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"In the span of history, this is a not an altogether unfamiliar situation for us."
November 21, 2005 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Quitting France: French Jews are leaving the country in ever-growing numbers, fleeing a wave of anti-Semitism. They are moving to Israel, the United States, and increasingly, Montreal -- where the mostly English-speaking Jewish community is preparing for its greatest demographic change in decades. An interesting if slightly anecdotal look at the situation for Jewish people in France from Canada's National Post.

Part 1 - Barricaded in Paris, Part 2 - Taking leave of 'the fear', Part 3 tomorrow deals with the impact of the influx of French Jews in Montreal.
posted by loquax (67 comments total)

 
Nice post. Thanks.
posted by Rothko at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2005


Interesting. I didn't know there was a French-Jewish community in Miami, either.
posted by huskerdont at 10:48 AM on November 21, 2005


Here is an article written by a professor of mine outlining the complex history of antisemitism in France. Might be nice to give this a bit more perspective.
posted by jmgorman at 10:51 AM on November 21, 2005


Thanks jmgorman, a good synopsis.
posted by loquax at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2005


I've heard that Montreal has the largest population of holocaust survivors outside of Israel.

There have been numerous instances of anti-semitism here, but nothing to the extent of the recent instances in Europe.
posted by dobie at 11:02 AM on November 21, 2005


obligatory snarky comment to save PP the trouble: So the French have succeeded in totally alienating both the Muslims and the Jews? Good work!
posted by wendell at 11:03 AM on November 21, 2005


Someone will come along here in a second and put us straight by telling us that there's not a problem with antisemitism in France and that it's a trope of American right-wing media.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:04 AM on November 21, 2005


wendell: if they're alienating both parties, then they must be doing something right for a change.
posted by keswick at 11:05 AM on November 21, 2005


What concerns me here is the fact that I am an American Jew who lives in the UK. I go to France quite often - Paris, the south and southwest mostly - and have never run into anything that smacked of anitsemitism. Of course, I am a secular Jew, I don't display my beliefs because whatever my religous beliefs are they are not for public consumption. What intrigues me is that the religion that I was born into does not believe in proselytizing. But when I see Jews walking around wearing their Yarmulkas or their Yeshiva costumes. I want to stear clear of them. I want to ask why are they showing off their form of belief in God? If they don't want to convert people a la the Mormons or Jehoa's Witnesses, then they must be laying down a challenge. "Don't tread on me. I am one of G-d's chosen ones." Or something like that. And that would be asking for it in probably a more provocative style than wearing an Islamic shawl or one of those middle-Eastern style beards which seems to be cultural artifacts rather religious badges.
So I wonder who these Jews are who are leaving. Are they orthodox? Or are they followers of some Yeshiva Reb? I wonder. I can't believe that they are people like me who are being badly treated. I mean, if I am right then they have a choice,don't they?
posted by donfactor at 11:05 AM on November 21, 2005


Canadian right-wing media. I'm really surprised, but I'm getting a little wary of the newspapers quickly saying "a few North African extremists." This is obviously more than a few, for it to reach these levels. Sure only a few might be actually lighting buses on fire or doing grafiti, but a social network must be there supporting their actions.
posted by geoff. at 11:08 AM on November 21, 2005


Anybody have a link to a list of recent events of anti-semitism as I hadn't heard about anything until this post.
posted by destro at 11:09 AM on November 21, 2005


Nothing other than previous experience, but anything from The National Post should be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:14 AM on November 21, 2005


'fleeing' the country?

Oh for fuck's sake.

Intersingly enough, Ariel Sharon has been calling all jews in France to leave the country because France is supposed to be 'racist'. He does it every two years. Last year when he did so, the number of politicians telling him to calm the f down was impressive. Simply because it's not true. There's not more racism aginast jews as there is against muslims.

This is a very poor, ignorant, sensationalist article.
posted by Sijeka at 11:16 AM on November 21, 2005


Some things are not right, upon rereading the article. For instance it talks about the French Jews hating the US and instead moving to Montreal. Uh Montreal speaks French, there aren't too many French communities here in the US -- this seems a very bias assumption, especially considering the large Jewish population we have here.

