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The 'anti-Semites' of Europe
November 6, 2003 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Those anti-Semitic Europeans are at it again. In an opinion poll conducted in October, when shown a list of countries and asked "if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world", some 59 per cent of European Union citizens polled said that Israel was a danger. "This shocking result... defies logic and is a racist flight of fantasy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society, more than at any other period since the end of the war," responded Rabbi Marvin Hier. But, is it really so?
posted by acrobat (53 comments total)

 
"The other leading threats to the peace were (in descending order) Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan."

I wonder if USA was one of the options.
posted by spazzm at 8:01 AM on November 6, 2003


I heard this on NPR yesterday and was shocked and saddened by it at that time. I believe that Israel is a threat to world peace, and it has nothing to do with the religion of the majority of its citizens. My opinions about Israel have much more to do with the actions of their government than with the beliefs of its citizens.

I had a Jewish professor who likened Israel to an abused child, who grows up to be an abusive adult. I sometimes see a lot of truth in that.
posted by anastasiav at 8:01 AM on November 6, 2003


I wonder why the Jordan Times article doesn't bother to mention that the USA tied for second place in this list (see Yahoo article here.) That seems like almost as big news as Israel topping it - but seems somewhat harder to blame on anti-semitism.
posted by pascal at 8:03 AM on November 6, 2003


....who likened Israel to an abused child, who...

Who had an abusive next-door neighbor?

Or about 5 or 6 of them?
posted by goethean at 8:05 AM on November 6, 2003


Who had an abusive next-door neighbor?
Or about 5 or 6 of them?


Don't forget the insane, megalomaniac sugar daddy. That's an essential component of this analogy.
posted by rocketman at 8:07 AM on November 6, 2003


It's time for people to realize that opposing the policies of Israel is not equivalent to harboring anti-semitic views. People don't run around screaming about anti-Gallicism whenever the French government does something bad (just as an example).
posted by bshort at 8:15 AM on November 6, 2003


Israel is a threat to World Peace because it is a location in which warring factions choose to beat the ever lovin' crap outta one another. It has nothing to do with anti-semitism. It's a matter of geography.

Stating a fact like "a bar is a location where alcohol is consumed in heavy quantities" is not an admission that one is for or against prohibition. One can even go so far as to state "bars are a threat to world sobriety" because so long as people insist on getting drunk in bars, it's gonna happen. This is not an admission for or against sobriety. It's a statement of fact.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:17 AM on November 6, 2003


I wonder if USA was one of the options.

Yup, forgot what rank we were exactly, but it was in the top 10.
posted by da5id at 8:18 AM on November 6, 2003


I'm not terribly surprised by the high scores for nuclear-armed countries that have shown that they have no qualms about going to war, but Afghanistan surprises me - what are they going to do, throw rocks at people?
posted by spazzm at 8:20 AM on November 6, 2003


Well, I found it....

we are ranked #2
posted by da5id at 8:20 AM on November 6, 2003


Thanks, pascal (and da5id).
posted by spazzm at 8:22 AM on November 6, 2003


Or maybe not:

Citizens were able to choose as many of the 15 nations as threats to world peace as they wanted, and the final ranking was:

Israel, Iran, North Korea, United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Russia, Somalia and the EU itself.


Just goes to show the accuracy in journalism isn't very good.
posted by da5id at 8:23 AM on November 6, 2003


....59 per cent of Swedes, Dutch, Spaniards and Italians are rabidly anti-Semitic, and spend their spare time desecrating Jewish cemeteries. - this is news to me, and I am Swedish.
posted by dabitch at 8:26 AM on November 6, 2003


first is the worse, second is the best.
USA USA USA!!!

But since a lot of people didn't like Iran, does that mean that Europe is also anti-islam? Or racist towards Asians?
posted by Stynxno at 8:27 AM on November 6, 2003


dabitch I would consider that article highly bias in one way or another.
posted by da5id at 8:34 AM on November 6, 2003


Ummm. Claiming that the state is Israel is a danger to world peace in and of itself has little to do with alleged 'anti-Semitism' Saying such almost implies that Israel takes the actions is does because they are jews not because the govt is a bunch of dysfunctional loons. The people of israel have lost control of their govt as much as the people of the US have. Does claiming that the US is a danger to world peace make one anti-christian? No, even tho the current administration claims the US to be a christian nation, and is trying to run it as such.

