Monday, June 2, 2014

What's the point of this blog?

Ever since I started this blog, I've been wondering if it was serving its purpose.  It sounds simple: spotlight antisemitism in Europe.  But in practice I feel that every day I miss the point.

Antisemitism in Europe is not graffiti on a wall.  Nobody really cares if a bored 12 year old (or a 22 year old) writes "Jews out" or breaks a few gravestones. Nobody's happy about it, but it doesn't affect day-to-day Jewish life.  We all know that most people and most governments oppose such things.  If they catch the perpetrator, he'll be punished.

But let's take a look at the stories from the past couple of weeks:

In Belgium, a Muslim entered a Jewish Museum and shot to death four people.  Various European leaders denounced this heinous crime.

Meanwhile, the Pope visited Israel and did everything he could to stick it to the Jews. In Norway, a test administered by the Education Ministry accused Israel of ethnic cleansing the Palestinians for no good reason.

In both cases, the only people who took this badly were the Jews.  Nobody else bothered denouncing it, because nobody else thinks it's bad.

The European Left and Right talk about their love for the Jews, and how they want to prevent another Holocaust.  But then they turn around and pass laws denying Jews the right to live a Jewish life in  Europe.  Top people in government tell the Jews that if you want to live in Europe you've got to drop all those barbaric rituals such as circumcision and kosher slaughter.  You don't really need to wear a kippah or cover your hair.  That's passe.

It's not antisemitism, it's concern for human rights and animal rights.

A journalist can write an article denying Jews the right to their own homeland, accusing them of ethnically cleaning Palestinians, and it will be published in top newspapers around the Western world.

An academic can boycott his Israeli colleagues, just because they're Israeli.

It's not antisemitism, it's anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel.

Anti-racism activists take over Holocaust memorials to accuse Israel of committing a new Holocaust, this time time against the Palestinians.

It's not antisemitism, it's human rights.

A man like Dieudonné can become a top comedian in France with a show which accuses the Jews of committing genocide and of crying 'Holocaust' whenever somebody criticizes them for it.

It's not antisemitism, it's comedy and it's anti-system.

But the problem is that all those "it's not antisemitisms" are exactly what leads Jews today to fear for their future in  Europe.  It's not a Muslim who gets hold of a gun, it's the Europeans who then pretend it's not a real problem, but an 'incident'.

According to the recent ADL poll, the United Kingdom is one of the least antisemitic countries in Europe.  And yet when I speak to British Jews, they do not feel safe.  They are afraid of the day when they'll have to run.

Are the statistics contradicting reality? No.

The amount of British people who hold 'traditional' antisemitic views is really small.  But British Jews are picking up on a different type of antisemitism.  One that is not measured by the amount of vandalism on walls or how many people believe Jews control the world.

It's not the antisemitism that will bring about the next Holocaust, but it's the antisemitism that will wipe out Jewish life in  Europe.  It's that antisemitism that I want to highlight, but it is very difficult.  It's not an incident here or there.  It's a hostile atmosphere, a fear of expressing yourself as a Jew.

Like Maureen Lipman said about the The Oldie magazine, it's a "drip-drip of antisemitic, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel material".

I do not know how to solve this problem, but it is constantly on my mind.

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