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European Antisemitism is Still a Threat

03/02/2018 03:40:56 PM


Daniel S. Mariaschin

Will the countries of Europe see the need to seize the imperative? Or will the easier path of looking the other way cause Europe to fail its Jews twice within memory?

Daniel S. Mariaschin is the executive vice president and CEO of B’nai B’rith International and past president of HTAA.

The dramatic rise in antisemitism across the length and breadth of Europe is more than unsettling for the Jewish community. But it should also be of deep concern to European governments, which have watched as extremist parties and organizations have seized the public stage to vent their rage over the past several years.

Much of this is taking place in Eastern Europe, but it is not only there that these practitioners of hate are mobilizing. From Ireland in the west to the eastern reaches of the continent, and from both the Left and the Right, rallies, posts on Facebook and other social media, and acts of violence are targeting Jewish communities, their institutions and individuals in a way not seen since the end of World War II.

The beating of an eight-year-old boy wearing a kippa in Paris last week was only the latest example of this alarming trend. Two months ago, tens of thousands of people rallied in Warsaw, chanting the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” and “Ku Klux Klan.” Banners touting racist slogans such as “Pure Blood” and “White Europe” revealed the grassroots animus that has long served as the foundation for antisemitism in Poland and elsewhere in Europe. Such street demonstrations and similar language were staples in the cities of Central and Eastern Europe in the 1930s, and are now returning.

Political parties, such as Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria and the National Front in France traffic in the same xenophobic rhetoric. That in some countries the Jewish population is relatively small has nothing to do with the vehemence of those who engage in such behavior. Indeed, the expression “antisemitism without Jews” emerged from state-sponsored antisemitism in Eastern Europe 50 years ago.

While growing antisemitism and bigotry of the far Right is deeply troubling, the role that being anti-Israel plays in the political Left also cannot be overstated. Antisemitic motifs underline much of the extreme Left’s likening Israel to the Nazis, to apartheid South Africa, and its charges that the Jewish state is “racist” and committing genocide against the Palestinians.

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