Former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald (1979-1986).
Throughout Europe, anti-Semitism is on the rise once again and Jews living there have good reason to feel worried. As many have grown tired of repeating, “When someone tells you he wants to kill you – believe him.” They have not forgotten how quickly Germany, which a century ago could plausibly claim to be the most enlightened and cultured country in the entire world, fell into the hands of murderous gangsters who proclaimed them to be the enemy of the human race and set about slaughtering them.
Could something as terrible as that happen again? There is no reason to think it impossible though, fortunately, Jews who are under threat now have somewhere to go to. Israel itself is surrounded by enemies who would dearly like to wipe it off the map and kill all its non-Arab inhabitants, but it does offer them a well-defended refuge they did not have when Hitler’s thugs tried to exterminate them down to the last woman and child. However, Europe is changing fast. Among the economic migrants and refugees who are flooding in there are plenty of people who think the Nazis did not go far enough and are more than willing to say so when among friends.
Until fairly recently, few Europeans, apart from the Jews themselves, paid much attention to the dangers such fanatics posed. As far as the many who took pride in their own broadmindedness were concerned, anti-Semitism simply had to be an exclusively Western phenomenon. The more fervent would react with outrage towards anyone who pointed out that Asians and Africans could be every bit as barbaric as Europeans or North Americans. It was as though they took pride in their own civilisation’s allegedly unique ability to commit atrocities on an industrial scale.
Angela Merkel surprised many people when she admitted that the “Arab refugees” she had invited in had brought with them a “new kind of anti-Semitism” to Germany. Just why she thought there was something new about it is hard to say. It has been causing an immense amount of suffering for 1,400 years. As anyone interested in Islam could have told her, the Koran and the hadiths contain hundreds of allusions, most of them venomous, to the wickedness of the Jews who, by refusing to acknowledge Mohammed as a genuine prophet, deserved to be massacred or enslaved.
Merkel’s comment raised many eyebrows because large numbers of respectable people in her part of the world would very much like to believe that hatred of Jews should be blamed squarely on Christianity – whether the Roman Catholic, Protestant or Greek Orthodox versions of the creed – and are still determined to prevent their compatriots from believing otherwise. So when bodies set up by the European Union to delve into the matter concluded that these days most anti-Semitic attacks are carried out by Muslims and not, as many had hopefully assumed, by creepy right-wing nationalists with a taste for Nazi memorabilia, their findings were quickly buried.
Germany is not the only country which is experiencing a resurgence of anti-Semitism. For years now, Jews have been leaving France for Israel under pressure from members of the rapidly growing Muslim community who make no bones about their loathing of people probably descended from those whom, according to the Koran, Allah punished for their refusal to adopt the one true faith by turning them into apes, swine and other lowly creatures. Last month, several hundred prominent French politicians signed a manifesto to protest against what they too called “the new anti-Semitism” infecting the Muslim community which, they said, was carrying out “a quiet ethnic purge.” In France there are about half a million Jews but more than 10 times that many Muslims. From an unscrupulous politician’s point of view, it is no contest.
And in the UK, which was once regarded as being relatively free of the disease, anti-Semitism has become a major issue for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, with Jewish parliamentarians protesting in public against their leader’s willingness to suck up to hate preachers and members of such genocidal terrorist organisations as Hamas. Perhaps he feels that in order to win the support of the growing Muslim communities he would be well advised to oppose the “Jewish lobby.”
In an effort to distance themselves from the Nazis, leftist anti-Semites insist they have nothing against Jews as such but a great deal against Israel which, in their view, is by far the nastiest, cruellest and most racialist country on the face of the planet. The governments of many of the 50 or so Muslim-majority countries wholeheartedly agree. Thanks to them, members of the United Nations spend far more time berating Israel for her alleged sins than they do worrying about what is happening in Syria, North Korea, China, Turkey, Sudan, Libya and dozens of other places in which human rights are systematically abused in a quite appalling fashion.
For many years, top people in countries where Western values supposedly predominate put up with this, but more and more are coming to the conclusion that “the soft racism of low expectations” of those who condescendingly take it for granted that it would be unrealistic to hold non-Westerners to the same standards as natives of developed countries, can be just as harmful as the vicious variety that existed almost everywhere a century ago. Donald Trump’s administration, as represented by its redoubtable ambassadress to the UN, Nikki Haley, is under fire from progressives for refusing to bow to “international opinion” which – based as it is on the assumption that only Westerners are capable of producing monstrous pathologies – has long been relentlessly hostile toward the one Jewish State.
For many years, European and North American media rarely reported what Arab or, for that matter, Iranian leaders said in their own languages. They regarded them as exotic individuals who enjoyed indulging in picturesque hyperbole that should not be taken too literally. Much the same was said by their predecessors about Hitler’s speeches; the man was just throwing hunks of raw meat to the ravenous faithful. But Hitler meant exactly what he said, as do the Iranian ayatollahs and the often rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-Christian warlords who have turned much of the Muslim world into an inferno.