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German Anti-Semitism
June 7, 2003 8:46 PM   Subscribe

Why Does This News Make Me Uneasy? As a Jew whose sister is married to a German and who has happily visited Germany four or five times, the news that Jews are flocking back to Germany should leave me in the best of moods. But it doesn't. Antisemitism is flourishing almost everywhere in Middle Europe - specially in France, Germany and even Britain - often under the guise of Anti-Zionism. Even my synagogue in peaceful Lisbon is today protected by stringent security measures. Is this just an unwillingness to depart from old stereotypes or does it find an echo in other cautious Jews? Specially with Germans. I feel simultaneously ashamed and wary. Someone tell me - and a lot of others - I am wrong. Please. History may not repeat itself - but it sure as hell seems to inspires itself sometimes. And we're all better off, I think, if we confront our demons. If they are demons, that is.
posted by MiguelCardoso (57 comments total)

 
Sorry - here is the specific Anti-Zionism link - "Anti-imperialism of Fools" - from the admirable Searchlight.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:49 PM on June 7, 2003


Don't worry yet miguel...these people are mostly entirely secular, and some of them may have said they were jewish to get entry papers (ppl who want to come here from the former USSR have used that trick)....

We have to wait and see what happens...i'm more worried abt what's been going on in France.
posted by amberglow at 8:53 PM on June 7, 2003


There seems to be a wae of anti-immigrant sentiment all over Europe (from the perspective of an oursider, anyway). Is this a natural pendulum swing of public sentiment or something deeper?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:06 PM on June 7, 2003


One of my best friends just got her German citizenship certificate last week (she is a mefite but she is out of town). She has been working on this for several years. Since here jewish ancestors fled Germany, she is reclaiming their citizenship rights. She is proud to be the first returnee in her family line.

There is a more practical aspect too. As the holder of an EU passport, she has added freedom to live and work abroad.
posted by vacapinta at 9:26 PM on June 7, 2003


"Someone tell me - and a lot of others - I am wrong. Please."

You're wrong.

(Hm. I wonder if I can make a living at this?!)
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:52 AM on June 8, 2003


Hmm, lots of different feelings about this one. In my experience, Jews are a symbol throughout Europe of entrepreneurialism, finance and cosmopolitanism -- ideologies that are profoundly threatening to a lot of people.

Mostly antisemitism seems to rise and fall with the unemployment rate. But people have a strong stereotype of Jews as "others", and I have never felt comfortable admitting that I was Jewish in Europe. Partly that's because I don't want people to react to me based on their stereotypes.

But partly it's because I don't want to be identified with Israel or the Jewish community in Europe. Deep down I secretly agree with Norman Finkelstein that the memory of the Holocaust has been overexploited for political ends, and with Art Spiegelman that it is often exploited abusively by survivors in their personal lives as well. It's been almost 60 years since Germany was run by anti-Semites. If you feel uncomfortable with Jews moving there, maybe it's because it clearly puts the Holocaust in the past, and that requires Jews to confront the reality of their place in today's Europe without the distorting lens of historical guilt.

If you expect to be able to be both Portuguese (or German, or British) and Jewish at the same time, you are unknowingly promoting a very strong political ideology. By asking for a place in the community, you are implicitly saying that there is no valid way to define that community based on nationalistic, historical, religious, class, or ethnic grounds. Alarmism about anti-semitism effectively prevents us from discussing the ugly fact that Jews, by their insistence on their right to live as non-assimilated citizens, are requesting a radical rethink of the reasons behind the solidarity of nations and cultures.

I am most worried about the fact that antisemitism and a strange kind of antiamerican nationalism have become a badge of fashion lately among young people. Leftist anti-semitism seems to be stronger than rightist anti-semitism these days. The war served as a lightning rod for a lot of other discontentment, and once it became apparent that the anti-war movement was failing to build broad enough support to have any effect, the frustration level escalated. In Catalunya, people went from being anti-Bush and anti-Israel to denouncing America and Jews. It's becoming more common to hear people on the left subscribe to an explicitly anti-democracy vision that says that democrac are manipulated by the Israeli government and its network of Jewish financial power throughout the world. The activist graffiti now says "US=Jews=Fascists".
posted by fuzz at 4:33 AM on June 8, 2003


Interesting comments fuzz.

Leftist anti-semitism seems to be stronger than rightist anti-semitism these days.

The leftist anti-Israel front is pro-palestine, a morally bankrupt proposition, but one which appeals to any anti-American idealogy, most notably and ironically Marxists and supporters of fascist regimes like Castro's and Kim jong-il's, making the "US=Jews=Fascists" stance peculiar, and echoing the fanatic Muslim position.

Here's an article on Jewish assimilation, secularity and identity.

you are unknowingly promoting a very strong political ideology....Jews, by their insistence on their right to live as non-assimilated citizens, are requesting a radical rethink of the reasons behind the solidarity of nations and cultures.

If possible, I'd be grateful if you could expand on that comment.

Miguel's link about anti-semitism scratched the surface of the discussion, but left just as many unanswered questions.

Interesting post, by the way.
posted by hama7 at 5:09 AM on June 8, 2003


It's true, Fuzz -- some people have seen the rather large number of publicly identifiable Jews in the Bush Administration and have drawn their own conclusions about their agendas vis-a-vis Israel and the Palestinians. (I'm not sure guys like Wolfowitz are doing us any favors on that front....)

I disagree, though, about Jews and assimilation. Jews have traditionally assimilated rather well into their "host" societies -- heck, the UK even has had a handful of Jewish Prime Ministers.
posted by ph00dz at 5:15 AM on June 8, 2003


heck, the UK even has had a handful of Jewish Prime Ministers.

Well, Benjamin Disraeli wasn't actually Jewish (by religion) but had Jewish ancestry... It's possible true that the historic global financial dominance of the City of London has some Jewish origins, due to traditional British tolerance (since Cromwell, anyway) and the traditional Christian prohibition on lending money at interest (which did not apply to Jews).

I don't see a great deal of evidence of British anti-semitism. It's true that the far right has made some gains in council elections in the north-west of England - something that should worry us all - but this seems to me to be more due to New Labour's abandonment of its traditional working class base in impoverished communities (leading some of these voters to seek extremist solutions, as neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Conservatives have any real appeal to these communities, and there is no viable far left party, so there is a vacuum for demagogues on the far right); the fear and the hostility seems to be more directed at the Muslim community, who are seen by some working class whites as a bigger threat, rather than Jews. So far, fortunately, this phenomenon seems to be confined to particular areas rather than being nationwide.
posted by plep at 5:34 AM on June 8, 2003


The article points out that Zionism is a form of nationalism, which I agree with, and nationalism is way of creating states. But in most cases nationalism is not suitable for running a successful state.

