European Jews Face Rising Tide of anti-Semitism in Gaza Operation's Wake

Two leading German newspapers led their Friday editions with calls for an end to hatred against Jews.

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gesture the "quenelle" sign on the Republique square in Paris, July 26, 2014.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gesture the "quenelle" sign on the Republique square in Paris, July 26, 2014.Credit: AFP

Jews in Europe are facing a rising tide of anti-Semitism, as left-wing, right-wing and Islamic groups take to the streets to protest against Israel's military operation in Gaza.

In Toulouse, France, over the weekend, police arrested a man for throwing fire-bombs at a local Jewish center. The fire-bombs failed to ignite.

In Britain, police have recorded more than 100 anti-Jewish hate crimes since the Gaza conflict began, including an attack on a rabbi by four Muslim youths in Gateshead, a Hassidic enclave in north-east England, and bricks thrown through the windows of a Belfast synagogue on two successive nights.

In Norway, police have recommended the temporary closure of two Jewish museums, for fear of attack, while in Copenhagen on the weekend police dispersed a pro-Israel rally out of concern for the safety of the participants.

German TV showed protesters from the country's Arab minority threatening violence against Jews at a demonstration in Berlin on Thursday. Similar incidents took place in Frankfurt and Essen recently, according to police.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that he had never thought it possible that "anti-Semitic slogans of the worst and most primitive kind could be chanted on German streets," in his lifetime.

The German media have reflected the country's shock at the developments. "Stop the Hate!" was the headline of Die Welt national daily on Friday, while mass-circulation tabloid Bild-Zeitung devoted its entire front page on Friday to statements from public figures denouncing anti-Semitism, under the headline: "Never Again Hatred Towards Jews!"

France, which has the world's third-largest Jewish community, after Israel and the United States, is at the center of the storm. On Saturday, a man was arrested for throwing two firebombs at the Toulouse Espace de Judaïsme, which contains a synagogue, a radio station and a library, according Nicole Yardeni, a representative of the local Jewish community. The fire-bombs failed to ignite.

In Paris, a French Jewish activist was lightly injured after being ambushed outside his home by several men. The 24-year-old activist’s name and address were among the dozens published last week on the Facebook page of “Young French Revolutionaries.”

According to Le Monde, he is associated with the French Jewish Defense League, or LDJ, a far-right group with a history of vigilante reprisals for attacks on French Jews.

On Saturday, anti-Israel activists clashed with police at an unauthorized demonstration at Paris’ Place de la Republique. Forty people were arrested, according to the news site Last week, protesters tried to attack to synagogues during a similar protest near Sarcelles.

The rate of anti-Jewish incidents in Britain is "at least double what the community would expect to see, according to Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust, an organization dedicated to the safety of the local Jewish community.

"We have had at least double the number of incidents that we would expect," Gardner said, "but the situation is not out of hand – as is the case in France."

Thousands of protesters marched in central London on Saturday against Israel's military campaign in Gaza. The activists and supporters of the Palestinian cause gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington, west London, before marching towards Parliament Square.

There has been also been an explosion of anti-Semitic abuse on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. One man called for a Jewish neighborhood in London to be bombed so ‘Jews feel the pain’ of the Palestinians."

Following police advice in Norway, the Jewish museum in Trondheim closed indefinitely on Friday, while the larger Jewish museum of Oslo is to remain shuttered until Tuesday at least, the NRK broadcaster reported.

Police advised the museums to close amid reports that jihadists with fighting experience from Syria were planning an imminent terrorist attack on Norwegian soil. Extra security was posted at other potential targets, including Oslo’s main airport.

German academics say the conflict in Gaza has given a pretext to radical Islamists, as well as far-right and far-left extremists, to vent anti-Semitic views on the fringes of mainly peaceful protests against Israel's policies toward Palestinians.

Such chants on the street "haven't been seen since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany" in 1949, said Micha Brumlik, senior adviser at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center of Jewish Studies.

Compiled from reports by JTA, The Wall Street Journal, Mail Online and RFI.

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