Now did some people choose Israel because of their emotional bias? Of that i have no doubt. But it is very common for jewish groups to jump up and scream 'anti-Semitism' whenever israel is criticized. Its a reflex action.
posted by MrLint at 8:34 AM on November 6, 2003


Anastasiav actually I think the religion does have something to do with it. The government has a mission to ensure, according to Israelis I know, that the state is predominately Jewish. This precludes true democracy because if all of these Palistinians were given citizenship then the Jewish nature of the Israeli state would be diluted.

Obviously this is not the same as saying it's the religion's fault but rather that religion has a big piece of the blame for this because it animates so many of the piss poor decisions which have been made by the Israeli goverment over the last several decades.
posted by filchyboy at 8:40 AM on November 6, 2003


The Eurobarometer survey [WARNING: huge pdf file: 3.4 Mbs) was mainly about EU reaction to the US invasion of Iraq (mostly negative) with the question in question at the end of the survey.
Blogitorial has a nice summary of the poll's findings.
BTW, I would like to condemn the antinorthkoreanism and antipersianism of my fellow the eurocitizens.
posted by talos at 8:42 AM on November 6, 2003


Okay, we all seem to agree. But what do we do with those who cry Antisemitism at every attempt to persuade them that just maybe the current government of Israel might actually be a threat to world peace? In other words, what do these people feel they have to gain by taking that position? I am sceptical enough to believe that anyone who takes a fixed position and sticks with it in a controversial situation figures he can get something out of it in the end? But in this case, what could it be? And how can we address it?
posted by donfactor at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2003


no kiddin' da5id. highly biased.
posted by dabitch at 8:47 AM on November 6, 2003


I wish people would not make this Israel = all Jewish people. Critics of Israel often have to cope with accusations of anti-semitism, and it's about as conducive to problem-solving and political discussion as the whole "you hate America" counterpoint.
posted by orange swan at 8:50 AM on November 6, 2003


I agree with MrLint. Also, on preview, orange swan.

I think that the worldwide Jewish community really loses when people equate anti-Israel and anti-Jew. It is really possible, common even, to be against Israel but not anti-Semitic. My husband is Jewish, and we both think Israel is pretty abhorrent in its recent (and not-so-recent) policy.

I worry about this because some people who are anti-Israel express this through anti-Semitic behavior. I think that responses like this really validate that, since they further blur the line between disagreement with a nation and hatred of a racial group.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:03 AM on November 6, 2003


I remember a Jon Ronson article/book/tv programme where he was following pro-celebrity nutjob David Icke on tour, and attended an anti-defamation meeting concerning Ike's sinister use of the term 'Giant Lizards' to refer to a Jewish conspiracy. Ronson was expelled from the meeting for pointing out that Icke really, truly did mean a conspiracy of Giant Lizards...

The constant use of the term to tar folk with a Nazi brush is worrying - by diluting the meaning to something like 'a person who says something bad about anything remotely pertaining to persons of Jewish faith or lineage' we'll end up without a word to use against people who really, truly do have an irrational hatred of Jews.
posted by jack_mo at 9:09 AM on November 6, 2003


I think that the worldwide Jewish community really loses when people equate anti-Israel and anti-Jew. It is really possible, common even, to be against Israel but not anti-Semitic.

The problem is that it is Israel that is doing this, as exemplified by the Israeli reaction to the survey. Its in their interests to do so.
posted by biffa at 9:19 AM on November 6, 2003


"Israel is considered a threat by 59 percent of those polled, followed by the United States, Iran, and North Korea". Doesn't this suggest that the US is actually the biggest threat, given its bankrolling of Israel's millitary machine?

I suggest that the nations on the list all declare war on each other, and let them fight it out for the definitive "biggest threat to world peace" accolade.
posted by Pericles at 9:28 AM on November 6, 2003


But what do we do with those who cry Antisemitism at every attempt to persuade them that just maybe the current government of Israel might actually be a threat to world peace?

I believe we tend to elect them to public office.
posted by rushmc at 9:40 AM on November 6, 2003


I agree that it is a mistake to confuse criticism of Israel with anti-semitism, but I would also like to add that there is a significant amount of anti-semitism that still exists in Europe.