I was raised with a classic Zionist background, where we kids were indoctrinated to repeat the argument of "we suffered so much, there was no hope after the holocaust, the world hates us and always will. We made a garden from a desert while the Arabs did nothing with the land, why don't other Arab countries take the Palestinian Arabs, they are irrational terrorists..." Now substitute the word "Albanian" for "Arab" and you have a pretty good Serbian nationalist argument for Kosovo. And you will get as much sympathy from anybody who does not subscribe to your particular nationalism.

As for Germany, face it, the (West) Germans are one of the few peoples in Europe who were forced to be aware of their role in the Holocaust and WWII. You go into a German bookstore and you will often find a Judaica book section the likes of any in New York. You go to a bookstore in London or Zurich and try to find a book about Jewish subjects and you will see a couple new-age kabbalah paperbacks. Like it or not, Germans are uniquely aware of Jewish culture, which sometimes has delightful consequences.

I live in Budapest, and yes, there is an old style , right wing anti semitism that still exists here and in Europe. I get shouted at for wearing a 2nd Avenue Deli T-shirt around town. It isn't a Zionist T-shirt, it's in yiddish, fer crying out loud, but it is kind of a barometer that tells me how loud the Jewish=Israel sentiment is on any given day. And right now it is pretty high.
posted by zaelic at 6:13 AM on June 8, 2003


I had been told by a well-know Lefty blogger that I ought not post pro-Israel items on a group blog because (1) I was naive, (2) "we always favor the underdog." I told him that even if I was totally wrong, his noition of bringing about a free, open, democratic society seemed more like the old commie biz of following the party line because they knew what was best for people.
That people single out some Jews working for Bush, or running magzines that are neo-conservative of course merely indicates the need to spot the Other. The world alas is still beset with separtating out peopls by backgrounds of ethnicity, religion, and color and gender. Look at the gypsies: they have no background or culture in banking, media etc but they remain The Other and hence are despised.
The real issue is what a government (the state) allows or does about such discriminatory acts or actions. If you can not change people's attitudes you still can make outlandish acts illegal rather than acceptable.
posted by Postroad at 6:45 AM on June 8, 2003


Even my synagogue in peaceful Lisbon is today protected by stringent security measures

maybe that's because of 9-11, don't you think?
posted by matteo at 6:50 AM on June 8, 2003


I think what fuzz means is there is a tribal mentality within Judaism. It doesn't matter what nation you live in, your part of the tribe. This goes against the notion of Nationalism. Judaism has such strong culture and history it would be hard to define it on national boundaries alone and that does present a conflict with nation states it represents a potential conflict of interest.
posted by stbalbach at 7:32 AM on June 8, 2003


Miguel, don't you think raising the specter of anti-semitism in Lisbon is scare-mongering? Anti-semitism is virtually non-existent in Portugal nowadays, since most people have never met a jew and there are very few people in Portugal who would think of themselves as jews. The unfortunate and calamitous purges that were undertaken in the past helped ensure that most jews either emmigrated or converted to christianity. Centuries later, it's irrelevant whether the conversion was genuine or faked - they've been almost completely assimilated. The simple truth is that the overwhelming majority of the people in Portugal have never *knowingly* met a person whose self-identity revolves around judaism (cultural or religious). Perhaps what you are referring to is the disagreement with Israeli policy that many share, in Portugal and abroad? This is something that many proponents of Israeli colonisation of Palestine disingeniously translate into anti-semitism, and then use to discredit their opponents. At least in Portugal, this is a very hard case to make, since most people here simply wouldn't know what a jew is or what he looks like!
posted by gambuzino at 7:44 AM on June 8, 2003


As a non-jew, I found that this piece from the same site as the Sacks sums up my thoughts better than ... well, better than I could.
posted by Grangousier at 7:47 AM on June 8, 2003


Now substitute the word "Albanian" for "Arab" and you have a pretty good Serbian nationalist argument for Kosovo.

Also, a similar argument was used by nationalistic Afrikaners (after the Anglo-Boer War and use of concentration camps) to justify apartheid.
posted by plep at 7:49 AM on June 8, 2003


being pro Palestinian couldn't possibly be any more 'morally bankrupt' then taking the side of the Israelis in the current struggle.

I don't live in Europe, so I don't know. Honestly from reading about what's going on, they do seem to be pretty racist, especially as you move east from England/France on into Germany and the Netherlands, etc. Obviously England and France have issues, but they seem more like the kinds of problems caused by inter-ethnic stress then any kind of deep racism.

The other kind seems prevalent in the more ethnically homogeneous regions like the Netherlands, Denmark, etc, where you see openly anti-'immigrant' feeling. So it wouldn't surprise me to much to find 'true' anti-Semitism, based on old stereotypes in those places.

However, we have to be careful to separate that kind of anti-Semitism with more modern anti-Zionism. I personally find the actions of the Israeli government disgusting and to be honest it seems like the vast majority of Jews support the Israeli government completely.

Several months ago there was a pro-Israeli rally in Washington DC. Hundreds of thousands of people, the whole deal. Some guy from the bush administration came up to talk and mentioned something about "we need to keep in mind the suffering of the Palestinians as well" or something like that and actually got booed. I mean, these people were booing the very concept of easing Palestinian suffering.

If people perform terrible acts, or support terrible acts under a huge banner that says "JEW" then it is going to cause some problems.
posted by delmoi at 8:16 AM on June 8, 2003


The leftist anti-Israel front is pro-palestine, a morally bankrupt proposition,

Does that make George W. Bush morally bankrupt? Probably if you wear the equine blinkers of hama7.

There are a few issues here, I suppose: one could argue that it's become far too easy for those supporters of the Israeli political right to play the anti-semitism card against any foreign opposition. Which is strange, because I don't see (from my reading of Ha'aretz, at least) the Likud accusing Meretz of anti-semitism too often. (Though the religious parties are a little more free in their accusations of treason against the domestic left in Israel.)

