"I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?"
March 17, 2015 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?

Accompanying video: Should the Jews leave Europe? "Atlantic editor in chief James Bennet moderates a discussion between national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg and contributing editor Leon Wieseltier."

William Saletan in Slate: We'll Always Have Paris

NPR interviewed Jeffrey Goldberg regarding the story. He also recently appeared on MSNBC
posted by zarq (181 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't even imagine what it would be like to watch someone execute my daughter for religious hatred. I don't know if it's time for the Jews to leave, but it's time for people to get serious about stopping hating them.
posted by corb at 10:20 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted. This is a very charged topic; everyone can help us to have a worthwhile discussion. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:22 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


“We should not leave,” he said, “but maybe for our children or grandchildren there will be no choice.”

Where would they go to, though. The Middle East is even more dangerous, more violent than Europe could ever be, it seems.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:22 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Generally hatred of the Other grows in ignorance of them. My grandfather (a German immigrant) had all sorts of negative stereotypes about black people until he worked with one. If we take the proposition seriously (which I don't think it actually merits) then leaving Europe will serve only to intensify anti-Semitic sentiment.

For the curious, to get a better sense of anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe, I'd direct you to the ADL's Global 100 survey.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Thank you, LM.
posted by zarq at 10:25 AM on March 17, 2015


Where would they go to, though. The Middle East is even more dangerous, more violent than Europe could ever be, it seems.

I mean, we've had a pretty good run in the US.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


The entire history of the Jews consists of being driven out of one place or another by somebody who wants to slaughter them. The Pharaoh, the Philistines, the Amalekites, the Persians, the Inquisition, the Nazis-- the list goes on and on. Why did my great-great-grandparents get on a boat to Baltimore? Because they didn't want the Czar's soldiers to kill them. Why is this? What is going on here?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


Interesting article, but there's a map in the Atlantic article that drives me crazy. It's jewish population over time, where means zero jewish population or untracked. That's a completely useless map! How do I know if, for instance, Portugal when from dark blue to white between 53 and 58 because all the jews fled or because they stopped tracking? Also the colors are historical per country, which means each country is a completely different dataset -> color, which means the map almost useless.
posted by aspo at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd point out that, in the Global 100 survey, the country in the Middle East that has the lowest levels of Antisemitism among its population is ...Iran at 56%. That's over 10 percentage points lower than its closest peer, Turkey, at 69%.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Where would they go to, though. The Middle East is even more dangerous, more violent than Europe could ever be, it seems.

I mean, I know it's a controversial choice, but that is literally what Israel was made for.
posted by corb at 10:32 AM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


Emigrate to Israel for safety, security & inevitable annihilation By B. Netanyahu, Prime Minister.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Though with that massive influx of new immigrants, Israel will need to be expanded... oh.
posted by delfin at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I mean, we've had a pretty good run in the US.

Which is something that is worth looking at, because I think the differences between the United States and Europe illustrates where the issue might be. The two big differences are the way separation of church and state is viewed, and how effectively immigrant communities are brought into the communal fold.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


And Jeffrey fucking Goldberg has been one of the bigger supporters of the war on terror and zionism and his whole fucking schtick is to frighten Jews into support for Israel and it's racial policies by hook or by crook.

This is moronic bullshit straight from the Bush era playbook and shame on The Atlantic to publish it.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2015 [59 favorites]


Note btw that few Jewish communities anywhere in Europe are immigrant communities, have existed for as long or longer than the states they live in and have managed to survive for all those centuries, even through the worst of the nazi genocide, without Israel.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:38 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


and how effectively immigrant communities are brought into the communal fold.

Jews are pretty well-integrated into Western and Central Europe. A lot of the anti-Semitism there comes from other immigrant communities which haven't been well-integrated.
posted by Slothrup at 10:41 AM on March 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


For the curious, to get a better sense of anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe, I'd direct you to the ADL's Global 100 survey.