I have no doubt that 'racism' of many types affects these polls, be it islamophobia or whatever. Moreover, polls like this are a complete waste of time and only cause problems between nations. What is really gained by asking a group of random Europeans this question?
posted by cell divide at 9:45 AM on November 6, 2003


The McGill Daily recently ran an astonishingly excellent article on the perceived confluence of anti-Israeli perspectives with anti-Semitic ones. What's important to emphasize, however, is that for us to put an end to such nonsense, we need to not only bitch-slap those who tar opponents of Israel as anti-semites, but also strike extremely firmly at true anti-semites. That is, when there is true anti-semitism within its ranks, the pro-palestinian cause must react with unflinching outrage. Too often, I see "jews suck!" rhetoric tolerated at the pro-Palestinian rallies I attend.
posted by Marquis at 9:49 AM on November 6, 2003


Yeah, the Jon Ronson thing was classic. These Canadians were claiming that "twelve-foot lizards" was a code word for Jews.

You think it's hard being a critic of Israel who's tarred as anti-Semitic, try being Jewish-American and having everyone assume you must love what Ariel Sharon's doing.

I get the feeling that Israelis are the only ones who are allowed to have differences of opinion about their reactionary government. In the U.S., politicians are expected to approve of every counterproductive Israeli occupation or police state schtick, or else be considered some sort of Jew-haters.

Blurring the line between anti-Israel-ism and anti-Semitism is downright dangerous. Someone should issue a disclaimer that Ariel Sharon's views are not necessarily those of the Jewish people, nor do they necessarily jibe with Jewish "light unto the world" ethics. If American public opinion ever turns against Israel, I don't want to be associated with a bunch of tanks and bulldozers.

You want to see real anti-Semites, I went to a gun show this weekend...there were guys with SS T-shirts selling cheap CD-Rs of "Songs from the Third Reich" for $20 a pop.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:02 AM on November 6, 2003


Anti-Israeli/anti-Iraqi, anti-Jew/anti-Muslim...it's fascinating how differently the epithets are weighed.

It's almost as if one is expected to make general moral allowances because of the actions of an unrelated government in another corner of the world several generations ago....
posted by rushmc at 10:27 AM on November 6, 2003


what are they (afghanistanis) going to do, throw rocks at people?

Hmm, maybe some laser-guided rocks?
posted by knapah at 11:08 AM on November 6, 2003


er, afghans...not afghanistanis
posted by knapah at 11:10 AM on November 6, 2003


It's time for people to realize that opposing the policies of Israel is not equivalent to harboring anti-semitic views. - bshort.

No shit. In fact, if ya think of all those christian fundies that long for the rapture, do ya think they have no anti-semites? Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell et al, they all want to see Israel thrive until the arrival of the red calf and the destruction of Judaism in the Armageddon, prior to the establishment of the 1000 year Reich Kingdom of God.

In other words, imho, it is more than possible to be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic.

There is a very thin connection between anti-semitism and anti-Israeli.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:23 AM on November 6, 2003


From pascal's link: A total of 53 percent said Iran, North Korea and the United States pose a threat, followed by 52 percent for Iraq, 50 percent for Afghanistan and 48 percent for Pakistan.

So that means 53 percent of Europeans are anti-Persian, anti-Asian, and anti-Christian (the US being a 'Christian nation' and all), 52 percent are anti-Arab, 50 percent are anti-Pashtun/Tajik/Hazara et al, and 48 percent are anti-Punjabi/Mohajir et al. Oh, and 8 percent are anti-European, which means that they interviewed 40 people who loathe themselves.

Or maybe we can generalize and say that those (self-loathing) Europeans hate Jews, Muslims, brown people, yellow people, more brown people, and America.

Simplifying this even more, we can just say that Europeans hate everyone. Oh yeah, Europa, the land of hate.

It's obvious, isn't it?

Or maybe not.
posted by moonbiter at 11:30 AM on November 6, 2003


Hey, we're number 2! We try harder!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:41 AM on November 6, 2003


Um, hold on a sec.

59 per cent of Swedes, Dutch, Spaniards and Italians are rabidly anti-Semitic, and spend their spare time desecrating Jewish cemeteries

I think this is being taken out of context. He's trying to make a conditional clause (an absurd one, but that's the point, I think). Either 59% of Europeans are anti-Semetic and spend their free time desecrating Jewish graves and the like, or there's a problem with the survey.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2003


er, afghans...not afghanistanis

I'm pretty sure it's "Afghanistanites"
posted by UncleFes at 12:11 PM on November 6, 2003


"Victims of U.S. agression and neglect" will do just fine, y'all.
posted by rushmc at 12:17 PM on November 6, 2003


But what do we do with those who cry Antisemitism at every attempt to persuade them that just maybe the current government of Israel might actually be a threat to world peace?