Some research indicatest that this doesn't seem to be as much of a problem as it was in the early part of this century. In fact the newest press release by the ADL from November 10 has this blurb half-way down:
The situation has improved, he said, with a decrease of about 50 percent of anti-Semitic acts; yet concerns remain. He credited the decline to the government's efforts to take strong action against anti-Semitism, and the decline of violence in the Middle East, which had stoked anti-Jewish attitudes in France. The majority of anti-Semitic acts in France are committed by Muslims who come from poor suburbs and suffer from non-integration into French society, Mr. Cukierman said.
Which also contradicts the statement made in the article that Chirac was ambivalent about the growing anti-semitism. It looks like within the last couple of years they've made strides to rid the anti-semitism coming from these Muslim immigrants, by reading the National Post article you'd think the exact opposite.
posted by geoff. at 11:26 AM on November 21, 2005


Previous discussions of French anti-semitism, increased physical attacks against French Jews with links to statistics, and sharply increased French-Jewish migration to Israel and the US have been discussed in these Metafilter threads, among others:

  • "Betrayed by Europe: An Expatriate’s Lament" - March, 2004

  • "A good, balanced article on antisemitism in France by Fernanda Eberstadt" - March, 2004

  • "Why Does This News Make Me Uneasy?" - June, 2003


  • Many of those threads elicited curious comments to the effect that the people who peddle the "France is becoming dangerous" meme are surely over-reacting, actual statistics on hate crimes and immigration notwithstanding, nevermind anecdotes reported in newspapers.

    "there's not more racism aginast jews as there is against muslims"

    No, but there have been far more documented physical attacks against Jews, Jewish religious institutions, Jewish cemeteries, Jewish-owned businesses, etc. than there have been against any other ethnic or religious minority group in the country, according to France's own statistics. Granted, hate crimes against French Muslims may be seriously under-counted in France's official stats. But one look at the number of synagogue and day school firebombings that took place in 2002, to pick one awful example, and I think we would have heard something in the press if anywhere near the same number of mosques were getting regularly torched.
    posted by Asparagirl at 11:27 AM on November 21, 2005


    It looks like within the last couple of years they've made strides to rid the anti-semitism coming from these Muslim immigrants, by reading the National Post article you'd think the exact opposite.

    Well, let's look at some actual numbers and find out:

    Major Violent Incidents in 2003

    Major Violent Incidents in 2004


    There you go.
    posted by event at 11:38 AM on November 21, 2005


    Thanks event, because The situation has improved, he said, with a decrease of about 50 percent of anti-Semitic acts; wasn't clear enough that "acutal numbers" indicate that for 2005 it is decreasing, in fact by 50 percent. The article implied, actually flat out stated, that France was apathetic. The ADL says different.
    posted by geoff. at 11:41 AM on November 21, 2005


    Huh. I noticed that last time I was in Quebec there were some great Kosher Deli's. This must be why, I guess.
    posted by unreason at 11:42 AM on November 21, 2005


    Since when does Mireille Silcott know anything about anything other than bad dance music and party drugs?

    Author + paper (The National Post, aka Canada's wannabe Wall Street Journal without the quality reporting but with an extra helping of Zionist publisher) = no credibility.
    posted by docgonzo at 11:46 AM on November 21, 2005


    (unreason: Actually, that'd be because a large number of eastern European Jews settled in Montreal from the 1920s on. See Mordecai Richler, Seagrams, etc. etc.)
    posted by docgonzo at 11:46 AM on November 21, 2005


    wendell: So the French have succeeded in totally alienating both the Muslims and the Jews? Good work!

    Actually no, wendell.
    In case anybody missed it, virtually all anti-Jewish violence in France is being perpetrated by Muslims, which is hardly surprising, since part of the Muslim identity seems to be that you have hate teh Jews. At the very least it's mainstream in Islamic culture, whereas in French (or Western European) culture it is not.

    Here are the relevant bits in the article:

    The rise of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 sparked a wave of *mainly Muslim-led*, anti-Jewish violence in France that has since brought forth thousands of hateful acts aimed at French Jews and their places of business, study, recreation, prayer and burial.

    The poor, disenfranchised Muslim youth who were rioting throughout France this month are the brothers of those who for years have been attacking France's Jewish population.

    So, if a synagogue burns in France, chances are it was set on fire by a Muslim. Probably true for most of Europe.
    posted by sour cream at 11:47 AM on November 21, 2005


    I had in the recent past posted on the subject of Jews and Israel at two different blogs and recall distinctly the many assaults upon Jews and places of worship, mostly, we were told, by immigrants...The numbers of such indicents may have decreased lately but that is perhaps because finally Chirac and others began to act about it. Now the "real" Frenchmen face another issue.

    As for dressing like a Jew--why should a guy who follows his religious prescripts dress in a manner to conform to an assimilated Jews's ideas? Should priests and nuns dress in civilian clothes too? Odd comment

    Even odder: Jews from Russia, also fleeing in droves are migrating to--yes: Germany rather than Israel or the U.S.
    posted by Postroad at 11:48 AM on November 21, 2005


    Paris was burning for two weeks this month. But Jewish Paris has been burning for five years -- a steady, fiery precursor that went largely ignored by the French authorities.

    and what have the French done about it? Where are the results? Why are people allowed to remain in fear of another ethnic group?
    posted by caddis at 11:54 AM on November 21, 2005


    This is crap sensationalism. "French anti-semitism" is no different than "German anti-semitism" or "Italian anti-semitism." But it is interesting how every few years some Israeli politicians will attempt to single out France just because the French have the audacity to support Palestine. I guess if it works--keep doing it.
    posted by nixerman at 11:58 AM on November 21, 2005


    Well that was one of the longer spans till "Palestine" was mentioned in any Jewish related thread. Congrats to all! Next time we go for two hours!!
    posted by PenDevil at 12:01 PM on November 21, 2005


    "French anti-semitism" is no different than "German anti-semitism" or "Italian anti-semitism."

