On January 22, 2020, an unprecedented conference will begin in Jerusalem – one in which world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, and French President Emmanuel Macron will confer on how to defeat the scourge of anti-Semitism. This conference, “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Anti-Semitism,” seems obvious and even logical: uniting diverse people will be the memory of the Shoah, along with the indignant amazement of those witnessing 70 years later a surge of hatred against Jews, which includes attacks against Jewish people, their dead, Jewish symbols, places of worship, and even their legitimacy to exist.
Or will it unite these world leaders?
Securing agreement on how to fight this battle is a very serious problem. Every war requires analyses and a comprehensive strategy, but today we find many of these requirements are often irreconcilable.
First and foremost, there is a utopian dimension, what is called “wishful thinking”: it sees anti-Semitism coming from the Right of the political spectrum, the traditional wellspring from where it has historically been found in the last century and the source of the Shoah. Nazi-Fascism was undoubtedly its creator and responsible for the greatest genocide in human history in which more than six million innocent Jewish people were killed, including one and a half million children. Perhaps still today, those responsible for the Shoah have not sufficiently made amends; some actually continue to adhere to that ideological framework, which is appalling and deserving of every punishment. Certainly, contemporary, white anti-Semitic supremacist groups are relatives to Nazism in their racist claims that preach the subjugation – or worse – of those who do not belong to the white Aryan family.
Simultaneously, another ghastly offshoot of anti-Semitism developed under Communism, which led to the widespread persecution of Jews during Joseph Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet Union. The late Communist leader reacted to grand anti-Jewish conspiracy theories that accused the Jewish people of complicity in the crimes of capitalism and imperialism. Even today, these kinds of accusations are still widely propagated and launched against Israel. The soon-to-be-former Leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who rallied many fellow travelers, has been the latest politician to propound anti-Israel hatred based on such accusations.
Lastly, there is a third type of anti-Semitism, cited recently by the leader of Italy’s Northern League Party (Lega Nord), Matteo Salvini: the hatred Muslim immigrants have imported to Europe. This kind of anti-Semitism, while extremely important and spread globally, is generally under-reported because it is distressing or even “politically incorrect.” But the phenomenon of Muslim-generated anti-Semitism has been correctly verified since 2002, when the European Union Commission against Racism and Intolerance was requested by then-EU President Romano Prodi to check the spreading of anti-Semitism. The results of his investigation, however, were embarrassing and hidden until the Financial Times dug it up.
Since then, hundreds of surveys have been conducted on the subject, and they all demonstrate the same fact: the majority of Muslim immigrants harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. According to a survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 2015, 68 percent of Muslims had anti-Semitic attitudes, compared to 21 percent (and this is no small number) of its citizens overall; in France, these figures were 49 percent to 17; in Germany, 56 percent to 16; and in the UK, 57 percent to 12.
Some poll analysts and commentators argue that Muslim anti-Semitism is not properly defined; they try to argue that the prejudice is really political anti-Zionism. But those cognizant of the public discourse about Jews within Islam know that the terms are superimposed – a basic and fundamental element of the education in Islam.
Furthermore, terrorist attacks targeting Jews in Europe have been carried out by Muslims who were acting in the name of jihadist ideology. So Mohammed Merah declared after killing three children and a teacher as they were entering their school in Toulouse, France in 2012. Merah said he killed Jewish children as the Israelis killed Palestinian ones.
Defining Anti-Semitism Disguised as Anti-Zionism
To those who claim they can be pro-Jewish and anti-Zionist or instead deny the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination, my advice is to adhere to Nathan Sharansky’s famous “three Ds” criterion. He used the acts of Delegitimization, Demonization, and Double Standards to differentiate legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is “Delegitimizing” the State of Israel with the mountain of canards that have by been piled against it (i.e., apartheid state, genocidal intent against the Palestinians, diminishing the uniqueness of the Shoah); “Demonization” (such as the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet writing that the Israeli Defense Forces kill young Palestinians to harvest their organs); and “Double Standards” (i.e., condemning Israel for the so-called “Occupied Territories” while ignoring those occupied by Turkey, China, Morocco, Russia, and so on).
Strangely, some in the Jewish world and their friends renounce the obvious uniqueness of anti-Semitism, and the upcoming leaders’ conference, “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” in Jerusalem must avoid this attempt to dilute anti-Semitism as just another hatred or bias. Some groups on the Left, dissolve anti-Semitism into an intersectional cauldron to fight “all the politics of hate” demanding that whoever seeks to fight anti-Semitism must be part of the great “intersectional” alliance against white oppression and colonialism, while supporting open borders, feminism, transgender activism, etc. In the end, this political platform slips into an uncertain terrain where violence, terrorism, and the culture of political correctness blur the contours of evil and immorality and deny the uniqueness of the persecution of Jews – and perhaps even that of the Shoah.
Throughout my career as a journalist and a member of parliament, I have always been a liberal proponent of many feminist, equality, and gay rights aims. But anti-Semitism has its own unique dimensions: the Jewish people have been persecuted for thousands of years, accused of everything. It is the sole people whose elimination has been scientifically planned and pursued, and that has arisen again thanks to its spiritual strength and its strong beliefs from which modern thought was born, from monotheism and including democracy. Moreover, the Jewish State, Israel, stakes its future in its self-determination in a democratic state, and unlike many other democratic nations today, it is able to defend itself, by itself, on the territory where it lived already 2,000 years ago.
There are so many other specific characteristics that make anti-Semitism unique.
No, it has nothing to do with Islamophobia. To fight anti-Semitism, one has first to understand that it is unique, as the Jewish People are.
British author Douglas Murray reports in his book, The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity, that in 2016, Atlantic Magazine posed the question, “Are Jews white?”
Strange question? Not really so strange, since today there exists an ever-present question, should Jews be regarded as a part of the oppression hierarchy that has been targeted by the intersectional movement? Murray brings to our attention to the answer that was found in a leaflet distributed at Illinois University: It says that on top of the 99 percent of the oppressed people in the world there is one percent that is white. The leaflet argued that ending white man privileges starts with ending Jewish privilege.
Is this anti-Semitism? Certainly, it is. Should the world leaders in Jerusalem target this way of viewing the Jews? Certainly, they should. But I am afraid this will not happen.