Scroll down for the full interview:
Only racists blame Jews for the fighting between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Anshel Pfeffer said Tuesday, after Operation Protective Edge entered its fifth week.
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."
"If you go and make a protest outside the Israeli embassy, that's legitimate criticism. If you go make the same protest outside a Jewish synagogue – as happened in Paris, Germany and other countries, then you're being an anti-Semite," he said, noting that in Britain, pro-Palestinian campaigns made a conscious effort to make this distinction.
While he acknowledged that anti-Semitic overtones have shaded protests against Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip and that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe – particularly Britain – have increased since the operation began, Pfeffer said the prevalence of anti-Semitism needs to be taken into proportion. "We are not yet seeing a new wave of pogroms in Europe," he said, adding that Jews there are stronger than ever before.
Addressing anti-Semitism on social media, Pfeffer said racist expressions made on Facebook or Twitter forums of even a few followers get blown out of proportion as they gain the attention of people who both agree with the remarks or disagree with them, including Jews who wish to emphasize the enemy they're up against. Acts like these "get magnified by a thousand or even a million times the amount of people even tweeting [them]," he said.
How should Jews in Europe cope with anti-Semitism? It is the governments – more than the Jewish populations – who really need to address the issue, said Pfeffer. "By and large we've seen a very impressive reaction from the [European] governments," who have made firm responses to anti-Israel sentiments being expressed as anti-Semitism, he said. "They've said this does not just threaten Jews, it threatens society; it threatens our democracy."
That is the key issue, emphasized Pfeffer; anti-Semitism threatens European countries and societies more than it does their Jewish communities. for while Jewish Europeans – who have their security, prosperity and success – can always emigrate, the democratic fabric of their home countries are at stake when racism prevails.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now