What's depressing, I think, from a British perspective, is the slow decline of some of the smaller Jewish communities in provincial towns. I've seen a few closed synagogues in my travels around England, and it's a sad thing. There are still strong communities outside north London (especially in Leeds and Manchester, as I'm sure Miguel knows from experience) but it's more likely that many Brits have never met a Jew. On the one hand, this means that anti-Muslim racism in places like the north-west is born from an 'us-vs-them' antipathy that's fuelled on a daily basis. On the other hand, it opens the door for the classic basis of anti-semitism, which is conspiracy theory and self-delusion.
posted by riviera at 8:20 AM on June 8, 2003


Even my synagogue in peaceful Lisbon is today protected by stringent security measures

maybe that's because of 9-11, don't you think?

It has to do with specific threats the synagogue and Jewish community have received. Mosques have also had to tighten security because of threats. My synagogue, along with many others, has a sheriff always there and new surveillance cameras. (The cost was passed on to the congregants) I have to sign in and out when I go there for anything other than services.

My nit picking--EVERYTHING is post 9-11, it is after that date now. Somehow we survived that day.

Migs, you are right to be concerned.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 8:25 AM on June 8, 2003


Reference only:

Link to links page of fascist sites.
posted by kablam at 8:30 AM on June 8, 2003


The leftist anti-Israel front is pro-palestine, a morally bankrupt proposition, but one which appeals to any anti-American idealogy, most notably and ironically Marxists and supporters of fascist regimes like Castro's and Kim jong-il's, making the "US=Jews=Fascists" stance peculiar, and echoing the fanatic Muslim position.

Oh, give me a friggin' break. The idea that supporting the creation of Palestinian state somehow makes me an anti-semite who supports a dictatorial North Korea is so ignorantly insulting that it amazes me I would actually have to refute it publicly. Jesus, why not just tell me if I'm not with you I'm with the terrorists?

As for wariness for racism- is Miguel right to be worried? Yes. But this is not a fear restricted to Jews. The events of September 11th sparked an increase in nationalistic anti-outsider mentality in people across every viewpoint, be it Arabs insisting this was a sign to "eliminate all the Jews," Jews insisting this was a sign that Israel needed to "enforce its right to expand the settlements," Americans insisting that "it's fine if all the brown-skinned people are detained and/or searched at the airport," the nationalistic fears of India, Pakistan, Turkey, and on and on.

There is no doubt that people on left- at least "the left" that has been painted here with a brush the size of a city block- have manifested their opposition to war and support of Palestinian statehood into abject and unfair discriminatory hatred towards Israel. But if "the right" is stated as an entity as broad as the way the left was here, then to say that side doesn't equally show possible manifestation of supporting the war and prevention of terrorism as and unfair discriminatory hatred towards Arabs- or for that matter the left itself, as hama7 did a wonderful job proving- is a position that is truly morally bankrupt, not to mention hideously hypocritical.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:01 AM on June 8, 2003


The events of September 11th sparked an increase in nationalistic anti-outsider mentality in people across every viewpoint

Very well put, XQUZYPHYR. The depth and variety of the observations in this thread have (healthily) confused me a little (a lot, actually) so I'll be taking some time to rethink before I feel comfortable enough to comment. Thank you so much for the high standard, which put my somewhat teenagey, bloggy post to shame.

Gambosino: Viva! Another Portuguese on MeFi! Where were you all this time when I needed you? Um abraço!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:31 AM on June 8, 2003


why not just tell me if I'm not with you I'm with the terrorists?

Well this is hama7 we're talking about here...
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:33 AM on June 8, 2003


love will find a way
posted by Postroad at 10:12 AM on June 8, 2003


If you expect to be able to be both Portuguese (or German, or British) and Jewish at the same time, you are unknowingly promoting a very strong political ideology.

I can see no reason why this should be any more difficult than being Portuguese and a pew-walking Baptist, or Portuguese and a fan of Chuck Jones, or Portuguese and black, or Portuguese and have Russian grandparents, or...

there is no valid way to define that community based on nationalistic, historical, religious, class, or ethnic grounds.

But there isn't, or shouldn't be. Defining who is a good Portuguese to exclude Jews, or just exclude non-Catholics, or to disallow immigrants or their descendants, is wrong and one of those viewpoints that needs to be crushed in the name of liberal tolerance. It's wrong when it's people getting upset about going to the same prom with black people, and it's wrong when Germany had racial requirements for citizenship, and it's wrong and crush-worthy when Jews are plopped into the THEM category.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 AM on June 8, 2003


Wow, great thread. This is a topic I've been thinking about a lot recently, but I didn't think it had made its way into the general discourse, so to speak.

What's often overlooked is that there are concrete steps that can be taken to reduce antisemitism -- a solution in the middle east, for example, will go a long way.

Some guy from the bush administration came up to talk and mentioned something about "we need to keep in mind the suffering of the Palestinians as well" or something like that and actually got booed. I mean, these people were booing the very concept of easing Palestinian suffering.

Then, too, the jewish community needs to start clamping down on and publically denouncing the nutcases ("these people" don't represent jews as a whole (at least, I hope to god they don't; I'm a bit cloistered in my secular midwestern synagogue)). I've been in a long-running internet debate with a guy who thinks all non-jews should be forcibly deported from Israel; it's views like his, left unchallenged, that feed anti-semitism more than anything else.

Also, a reexamination of the word "zionism" (by its proponents and others) is in order -- to some people, it just means "the idea that Israel shouldn't be destroyed by fire"; equating them with the "kick out the arabs" crowd is an unfortunate consequence of language drift.

I wrote an editorial touching on all this -- here, if you're interested.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:22 PM on June 8, 2003


Some guy from the bush administration came up to talk and mentioned something about "we need to keep in mind the suffering of the Palestinians as well" or something like that and actually got booed.

it wasn't just "some guy", it was uber-hawk and IraqAttaq planner Paul Wolfowitz

it's pretty funny that there's actually people so insane that they consider a man like Wolfowitz a dove -- for pointing out, of all things, that the Palestinians are human beings, too. (not the most adventurous of statements, one has to admit)
posted by matteo at 2:01 PM on June 8, 2003


I think I've mentioned this in a past thread but I think that those non-Jews who equate zionist ambitions with Jewishness are helped to hang on to this view by those Jews who have been described here as unassimilated Jews. These particular Jews work hard to promote the idea that to be a Jew and to support Israel - right or wrong - is necessary to the survival of both Israel and Judaism. I believe they are a minority of Jews in America as well as elsewhere, but they are the vocal ones. They work for Jewish pressure groups such as the Anti-defamation League, the American Jewish Committe, B'nai Brith and so on. Some of them are my relatives. When I have tried to debate some of their ideas with them, they behave defensively. They are honestly frightened. I believe their fear is a result of the sort of conditioning that fuzz has described here.

