Text size

The operation in Gaza put an end to the European taboo on equating Jews to Nazis. That message was one of the conclusions of the first international panel discussion on anti-Semitism following the Gaza invasion, which was held in Jerusalem Monday on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Speaking at the panel, which was part of the World Jewish Congress plenary assembly, Professor Dina Porat said, "the comparison has now become self-understood." She added this applied not only to Muslims in Europe, but among "leftist circles."

Porat, an international authority on anti-Semitism and head of Tel Aviv University's research body on this phenomenon, added that Operation Cast Lead has "left no doubt" that Muslims in Europe had, "prepared in advance a public campaign against Jews and Israel, which they see as one and the same."

"[Muslims] were waiting for a signal or a pretext to launch this campaign and the Nazism comparison," she said.

This tactic, she elaborated, proved most effective when Europeans from the left wing "worked in unison" with Muslims.

"Europeans are burdened by the Holocaust, and accusing the victims of being like the Nazis helps distribute some of the burden and guilt," Porat told the 500 people who came to the event, at the Inbal Hotel.

WJC Treasurer Cobi Benatoff of Italy, who attended the panel, urged Jewish communities to "complain less and do more."

He hinted criticism of European coreligionists in comparing the level of involvement in the Middle East by Muslims in Europe to that of the continent's Jews. "I don't remember demonstrations by Jewish Europeans when the Negev came under Palestinian fire every day," he said.

Also speaking at the event was Lina Filiba of the Jewish Confederation of Turkey.

"There was much preparation in the reaction of Muslims," she said. "The first rally came on the day of the first attack in Gaza." She added the operation exposed anti-Semitism in Turkey's highest levels of government, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called for Israel's exclusion from the United Nations.

She showed a picture of a group of people holding a dog outside a shop near Istanbul with a poster hanging over it reading, "Jews and Armenians are not allowed, but dogs are allowed". Despite Jewish protests, she said, the poster was not removed until 15 days later, following intervention from liberal groups.

Anne Sender, head of the Jewish community of Oslo, spoke of an "explosion of violence" in anti-Jewish protests, which, according to her, the likes of which had never occurred in the past. She also mentioned the case of a Norwegian diplomat who, as reported by Haaretz, last week sent an e-mail saying that Jews, "learned from the Nazis."

Preliminary analyses by Jewish organizations estimate that during the Gaza operation, the volume of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe multiplied more than four-fold compared to the correlating time last year.