A few days ago, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the leading Jewish human rights organizations today, published its "Top 10" list of the world's worst anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs. The usual suspects are named and in the top spots : Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Mohammed Badie, the "moral guide" of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; and Louis Farrakhan, the leader in the US of the Nation of Islam. It is not exactly a secret that the hatred of Jews and Israel has permeated Iran's "Islamic revolution" from the beginning; that the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood is radically anti-Semitic, and that Louis Farrakhan himself is an obsessive anti-Semite who has described Hitler several times as a "very great man."
But, apart from a Brazilian cartoonist whose drawings resemble those found in the anti-Semitic press in Europe in the 1930s, all the others mentioned are European. Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the founder of the Greek neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, a man who denies the existence of the Holocaust in front of enthusiastic crowds, appears in the report beside Marton Gyongyosi, a leader of the far right Jobbik Party in Hungary, who said in front of Parliament that the government should "draw up a list of Jews representing a national security risk for the country". A Norwegian convert to Islam, Trond Ali Linstad, owner of a website warning readers to "beware the Jews" and condoning suicide bombing, is named, as well as Oleg Tyagnibok, founder of the "All Ukrainian" Svoboda Party, who called for purges of the Jews living in Ukraine; and German journalist Jakob Augstein, writing for Der Spiegel online, who was described by another German journalist, Die Welt columnist Henryk M. Broder, as a "pure anti-Semite, who only missed the opportunity to make his career with the Gestapo because he was born after the war".
None of those who are mentioned protested, except the German journalist, who said what many Jew haters in Europe constantly repeat: that he is not an anti-Semite, that he just despises Israel. But, in the reading what he wrote -- Jewish fundamentalists "follow the law of revenge," the Israeli government is "insane" and "keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant" -- it is possible to have doubts.
Anti-Semitism is rising again in Europe, and it it is rising fast. Many others -- politicians, activists, journalists and writers -- could be on the list. The anti-Semitism in Hungary, the Ukraine, and Greece is mostly the old-style anti-Semitism, which carries essentially National Socialist themes, in Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands, however, what permeates the air is more and more an Islamic anti-Semitism; and converts such as Trond Ali Lindstad play a more and more important role in disseminating the hatred of Jews now spreading in Europe. A third component is taking an increasingly significant place, the aim of which seems to be a noxious general context : anti-Semitism hiding under the mask of "anti-Zionism".
In some ways, Jakob Augstein was right to protest : he is not the only one to do what he does and to write what he writes. He belongs to a trend so dominant in Europe now that to European readers, his articles seem normal. Many in Europe are so contemptuous of Israel that they do not even discern anymore that they are contemptuous. They do not even see that the words they readily use to describe Israel -- and the Israelis -- are from the vocabulary used in the 1930s to describe Jews. They often borrow their words from the Islamic anti-Israeli propaganda without seeing that these words were borrowed by the Islamist movements from the Nazis.
An anti-Semitic and "anti-Zionist" nebula takes shape, in which old style anti-Semitism, Islamic anti-Semitism and "anti-Zionism" coexist and interpenetrate.
It is dangerous to be a Jew today in Europe. And it is very unsafe to defend Israel. Jews who take care to be discreet can live an almost normal life. Jews who are visibly Jews take more risks. Jews who defend Israel take extreme risks.
Organizations that are supposed to fight anti-Semitism see only one kind of anti-Semitism: the old-style one. They almost never speak of Islamic anti-Semitism. They even lull themselves into the belief that "anti-Zionism" is not an anti-Semitism. Their undertakings, therefore, are doomed to defeat.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center's "Top 10" list was not quoted or commented on in Europe, except in Germany, where all the friends of Jakob Augstein and Der Spiegel expressed their indignation, and said that the list was "preposterous" and "baseless ." A column published on January 7th in Der Spiegel online speaks of a "scandal," and blames Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, who established the final version of the list, for refusing to debate Jakob Augstein. Cooper said that Augstein first had to "publicly apologize for the statements that earned him his designation." Der Spiegel answers that Abraham Cooper's demands are absurd and "seem to stem from a different world."
Abraham Cooper's demands do stem from a different world: in the United States, people such as Louis Farrakhan are still the exception; and journalists who write what Jakob Augstein writes are published mostly in extremist journals, not in mainstream publications. Europe has never really drawn the lessons from her past.
Anti-Semitism has been present on the European continent for nearly two millennia. It seemed to disappear after the Holocaust, but was apparently just hidden. It returns, in full light. Most of those who embody it do not even try to disguise what they think. Others dress it in new rags. Many even have good consciences and are sure they are on the side of The Good. If they would begin to read some books on history, they will see that anti-Semites have always thought they were on the side of The Good.