January 29, 2015

Acceptable Anti-Semitism?

The UN held its first forum on anti-Semitism last week, except that it was an “informal” gathering where only about half the UN countries showed up, making any resolutions impossible.

And the event only took place at all when the Western countries proposing it agreed that the forum would link anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The ambassador from Saudi Arabia (a country that doesn’t allow Israelis, or anyone with Israeli stamps on a passport, to enter) explained that the actions of Israel “are very closely linked to the rise in hate crimes, extremism, violence, and anti-Semitism." That is, anti-Semitism is the Jews’ fault.

But that’s the UN, with its 26 condemnation resolutions passed in 2012, for example, one each for Syria, Burma, North Korea, and Iran, and 22 against Israel.

How’s the rest of the world doing?

The murder of four Jewish men, Yoav Hataab, Yohan Cohen, Phillipe Braham and Francois-Michel Saada who were shopping in a kosher market in Paris, linked as it was to the Charlie Hebdo murders, got worldwide attention.

Perhaps less known is that the murderers were staking out Jewish schools in Paris, as well. Or that attacks against French Jews, including murders, rapes, and beatings have gone on for years.  This week, for the first time, the French government has sent in army protection for all the Jewish schools in France (the families have paid for guards until now).

In Malmo, Sweden, a reporter tried an experiment of wearing a kipa and taking a walk. He was called “dirty Jew” and other names, had eggs thrown at him, and was threatened with shouts of “we will kill you.” He learned that many of the Jews still living in Malmo are afraid to go out of their homes. Threats against Jews in Sweden have escalated since the Paris attacks.

England? This summer London experienced the highest number of hate crimes ever recorded, 95% of them against Jews.

It is impossible to keep track of all the anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, but here is a blog that attempts it.

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwizt and the New York City Council acknowledged it, or attempted to, but was interrupted by a shouting, pro-Arab group.  Councilman David Greenfield, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, spoke out about the clear-cut anti-Semitism.

And here in Israel last week, a Palestinian got on a Tel Aviv bus and began stabbing people at random. 12 people in all were injured and several are still in critical condition. The terrorist said an influence on him was the promise of paradise for those who kill Jews.

Seemingly isolated incidents occurring with such frequency have way of becoming normalized, as if a high level of anti-Semitism is to be expected (as it seems to be in parts of Europe) and if expected, then even acceptable.

January 10, 2015

Je Suis Charlie; Je Suis Juif

Yesterday, I started a post that began: "We are all Charlie, not just in solidarity and sadness, but because we are targets -- even if we pretend, just to get through the day, that we're not. And nothing we do is making us targets -- not what we draw or write or say or even what we believe. We are targeted by Islamic terrorists because of who we are: non-Islamists. And when the next Islamic terrorist attack occurs, we need to stand with those innocent victims of terror, too."

Then I hurried in the rain to the train station in Tel Aviv ahead of the last trains that run on Fridays, while in Paris the next terror attack was already underway.

Today we know that four Jews shopping in a Kosher market (their names are still not published) were murdered before the police were able to stop the killers. We know that another 30 people saved themselves by huddling together in a freezer for hours during the attack. We know that French government leaders are in emergency meetings.

But we have known and the French officials have known that the Jews of France have been under siege for years. We knew that the offices of Charlie Hebdo had been fire-bombed in 2011. We knew about the twin towers bombing in 1993.

Last night the Grand Synagogue of Paris was closed on shabbat because the police did not believe they could provide protection from terror. The last time the Grand Synagogue was closed was during World War II.

We've had plenty of warnings. Now, what will the free world do?