Reading Ha'aretz is a good start:
It is much easier to claim the entire world is against us than to admit that the State of Israel, which rose as a refuge and source of pride for Jews, has not only turned into a place less Jewish and less safe for its citizens, but has become a genuine source of danger and a source of shameful embarrassment to Jews who choose to live outside its borders. Arguing it takes an anti-Semite to call the Israeli government's policies of 2003 a danger to world peace is a contemptible cheapening of the term anti-Semitism.
The real fun comes when you quote Ha'aretz verbatim, without revealing the source, and get accused of anti-semitism. It should be said that it's a testament to what is good about Israel that more dissent exists within its borders than, say, in the US media.
posted by riviera at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2003


The way I understand it there is a difference between being anti-semitic and anti-zionist. I consider Jews a people with varying ideals and political persuasions. I consider Zionists pro-Israel. If I'm mistaken I have no doubt that someone here will clear things up for me.

Criticizing Israel (the secular government) is anti-zionist.

Selling pro-Nazi music at gun shows while wearing SS t-shirts is anti-semitic.
posted by whatever at 1:18 PM on November 6, 2003


but the vast majority of the Europeans who said Israel is a threat to world peace are not anti-Semitic. They are just scared.

I can't speak for other countries but I know that in Poland anti-semitism is still relatively rampant. Not so much among the younger generations, but my grandmother and all her cronies bash Jews every chance they get. According to them the struggling Polish government is falling apart because the politicians are all 'goddamn Jews'. I've even seen a couple of political farces on the public Polish television networks (basic channels that every Pole and their Mother has access to) making unambiguous anti-semitic remarks, along the lines of "If we want Poland to regain it's old dignity then lets ward off the fucking Jews to Israel where they belong."

By no means am I saying that all Poles are anti-semitic, or even that hte majority thinks along those lines, but rather that YES it's still an issue, and not as small of one as we let on.
posted by degnarra at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2003


If Europeans really rank the U.S. ahead of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya, then they shouldn't whine about why we pay little attention to their viewspoints.
posted by darren at 1:28 PM on November 6, 2003


If Europeans really rank the U.S. ahead of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya, then they shouldn't whine about why we pay little attention to their viewspoints.

Um, maybe the reason that they rank the US in that position is *because* the US pays little attention to their viewpoints.
posted by Slothrup at 1:55 PM on November 6, 2003


"If Europeans really rank the U.S. ahead of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya, then they shouldn't whine about why we pay little attention to their viewspoints."

Does Iran, Syria, Libya or North Korea have one of the world's largest arsenals of nuclear weapons?
posted by spazzm at 2:09 PM on November 6, 2003


Lest we forget...

The European Union (EU) is not the continent of Europe, just a part. Switzerland, Norway, Czech Republic, Hungary & more are not included in the survey.
posted by i_cola at 2:46 PM on November 6, 2003


According to a statistic analysis I just made more or less 50% of metafilterians answer complex question with 3,69 lines with minor occourrences of the "fuck" word. I conclude therefore that 50% of metafilterians are stupid but very polite.
posted by elpapacito at 3:05 PM on November 6, 2003


What kind of number is 3,69? Color me stupid.
posted by whatever at 3:58 PM on November 6, 2003


What kind of number is 3,69?

Some furriners use a comma instead of a point between the whole part and the fractional part of a number. To us Amurrikens, it reads "3.69"
posted by Slothrup at 4:01 PM on November 6, 2003


whatever: thank you for just proving my point :) *drops a bucket of stupid on whatever*
posted by elpapacito at 4:45 PM on November 6, 2003


Criticizing Israel (the secular government) is anti-zionist.

No it isn't. Saying that Israel should not have been founded is anti-Zionist. Criticizing actions that Israel takes is neither inherently anti-Zionist nor anti-semitic.
posted by Dasein at 5:01 PM on November 6, 2003


acrobat, disliking the far right policies of the Israeli government does not make one an 'anti-semite.'

Don't buy the BS terminology, if all Israel supporters can do is cry racism when challenged then they have no defense of their policies.
posted by skallas at 7:05 PM on November 6, 2003


Let's just bomb the damned theocracy back into the stone age. Oh wait, they're Jews, not Muslims?

Very, very sorry for the flamebait, but I find the double standard aggravating.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:18 PM on November 6, 2003


"What is going on in that country is something that no decent person can condone"

Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester Gorton

p.s. he is jewish
posted by johnnyboy at 2:15 AM on November 7, 2003


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