Antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic world is a given. It is accepted as if there is little to be done against it. Even governments in countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel do little to quell the Jew hatred that infests their population. In many cases, political and religious official continue to stoke the flames, blaming Jews and Israel to distract attention from their own failures, or promoting the aims of Islam.
We do, however, expect much more of the Western world as we see a growth of antisemitism country by country. More often than not the local Jews are made to pay for the gathering hate against the Jewish state.
The Anti-Defamation League produced a report in November 2017 showing that an already high rate of anti-Semitic incidents in America in 2016 had risen by a further 67% in 2017. Both vandalism and harassment increased dramatically.
The ADL report only names one culprit – white supremacists, but it is clear by digging into the weeds that the main perpetrators leading the organized Jew-hatred in America, as in Europe and much of the Middle East, are Muslims supported by the radical left.
Take the American campus, for example.
The website of Canary Mission (https://canarymission.org/) is a good place to study the vehement antisemitism that is behind the anti-Israel boycott movement.
The BDS Movement goes way beyond calling for a boycott against Israel. The ultimate aim of the BDS Movement, in all its forms, is the elimination of the Jewish state.
The in-depth research compiled by Canary Mission reveals that a huge proportion of the Antisemitism linked to anti-Zionism on US campuses is being actively propagated and promoted by professors and students originating from Muslim countries, supported by radical far-left professors who make grossly false statements against Israel, often wandering into anti-Semitic stereotyping and rhetoric.
BDS professors who denigrate Israel in their classrooms are fully aware that the aim of BDS is not Palestinian human rights but, according to the words of BDS founder, Omar Barghouti, the elimination of the Jewish state. In his words, “We oppose a Jewish State.” This is confirmed by other top BDS activists. Ahmed Mor has said, “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” And Assad Abu Khalil has said, “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel.”
The Canary Mission website makes for compelling reading as a study into the depth of anti-Semitism linked to anti-Israel activism on American campuses.
The international media plays an important role in forcing governments to confront the growing public displays of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hate crimes and violence.
Sweden is a country with a sad record of how permissible anti-Israel activity has led to an uncontrollable anti-Semitism.
It took an international media outcry, led by the New York Times, for the Swedish government to appoint an anti-Semitism commissioner to look into the rising outbreaks of violent anti-Jewish attacks. This followed the torching of the Gothenburg synagogue and yet another Malmo anti-Israel demonstration in which mobs chanted slogans about killing Jews. Malmo which now has a growing Muslim population of over 20% has a growing anti-Jewish hate crime incidents.
It remains to be seen if the Swedish anti-Semitism czar is effective, or if it is merely a fig leaf to cover the embarrassment of international media exposure.
It took a social media video of a man carrying a Palestinian flag smashing the windows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam to cause embarrassment in Holland. The video showed Dutch policemen standing aside and watching the man commit his crimes. They only arrested him when he broke into the restaurant and began threatening the people inside. To the further embarrassment of the Dutch government and its legal system this man, a Syrian-Palestinian asylum seeker was freed from jail after two days to await trial not on anti-Semitism or hate crimes but on charges of vandalism and theft. Compare this to the case off a Dutch Jew, Michael Jacobs, who was held by police for a week because he carried an Israeli flag as he stood near an anti-Israel protest in Dam Square in Amsterdam.
Holland needs to change Dutch law and its application when dealing with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents which are increasingly violent against Jewish and Jewish property. Frequently, these incidents are perpetrated by individuals and groups with a radical anti-Israel agenda.
France is an example where the liberal approach to lethal anti-Semitic incidents leads to more deadly attacks. Following the murder of a Jewish teacher and three Jewish children in Toulouse in 2012 by Mohammad Merah, anti-Semitic crimes in France have greatly increased.
French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, told a Jewish audience in December that “In our country, anti-Semitism is alive. It is not superficial, it is well-rooted and it is alive. And it hides always behind new masks.” This new mask is anti-Zionism, a disguise for Jew-hatred. And yet, the Prime Minister in January, approved the publication of anti-Semitic essays by the author, Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, known in France as Celine, over the heavy objection of the French Jewish community leaders. “You cannot deny the writer’s central position in French literature,” Philippe said in defense of the publication.