Those "new" anti-Semites who have become such because of their opposition to the current Israeli government, can be forgiven because they have no way to know that most Jews do not subscribe to this, but because this silent majority are assimilated, they tend to keep their mouths shut. On the other hand, those who do choose to speak out against the behaviour of the current Israeli government are condemned by this same aliance of Zionists and active, public defenders of the faith, as "self-hating Jews" or traitors. They are deemed to be as bad if not worse than the gentile anti-semites.

Oh, and BTW, Jack Straw, the British foreign minister is Jewish - or so I believe. And for the record, so am I.
posted by donfactor at 3:40 PM on June 8, 2003


I think what fuzz means is there is a tribal mentality within Judaism. It doesn't matter what nation you live in, your part of the tribe. This goes against the notion of Nationalism.

Thanks, stbalbach, that's better than I would have said it. I was trying to say something about how countries define what it means to really belong there. If you are Jewish and claim to belong in the country where you live, then you are saying that belonging to that country does not depend on belonging to the majority religion, or having your long-term historical or racial roots there, or on sharing the same deep cultural assumptions.

In America, there is a well-developed ideology that says that you are American if you accept a certain set of ideals and respect a particular political and economic system. This ideology doesn't care where you come from. It has gained a lot of ground in the last generation with the acceptance of the concept of "hyphenated Americans". That idea was not always so easy to accept -- Ivy League Universities had anti-Jewish quotas when my father wanted to apply. And even today, a nationalist minority of 30-40%, including the current President, still believes that America is a "Christian country", effectively saying to Jews that they can only be guests.

Overall, the US is one of the safest countries in the world for Jews today, although there are many regions of the country where I would not freely admit that I was Jewish. Canada is probably even less threatened by the idea of Jews as fully Canadian.

England invented the concept of "Britishness" a long time ago as a way to assimilate other nations. Jews can be British, as subjects of the Empire (even Ministers), but Jews can never be English. Unfortunately, the idea that Jews can be not just servants of the Queen, but also completely assimilated into whatever it means to be English, is very threatening to people who believe in the class system. That group includes a huge professional class in London that aspires to a higher social status. The City of London is full of members of that aspirational class, and some of them are the only people I have met in Europe who were willing to be overtly anti-Semitic in my face (the Lepenists have made anti-Semitic comments behind my back).

Like in the US, a lot of France now believes in an ideology that holds that being French is about subscribing to France's ideals and culture. I think that the US and the French hate each other because of their competing claims to universalism -- they both believe they are the one true model of civilization. That makes France very friendly to Jews. Despite the alarmism about Le Pen, the nationalist and religious minority is smaller and less powerful than in the US. I'd much rather be Jewish than dark-skinned or Eastern European in France, but I never freely admit that I'm Jewish outside of Paris.

Spain (and I would guess Portugal) still has a majority that believes that being Spanish (or Basque or Catalan) is fundamentally about being part of a historical, ethnic, racial, or religious tradition. I don't believe that Jews will be able to say that they are fully Spanish for another generation at least, the time needed to construct a new ideological basis for belonging, probably rooted in language and European ideals. Then again, two Catalans have told me they were descended from Marranos, so maybe there's a historical basis for Jews to be accepted here, although I'm not sure if it's "Jews were a part of historical Catalunya" or just "Spain's enemy is my friend".

I don't know much about Germany. It seems to me that they combine a somewhat discredited but still strong racial view of belonging with a newer Dutch-inspired ideology of "tolerance". Does anyone know what it would mean to be a "German Jew", and who would feel threatened by that idea?

A lot of Jews hate and fear nationalism; it's no wonder a lot of nationalists hate and fear them back. There are different ways to try to resolve that conflict. Tribalism says that the Jews are a special case, condemned to wander, perhaps welcomed but always guests. Zionism tries to end Jewish exceptionalism by creating a nation where Jews can theoretically belong fully and thereby feel safe. Nationalism says that Jews are a threat to the nation that must be controlled or expelled. Cosmopolitanism says that the idea of nations should be abolished. Universalism redefines the idea of the nation to be based on ideals that anyone can subscribe to. Until one of these ideologies wins, the "Jewish problem" continues to be a real one.

Sorry to go on so long, but this thread is one of the things I love about MeFi -- you just can't have a good conversation about this subject in a bar.
posted by fuzz at 6:05 PM on June 8, 2003


delmoi: "The other kind seems prevalent in the more ethnically homogeneous regions like the Netherlands, Denmark, etc, where you see openly anti-'immigrant' feeling."
In my humble experience of these countries, they are vastly more tolerant of "outsiders" than either France, Britain or Germany. There do exist xenophobic minorities, but they are amazingly small given the size of the immigrant influx. Fortuyn (what supposedly passed for the xenophobic far right in Holland, mistakenly so IMHO) campaigned not against immigrants in general, but against the intolerance some of the immigrants imported towards women, homosexuals etc. (whether he was sincere, or mosre importantly whether most of his supporters would vote for him because of this is another matter). Holland is in my experience the most tolerant and open society in the world.
Even in germany I'm willing to bet that it is a lot safer to be Jewish than Turkish nowadays.
As for anti-semitism in Europe: most of it is absolutely accountable by the increased number of Arab-Europeans and Muslim immigrants. Indeed to claim increased "anti-semitism" in, say, France, is like claiming increased anti-Kurdism in Germany because Turkish-Germans and Turkish immigrants are clashing with Kurds frequently.
There is no "left anti-semitism", unless one is willing to count football hooligans as "the left", or the criticism of the apartheid policies of Israel as "anti-semitism". Historically in western Europe, the left was the defender of jewish (and minority in general) rights. That is also why in many European countries Jews were predominately to the left of the political spectrum and why even now there is a large portion of European Jews that are against Sharon's policies.
There is, on the other hand, a huge problem in western Europe with anti-Arab and anti-Eastern European xenophobia. It isn't a simple matter and it can't be just wished away. It has to do with the concept of nationhood, with cultural identity and with the size of the immigrant population. In Greece we had an influx of legal and illegal immigrants roughly equal in size to over 10% of the existing population in less than 15 years: one cannot expect a society to see this as anything other than a shock (even if most of the immigrants were from nearby Albania with which Greeks have more in common than they care to admit...)
posted by talos at 3:46 AM on June 9, 2003


Fuzz, a couple of of thoughts. From someone who spent years at City of London management consulting firm, I can think of few things guaranteed to more quickly end a career dead in its tracks than making anti-semitic comments. Judaism is over-represented in the City in demographic terms more than anything else because of the emphasis traditionally put on education and attainment in British Jewish families. The City rewards excellence and hard work. The post big-bang sentiment in the City is that you achieve on your own terms. As Ferris put it, "who gives a crap if they're [x]. They could be fascist anarchists, it still wouldn't change the fact that..." that they're making the desk money.