    The statistics do not support this claim.
    posted by event at 12:06 PM on November 21, 2005


    Thanks for the stats, event. What interested me is how people think they can draw conclusions from fewer than 100 incidents (major incidents though they are).

    With such a small base, I would have thought that random or semi-random variations like increased reporting, changes or inconsistencies in reporting standards, or indeed just stuff happening could have major effects.
    posted by athenian at 12:07 PM on November 21, 2005


    So I wonder who these Jews are who are leaving. Are they orthodox? Or are they followers of some Yeshiva Reb?

    That's a really good question. I'd guess that the orthodox Jews are moving to Israel as mentioned by the article, but I'd like to see a breakdown myself.

    I think a point that was glossed over in the article was the relative voting power of Muslims vs. Jews. At more than 10 Muslims for every Jew, there's very little political payoff being openly supportive of Jewish concerns. Of course, not that French leaders appear to be falling over each other to cater to the Muslims either.

    "French anti-semitism" is no different than "German anti-semitism" or "Italian anti-semitism."

    Read the article posted by jmgorman.

    What interested me is how people think they can draw conclusions from fewer than 100 incidents

    Well, 100 or so confirmed incidents of anti-Jewish violence (that affect indirectly far more than 100 people) is pretty significant for a population of roughly 500,000. When you add non-major and non-violent incidents like graffiti and harassment, they add up to a lot more. Especially when you fix the numbers to look only at Paris, I'm sure. Even ignoring trending, it does seem that French Jews are having a much harder time of things than Jews in other countries.
    posted by loquax at 12:13 PM on November 21, 2005


    What interested me is how people think they can draw conclusions from fewer than 100 incidents

    Actually, let's take this further, assume an average of 75 major violent anti-Jewish crimes over the last 5 years, for a total of 375. Now let's assume that the average attack affects 100 people (maybe too high, maybe too low, ranging from an assault on one person which affects, say 10 other people, to a synagogue bombing which affects maybe 1000). The population doesn't greatly change, so all of a sudden you have maybe 37,500 out of 500,000 people affected by these acts of violence over the last 5 years, again, not including minor acts of violence, or acts of non-violence. That seems pretty significant to me.
    posted by loquax at 12:20 PM on November 21, 2005


    Oh and assuming the acts are of similar intensity in the UK and Germany, the percentage of impacted population may be even higher in those two countries.
    posted by loquax at 12:22 PM on November 21, 2005


    My point is not that these attacks aren't significant, just that the statistics could change wildly from year to year for random or semi-random reasons. I don't think we can draw conclusions about France becoming more or less anti-semitic from a single year's figures.
    posted by athenian at 12:24 PM on November 21, 2005


    I don't think we can draw conclusions about France becoming more or less anti-semitic from a single year's figures.

    I didn't mean to disagree with you about that, although it looks like I did.
    posted by loquax at 12:27 PM on November 21, 2005


    Are there good stats for anti-semitic crimes in America? It would be interesting to see the difference, because it seems like almost every week you hear about a Jewish cemetery being defaced or a synagogue being defaced.

    You don't hear about violent crimes so much, though.
    posted by cell divide at 12:28 PM on November 21, 2005


    I find those stats a bit bizarre. In 2004, a Canadian was 30 times more likely to commit an act of anti-Semitic violence than an American? Correcting again for the fact that Jews make up about 1 percent of Canada's population but 2-3% of the US population, a Canadian Jew is 60-90 times more likely to be a victim of anti-Semitic violence than an American Jew? Can someone help me understand these numbers? Also, given that they seem to suggest that Canada is one of the worst places for Jews in the Western world (probably the worst, actually, when you look at the numbers on a per capita basis), wouldn't French Jews who were fleeing anti-Semitism pick a safer location?
    posted by senor biggles at 12:32 PM on November 21, 2005


    cell divide: The ADL has these figures from 2002. 435 acts of harassment (not sure what classifies as harassment or how major it is) and 191 acts of vandalism (again unsure of the serverity of the attacks). Given the US has a population of 6 million Jews in terms of attacks per person it's probably less than France.
    posted by PenDevil at 12:37 PM on November 21, 2005


    Can someone help me understand these numbers?

    I would guess that there are major differences in reporting and classifcation of crimes. I would bet that Canada would report far more "ethnic" based crime in general due to the nature of the sensitivity to minority groups here. That's only a guess though.

