22 Marzo 2012

Europe and the Jews 2012: Dramatic Rise in Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Prejudice



by Harold Brackman


The year is 2012, but the echoes are of 1933 to 1945:


Not far from the Holocaust Memorial in Toulouse with an inscription reading,


“Where is Your Brother?” – Yonathan Sandler, a teacher from Jerusalem, together


with his two children Aryeh, age 6, and Gavriel, age 3, and 8-year-old Miriam


Monstango, the daughter of the principal of Ozar Hatorah school, are dead, victims of


a moped-driving, masked, black-helmeted assassin, trained by the Taliban and


claiming to belong to Al Qaeda, later identified as Muhammad Merah, who used a


cell phone to film the attack. Merah previously employed the same weapon to gun


down four French soldiers, killing three of North African origin. European Union


High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton linked the murder of


French Jews in Toulouse to “what is happening in Gaza” before repudiating her




An incommensurate event, yet not insignificant, occurred weeks before, in


Kaiserslautern, Germany, as soccer teams trained for June EURO 2012 in Poland and


Ukraine, the Simon Wiesenthal Center protested to the Union of European Football


Associations (UEFA) the anti-Semitic outburst—including “Seig Heil” salutes, “Heil


Hitler” and chants of “Join the 6 million”—directed at Itay Schechter, the son of


Holocaust Survivors from Romania.


Just days before the Kaiserslautern incident, an exposé by the Jerusalem Post and


protest by the Wiesenthal Center caused the Dutch VPRO media corporation to


remove an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic board game—“Settlers of Catan”—that reflected


the resurgence of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, shunned in polite society since the


Shoah, back into mainstream vogue.


And at the same time, a Swedish Christian Art exhibition depicted Israelis as guntoting


rats devouring the “Holey [sic] Land.” In its protest, the Wiesenthal Center


commented: “Depicting Jews as animals was perfected by the Nazi propaganda


machine was an effective way to dehumanize Jewish citizens in the eyes of their


German neighbors. The propaganda of the 1930s set the stage for the murder of 6


million Jews in the 1940s. Since then, Soviet and Arab and Muslim anti-Jewish


propaganda used the very same method. Now it has surfaced in 2012 Sweden. It


should come as no surprise that far right extremists should celebrate this art exhibit by


Swedish painters depicting Jews as violent noxious animals, but the real question is


what do Swedes who are not racists think?”


Europe—the historic civilization from which the Jews emerged into modern world through


the crucible of triumph and tragedy—seems to be again approaching, as many prefer to avert


their eyes, the same paroxysm of Jew hatred that plunged the continent into its twentycentury


abyss. Is the twenty-first century doomed to repeat with variations the tragedies of


the twentieth? The answer may depend whether Europe, this time, repeats the cycle of


indifference or instead stands up against evil before it is too late.