By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Here’s a crop of articles that arrived in my Inbox in the last week:
The Jewish Chronicle of London (March 21) has an article about Lord Ahmed, Britain’s first Muslim peer, who has been suspended by the country’s Labour Party because of a statement he made in his native Pakistan that he was convicted in 2009 of dangerous driving in the UK (that resulted in the death of another driver) because of “a Jewish conspiracy” as retribution for his support of the Palestinians in Gaza.
The same day, The Huffington Post carried a long article by its United Kingdom political director Mehdi Hasan in which he wrote: “There are thousands of Lord Ahmeds out there: mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who nevertheless harbour deeply anti-Semitic views.” The article is called, “The Sorry Truth is That the Virus of Anti-Semitism Has Infected the British Muslim Community.”
On March 28, an online publication, The Tower, had a long article by Liam Hoare, whose writings appear in Britain and abroad, under the title “The Scandal of Scandinavia.” According to Hoare, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are in the grip of the “new” anti-Semitism “derived mainly from the failure to distinguish between Israel, Zionism, and local Jewish communities in political discourse that “sometimes combines with, an extremist, mainly Muslim anti-Semitism.”
The same day, The Gatestone Institute published a piece by Guy Milliere, a French university professor, about anti-Semitism in France in which he states that “Jews feel threatened, abandoned, and a growing number of them consider exile,” which accounts for decline in numbers in the country. Even allowing for the anti-Muslim bias of the publication, the evidence and arguments of Milliere’s article cannot be ignored.
Still on the same day, The Jewish Daily Forward carried an item under the title, “Anti-Semitism 7 Times Higher for Belgian Muslim Students: Report.” It tells of a survey conducted by three Flemish universities. Respondents were asked if they agreed with the statement. “Jews foment war and blame others for it.” 50.9 percent Muslims replied in the affirmative as against 7.1 percent non-Muslims. Another 24.5 percent Muslims and 20.6 percent non-Muslims said that they partially agreed.
Also on the same day, a writer in The Tablet, another online publication, had a big story about anti-Judaism in Copenhagen. Jews in Denmark have never felt anti-Semitism in the way they’re experiencing it now. A prominent Danish-Jewish journalist, interviewed by the writer of the article, sees anti-Semitism as “an import of the Middle Eastern conflict to Copenhagen.”
The temptation is, of course, to conclude that if only Israel didn’t occupy Palestinian land, or better still didn’t exist, there would be no anti-Semitism. This is akin to the offensive “excuses” before Israel existed that if only Jews behaved “differently” there would be no anti-Semitism. But the temptation must be resolutely resisted, because it shockingly blames the victim instead of identifying the perpetrators.
There may, indeed, be good reasons for Israel to pursue a different policy towards Palestinians, but it shouldn’t be in order to save Europe’s Jews from anti-Semitism. On the contrary, it’s the very existence of Israel that’ll protect them from another Holocaust.