    Here's the discussion of Canada from that site, as well as the UK and a general analysis. I can't find the summaries for France, the US or Germany though.

    Canada recorded a total of 857 antisemitic incidents in 2004, representing a 46.7 percent increase over the previous year. Incidents in the categories of violence and vandalism doubled. The year saw the continuation of a trend on university campuses of inflammatory anti-Israel campaigns and rallies demonizing the Jewish state. Despite some positive actions on the part of the authorities, anti-racism initiatives have been hampered by unwillingness among the wider community to admit that a serious problem of antisemitism exists.

    (Also, see those summaries for how they classify "incidents")
    posted by loquax at 12:39 PM on November 21, 2005


    Main page, from which you can find summaries for all the countries, including US and Germany. I should have included a link there in my first comment -- apologies. I used this Google search to find the site, for whatever that's worth.
    posted by event at 12:47 PM on November 21, 2005


    The most up-to-date stats on anti-French-Jewish attacks are, as always, located at CRIF. The linked page has stats from January 1 2005 - June 30 2005, broken down by type of attack into the following ten categories: Mailed threats, graffiti, verbal harrassment, phoned threats, other miscellaneous threats, generic vandalism, vandalism of religious buildings/institutions/cemeteries, physical assaults and beatings, thrown objects and gas attacks, and incendiary attacks/firebombs/molotov cocktails. Stats are also available for previous years.

    The fact that are so many attacks that creating the ten categories was necessary to sort the data speaks for itself.
    posted by Asparagirl at 12:57 PM on November 21, 2005


    But when I see Jews walking around wearing their Yarmulkas or their Yeshiva costumes. I want to stear clear of them.

    donfactor - oy gevalt. This is a textbook expression of a "secular" Jew being worried about other Jews being "too Jewish." Apologies to the readers of Metafilter that they had to see this.

    Jewish law forbids men from walking more than a few steps without their head covered. Security guards at synagogues in London and other European cities have warned me to remove a yarmulke before venturing outside because of the physical danger of looking Jewish on European streets (even in nice neighborhoods, mind you). The yarmulke requirement is lifted, of course, in the case of danger or causing serious problems in one's work (e.g. I have a friend who is a judge in the US, who removes his yarmulke for judging cases).

    One rabbi famously jokes that he tells other Jews who worry about how he looks that he is Amish, and they immediately change their demeanor and compliment him on the "traditions of the Amish."

    Then, of course, there's the question of tzitzis .....
    posted by Adamchik at 1:00 PM on November 21, 2005


    Thanks for the pointers, loquax and event. I read through the full Canadian description and found it an enlightening, if very depressing, catalogue of Canadian anti-Semitic acts. I'm inclined to see the information in the reports as more useful than the tables attempting to compare the relative "anti-Semitic-ness" of nations.
    posted by senor biggles at 1:25 PM on November 21, 2005


    donfactor says: "But when I see Jews walking around wearing their Yarmulkas or their Yeshiva costumes. I want to stear clear of them. I want to ask why are they showing off their form of belief in God?
    ...
    And that would be asking for it ...
    ...
    I can't believe that they are people like me who are being badly treated."


    Are you f'n serious?
    Asking for it?!?!? Yeshiva Costumes!?!?! People like me!??!?

    Well, as long as people like you, who aren't "asking for it" aren't being mistreated, then everything's ok! Your characterizations of the motives of Orthodox Jews are crazy, ignorant and rehash some of our favorite anti-semitic themes. Shameful.
    posted by kosem at 2:23 PM on November 21, 2005


    what kosem said
    posted by caddis at 2:49 PM on November 21, 2005


    Jewish isn't a race, so why don't they just stop being Jewish?
    Same goes for Islamic, Roman Catholic, Scientologists, whatever. Stupid "faith" doesn't do anyone any good, my heart doesn't bleed for you, so give us all a break.
    I am sick beyond telling of having to accommodate religious nutters.
    posted by Joeforking at 4:01 PM on November 21, 2005


    ...part of the Muslim identity seems to be that you have hate teh Jews. At the very least it's mainstream in Islamic culture, whereas in French (or Western European) culture it is not.

    Great. While we're dredging up every awful stereotype we can think of, let's not forget that its those Semite-hating towelheads that are ultimately to blame.

    Seriously, where do you get this from? It's ridiculous to even talk about a "Muslim identity", when there are so many kinds of Muslims in the world. Assuming that "Muslim identity" was synonymous with "a typical political opinion expressed by people who identify as Muslim", we should be talking about hating Israel, not Jews or Semites (the last claim, of anti-semitism, is particularly ridiculous, because many Muslims are themselves Semitic).