According to that survey, France is the 2nd most anti-Semitic country in Europe, but it is nowhere near Greece in terms of anti-Semitic attitudes. In addition, several Eastern European countries have a higher percentage of the population expressing anti-Semitic attitudes than France. Greece may be a special case due to its financial woes. Does anybody know if anti-Semitism has always been that high in Greece? Or is it a more recent phenomenon driven by the mobilization of the Golden Dawn and simmering resentment about the country's economic ills?
posted by jonp72 at 10:41 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


To bail on Europe is to bail on the idea of a peaceful multicultural society. Creating that sort of society is really hard to achieve and the nations that self profess to aspire to it - whether in Europe or elsewhere - have had a rough go of it at times. But what is the alternative? A world split into ethnic nation states? How well has that worked out in the past for everyone, Jews included?

The truth is that the fight for an open society that embraces people from all walks of life never ends. Every generation has to fight and join the struggle. Rather than give up, it's time to double down on believing we can create that society. Anything else is to condemn humanity as unworkable and in that's the case then let's just go be apes in the jungle and let it all go to hell.
posted by boubelium at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


MartinWisse

Most of them didn't survive, MartinWisse. Poland, for instance, lost 90% of its Jews. France lost 26%. The ones that we have today are the lucky few that managed not to be entirely slaughtered.

And, in fact, many Jews survived by fleeing Europe for the US and other locations:

"According to the American Jewish Yearbook, the Jewish population of Europe was about 9.5 million in 1933. In 1950, the Jewish population of Europe was about 3.5 million. In 1933, 60 percent of all Jews lived in Europe. In 1950, most Jews (51 percent) lived in the Americas (North and South combined), while only a third of the world's Jewish population lived in Europe."

source

I feel like you have a political axe to grind here. It's utterly bizarre to make the claim that Jewish communities in Europe have done just fine.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2015 [41 favorites]



And Jeffrey fucking Goldberg has been one of the bigger supporters of the war on terror and zionism and his whole fucking schtick is to frighten Jews into support for Israel and it's racial policies by hook or by crook.


You're actively in denial.

The Francophone Jewish community is not going to do a damned thing based on an article in the English media. French Jews feel the way they do because of their daily experience. And if you want to know what it's like, hop on a train to Paris, put on a Jewish skullcap, and find out for yourself.
posted by ocschwar at 10:44 AM on March 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


The entire history of the Jews consists of being driven out of one place or another by somebody who wants to slaughter them. … Why is this? What is going on here?

Whole books have been written on this topic, so obviously it's an open question. My theory is that it's the uncanny way we semi-invisibly become a part of whatever civilization we visit. To our host countries, we are "among you, but not of you." We don't assimilate fully enough to be written off, but we often don't stand out strongly enough for overt racial discrimination to work for long. We not only reside in other civilizations, but achieve success in them to a disproportionate degree. That tends to piss off both the old-guard elite of the host country (who want to keep all the power for themselves) as well as the beat-down lower classes, who resent the rise of an immigrant group when they themselves still struggle to get ahead.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 10:45 AM on March 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


The Middle East is even more dangerous

There may be more terrorist attacks per square meter in Israel than in Sweden, but it seems like being visibly Jewish is more dangerous in Malmo than it is in Tel Aviv.
posted by lullaby at 10:45 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


put on a Jewish skullcap

Kippah
, although your name for it sounds much more hardcore.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:46 AM on March 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?

nope
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:47 AM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


There may be more terrorist attacks per square meter in Israel than in Sweden, but it seems like being visibly Jewish is more dangerous in Malmo than it is in Tel Aviv.

Again, go to the index. Antisemitism in Sweden is 4%, the lowest in Europe. The USA, by comparison, is at 9%.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:48 AM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]



Note btw that few Jewish communities anywhere in Europe are immigrant communities, have existed for as long or longer than the states they live in and have managed to survive for all those centuries, even through the worst of the nazi genocide, without Israel.