With regards to the general question posed by the post, the fact of the matter is that the British Jewish community does think that anti-Semitism is on the rise. The debate must therefore be if this perception is grounded in reality.

In my view it is not. Judaism's only bearing on the overwhelming majority of interpersonal relations in Britain is that it is germane only in so far as to wonder whether it's tactless to invite your Jewish co-worker for drinks on a Friday night. The problem is that post-September the 11th, the infinitesimal number of knuckle-draggers who hold repulsive anti-Jewish views feel more comfortable expressing them because the attention of the authorities is elsewhere. Coupled with the wholesale adoption of internet communication technologies, the actual number of people holding anti-semitic views has not increased, but their share of voice has.

While Muslims, immigrants and asylum seekers are openly persecuted harassed and discriminated against, clamping down on the activity of the far right has slipped off the police's radar. In my view, anti-semitism is a problem in Europeand one which should be forcefully addressed. But it is dwarfed in comparison to the overt racism directed against the groups mentioned above. Seriously, almost a quarter of Brits feel that Muslims fit into British society badly. I deft you to find similarly overt expressions of anti-Semitism of a similar magnitude.

The increased perception of anti-Semitism I feel is explained by the deliberate blurring of the edges of legitimate ciriticism of the actions of the Government of Israel and illegitimate expressions of anti-Semitic thought. Judaism and the State of Israel are not the same thing. It is disingenuous to depict criticism of the Government of Israel's policy as anti-semitic. Case in point: Gerald Kaufman MP.
posted by dmt at 4:03 AM on June 9, 2003


excellent post followed up by intelligent and thought provoking discourse, (collective pat on back).
posted by johnnyboy at 4:49 AM on June 9, 2003


Hear hear. I have nothing to add to the discussion, but it's fascinating to read.
posted by Vidiot at 5:54 AM on June 9, 2003


talos, I don't have time to go into greater detail, but I dispute your assertion that there is (or at least, was,) no leftist antisemitism. I mean, Bakunin, considered a founder of modern leftist anarchism and lionized, to one degree or another, by modern anarchists or libertarian socialists, wrote rather virulent anti-Jewish, for example, using the term "Yid bankers," as a small example, in (IIRC) "God and the State."
posted by Snyder at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2003


Great discussion thus far. But I think people are downplaying, or perhaps are just not aware of, the extent of the recent uptick in anti-Jewish violence in Europe, particularly in France. Here's the ADL's report, highlighting just a few of the 2003 worldwide anti-Jewish incidents to date (neglecting the 250 anti-Semitic attacks in France this year alone). Here's the ADL's 2002 report, which is more comprehensive, though again their list of anti-Jewish attacks in France is not even close to being complete, leaving out months' worth of attacks, including a particularly vicious run in October, 2002. Quote from the article:

The number of violent anti-Semitic attacks in France increased sharply in 2002, to 193 attacks, up from 32 in 2001. Anti-Semitic attacks accounted for more than half of the total number of racist attacks in France in 2002, according to a report from the National Consulting Committee on Human Rights, an independent watchdog group. In 2002, the total number of racist attacks in France quadrupled to 313, the highest level of incidents in a decade. The group noted a “real explosion” in violent incidents against Jews.

Oh, and the upswing in attacks started before 9/11. The number jumped again during the recent anti-war protests, which had some truly chilling anti-Jewish violent attacks occur (many against Jewish children) as a direct result of so-called "peace" rallies by "peace" protestors (including attacks against Jewish anti-war protestors who were marching with them!). As a previous MeFi poster stated, yes, many of these incidents are committed by Arab-French youths, but the aspect of many of the incidents that is really raising Jewish hackles is the French government's belated and half-hearted public response to them, following many incidents where synagogue arsons were not fully investigated nor classified as hate crimes, not to mention the recurring harrassment and violence against Jewish kids in French schools.

Meanwhile, French Jews are leaving. Last year saw 2300 leave for Israel, the highest rate in 30 years and double that of 2001. Among those still in France, 26% are considering emigrating, 13% seriously. Quote of note from the linked article: "Fully 86 percent of those considering leaving are eyeing Israel, compared with 60 percent who would think of moving to the United States. "It's interesting that they consider Israel safer than France," Laszlo Mizrahi said."

French Jews are also disappearing. They're dropping out of sight at a rate not fully explained by emigration or the usual intermarriage rate. In the past five years, the number of Frenchmen who identify as Jewish, who are involved in Jewish life (synagogues, community centers), or who are counted in CRIF have dropped 25%. The only explanation people seem to have, backed up by anecdotal evidence, is that people are hiding their heritage and disassociating from their communities out of fear of attack. France, BTW, has the third largest Jewish community in the world, behind the US and Israel. For them to "lose" 25% of their population in 5 years is alarming. When the International Herald Tribune starts publishing columns by noted (French-Jewish) economists who openly say that they want to apply for refugee status from France because of the growing anti-Semitism, you know there's a problem. And not only are Jews leaving France, but they likely won't be visiting France, either, what with the Simon Weisenthal Center's April, 2002 travel advisory on France (and Belgium).

It's not just the actions of a number of violent thugs that have people scared, it's also in some cases the French government's own policies. Busy twisting themselves into anti-Israel knots, they are having the effect, though perhaps not the intent (I'm being charitable here), of being overtly anti-Jewish. Case in point: French consulates won't recognize weddings by West Bank rabbis. A Frenchwoman who converted to Judaism married an Israeli. The wedding was performed in pre-1967 Israel (the Israeli half of Jerusalem, to be specific). The Frenchwoman applied to get a French livret de famille, which are official French papers recognizing her marriage. France won't give them to her without her applying for a special exemption...because the rabbi who performed the ceremony now lives in Gush Etzion in the West Bank. And yep, this only applies to French Jews.

