Is anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe? Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister, this week gave warning of the re-emergence of "an anti-Semitism that has always existed". Attacks on Jewish targets in France and the bombing of the two synagogues in Turkey look like straws in the wind. And when a German MP assigns the Jews responsibility for the crimes of Bolshevism and the commander of the German special forces publicly agrees, then it is worthwhile addressing the question.
No historian would want to deny the extent of European anti-Semitism in the early 20th century. However, the Holocaust led to a profound transformation of attitudes in Europe. After the war the commonly-held belief in scientific racism fell into disrepute and Unesco issued its famous declaration that race was a social myth. The basic law of Konrad Adenauer's West Germany explicitly outlawed racial prejudice.
The Holocaust itself has become the single most-studied episode of the war, if not of the 20th century, and today there are Holocaust monuments, memorial days and museums - even in countries where it did not take place - and laws which criminalize Holocaust denial. So, contrary to what Sharon has indicated, only a few oddballs regard expressions of anti-Semitism as politically or culturally acceptable.
Over the past 40 years there has been a huge generational shift in attitudes, and even the genteel prejudices of an earlier generation grate on the ears of the young. If a few echoes linger farther east, these too are dying away with the transformation of post-communist societies.
But if the Holocaust eradicated anti-Semitism as a political force in Europe, it had another far-reaching consequence as well: it gave birth to Israel, thereby linking Europe, the Jews and the Arabs in a new way. If Israel looms large in the European political consciousness, it is not because Europeans are anti-Semites but because Europe itself is in many ways the architect of the present imbroglio.
At a time when most Jewish emigrants were heading to the United States, Argentina and Western Europe, the British - for their own reasons - gave the green light for the creation of a Jewish national home in an Arab province of the Ottoman Empire. The British, the French, who successfully fought to prevent a Hashemite Greater Syria emerging in 1920, and the Nazis, who drove huge numbers of Jews into Palestine, between them turned out to be indispensable for the success of Jewish nationalism.
Zionism, which brought "the people without land to the land without people", in fact implied the dispossession of Palestine's Arabs. Previously, anti-Semitism had been a negligible factor among the Arabs; there was little trace of it in the Ottoman world, where Jews and Muslims coexisted harmoniously.
But even as European anti-Semitism dwindled, so it seemed to grow in the Middle East, fed by racial and religious myths imported from the defeated European Right.
What has emerged is not at heart a racial antagonism but a political one - an anti-Zionism which takes Israeli rhetoric at face value by conflating Israelis and Jews. This is very different from the old inter-war European variety. The Nazis were not much bothered about Jews' political opinions; what counted was race.
If anything, Zionists were the one kind of Jew that right-wing Europeans were prepared to deal with, since both sides desired the same thing - the departure of the Jews from Europe. Precisely the opposite is true for Arab opinion: conspiracy theories flourish, and so does Holocaust denial, but the real target is Zionism as a political doctrine.
Israeli spokesmen, however, are now focusing not on sentiment in the Arab world but on signs of old hatreds in Europe. By doing so, they badly distort what is happening. When a German MP is forced to resign after comparing the Nazis with Jewish Bolsheviks, we are learning more about German frustrations over how the world deals with the Holocaust than about the dangers facing German Jews.
Recently there has been a remarkable increase in the number of Israelis settling in Germany: so much for anti-Semitism there. Neo-Nazi and far-right groups continue to target synagogues and cemeteries. But this has been going on for years and has not pushed them into the mainstream - quite the contrary.
What is new in the present equation is the violence mostly in France by young Arab youths against Jewish targets, a spill-over into Europe of the kind of anti-Zionism already described.
Before we turn to the old catch-all labels of the past, we need to take a good look at the singer as well as the song. "The best solution to anti-Semitism," Sharon said in Rome last week, "is immigration to Israel."
As Jewish migration from the former Soviet Union dwindles, the specter of depopulation looms large among Israeli officials who fear Jews may before long be outnumbered by the fecund Arabs in their midst. Sharon is the man, after all, who entered office vowing to bring a million new settlers to the country in order to reverse its alarming demographic deficit.
There has always been a debate among Jews about the importance of anti-Semitism in Europe, and Zionists for obvious reasons have tended to emphasize the threat it poses. But today Israel itself looks more like a source of danger for Jews worldwide than a refuge, and even Israelis - though the emigration statistics remain a closely guarded official secret -are voting with their feet.
If Sharon is seriously concerned about anti-Semitism, there is no one better placed than he to do something about it by changing his Government's policies towards the Palestinians.
The author is Professor of History at Birkbeck College London
i know there are jews living in yemen, syria, egypt side by side muslims and they do not have any problem there, but why the jews want to live in a fort. simply because they have usurped the land from the palestinians and wish to hide.
zionists and the hamas both are hardcore idealogists, the zionists should be taken more seriously as the oppressors and hamas will collapse as it will not have any thing to do.
Jerusalem has no significance to Islam. In all the time that the city was under the control of the Ottoman Turks, and the 19 years that it was part of Jordanian, it was neither a politcal, cultrual, religious, or economic capital of either government. At no point in history have Arabs ruled over Palestine. Why then should Jerusalem all of the sudden be the capital of a "Palestinian" state?