*sigh*

Parade your ignorance further, why don't you? The Jewish community in France is in large part the result of Jews bugging out of North Africa during that region's wars of independence.

Understood? These are people who fled anti-Jewish violence in the 60's, and moved to France because they decided not to go Zionist. And whose non-Zionism is looking more foolish by the day.
posted by ocschwar at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Note btw that few Jewish communities anywhere in Europe are immigrant communities, have existed for as long or longer than the states they live in and have managed to survive for all those centuries, even through the worst of the nazi genocide, without Israel.

This is like saying that all the dinosaurs are just fine because there are birds outside. The communities that have survived have survived, but there are many, many more Jewish communities that were in Europe that did not.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:52 AM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


And if you want to know what it's like, hop on a train to Paris, put on a Jewish skullcap, and find out for yourself.

You mean like that one video outed to be a fraud?
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:54 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Again, go to the index. Antisemitism in Sweden is 4%, the lowest in Europe. The USA, by comparison, is at 9%.

I was going by the article's discussion of Malmo, where Goldberg described the rabbi as "the only Jew there who still dresses in an identifiably Jewish manner".
posted by lullaby at 10:58 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]



Again, go to the index. Antisemitism in Sweden is 4%, the lowest in Europe. The USA, by comparison, is at 9%.

The problem in Sweden isn't the majority's antisemitism. It's the majority's blithe willingness to ignore the problem. Something we're seeing here in this very thread.
posted by ocschwar at 11:00 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. Seriously, please don't come in here with dismissive comments about how antisemitism isn't a problem. I would hope it would be obvious why that makes conversation suck.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:02 AM on March 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


The USA has Jewish communities of all types, low levels of anti-semitism, and a much more tolerant atmosphere of immigrants (esp. if you can pass as white) than Europeans, and is safer than Israel. come to america and bring your food jews!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:02 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


And Jeffrey fucking Goldberg has been one of the bigger supporters of the war on terror and zionism and his whole fucking schtick is to frighten Jews into support for Israel and it's racial policies by hook or by crook.

Dude's repeatedly been a vociferous proponent of the two state solution.

Did you read the article? He talks about Israel not being safer than Europe. He also gives some historical perspective on the problems inherent to Israel wrt its policies and status as a target of terrorism as well.

There are quite a few us Jews who are legitimately concerned about the documented rise in antisemitic incidents that's happened in Europe and elsewhere over the last few years. I don't personally think the solution is to walk away from Europe. But yeah, I think there is a clear problem, and this is a conversation that we need to have.

Note btw that few Jewish communities anywhere in Europe are immigrant communities, have existed for as long or longer than the states they live in and have managed to survive for all those centuries, even through the worst of the nazi genocide, without Israel.

In 1933, Poland had the largest population of Europe's Jews. Before the outbreak of World War II, more than 3.3 million Jews lived there. Barely 11% of Poland's Jews - 369,000 people -survived the war. Today, approximately 3,200 Jews remain in Poland.

Tell us again how they "survived the worst of the Nazi genocide," Martin.
posted by zarq at 11:03 AM on March 17, 2015 [45 favorites]


In Philly there was a Jewish Roman restaurant. Apparently Rome has/had one of the longest and tightly knit Jewish communities. and the food was DELICIOUS!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:04 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the link "debunking" the walking-in-Paris above:

He claimed he was constantly harassed in Saracelles, but one-third of this neighborhood is itself Jewish. Apparently, Jewish residents have figured out a way to live with their Muslim neighbors.

Yes. By obeying rabbinical rulings and not wearing kippot in public anymore, primarily. Sarcelles's Jews are North African and blue collar. Their options for leaving are limited, to put it mildly. Even Israel
s a challenge for them given housing costs. Silverstein's a scumbag.
posted by ocschwar at 11:04 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I mean, I know it's a controversial choice, but that is literally what Israel was made for.