One could go on and on...
posted by Asparagirl at 12:07 PM on June 9, 2003


And for the record, since I know people here care about that sort of thing, not one of those links is to Little Green Footballs.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:08 PM on June 9, 2003


Oh, and BTW, Jack Straw, the British foreign minister is Jewish - or so I believe.

Not exactly - he has Jewish ancestry, but by religion he is Christian.

That being said, there have been many many Jewish British government ministers and shadow ministers - Gerald Kaufman (former Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary) has been mentioned; to this list you can add former Conservative ministers Nigel Lawson, Leon Brittan (currently a European Commissioner), and Keith Joseph. Peter Mandelson, formerly a minister and close ally of Blair, is not Jewish but is of Jewish descent.

Fuzz, a couple of of thoughts. From someone who spent years at City of London management consulting firm, I can think of few things guaranteed to more quickly end a career dead in its tracks than making anti-semitic comments.

As someone who currently works in the City of London, I can attest to this. In my experience - not just working in London, but in towns all over Britain - anti-semitism is extremely rare, certainly compared with other kinds of racism. I don't believe I have ever really seen it in the workplace, at least. This isn't to say that anti-semitism doesn't exist; just that, like anti-English racism in Wales or Scotland, it is very rare.
posted by plep at 12:57 PM on June 9, 2003


From the link posted by Grangousier at 9:47 AM:

So the "new antisemitism" is, in part, not new at all but rather a device for de-legitimising any criticism of Israel and a political weapon in a global propaganda battle.

I find this statement to be disturbingly true. I find that it's impossible to voice any objection about Israel without being shouted down as a racist or anti-semite. Which, as the author points out later in his article, really just devalues the term. It's like the term "nazi". It's been so overused that the word has almost lost it's power.

It's as though to voice any dissent with one aspect of Judaism...say, for example, Zionism, that you are then leading the charge for another "Final Solution".

There are no government pogroms aimed at preventing Jews from working, living where they want, traveling, owning businesses, investing, etc. There are no powerful groups, countries, political parties that suggest that Jews should be put in ovens.

There will always be people that don't like Jews, just like there will always be people that don't like "Pollack, Degos, Spics, Chinks, Micks and Ayrabs". To suggest that they equate to Nazi Germany is an insult to the millions of Jews, Gypsies, Poles and Germans that died in the WWII camps.

The fact is that you can be Jewish and disagree with the State of Israel's version of Zionism. You can be Jewish and think that the IDF are acting like kapos. You can be Jewish and renounce the JDL and the similar organizations as right wing lunatics.

You can be a Semite without being Jewish. You can be neither a Semite or Jewish and think the same things and *not* be anti-Semitic.

In all the time I've spent in Europe and the US, I've not run into a significant anti-semitic trend...but I have run into significant anti-Israel thinking. I think it's important for people to stop equating the two.
posted by dejah420 at 1:17 PM on June 9, 2003


It is an interesting and tricky issue. I believe there are some who say they are anti-Zionist but are actuall anti-Jewish. I would suggest that most of these people can be grouped on the "right" side of the fence, such as the neo-Nazis adopting Palestinian Kaffiyah or David Duke writing about Palestinian rights. In reality, Arabs are just the next on the list for these people, Jews to them represent a more prescient threat (or whatever) and so they hide behind Anti-Zionism as a real means to express anti-semitism.

Likewise, there are those who become anti-Zionist but are unable to separate Jews (people) from Zionism (an idea). These people, I think, tend to be on "the left" and are loosely part of the same movement who would call the US a 'racist state' because of the actions of a few, or those who would purge all white males from the canon because of the bigotry of a few.

However, seeing as many Jews regard Israel as a refuge from the murderous anti-semitism of Europe, one can understand the reaction at hearing strong Anti-Zionism from Europeans. The main problem appears to be a lack of communication between reasonable people who are suckered into not understanding the reasons behind both strong Zionist and anti-Zionist feelings. I mean to exclude the fanatics of both sides, but speak of the reasonable people who ultimately allow problems such as what has happened in France to continue.
posted by cell divide at 1:29 PM on June 9, 2003


Dejah420- You're absolutely right that critiscm of Israel is not the same thing as being a Jew-hating jerk. But it unfortunately all becomes a battle of semantics considering the vast overlap between the anti-Israel and explictly anti-Jew populations. When vandals and thugs attack Jews (or people they merely perceive to be Jewish) in France and elsewhere, the motive is nearly always written off as tumult related to the Arab/Israeli conflict. If all, or nearly all, the violence is attributed to anti-Israel (anti-Zionist) sentiment, then how can people not condemn anti-Zionist fervor as directly leading to anti-Semitism?

It's basically like the connection between religious nutjobs in the US (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps) who condemn gays or picket their funerals for kicks. They act suprised that their rhetoric could have contributed to anti-gay and anti-transgender violence, since of course you can "hate the sin, not the sinner". And they're shocked that some people would take their very vocal critiscms of homosexuality from a Biblical standpoint and turn that into critiscms of the gay-bashing type. No, of course not everyone who "disagrees" with homosexuality has a problem separating the two types. But to say that there's no link at all is just nuts.

And as for your never running into an anti-Semetic trend in Europe, I suggest you go wear a yarmukle and around Toulouse or the Paris suburbs for a week or two and see how well you fare. The spike in synagogue desecrations, Jewish cemetary vandalism, firebombings of Jewish-owned businesses, and attacks on indivduals who are or who are perceived to be Jewish are very real.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:48 PM on June 9, 2003


And two more things:

There are no government pogroms aimed at preventing Jews from working, living where they want, traveling, owning businesses, investing, etc.

...unless you're an Israeli Jew. In which case, many in the EU would like to cut off all official scientific and business contacts with you. No articles published in medical or technical journals from Israelis. As for the rest of your statement, I'm assuming you're referring to France specifically. Because I can think of a dozen or more countries in the Arab world where the rest of statement has been the situation for, oh, hundreds of years. Ever hear of Bat Yeor's term "dhimmitude"?

There are no powerful groups, countries, political parties that suggest that Jews should be put in ovens.

Again, I hope you meant France, or else you're sorely ignorant of the realities of what goes on in the Arab world...

[must...resist...temptation...to post link to LGF archives... how about MEMRI's Arab Anti-Semitism Documentation Project instead?]
posted by Asparagirl at 1:58 PM on June 9, 2003


Asparagirl, I was under the impression that we were talking about Europe. Last I checked, the Middle East was not part of the European arena. (I could be wrong, those continental plate shifts can sneak up on ya...)

