And Now... Europe's Kristallnacht
They carried banners saying, "Stop Israeli State Terror," but some went off-message, deciding, apparently, that it did not matter if their targets were Israelis or not.
In the Netherlands, fresh from a pro-ISIS rally in Amsterdam, the home of the Chief Rabbi -- not Israeli, just Jewish -- was attacked twice in one week.
We live in a rightful disgust for racism of any kind. And yet here we see -- and nowhere more clearly than in Germany -- the new racist nightmare for Europe.
The backlash in Europe against Israel has been underway since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. In each country the protests have similarities. And in each they are spear-headed by the same motives and often by the same people.
In London the protests have been dominated young Muslims with the usual smattering of far-left fellow-travellers. They have carried Socialist Worker Party banners saying "Stop Israeli State Terror." But some went off-message, apparently deciding it did not matter if their targets were Israeli or "just" Jews. There have also been the predictable banners comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Adolf Hitler. Others have a more confused relationship with this sinister conflation. One young protestor was photographed at a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London with a poster saying, "Hitler you were right!" Elsewhere the protests have spilled over into occasional outbursts of violence.
Scenes from Europe, July 2014: Left, an anti-Israel protestor in London holds up a sign saying "Hitler you were right". Right, one of a group of anti-Israel thugs who stormed a soccer field in Austria assaults a player from the Israeli team Maccabi Haifa.
People who are "visibly Jewish," people wearing identifiably Jewish dress, have found themselves targeted for abuse. Demonstrators at the biggest central London march assaulted and verbally abused a Jewish woman who had expressed her support for Israel, calling her a "Jew Zionist" among other things, before stealing her mobile phone. In North London, a rabbi was abused by a group of 'youths' who shouted "F*** the Zionists," "F*** the Jews" and "Allah Akhbar."
All of this is mild compared to what has been going on across the English Channel in France. In suburbs and parts of central Paris the violence being perpetrated against the Jewish community culminated in the disturbing spectacle of Parisian Jews barricaded in a synagogue by a crowd of young North Africans seemingly intent on violence. When the police failed to turn up in any numbers, the Jews fought for themselves. These were not all "Jewish vigilantes" as some of the press disturbingly reported -- Jews in their 40s and 50s fighting their way through a mob.
Since then, the French authorities have banned -- as French authorities have the right to do -- some other planned "pro-Palestinian" protests. But the bans seem not to have worked. "Youths," as the media are prone to title the rioters, who mainly come from the suburbs of Paris and other cities, have taken to the streets, anyhow. There are videos of them smashing up pavements in order to get chunks of asphalt to hurl at police. A Paris suburb with a large Jewish -- not Israeli, just Jewish -- population has been a particular focus of protestors. In some video footage, protestors have been shown attacking police cars and assaulting public and private property. The French authorities are clearly trying to get a handle on the protests, but to a considerable extent, events have slipped from their control.
Similar scenes have been seen across the continent. In the Netherlands -- fresh from witnessing a pro-ISIS rally in Amsterdam -- there have been serious incidents at protests. There have been anti-Semitic chants, and the home of the Chief Rabbi in the Netherlands has been attacked twice in one week. In Austria, a soccer game involving an Israeli team had to be called off after Palestinian demonstrators broke onto the pitch. The stands had people waving anti-Israel banners and Turkish flags. But once they were on the pitch, the protestors assaulted the Israeli players, doing flying kicks at them and then further kicking and punching them. Some of the Israeli players fought back and the game was halted.
Most disturbing of all, perhaps, have been events in Germany. During pro-Palestinian protests in Berlin and other German cities, there were chants of "Death to the Jews" and "Gas the Jews." The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, described some of the demonstrations as "an explosion of evil and violence-prone hatred of Jews. Never in our lives did we believe it possible that antisemitism of the nastiest and most primitive kind would be chanted on the streets of Germany."
