The New Anti- Semitism Amongst European Intelligensia / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

The new anti-Semitism in Europe is a new stage in anti-Semitism, and discriminates against the Jews as a nation. It hides its true face under the claim of legitimate criticism over Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, but anti-Semitism shows through anti-Zionism in denying the Jewish nation’s right to its own state, denying the historic link of the Nation of Israel to the Land of Israel, and re-enlivens the old claim that the Jews control the world with their wealth.

There are three groups in Europe that hold anti-Semitic views: The extreme right, the second generation of Muslim immigrants, and the intelligentsia.

Prof. Yehuda Bauer of the Holocaust Studies Department in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has published several studies on the new anti-Semitism, including his book “The Wave of Anti-Semitism in Today’s World: Myths and Reality” (1985).

Prof Bauer studies the growth of anti-Semitism in post-World War II Europe and divides it into several waves:
The first wave: 1958 – 1960
The second wave: 1968 – 1972
The third wave: 1987 – 1992
The fourth wave: 1999 – the present

The causes for each wave vary, some are related to economic changes in Europe, but they all share a common basis. It is, according to Prof Bauer, the hidden undercurrent of anti-Semitism which threatens to break out when triggered by some external crisis. Each one of the waves was linked to events in the Middle East which were part of the relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours. The first wave followed the Sinai War in 1956, the second began after the Six Days War in 1967, the third followed the first Intifada and the first Lebanon War, and the last began in the wake of the second Intifada and all that followed it.

According to Prof Bauer, the new anti-Semitism is different to its past incarnations which were promoted mostly by the lower classes, in that the new anti-Semitism is promoted by the upper middle class. It is an intellectual phenomenon prevalent in the media, the universities, and the academia. That is, the European Left.

The new anti-Semitism was born of two crises: the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. The Holocaust created an un-ease among Europeans in their attitude towards Jews – Prof Bauer describes it as ‘living with 6 million ghosts’. This created a dangerous and cruel mutation in European culture.

The establishment of the State of Israel brought relief – European supported it, expressing disgust of the anti-Semitic past, and as a means of atonement for what Europe had done to the Jews. They hoped the Jewish people will find its home in Israel.

The establishment of Israel, however, brought about a sharp decline in the relations between the state and its Arab neighbours, and intensified the Arab-Israeli conflict. This conflict was a real tragedy for the Palestinians. Support for nations fighting for their independence is one of the foundation stones of the European Left. The Left objects to occupation from principle, and in 1967 Israel’s conquests added to the refugees problem.

Now, however, anti-Semitism, which was latent, has been attached to the Palestinian tragedy so that Jews are labeled as mass murderers and Nazis. Attaching this image to the Israelis relieves the European intelligentsia mentally of the psychological problems created by their involvement in the Holocaust. In this context, true facts have no importance. Since the beginning of the second Intifada, about 2000 Palestinians have been killed, which is about one sixth of the number of Jews transported to Auschwitz from Hungary on one day in the spring of 1944. The Left considers Palestinian terrorism a fight against occupation, a retaliation against Israeli actions, and not the other way around. Their support for the Palestinians’ struggle for independence as an oppressed nation has generated an increasing objection in the European Left to the very existence of Israel as a state. There are those among the European Intelligentsia who have concluded that the support for the establishment of Israel was an historical mistake that must be corrected.

Prof Bauer believes that the danger in the new anti-Semitism lies in the fact that it has appeared simultaneously with the Muslim anti-Semitism. The Muslim media has adopted the Nazi ideology, adapting it according to its own needs. Two billion Muslims are exposed on a daily basis to genocidal incitement against Jews and Israel, and thus the two waves – European anti-Semitism and Muslim anti-Semitism – are uniting to threaten a Jewish genocide. In effect, the European Left has joined extremist Islam and the Iranian president Ahmedinejad who are openly calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. The destruction of the State of Israel will inevitably result in the wiping out of most of its population.

Prof Bauer is not opposed to criticism over Israeli policies. Anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitism. However, denouncing the existence of Israel as a state while not demanding the dismantling of all national states is anti-Semitic and racist. A person who claims that Jews alone have no right for independence is anti-Jewish, and singling out the Jews for national reasons is racist and anti-Semitic.

The European Left should be told: the State of Israel was established because the Jews have the right for self-determination just like any other nation. The historical connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel is an undeniable historic fact. While the UN vote for the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947 was fuelled by Western guilt for the Holocaust, the process began in 1917, with the Balfour declaration, the League of Nations’ recognition for the establishment of a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel and the establishment of the British Mandate government in 1922. The Holocaust gave an impetus to the establishment of Israel, but it is not its sole reason. The Palestinians missed opportunities to establish their own state in 1937, in 1948, and through the 19 years between 1948 and 1967, when they were under Arabic rule. In 1967 they had another opportunity when Israel’s then prime minister, Levi Eshkol, offered territory in return for peace. Both sides are responsible for the way things have turned out since.

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