This has been a rational and calm thread to this point, please avoid phrases like "You're sorely ignorant...."

You say "...many in the EU would like to cut off all official scientific and business contacts ..." , and I say that the key words there are "would like to"...and you didn't provide any proof that it was a government sponsored activity because of religion.

During apartheid, many SA scientists weren't included in journals and whatnot...if people want to consider Israel's activities as worthy of the same sort of shunning as was done to the SA Whites, then perhaps the activities need to be reconsidered. But nobody is doing it because they follow the words of Abraham. You're falling into the same logic that I mentioned in my first post...equating Israel politics and it's fallout with Jews and persecution. Nobody is saying "No *Jews* can publish!"

You mentioned MEMRI...you do realize that Yigal Carmon — a retired Israeli military-intelligence colonel — founded it and has staffed it with other Israeli MI? I'm just saying that they may be no more objective than certain members of the JDL.

Oh, and as to wearing a yarmulke around Paris...as a girl, I would get snarked at for the sheer fashion faux pas. (It's worn by men, doncha know.)
posted by dejah420 at 2:55 PM on June 9, 2003


Said fuzz:

England invented the concept of "Britishness" a long time ago as a way to assimilate other nations.

The opposite is true: 'Britishness' was invented as a way of legitimising the rule of foreign monarchs over the British, first for William III, then, after the act of Union, for George I: in both cases, 'British' was used to mean 'non-Stuart'. (Linda Colley's 'Britons' is the definitive book on this subject.)

Jews can be British, as subjects of the Empire (even Ministers), but Jews can never be English.

dmt and plep have answered this fully, but I just want to second what they say about the intolerance of anti-semitism in the City (and beyond), and mention the fact that I have friends who certainly do consider themselves English Jews. Your distinction, fuzz, is just silly and groundless.

Lastly: have you actually been to France recently, Asparagirl?
posted by riviera at 3:04 PM on June 9, 2003


I can think of a dozen or more countries in the Arab world where the rest of statement has been the situation for, oh, hundreds of years

I defy you to name "dozens" of countries (how about any that had a measurable Jewish population) in the Middle East where government pogroms aimed at preventing Jews from working, living where they want, traveling, owning businesses, investing, etc lasted for 100's of years, or even existed at all.

This oft-repeated falsehood would come at a great surprise to the millions of Iraqi, Iranian, Moroccan, Tunisian, Lebanese, Syrian, Yemeni, Sudanese, etc. Jews who thrived and built families and sometimes fortunes in these countries, some of my anscestors among them.

What has happened since 1948 is an entirely different matter, but again we are getting into the difference between racism, politics, and the comingling of the two.
posted by cell divide at 3:26 PM on June 9, 2003


You're falling into the same logic that I mentioned in my first post...equating Israel politics and it's fallout with Jews and persecution. Nobody is saying "No *Jews* can publish!"

True. But if the effect of decrying Israeli politics is that a large subset of the planet's Jews cannot publish (even the ones who are not hawks), and if the effect of decrying Israeli politics is that there's a new semi-acceptable motive for increased anti-Jewish hate attacks, then, like I said, we're unfortunately getting into semantics here.

As for MEMRI, their stated aim is to translate speeches, news stories, and literature from the original Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew into various other languages, including English. This is done primarily so that non-Arabic speakers, for example, can note the stark difference between what a figure like Arafat might say in English to the Western press and what he would say in Arabic to his own constituency. If there were not such a large and persistent gulf, it is unlikely that MEMRI would exist in the first place.

Carmon's nationality and former job aren't some automatic disqualification of the site's value. If MEMRI were shown to be distorting the translations or making up the horrific videos that they host, then that would be one thing. If they only translated the anti-Israel or pro-terrorism stuff and ignored the calls in Arabic for reform, that would be something, too. But nobody has ever said that at all, as far as I know-- so your implying that the site is propagandistic seems to have no basis. And the comparison to the JDL--or more specifically, to two much-decried nutjobs from the JDL, one of them seriously mentally ill--seems to be out of left field.

For the record, I think the West Bank settlements suck and want to see an independent Palestinian state created. But there's such a big, big gap between criticism of specific Israeli policies (see previous sentence) and so much of the criticism of Israel which seems to zoom in on the fringes of acceptable debate, like the "Zionism = Fascism/Nazism" meme. It's the difference between saying "pro-Israel special interest groups are driving US Middle East policy" and saying "Jews control the Bush administration".

And I didn't realize you were female, sorry. But apply the exercise to a Jewish-looking male friend and see what happens. I'm not too optimistic, but I could be wrong.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:17 PM on June 9, 2003


Lastly: have you actually been to France recently, Asparagirl?

No, not since summer '98. But I fail to see how that has any impact on the veracity of the many articles or studies I cited. If you're implying that I have no right to be pissed off about the growing number of attacks on French Jews without having experienced them or witnessed them myself, then that's just asinine.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:23 PM on June 9, 2003


I defy you to name "dozens" of countries (how about any that had a measurable Jewish population) in the Middle East where government pogroms aimed at preventing Jews from working, living where they want, traveling, owning businesses, investing, etc lasted for 100's of years, or even existed at all.

Um, maybe I'm missing something here, but I didn't think this was excatly a matter of debate. Pogroms may be the wrong word, but how about government-enforced laws, backed up by the occasional display of force, mandating how non-Muslims could behave in Muslim countries? In short, the same link I posted before: dhimmitude, the legal and societal status of (primarily) Christians and Jews in Muslim countries. Bat Yeor's book on it is pretty authoritative and contains primary sources in the back. The table of contents is online, too.

I'm well aware of the breadth and success of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews in the countries you mentioned (my hubby-to-be's mother and mother's family are Sephardic). Jews and Christians may have built up great dynasties in Middle Eastern countires, but they weren't considered equals and they had different laws, many harshly unfair, applied to them. And it definitely didn't start just with 1948.

Of course, laws that prevented "Jews from working, living where they want, traveling, owning businesses, investing, etc" were all the rage back in my Ashkenazic ancestors' homelands, too; think "Pale of Settlement".
posted by Asparagirl at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2003


But I fail to see how that has any impact on the veracity of the many articles or studies I cited.

