — knocking her against a wall — and curses her. A staff member runs onto the set: “Ayman, please, it’s a prank. Shame on you for hitting a woman.”
Kandeel is given Mubarak’s identification card, to prove that she isn’t Israeli. Finally, he says, “She’s Egyptian?”…‘Long Live Egypt’
The next guest, the actress Mayer al-Beblawi, unburdens herself of an anti-Semitic tirade before being told the show is an Israeli production. The Israelis, she begins, “are real liars. They keep whining all the time about the Holocaust, or whatever it’s called. With all the Palestinians that you have killed, you are still whining about the Holocaust and its lousy figures?” She goes on: “They are the slayers of the prophets, what else can we say about them.”
The host, Mubarak, then provokes her: “You’ve got it wrong. They are the Chosen People.” Al-Beblawi responds: “The Chosen People? Allah did not curse the worm and the moth as much as he cursed the Jews.”
Al-Beblawi didn’t resort to violence. But the next guest, Mahmoud Abd al-Ghaffar, did, screaming at Mubarak, “You are a Jew!” and then pulling Alaa by the hair. Mubarak shouts: “Mahmoud, this is a ‘Candid Camera’ show. We are all Egyptians. Long live Egypt!”
Al Ghaffar says, “You brought me someone who looks like a Jew,” and then hugs Alaa. He turns to Mubarak: “If you weren’t a girl, the moment you told me you were Jewish … I hate the Jews to death.”
Mubarak then makes a statement that captures almost perfectly the moral perversion of the prank: “I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed today’s episode with Mahmoud. I didn’t know that there could be such patriotism, but it exists in every Egyptian who breathes the air of this country.”
In a column published last week, the Washington Post’s Colbert King correctly indicted the leadership of Iran as sponsors of “the most virulent form of state-sanctioned anti- Semitism since Nazi Germany.” It is true that the Iranian leadership is wildly anti-Semitic, but, on my visits to Iran, I’ve never personally felt the hatred of Jews on the popular level.…Any country in which anti-Semitism is considered a form of patriotism is in dire trouble. (Top)
THE SINISTER ALLIANCE OF THE ISLAMIST-MARXIST AXIS
Robert S. Wistrich
Times of Israel, August 18, 2012
Since the year 2000, there has been an increasing convergence between those who belong to the radical left and those who promote Islamism in the West. One of the key areas in cementing their rapprochement has been the Palestinian question. The new “alliance” was further reinforced during the past decade by the Iraq war, the Second Lebanon War, and the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009.
Despite its current marginality, Palestine still remains the paradigmatic case of oppression for most left-wing militants today. Israelis, on the other hand, are not only the bad guys in this conflict; they are seen as the embodiment of capitalist-imperialist evil. Amazingly, this negative imagery has not been much affected by the Arab revolutions of 2011, despite their revelation of the cruelty, corruption, and utter cynicism of Arab regimes, highlighted by the ethnic cleansing and genocidal assault of the Assad regime on its own population in Syria.
Broadly speaking, Israel is still perceived by much of the Western left and by the Islamists as being “white,” Western, and alien to the Middle East. In other words, Israelis are seen as brutal colonialist invaders. The whole story of the Zionist project is disconnected from Jewish history and the centuries’-old link between the people of Israel and its historic homeland. The Palestinians…have, by contrast, been successfully cast in the role of “Jews,” downtrodden and ruthlessly abused by Nazi-like Israelis. A key part of this campaign has been the corrosive depiction of Israel as an “apartheid state.” This libel is endlessly repeated throughout North America and Western Europe—in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, as well as France, Germany and Great Britain. As a consequence, the anti-Israeli obsession has steadily seeped into the European chattering classes, the free professions, the churches, and nongovernmental organizations. It is especially virulent in academia and very much in tune with the postcolonial zeitgeist.
Another weapon in this global anti-Zionist transformation is the growing effort to “Nazify” Israel and thereby invert the Holocaust. The abuse of Holocaust memory as a political weapon against the Jewish state has indeed become increasingly rampant in recent years along with the popularity of antisemitic conspiracy theories. The soft version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which evokes the all-powerful “Zionist Lobby” and the alleged hidden control of “Jewish moneybags,” is in fact far more common than many people realize.
Anti-Semitism has been further stimulated by the growing worldwide influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the racist anti-Jewish material that is funded by Saudi Arabia and openly preached in the Middle Eastern, European and American mosques or is on sale in Islamist bookshops. The “decadent” Western culture that radical Muslims endlessly execrate is seen by jihadists as being controlled and dominated by Jews. This adds a particularly inflammatory dimension to Muslim anti-Semitism, which on this point has many affinities with the Neo-Nazi right. The message of the jihadists is indeed explicitly genocidal, but it is left-wing anti-Israeli rhetoric that gives it intellectual cover and respectability.
In the midst of the London Olympics, it was rather sobering to recall that a country like Great Britain remains today the world center of the academic boycott and also of trade union efforts to economically sanction Israel….Among Western democracies, only in Britain has the boycott thus far achieved such a level of resonance — even though most Britons, if asked, would almost certainly reject it, and bilateral relations between the UK and Israel still remain fairly cordial.
The relations between France and Israel are also largely positive, but that did not prevent the lethal jihadi assault in Toulouse several months ago in which three Jewish children and a young rabbi were ruthlessly murdered in cold blood. In the two months that followed, aggressive anti-Semitic attacks in France by Muslims against Jewish adolescents surged dramatically. To even point to such naked violence in the current toxic atmosphere is to risk being labeled a “Zionist lackey,” an Islamophobe, or a racist, especially in bien-pensant leftist or liberal circles.
It should be recalled that Mohammed Merah’s brutal slaughter of innocent Jewish children in France was carried out in the name of the global jihad and “avenging Palestine.” The muted response to such atrocities in liberal “progressive” Western opinion is a badge of shame for those whose self-proclaimed banner is that of human rights. (Top)