    Drawing a false equivalence between anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish speech and acts is a dangerous and ignorant thing. The two are not the same. So, don't go accusing Muslims of anti-Jewish acts because you're so used to hearing the anti-Israeli speech of Muslim leaders.
    posted by rockabilly_pete at 4:03 PM on November 21, 2005


    Jewish isn't a race, so why don't they just stop being Jewish?
    Same goes for Islamic, Roman Catholic, Scientologists, whatever. Stupid "faith" doesn't do anyone any good, my heart doesn't bleed for you, so give us all a break.
    I am sick beyond telling of having to accommodate religious nutters.

    posted by Joeforking at 7:01 PM EST on November 21 [!]


    Sorry you hate religion Joeforking, and I don't mean to impose, but I'm not sure that speaking out against attacking fellow human beings on account of their beliefs constitutes an "accomodation" to "religious nutters." So, I'm afraid that your suggestion "Stop being Jewish" is rather unhelpful.

    And rockabilly-pete, you make a valid point. Criticism of Israeli policy is not per se Antisemitic. That said, it's often difficult to disaggregate the types of speech you're talking about, particularly when otherwise valid critiques of Israeli policy are interspersed with anti-semitic vitriol (As is often the case in the Middle East--there's more than a few copies of the Protocols circulating around there; more than a few invocations of the Blood Libel. This is not universal, but extremely prevalent.). And though you are right that ethnic middle easterners are technically semitic, it is not "ridiculous" to use the term "anti semitic" to mean "anti Jewish." See, e.g.
    posted by kosem at 4:26 PM on November 21, 2005


    Joeforking: stupid isn't a race either, but we put up with you.
    posted by Mid at 4:30 PM on November 21, 2005


    My grandparents were strict orthodox Jews. My grandfather never wore a hat except at the synagogue or it if was raining. Nor did any of this friends in the neighborhood. When the Yeshivabuchers as my grandmother called them came to her door looking for handouts she chased them away with a broom and called them Gonifs, thieves. She did not keep her head covered except in schul. These traditions arose mostly in 17th and 18th century Jewish enclaves in certain parts of Europe, the shtetl culture. The have nothing to do with Jewish law - at least not the law as expressed in the Torah or the Talmud for that matter. If you have ever been in Israel you might have been amused at the absurdity of some of the men at the Wailing wall wearing their black fur hats and heavy black coats in hot Summer weather. These outfits are in fact imitations of the dress of aristocratic Poles in the 18th Century. And I can only guess that they were first worn as a kind of disguise.

    Fundamentally, I find it absurd for members of any religion to dress in ways that are alien to the culture of where they live and then complain when people don't treat them like everyone else. I certainly have no sympathy for those who attack Synagogues and Jewish Grave yards. They are fools. And, postroad, Rabbi's don't have uniforms nor do Jews have any equivalent of nuns. They all wear their civies. And when I am in California I happen to live just around a corner from a Yeshiva and it is alway amusing to see the people who arrive for services all dressed in their black uniforms every Friday evening and Saturday, but I have never seen these outfit on anyone in the neigborhood during the week. And I suppose it makes a lot more sense than dressing that way all the time.
    posted by donfactor at 4:43 PM on November 21, 2005


    I find it absurd for members of any religion to dress in ways that are alien to the culture of where they live and then complain when people don't treat them like everyone else.

    It's not a matter of being treated like everyone else, it's a matter of not being violently attacked. I think that's a fair expectation no matter what silly hats you wear, seeing as it's not the 15th century anymore.
    posted by loquax at 4:46 PM on November 21, 2005


    Kosem: in the spirit of this thread being exacting and demanding statistics, I'd be curious for you to give us illustrative examples of "otherwise valid critiques of Israeli policy" which are "interspersed with anti-semitic vitriol". The Muslim world, unlike the Christian world, has historically been far more tolerant of Jews. Jews were rarely persecuted under the color of the law; they were not confined to certain professions; no Muslim Empire or nation ever gave rise to a wildly popular political party or movment whose cornerstone was anti-Jewish or anti-non-Aryan. Jews were persecuted mainly in the world of Christendom. In Muslim Spain, Jews fluourished. It was the Catholic Inquisition got rid of both Muslims and Jews from the Iberian peninsula. Jews fluorished, too, in Arabia at the time of Islam's birth, and their integrity as a people was never compromised. It was not until the creation of Israel as a state for Jews in a predominantly non-Jewish landscape, where anti-Jewish sentiment developed. However, that sentiment, is not racially based, as it was in Europe. It is based on a territorial dispute. Therefore, to confuse it with anti-semitism--or hatred for the Jewish race--is, to my mind, a perversion of reality.