Well, you would, wouldn't you? Anyway, I suppose by your metric, I ought to disregard the few weeks I spent in France not so long ago as an aberration. After all, MEMRI didn't report on them.
posted by riviera at 7:16 PM on June 9, 2003


Well, you would, wouldn't you?

As she should. Why should she rely on what she happens to see with her own eyeballs, or what you happen to see with yours, when there are vastly better sources of data out there that see things that no single set of eyeballs could possibly see?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:44 PM on June 9, 2003


Why should she rely on what she happens to see with her own eyeballs, or what you happen to see with yours, when there are vastly better sources of data out there that see things that no single set of eyeballs could possibly see?


Asparagirl: I suggest you go wear a yarmukle and around Toulouse or the Paris suburbs for a week or two and see how well you fare.

Because, ROU_Xenophobe, she's claiming some kind of personal experience. Asparagirl isn't giving enough weight to the fact that France's muslim community comes largely from an increasingly fundamentalist colony that was treated very badly and whose members are now living in poverty in the worst parts of the country. Couple that with a large jewish community just sitting there to be targeted and you've got problems. France is playing host to another I/P style war. Here it is, said better.
posted by Summer at 2:44 AM on June 10, 2003


There is no "left anti-semitism",

That's an outright lie. Indymedia is one of the best examples to contradict such a foolish statement.
posted by zerofoks at 5:03 AM on June 10, 2003


Indymedia, zerofoks, has become unfortunately in many if not most parts of the world, more like a zoo where all sorts of types post and less and less a left/anticapitalist website. It only becomes useful during activist events.
Snyder: You're right and I stand corrected. I had in mind the Marxist strains of the left and indeed of the anti-Stalinist left. However it remains a fact that in Europe it was the left mostly that stood up against the persecution of the Jews (and all other minorities as well). Take for example the Dreyfus affair, still used by the left in France to "demonstrate" the "intolerance" of the French right.

Asparagirl - dhimmitude: if we are talking about the treatment of Jews and Christians under islamic law during the Arab and Ottoman empires, it was certainly harsh, but much less so than the treatment of Jews in Christian empires. The shephardim of Salonica for example were expelled from Spain and were welcomed in the Ottoman empire where their status was, certainly, much improved over what they were suffering in the Christian West. Muslims generally didn't survive under Christian rulers long enough to provide a statistically significant sample...
If we are talking about modern muslim countries, most are secular.
Why should she rely on what she happens to see with her own eyeballs, or what you happen to see with yours, when there are vastly better sources of data out there that see things that no single set of eyeballs could possibly see?
Because personal experience of France would make her realise that anti-Semitism in France is confined to small gangs of skinheads and they have nothing in common with the anti-Jewish sentiments of the numerous Arab-French youths that are mainly responsible for this increase in attacks against Jews in France. She would know that these same nazi gangs have as their main target those same Arabs.
posted by talos at 7:29 AM on June 10, 2003


About the left and anti-semitism: The Znet debate.
I tend to agree with Alexander Cockburn on this: "Over the past 20 years I've learned there's a quick way of figuring just how badly Israel is behaving. There's a brisk uptick in the number of articles here accusing "the left" of anti-Semitism."
posted by talos at 8:36 AM on June 10, 2003


Asparagirl isn't giving enough weight to the fact that France's muslim community comes largely from an increasingly fundamentalist colony that was treated very badly and whose members are now living in poverty in the worst parts of the country. Couple that with a large jewish community just sitting there to be targeted and you've got problems.

You mean instead of my saying that "yes, many of these incidents are committed by Arab-French youths" I should have added "but we should give the perpetrators a break because they and their ancestors have been the victims of French Christian institutionalized racism, so their attacks on French Jews should be placed in that context"? I mean, as explanations and excuses go, that one doesn't even make too much logical sense. Yes, many French Muslims are poor, and many French Jews are middle-class or higher. But there are plenty of rich French Catholics, and cathedrals aren't the buildings that are getting torched.

France is playing host to another I/P style war.

Making an analogy to the Middle East situation implies a symmetry of attacks on both sides. But French mosques aren't being targeted for arson by French Jews, nor have French Muslim-owned stores been firebombed by French Jews. I'm not even aware of any incidents reported of French Muslims being attacked by French Jews as religion-based hate crimes, but there are many hundreds of cases of the reverse in just the last two years. Considering that there are about 600,000 Jews in France and 4-5 million Muslims, the difference is especially stark.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2003


Because personal experience of France would make her realise that anti-Semitism in France is confined to small gangs of skinheads and they have nothing in common with the anti-Jewish sentiments of the numerous Arab-French youths that are mainly responsible for this increase in attacks against Jews in France.

I'm really missing the distinction here. Anti-Semitism by definition merely requires Jew-hating, not specifically Nazism, as a prerequisite--in fact, the term predates World War II quite a bit. How can anti-Semitism in France be "confined to small gangs of skinheads" if you yourself agree that Arab-French youths are committing attacks and arsons? Frenchmen of Arab descent are still Frenchmen, skinheads of French descent are still Frenchmen, and while they may have different ideologies fueling their anger, the end result is the same.

She would know that these same nazi gangs have as their main target those same Arabs.

Group A hates French Jews. Group B mainly hates French Arabs, but also hates French Jews. The two don't somehow cancel each other out--they can instead be a multiplying effect in the areas their hatred overlaps.

And I'm still confused as to why I need to actually go visit France. What's wrong with citing oodles of data from people and organizations that are in a far better position than I to know about the problem? Besides, if I went, wouldn't the excuse just be "well, that's just your opinion on the matter..."?
posted by Asparagirl at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2003


And I'm still confused as to why I need to actually go visit France.

Perhaps it would make your dire, explicit warnings about the perils of wearing a yarmulke in the banlieu sound slightly more convincing, and slightly less like third-hand scaremongery?
posted by riviera at 4:02 PM on June 10, 2003


I'm really missing the distinction here.

Hating your neighbor because he's black: racism.
Attacking your neighbor because he's black: Racist attack.

Hating your neighbor because you think he (or his cousin) sleeps with your wife: NOT racism.
Attacking your neighbor for the above reason: Not a racist attack. Condemnable but of a different sort all together.

Another example: Skinheads attacking Turks in Germany because they belong to a mongrel race that is infesting their country; versus Kurds attacking Turks in Germany, seeing them as representatives of the Turkish government which has slaughtered them by the thousands. Misguided maybe, but not racist.
posted by talos at 2:30 AM on June 11, 2003


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