It's also where their current leaders seem to be edging towards what is basically an apartheid state.

whose non-Zionism is looking more foolish by the day.

Calling Jews who didn't choose to move to Israel "foolish" based on demographic changes they couldn't have foreseen half a century ago isn't helping.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:07 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Again, go to the index. Antisemitism in Sweden is 4%, the lowest in Europe. The USA, by comparison, is at 9%.

I was going by the article's discussion of Malmo, where Goldberg described the rabbi as "the only Jew there who still dresses in an identifiably Jewish manner".


What does that prove, exactly? It's super secular Sweden, for goodness sake. When I was at temple for my kids' Sunday school, their were maybe ten people wearing kippot out of 100, and it's sure as hell not because we're too scared. Judaism doesn't have a dress code, unless you're particularly Orthodox.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:07 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


And Jeffrey fucking Goldberg has been one of the bigger supporters of the war on terror and zionism and his whole fucking schtick is to frighten Jews into support for Israel and it's racial policies by hook or by crook.

Presumably this horrible Goldberg manufactured by his own hand all the horrific anti-semitic incidents documented in this article and elsewhere, just to frighten Jews into support for Israel. So now we don't have to address those at all, and focus on the real problem, this Goldberg.
posted by Behemoth at 11:09 AM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


One thing from that ADL survey that is, I suppose, a little bit heartening is that overall rates of antisemitism in Western Europe are much lower for the 18-34 age group than the 50+. Sometimes I allow myself a bit of optimism that younger people will keep on rejecting the folly of their elders.
posted by sobarel at 11:15 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Presumably this horrible Goldberg manufactured by his own hand all the horrific anti-semitic incidents documented in this article and elsewhere, just to frighten Jews into support for Israel. So now we don't have to address those at all, and focus on the real problem, this Goldberg.

FWIW, I'm Jewish and if Jeffrey Goldberg told me the sky was blue I would insist on looking for myself.
posted by asterix at 11:23 AM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


“I know this is a dangerous thing to say … but the Holocaust didn’t satisfy.”

This was so painful to read, and I'm afraid, so accurate. Since getting married 15 years ago, my name is more identifiable as Jewish. Though I've always looked moderately Dutch (?) German (?) to Europeans and not particularly Jewish - traveling has given me more pause since I changed my name.

I thought it would never happen again. That is what they told us as children in religious school and though the Shoah may never happen again, this mass anti-Semitism is frightening.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:24 AM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Presumably this horrible Goldberg manufactured by his own hand all the horrific anti-semitic incidents documented in this article and elsewhere, just to frighten Jews into support for Israel.

I don't think anyone is saying that. What they are saying is that by and large, the European Jewry will not be and is not intimidated enough to leave their continent, if at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2015


If I were a European Jew, I might try to keep my options a bit more open than the average citizen does. Buy American and Israeli investments. Keep family passports and visas up to date. Make sure the family and its property is portable. This place has a long history of turning on Jews first when things get tough.

But don't leave just yet. Europe needs Jews. According to statistics I've read and people I've met, most Poles are at least casually antisemitic and about a quarter are fairly hardcore (they believe the old stories about Jews using the blood of Christians in rituals, etc.), but at the same time almost no Pole knows an actual Jew or has ever even met a single Jew. (That they know of, anyway.)

You aren't going to show these people they're wrong about Jews if they meet Jews only in fairy tales and ignorant gossip.
posted by pracowity at 11:26 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


What does that prove, exactly? It's super secular Sweden, for goodness sake. When I was at temple for my kids' Sunday school, their were maybe ten people wearing kippot out of 100, and it's sure as hell not because we're too scared. Judaism doesn't have a dress code, unless you're particularly Orthodox.

I'm confused. Did you read the portions of the article on Malmo?