    It is analagous to saying that if you do not support the leadership in the Islamic Republic of Iran or if you do not believe that Iran should be an Islamic Republic, that you are anti-Shi'ite, or have a racially based hatred for Shi'ites.
    posted by Azaadistani at 4:52 PM on November 21, 2005


    I am not sure if it's been mentioned already, but the famous the Romanian-German-Jewish poet from Czernowitz, Bukovina, Paul Celan (b. 1920, d. 1970 in Paris) also a survivor the Transnistrian labor camps) sought refuge from the anti-semitism in Germany and Austria by moving to France, immediately following the war. I wonder what his experience of anti-semitism from the French (if he indeed sensed any) was like.
    posted by vkxmai at 5:21 PM on November 21, 2005


    I live in the Mile End district of Montreal, well known for it's Orthodox Jews (dozens of Sukkot line the balconies around my neighbourhood). Although I'm not Jewish almost half the employees at my last job were Jews of varying descent including Russian, Iranian(!) and Moroccan, above and beyond the Jewish Montrealers who's families have been here for generations. But I must confess that never in my life have I ever met a French Jew. This is of course purely anecdotal, but I've never heard of a French speaking Jewish community here in Montreal. I'm really curious to see tomorrow's article.
    posted by furtive at 6:07 PM on November 21, 2005


    Azaadistani: I basically agree with what you have to say. The long history of co-existence makes it clear that there is nothing even remotely antisemitic about Islam, Muslims, or inherently antisemitic in Islamic countries.

    So let me clarify: it is important to note that critiquing Israel is not anti Semitic. At the same time, there is often (CLEARLY not always) very real anti Semitism smuggled into condemnation of Israeli policy.

    You say it well: It was not until the creation of Israel as a state for Jews in a predominantly non-Jewish landscape, where anti-Jewish sentiment developed.

    Here's the thing, though: even though it might be based in a territorial dispute and not, as you say "racially based" (although I don't really agree with you there) it's still anti-Jewish sentiment, and is unjustified (it is to some degree understandable--you can explain it, but that doesn't make it ok.)

    Here's an article for you, which describes a bit of what I'm talking about.

    I'm not sure what anyone thinks of Hamas and Islamic Brotherhood, or the Syrian Ministry of Information, but it's hard to say that their critiques of Israel aren't tinged (to put it very mildly) with anti Semitism. Hard to listen to Bashir al Assad urge the Pope to join him in vanquishing the Christ Killing Jews and not feel the anti Semitism. Hard to listen to this and not feel the same way. It may be that when you ask me to point to "otherwise valid critiques" you would not include those made by these organizations and leaders.

    I don't mean this to be an antagonizing point, because often cries of "antisemitism" are used to shut down criticism of Israel. Just because this happens from time to time does not make it red herring noise to suggest that a whole lot of rhetoric in the Middle East critical of Israel is virulently anti Jewish.

    This is also helpful (with lots of links, don't know too much about the author).
    posted by kosem at 6:13 PM on November 21, 2005


    [whoops. last link should be this.]
    posted by kosem at 6:17 PM on November 21, 2005


    It is certainly true that, historistically, muslim countries treated jews far better than christian countries. However, that is certainly not true today. The rise in Muslim anti-semitsm may have been precipated by the creation of Israel, but that doesn't make any-semitism anything but anti-semitism (And I'm not going to debate what anti-semitism means; whatever the phrase's historical meaning, we all know what it refers to in common usage today). Most Muslim countries, especially those in the middle east, teach their children to hate Jews from an early age. Many of these ancountries teach the Protocols of the Elders of Zion d similar materials in schools.

    It is true, that in this country, those who criticize Israel , including Jews, are often wrongly accused of anti-semitism. While sometimes those who criticize Israel are anti-semitic (see David Duke, Louis Farrakahn, and Pat Buchanan), most of the time they are not. But in the middle east, anti-semitism is now is now the norm, and it is hard to find people there criticizing Israel who are not anti-semitic (except in Israel). The anti-semitism does not, of course, render their criticism of Israel illegitimate. But it is beyond silly to argue that the overwhelming anti-semitism present in the countries surrounding Israel is really just an anti-Israel critique. "Kill all the Jews" is not an argument against Israel. And blowing up a synogague in France is an anti-semitic act, not an argument against Israeli policy.
    posted by spira at 8:37 PM on November 21, 2005


    "Kill all the Jews" is not an argument against Israel. And blowing up a synogague in France is an anti-semitic act, not an argument against Israeli policy.

    I agree.

    Furthermore people have a right to choose how to dress, however odd it might seem, for whatever reason they do it, religious devotees as well as transvestites. However I dislike sartorial compulsion: it's as wrong to throw acid in a woman's face for not wearing "Muslim dress" as it is to beat up a yeshiva student for "dressing Jewish".
    posted by davy at 9:10 PM on November 21, 2005


    Thank you, Kosem. Yes, I'm not sure Rantissi's critique is one that I'd consider valid.

    spira: You may not wish to enter into a discussion about what anti-semitism means today, but if you're going to feel so strongly about it, and insist that it continues, then I don't see how you can avoid that discussion.