All of Isreal's military actions target combatants, and Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civillian colateral damage. The actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aksa Martyr's brigade, etc. especially target civillians. If arrested, a terrorist in Israel has never been sentenced to death. Every Arab and Muslim regime practices brutal repression against its own people, executes for possesion of alcohol, Christian missionary activity, and blasphemy(against the religious establishment or the government). The monarchy of the gulf states defecate on gold plated toilet seats, yet never send any releif aid to the poor masses of the Middle East. Yet Israel is the made out to be the oppressor.
Sir Morland I suggest that you spell out the words next time or mention it in the main text if you are that sensitive. For example, UK = UNITED KINGDOM. Nothing to be ashamed of. It's not your fault what your grandpas did around the world in the name of civlizing he world. To give a few examples - the British thugs and the hermit Queens are responsible for SLAVERY and building slave ships, cutting off fingers of people who wanted grow rice instead of opium, killing Native Americans and putting them into concentration camps across the Americas. They were responsible for owning slave, selling human beings and separating husband from wife and children, lynching, raping, and forcefully making them (fellow human beings) cook Grandpa Morlands' food.
Sir Morland!!! Please stop hiding your shameful past under the carpets by blaming Arabs for slavery.
The Arabs who own slaves were the proxies of British empire exactly like kings and Queens of Middle East are stuanchest proxies of United States toid.... & these thugs and the American and British transgressor are responsible for all the turmoil in the world today. Yet, they claim to be peace makers!!! Very sad and stupid.
Are there Arab Slave ships docked at Red Sea or at Niles today? I do not think so. So just stop making up stories.
Regarding anti-semitism, again it is you the Europeans started it and killed 8 million Jews. Again it is you the British thugs and American evil- doers encouraged all Jews around the world to forcefully occupy Palestine and kick out the native palestanians.
Did not you have enough land in Europe or in America for few million Jews? WHy displace one group of people (Palestanians) in order to accomodate another group? These are anit-warped facts of history. Learn to swallow the truth instead of denying. That's better for you both here and hereafter.
The idea that Zionism was created when the Jews decided to crucify Jesus and then ship Blacks to America is the most extraordinary nonsense I have ever seen on this site. You cannot really argue with someone who has such a warped understanding of history. Indeed, responses like this undermine the argument in the article that anti-Semitism is not really a problem. There is something very sad and very sick going on in the Islamic world today which brings a great religion and civilisation into disrepute.
As for my being an American, you obviously do not know what 'UK' means, which does not surprise me.
And are you saying that Arabs were not engaged in the slave trade for millenia - and still are?
You should really stop peddling your hate right now: you only give Islam and Muslims a bad name
Why don't you go to Palestine and learn about them and see the reality?
Good luck passing thru Israeli's checkpoints!!!
I hope you are not BULL-DOZED and come back to San Francisco in a body bag!!!
All my best wishes.
"Zionism did not exist until decades after the transatlantic slave trade stopped..."
Hmmm...you (the Zionist) must be sleeping with the American moron too much.The zionism started when SOME JEWS (not all) started the plotting to Kill prophet Isa or Jesus (PBUH) and also when the day your Rabbias (Jews priest) changed Torah to a pamplet that permitted Jews to hate the Muslims and follow the footsteps of the great SATAN.
In year 2003, Not Jews are Zionist, but OBVIOUSLY you are an avid fan of Zionism. Keep up the good work.
Hmmm...blaming Muslims for slavery!!! Yeah, people know that. Don't try to hide your history (if you're a American who became a Zionist).
Heard about Colin Powell!!! The American gov't still treats him like a slave. Nobody listens to his ideas, although he is much more brilliant than the American cowboy. It's so sad that Mr. Powell can't wait to quit.
That's wrap. I hope you can handle the truth.
Jews will find acceptance when they renege on their racist Zionism, otherwise quit whinning.
The media has successful imbedded the belief that today's Jews are Semites giving the impression to the ignorant & arrogant masses & elites that modern Jews are the descendants of the twelve tribes of Jacob aka Israel. Jules Masserman, an American Jew, testify that this belief especially common among the American ding dongs & hamburger brains is totally untrue. He supplies us with genetic evidence that about 90% of today's Jews are non-Semites & only about 10% are Semitic. So where does this 90% of the Jews came from? Most of them came from Kasaria during the reign of king Bulan. They were Christians and converted to Judaism in 850 CE mostly for political & financial reasons. Jules Masserman calls them the 13th tribe.
Most Semitic people today are the Arabs & the Ethiopians but since the Zionists & the Western powers control knowledge through their hegemony over all forms of mass media, ignorance will thrive & darkness will prevail for many more decades to come until the masses wake up & decide to make sacrifices. Until then, evil will always prevail.
Smack the Zog,
A timely and well worded article.
Something I can with honest heart forward to my Jewish, Muslim, Leftist, and others contacts/emailing lists.
Such as www.tikkun.org and www.comocanada.org
Jazak-Allah Khair(May God Reward You and Keep you Safe) to author.