After reading the article in al-Monitor entitled “Anti-Israelism, not anti-Semitism, voiced in Europe” making the claim that anti-Semitism isn’t getting worse but is even improving I quickly searched for the name of the author. I have to admit I was positive that the contributor would be someone who is a regular at one of the websites for whom anti-Semitism is merely a trick invented by sinister Zionists to silence ‘legitimate’ criticism of Israel. When I saw the name of the author I kicked myself, it was Akiva Eldar, a Jew and I should have known all along.
Only a Jew is able to write an article so utterly on message in favour of those wishing to dismiss anti-Semitism as an insidious, Zionist plot to distract from the serious business of attacking Israel. But whether you’re a Muslim, Christian or Jew I’m afraid you don’t have the right to tell Jews who are facing hatred every day whether or not they’re suffering from hate crime. Elder’s article serves one purpose only, to perpetuate the idea that the Jews are a hysterical group and can’t be trusted to stand up and point the finger at those who are attacking them and demand they stop. Therefore claims of anti-Semitism as related to the anti-Israel movement in general should be ignored.
In his piece for Al Monitor Eldar posits that anti-Semitism hasn’t gotten worse. There is no grey to his position. His benchmark is to argue that it’s not as bad now as it was in Germany during the 1930s. One wonders why he thinks it needs to be at that extreme level to be a problem in need of a solution. Nevertheless he writes this even as Dieter Graumann, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews tells the Guardian that German Jews are facing “the worst times since the Nazi era,”
To make his point Eldar argues that the number of anti-Semitic incidents went down between 2012 and 2013 (according to Kantor Center and the European Jewish Congress). Indeed they did, there were 554 violent anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2013. In the previous year, they documented 686 incidents. With that in mind one might find it somewhat bizarre that in 2013 the Community Security Trust recorded 529 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK alone. Explaining the discrepancy is simple; Eldar takes only the reports of “violent” anti-Semitic incidents. He also ignores the fact that the Kantor Centre themselves argue that there are; “Troubling and persistent reports from many countries, especially from Europe and North America, point to hundreds of anti-Semitic manifestations and incidents per country annually”.
He also only compares the years 2012 to 2013, again using the statistics collated by Kantor Centre. This ignores the fact that the Kantor Centre’s own statistics point to a massive increase in anti-Semitism in the long term. Between the years 1994 – 2004 their records show an average of 150-200 cases of violent anti-Semitism annually. For the years 2004-2014 the average explodes upwards to 550 violent incidents per country annually. I’m not sure how Eldar could possibly have missed these facts since not only are they in the document from which he quotes, but the same page.
Ultimately Eldar gives away his agenda when he states the following;
“To measure the real extent of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the world in general and in Western Europe in particular, one must detach it from any connection to Israel in general and the occupation in particular. The cry of “Help, anti-Semitism!” distracts from the cry of “Help, occupation!””
The one may well distract from the other, but to argue that Jewish victims of hate crime shouldn’t voice their concerns on the off chance that it may detract from anti-Israel campaigning is outrageous. Should Muslims in Europe stop reporting Islamaphobia because there are currently demonstrations against ISIS? Someone at an anti-Israel demonstration carrying a banner calling on Jews to be sent to Auschwitz is just as guilty of anti-Semitism as someone carrying the same banner at a Neo Nazi demonstration. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it simply because they doing it at a pro Palestine rally. More to the point is the person carrying such a banner doing it to help Palestinians or is he simply taking advantage of events in order to express his anti-Semitic views?
It seems inconceivable to me that the thugs who attacked a Paris synagogue could actually think that they were helping Palestinians in Gaza by doing so. Does anyone really feel that they should be defended for their actions on the grounds that Israel was involved in a conflict thousands of miles away at the time? These were angry people looking for a fight and they picked on Jews praying in a synagogue. This may well be a case of what Eldar describes as “anti-Israelism” but Eldar has lost his moral compass if he thinks that it isn’t also a clear case of anti-Semitism.
He leaves us with the remark; “In coming articles, I will examine who gains and who loses from the exaggerated descriptions of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. I will look into the motives of those elements who inflate and nurture this phenomenon, and the means of achieving that.”
But of course the claims of anti-Semitism aren’t exaggerated. You don’t need to be a prophet to see that Eldar will argue that a cabal of Zionists are the ones who are gaining from what he calls “exaggerated descriptions of anti-Semitism”. Nor do you need to be a seer to know that he will argue that the motives of those who inflate and nurture this phenomenon will similarly be Zionists connected in some shady way to the Israeli government. Full disclosure, I am an Israeli who served in the IDF. Does this mean that it is impossible for me to be a victim of anti-Semitism? Does it mean that if I am attacked in the street by someone shouting “Free Gaza” then it is justified? Was it justified when it happened to Drummer Lee Rigby?
Of course arguing that to be anti-Israel is to be anti-Semitic is nonsensical. I’m positive that there are many kind hearted people with genuine concerns about the conflict in the Middle East and the future of Palestinians. What is also true is that people who hate Jews also hate the Jewish state. To think that the anti-Israel establishment isn’t a magnet for Jew haters interested in venting and promoting their own views would be naïve in the extreme. What is clear from the outbreaks of violence on the streets of Europe over the 50 days of the recent war between Israel and Hamas is not that there was an increase in anti-Semitism but that there are plenty of anti-Semitic people simply waiting for the excuse to vent their hatred on Jews. Such people are likely to be eternally grateful to Jews such as Akiva Eldar for the cover he has provided them to do just that.
Those Jews who are victims of anti-Semitism shouldn’t think twice, they should report it. If they are in doubt they should report it anyway and trust the experts at the CST or similar bodies elsewhere in Europe to be able to make the determination for them according to their own strict criteria. They certainly should not allow people like Akiva Eldar to tell them that what they have suffered is some kind of justifiable “anti-Israelism”.