    While I agree that today in the countries around Israel, people do hate both 'Jews' and 'Israel', I do believe that the explanation is different from anti-semitism as it is defined (motivated by racial hatred). The explanation is different, because by stating that it is a state for Jews, Israel has obscured the issue for many people. For example, if you're an Israeli-Arab (i.e., either Christian or Muslim), you are discriminated against under the law (and I know that discrimination on the basis of marriage, citizenship, etc., against non-Muslims occurs in certain Muslim countries, and I hold no brief for that, either). Most jobs are off-limits because you could not serve in the army. Citizenship is directly linked to whether or not you are deemed 'Jewish'. If you are a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories (i.e., not a settler and Christian or Muslim), you cannot get Israeli citizenship. In fact, your marriage may not be recognized in Israel. The same is not true for the settlers, who, though they left Israel voluntarily, are still given protection under Israeli law. So, Israel, by stating itself to be a state for Jews (subtext: others are less) distinguishes itself as racist state, because it privileges what it terms as one race (when Jews are quite obviously not one 'race' in any visible sense). Thus, that encourages race-based responses in return, which causes the slippage from anti-Israel rhetoric to anti-Jewish rhetoric. But it is not the racial-superiority/racial-inferiority kind, to which anti-semitism refers.

    I think these distinctions are fundamentally important, because European anti-semitism stemmed from a hatred of a dynamic minority. In Israel, Jews are the majority. The situation is reversed. I ask myself the question: if a black or colored or Indian in apartheid South Africa were to turn around and call all his white/boer compatriots white assholes or bomb a church for whites only, would that be considered racist? Yes, but it is racism in response to a state-sponsored hierarchy of racism, so it seems less offensive, almost expected. That black or colored or indian would be speaking in terms that the white Apartheid state itself had set: that they would discriminate on the basis of color. Similarly, in Israel, the state set the terms for invoking anti-Jewishness, by stating that it privileges Jewishness, which is why Jewishness, then, comes to be resented. Culturally, Jews and Muslims are pretty similar (no pork, the orthodox on both side have draconian dress codes for both men and women, and so forth); they have gotten along for centuries and lived together (after all, the Jewish claim to Israel is that some Jews lived there all the way from biblical times--well, the Muslims ruled that territory for over a millenium, and those Jews were never persecuted or exterminated).

    Before I am accused of being an apologist for anti-semitism or the like, I would like to say that I am not. However, I do not consider anti-'Jewish' rhetoric that is based on the Palestinian conflict anything more than anti-Zionist or anti-'Jewish' (because it is totally divorced with the much more insidious and long-lasting civilizational Judeo-Christian enmity to which 'anti-semitism' refers). Conversely, the word anti-'Muslim', despite patent anti-Muslim sentiments and actions thoughout the Western world does not at all resonate. In the UK, they've coined it "Islamophobia", as though it is a medical condition that cannot be helped!

    And spira, as to your claim that the Arabs want all the Jews to leave Palestine, how is that any different from the notion of "transfer"--that all Muslim and Christian Palestinians should be transferred out of the Occupied Territories to other countries? How come no one cries: "The 'Jews' hate the Muslims!!! And the Christians!!!"
    posted by Azaadistani at 9:19 PM on November 21, 2005


    Wendell, I've arrived!

    I really don't think the French are anti-semitic. What I think they are is passive; incapable of taking decisive action in any sphere.
    posted by ParisParamus at 9:45 PM on November 21, 2005


    they are the quintessentiial example of what Burke said, viz., "‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’"

    The French have a great propensity to do nothing. Of course, that assumes they are "good men..."
    posted by ParisParamus at 9:49 PM on November 21, 2005


    While we're dredging up every awful stereotype we can think of...

    I just figured I'd say it again, P.P. Thanks for helping.
    posted by rockabilly_pete at 9:54 PM on November 21, 2005


    On the high holidays, the City of Philadelphia sends a couple police cars around to park in front of the synagogue that I attend.
    My first guess was that, since it's a large congregation, the cops were sent to manage the vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Only after observing that the cops never got out of the car did I realize that we were being guarded as we worshiped, presumably against harrassment, assault or vandalism.

    Every New Year, I'm reminded that there are only a couple million of Us in a world that only barely tolerates us.
    posted by Jon-o at 9:54 PM on November 21, 2005


    The French have a great propensity to do nothing.

    Thing is France was the first western european nation to grant Jews citizenship. And Napoleon (French) exported that all over the continent.

    Of course they were the only country occupied by the Nazis to voluntarily hand over their own Jewish citizens (many of whom had their citizenship revoked) to the death camps.

    But then again, France also saw the highest (short of Denmark) proportion of its Jews survive the Nazi occupation.