"Acts of anti-Jewish harassment and vandalism are common in Malmö" "Jewish teenagers in Malmö told me that wearing a Star of David necklace can incite a beating" "'There is a lot of cursing at me, and people sometimes throw bottles at me from their cars. Someone backed up their car in order to hit me,' he said when I met with him." "a young woman who was born and raised in Malmö but now lives in Israel. She was visiting her father, trying to convince him to leave." "Kesselman and his wife, the parents of four young children, avoid venturing out in public as a couple, for fear of being targeted together." "I asked Kesselman whether he was scared to stay in Malmö. 'Yes, of course I’m scared,' he said." "I did not hear critiques of Israel’s occupation policies. I heard, instead, complaints about the Jews’ baleful influence on the world."

I guess what I think it proves is what I wrote originally, which you dismissed because 4%: that the Middle East may be "even more dangerous" than Sweden, but it's safer to be visibly Jewish in Tel Aviv than in Malmo. (And, if it's not clear, I think this is only an example that applies to other European communities, not only Sweden.)
posted by lullaby at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]



The USA has Jewish communities of all types, low levels of anti-semitism, and a much more tolerant atmosphere of immigrants (esp. if you can pass as white) than Europeans, and is safer than Israel. come to america and bring your food jews!


Easier said than done. There already are small Francophone Jewish communities growing in NYC and Florida. And yes, French-Jewish cuisine, readily served to one and all. Go and enjoy.

But without relatives already in the US, it's damned hard to get let in, and the ex-Algerian French Jews have no connection to the US with which to get the vaunted green card.
posted by ocschwar at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't think anyone is saying that. What they are saying is that by and large, the European Jewry will not be and is not intimidated enough to leave their continent, if at all.

No, that's not at all what Martin was saying. Here is the comment in context. He calls into question the author's bona fides because he does not agree with his politics. (FWIW, I don't like (Jeffrey) Goldberg or his politics either. Gotta be careful, Goldberg is a significant name in my family.)
posted by OmieWise at 11:38 AM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it goes beyong "not agree with his politics". Goldberg was instrumental in cheerleading the Iraq War. If thats not enough to dismiss someone from polite society I don't know what is.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:47 AM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Most of them didn't survive, MartinWisse.

Uh... He was rather explicitly only talking about the people who, by some miracle, did survive. The people who are still there have essentially always been there. Europe is their homeland, and the suggestion they should leave is indistinguishable from antisemitism. Heck, it's exactly what all the people in the article have yelled at them all the time.

No, they shouldn't leave. Their presence is not the problem in need of fixing. Antisemitism is the problem. Fix that.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:50 AM on March 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


The "and also some Jews" murders: Let's kill some people who work at Charlie Hebdo . . . and also some Jews. Let's kill a Swedish cartoonist . . . and also some Jews. Let's kill some French soldiers . . . and also some Jews. You know, for good measure. Not only is it scary, it's also kind of insulting.

But the really ugly part is that so many otherwise perfectly decent liberals seem to believe that being too upset when something bad happens to Jews is somehow giving aid and comfort to The Zionists. I've seen this even in liberal circles in the United States -- if I mention something anti-Semitic (from my own life! in America!), it's kind of amazing how quickly conversation magically turns to the evils of the occupation. No direct connection is ever made, and yet. So many people accuse Jews of confusing anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, but apparently, in some kind of fucked-up collective-responsibility paradigm, non-Israeli Jews are expected to just take our lumps in polite silence for as long as Israel continues to do its thing. I can't vote in Israel, dude, I would if I could.

I guess I'm just lucky that I don't have to deal with the "scrapping between weird ethnic people, not relevant to the real Europeans" part -- being of European descent, like most American Jews and unlike most French Jews, no doubt helps. See that rather stunning Freudian slip from the article: the prime minister who deplored "a despicable attack that sought to target Jews who were in this synagogue and that struck innocent Frenchmen who were crossing the Rue Copernic." (Apparently he later blamed the uproar over this statement on "the Jewish lobby.")

