Since Israel started its operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on July 8, the capitals of Europe have seen protests against the Israel Defense Forces actions in the coastal enclave. Alongside legitimate protests against the civilian death toll and the humanitarian crisis suffered by the Palestinians, anti-Semitic incidents, with Jews blamed for Israel’s actions in Gaza, have been on the rise. Haaretz’s writers weigh in on the story:
Anti-Semitism at protests against the Gaza war has taken place against a background of increasing prejudice against Jews on the continent. On August 8, Newsweek devoted its cover story, “Exodus: Why Europe’s Jews Are Fleeing Once Again,”to the rising anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews in Europe. The article discussed increasing rates of anti-Semitic incidents, as well as European Jews’ desire to leave the continent, citing statistics showing that many Jews feel threatened and are considering emigration. It also describes how the rise of Islam in parts of Europe encourages displays of anti-Semitism.
But while anti-Semitism in Europe may be a crisis, but it is not yet a catastrophe, argues Anshel Pfeffer. Riots in Paris, cries of 'Jews to the gas' in Berlin and an Italian call for a 'Nuremberg Tribunal' for Israel amid the Israeli army’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza have yet to trigger a Jewish exodus from Europe, he says.
A France without Jews would be nothing less than a disaster, says Sefy Hendler, adding that, despite the impressive achievements they have made, Jews are feeling increasingly alienated from French society, especially given the recent clashes on the streets of Paris, where synagogues were attacked, during protests against Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, long-standing traditions of tolerance, as well as efforts by Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups to avoid incitement, have meant Britain has not suffered similar experiences to France, writes Daniella Pelled. British Jews say that pro-Gaza protesters in Britain are trying harder to avoid anti-Semitism.
Only racists blame Jews for Israel's war in Gaza, says Anshel Pfeffer. In an interview with Aimee Amiga, the correspondent and analyst said the distinction between Jews as a people and Israel as a country must be made, and that "anyone who doesn't consider himself as being a racist or an anti-Semite should be able to make that distinction."
Should Jews even bother engaging Israel critics in debate? It’s easy to give up and label critics as “anti-Semites,” says Joel Braunold. But distinguishing between racist language and legitimate condemnation is the only effective way to get your point across.
Meanwhile, Carlo Strenger has some thoughts on how (not) to fight the wave of European anti-Semitism. Accusation of anti-Semitism can be inaccurate and unhelpful, he says. The tendency of Israel’s right to unfairly accuse the European mainstream of delegitimizing Israel is morally despicable and has calamitous consequences for Israel’s political standing.
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