    Throw away comments like that have no place in this discussion. France has a very long and nuanced relationship with her Jewish citizens. What we maybe need to be paying attention to is the similarities between contemporary treatment of north african and Muslim French citizens and the treatment of French Jews in the late 1930s. This is all about the manner in which "others" may be assimilated into French society and what, exactly, that assimilation entails.
    posted by jmgorman at 10:26 PM on November 21, 2005


    I've never been to France, but I have more that a few friends who have lived there, been born there, or grew up in former French colonies. And they all explain the French attitude the same way: the French have a long history of protecting the French identity. If you live there seriously, you are expected to be French above anything else you may be.

    In other words, if you want to be a French Jew, French Muslim, or as in the case of one of my friends, a French Hindu, then you must sublimate everything else to the greatness of being French. It works, generally, but if you want to be part of a great melting-pot of cultures, France ain't the place to be - they're happy to give you "French-ness", but don't expect them to absorb your culture in return unless you want to live your life on the margins.

    (Actually, one of my friends looking over my shoulder right now points out that's a little harsh. She says they'll accept your right to your culture, respect your beliefs, and even celebrate them - but if you don't accept that being French is the be-all and end-all of existence, then you're not really French...)
    posted by Pinback at 11:31 PM on November 21, 2005


    As the article linked to on this thread about Canada points out, the current upswing in anti-semitic incidents seems to be related to the recently-concluded deportation of Ernst Zundel. This was an ongoing debacle that in its most recent version, took four or so years to go through.

    That's not to say that it's not a big issue. I bought a paper called the Toronto Street News the other day that is given to homeless people to sell in order to make money. Inside it were a variety of bizarre anti-semitic comments, including the Israel Cohen hoax (I'd wikipedia it, but wikipedia's being a shit) and an article claiming that the Freikorps were formed to defend Germany from Polish raids during the Weimar period.
    posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:27 AM on November 22, 2005


    Just a note to say that Part Three of the series, "Finding Peace in Canada," is now up at the National Post.
    posted by enrevanche at 4:05 AM on November 22, 2005


    Thanks enrevanche.

    I find it odd that the article doesn't mention how much easier it is to immigrate to Quebec if your are from a Francophone country. Clearly the language plays some part it in, but Quebec is probably the easiest place in the world for Jews from France to go, aside from Israel. Certainly easier than anywhere in the States, or in English Canada.
    posted by loquax at 6:50 AM on November 22, 2005


    Azaadistani - Obviously, anti-semitism means different things to different people. To me, it means "hostility or prejudice towards" Jews. You are using a different meaning. You are not the only one who uses that meaning, obviously. Both meanings are talked about on the Wikipedia anti-semitism page. I do not like the race meaning, because I do not consider Jews to be a race (if there even is such a thing) in any way. A religion and a cultures, yes, but a race, no.

    For those reasons, I see no point in getting into a semantic debate over what anti-semitism is.

    I don't really disagree much with your explanation of Muslim anti-semitism; I agree that it has very different roots than European anti-semitism, though Muslim anti-semitism has now adopted quite a lot from European anti-semitism.

    There are certainly a significant number of Jews in Israel who I would describe as anti-Muslimists, as hating Muslims. I harbor an extremely strong distaste for Jews who dehumanize Muslims and other Palestinians and say that all Arabs and Muslims should be expelled from Israel and the territories. Israeli Arabs used to be treated far better than they are now, and it's terrible how backwards Israel has gone in that respect. While I support the right to have a "Jewish" state, that does not mean that I support the right to have non-Jewish citizens noot treated as equals. As far as I'm concerned, that kind of discriminatory policy makes the "Jewish state" a very non-Jewish state. But I will note that the Israeli school system does not teach kids that Muslims eat their babies, as some of the Muslim countries do in their state schools. Those kind of teachs in places such as Saudi Arabia are blowing up in the regimes' faces: of course - if Jews are so heinous why aren't we doing anything about it, the most indoctrinated students understanably ask. And that leads to terrorism inside and outside the country, terrorism that threatens the very regime that's doing the teaching.
    posted by spira at 12:20 PM on November 22, 2005


    And they all explain the French attitude the same way: the French have a long history of protecting the French identity. If you live there seriously, you are expected to be French above anything else you may be.

    But: if you don't look like them, all that is meaningless--they feel you couldn't possibly be French.

    Which is the problem--not towards Jews (who do look like they could be French for the most part, which means white, and not too exotic) but towards all who don't fit what they think is that identity. It's not the identity so much as how it's interpreted-- overwhelmingly white French people will not see anyone too dissimilar-looking or acting as ever being French, and that's what needs to change. The whole picture attached to CV thing is not helping, and the absence of enforcement of discrimination laws as well. I prescribe affirmative action and strict punishment for all who deny jobs, housing and opportunity to those who are not "French".
    posted by amberglow at 7:57 PM on November 22, 2005


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