And it is in Germany that such sentiments have met their most appropriate public and political opposition. There, at least, the nature of these protests has not been glossed over. On the contrary there has been a suitable soul-racking over this. How could such a cry have gone up in this country, of all countries? The major German magazine, Bild, has run a cover with the headline, "Raise your voice: Never again Jew Hatred!" The cover is dotted with famous figures in German public life from the President and Chancellor Merkel to other political and public figures. The montage sends out a powerful message. The question is, of course, whether that is enough.
Certainly, across Europe there is a new hatred in the air -- but this hatred is also the old one. The people on the streets of Paris, Berlin, London, Amsterdam and other cities across Europe include the descendants of some of those who fought against, fought for, allied or collaborated with the evil regime which spurred this hatred on last time. But most of the perpetrators are not those people. Most of them are of immigrant backgrounds. In Britain, these are mainly from the Indian sub-continent (with a smaller group from the Gulf countries); in France and the Netherlands, they are from North Africa; in Germany and Austria, largely from Turkey.
All the peoples of Europe can see this but none of them want to identify it. We live so in terror of being politically incorrect. We live in a rightful disgust for racism of any kind. And yet here we see -- and nowhere more clearly than in Germany -- the new racist nightmare for Europe. We thought we had abolished the beast of anti-Semitism from our shores and had made it totally unacceptable. And yet here are people Europe has imported in their millions, failed in varying degrees to assimilate and who now (in considerable numbers) look as if they have taken up precisely the hatred we had all hoped to have left behind. These are dark days in the Middle East. But they are darker days in Europe. Whether we deal with this returned evil or not will be the challenge of this generation.
Reader comments on this item
|Not anti jewish or anti semitic [75 words]||George||Aug 3, 2014 10:21|
|Good day [131 words]||tim||Jul 31, 2014 23:06|
|It is time to stop being "politically correct" [41 words]||Eve||Jul 30, 2014 22:18|
|When will they ever learn? [80 words]||Hanna||Jul 30, 2014 06:43|
|Moral inversion at the UN [124 words]||Hepcat||Jul 29, 2014 04:13|
|no moral equivalence here [63 words]||johnqpublius||Jul 28, 2014 23:44|
|↔ To your point: [12 words]||Hepcat||Jul 29, 2014 13:32|
|Europe Never Learns [187 words]||Mark Nedelman||Jul 28, 2014 20:14|
|↔ Prescient words [70 words]||Michael Cohn||Jul 29, 2014 03:27|
|Very Bad, But Hardly Kristallnacht [44 words]||Levy||Jul 28, 2014 17:25|
|The imported antisemitism [86 words]||Caorle||Jul 28, 2014 16:30|
|What European Jews do not realize [73 words]||bernard ross||Jul 28, 2014 16:10|
|Never again [176 words]||Carl||Jul 28, 2014 15:15|
|The Silent Majority in Europe Needs to Speak Out Now [64 words]||DAVID B.||Jul 28, 2014 07:23|
|↔ You cannot deport them [49 words]||Thomas Kovacs||Jul 28, 2014 11:59|
|↔ @DAVID B. [207 words]||Simon||Jul 28, 2014 15:00|
|Terrible scenes indeed [121 words]||Geoff Bairstow||Jul 28, 2014 07:14|
|↔ Gaza Conflict Excuse [257 words]||JohnB||Jul 28, 2014 14:19|
|Islamic antisemitism [47 words]||y Brandstetter MD||Jul 28, 2014 05:58|
|Jews are not Israelis [96 words]||The Snail||Jul 28, 2014 05:43|
|↔ Not safe to be gay anymore [87 words]||Max||Jul 28, 2014 12:30|
|↔ @The Snail [92 words]||Simon||Jul 28, 2014 14:48|
|↔ We reap what the Left has sown [179 words]||steakman||Jul 31, 2014 09:14|
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
It was the Islamists who, since they came to power in the 2000s, have reaped the biggest political gains from the "Palestine-fetish."
But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.
by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.
On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?