In Britain, the Jewish population is living in growing concern over a potential new Labour government as their country grapples with Brexit. The reason for their concern is that anti-Semitism is rampant within the ranks of the Labour Party at all levels. The headline of an article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on September 29, 2017, screamed, “Antisemitism engulf the British Labor Party.”
At their annual conference Israel was compared to the Nazis and there was a call to expel pro-Israel Jewish groups from a party that is led by Jeremy Corbyn, a leader who called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends.
In a poll of British Jews conducted in August 2017, 80% said that the Labour Party was too tolerant of Antisemitism within its ranks. 65% said the British government did not do enough to protect its Jews.
In GERMANY, where pictures of Israeli flags being burned in Berlin and Stuttgart went viral, the President, sensitive to German history, came out to say that the burning of flags of the Jewish state in German towns “frightens and shames me.” He went on to say that “the German Federal Republic is only fully functional when Jews are fully at home in it.”
The German Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, was forced to say, “who burns Israeli flags burns our values.”
When the CDU parliamentary faction announced it was calling for a special commission to look into antisemitism it was, as Manfred Gerstenfeld wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “an admission that hate crimes against Jews are a significant problem” in Germany.
They have reason to be concerned. In the first half of 2017, 681 anti-Semitic offenses were recorded. A German federal survey showed that 40% of Germans hold Israel related anti-Semitic views.
Volker Beck, a Green Party member of the Bundestag told Die Welt that he believed this figure “is much higher.”
Updated statistics ar hard to come by but, in 2016, there were 1,468 anti-Semitic incidents in Germany and 2017 figures are certain to be higher. 62% of German Jews responded to a survey conducted by Bielefeld University by saying that they had experienced anti-Semitism in their everyday lives.
On a positive note, since Angela Merkl’s party passed a resolution in December 2016 calling the BDS Movement “anti-Semitic,” there has been a legal push back against BDS activism in Germany.
In August 2017, Frankfurt became the first German city to ban the “deeply anti-Semitic” BDS, as the deputy mayor, Uwe Becker, called them. Since then, Berlin and Munich quickly followed Frankfurt’s anti-BDS example.
There is much need for the establishment of legal groups in individual countries to fight against the rising tide of anti-Semitism through the application of existing and introduction of new laws.
Good work has been done by the Lawfare Project in the United States and others to set back BDS with the introduction of new laws at state and government level but much more needs to be done to protect Jewish and Israeli students on campuses against the hate crimes perpetrated against them that have been allowed to develop under the banner of “free speech.”
As South Carolina struggles to become the first American state to codify the universal definition of anti-Semitism into law, Governor Henry McMaster said, “Anti-Semitism has no place in South Carolina, and the passage of this bill will go a long way toward ensuring that our state and its college campuses provide a welcoming environment for those from all walks of live.” The governor was spot on. Passing such a law enables legal challenge to discrimination against Israelis and Jews whose speech is too often closed down on campuses sometime by violent protest. Discrimination and the prevention of free speech is at play here and the introduction of state anti-Semitism laws open the way for legal defense for the victims against the perpetrators
In Great Britain, the voluntary group, UK Lawyers for Israel, have been amazingly effective in challenging anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish actions by applying existing laws against rising problem.
In Spain, after 50 municipalities passed laws endorsing BDS, the brilliant Angel Mas initiated ACOM and began a campaign to strip back BDS using the application of law. Over the past year, 24 rulings and injunctions have been brought against BDS in Spain thanks to litigation by ACOM and BDS motions have been defeated, repealed or suspended in a dozen Spanish municipalities.
Similar independent legal bodies are being established in Holland, Sweden, and South Africa. All these countries have become hotbeds of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate in which the Jewish population live in increasing fear.
The problem is a simple and obvious one. Anti-Semites who hate Jews can get their thrills by slamming the Jewish state. By calling themselves anti-Zionist they are allowed to get away with their anti-Semitism. It’s that simple.
The Israeli government would be wise to invest money, manpower, and resources in support of these volunteer groups who are defending Israel and the Jewish people from ever more dangerous attacks and harassment.
Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy,
Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
Author of the book ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS, and Anti-Semitism.’