If Jews are considering leaving Europe for Israel, it's not because they've actually calculated the risk of death from political violence in both places and come out in favor of Israel -- the reality is clearly opposite -- but because they think that, in Israel, they'll at least be surrounded by people who actually give a shit.
posted by ostro at 11:55 AM on March 17, 2015 [29 favorites]


When you run away, the bigots win and they don't respect you anyway.

The status quo right now is that it's normal to think Jews should not be seen as Jews in public, and should conceal their identity.

Better to leave than to be "put in your place" like that.
posted by ocschwar at 11:56 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The author's intent and politics notwithstanding:

I'm an Orthodox Jew, so when I traveled to Europe a couple of years back, I actually did ask around about possibly blending in a bit. I ended up just wearing yarmulke and tzitzis fully visible. I don't know if I'd do that today. The attacks mentioned in the article are all real. I don't know anybody killed in any of the anti-Semitic attacks in Europe or around the world over the last decade, but I have enough friends who do for it to be very real to me.

In Paris I shopped at the Hypercacher. Four people were killed there.

I had Jews ask me (randomly, just in cafes) if I knew how they could emigrate to the US. People are scared.

When you run away, the bigots win and they don't respect you anyway.
Yes, but you survive. That's a key difference between my grandfather and his father. Only my grandfather escaped.

Although I guess, in the end, that he did win the ever-important respect. After all, the town in which he lived and from which he was sent "to the East" has a plaque with his name on it now.
posted by mhz at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2015 [34 favorites]


No, they shouldn't leave. Their presence is not the problem in need of fixing. Antisemitism is the problem. Fix that.

When you run away, the bigots win and they don't respect you anyway.


I know these comments mean well, but this tough-guy stuff is really shitty.

It's easy to say this kind of thing when you're not the one being harassed and living in fear every day. It implies that people who choose to leave for their safety are cowards who should have stayed to fight on principle. Who are you to tell them that?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2015 [23 favorites]


I think it goes beyong "not agree with his politics". Goldberg was instrumental in cheerleading the Iraq War. If thats not enough to dismiss someone from polite society I don't know what is.

Ok. But even people in impolite society can be right about anti-Semitism. Foxman says all kind of shit I disagree with, but he's laser focused on anti-Semitism and sees it for what it is quite well.

Dismissing Goldberg, and dismissing his argument are two different things. The latter makes the implicit claim that European anti-Semitism isn't a problem to be worried about.
posted by OmieWise at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think that there is a difference between acts of violence/terror perpetrated by a few assholes and mass genocide committed by the government. No?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:01 PM on March 17, 2015


> Generally hatred of the Other grows in ignorance of them.

A sweeping statement that has little relevance here. German Jews were among the most assimilated anywhere, they were prominent in both culture and daily life, every German who didn't live in the remote boonies must have known Jews... and still. The problem was not ignorance, the problem was hatred of Jews. Why? Who knows? (“Why the bicycle riders?”) As overeducated_alligator said above, whole books have been written on this topic. But it's very clear why Jews in Europe (and elsewhere) are worried.
posted by languagehat at 12:01 PM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


Uh... He was rather explicitly only talking about the people who, by some miracle, did survive. The people who are still there have essentially always been there. Europe is their homeland, and the suggestion they should leave is indistinguishable from antisemitism. Heck, it's exactly what all the people in the article have yelled at them all the time.

No, the point he was making was that those communities "managed to survive for all those centuries, even through the worst of the nazi genocide, without Israel." That last bit matters. Because it's wrong. During WWII, when Jews tried to escape to non-combatant, non-Nazi-controlled countries, they looked to America or Switzerland, among others. Both countries blocked Jews from immigrating. From 1942 through July '44, the Swiss closed their borders with France. The US' policies have now been well-documented.

If Israel had existed as a Jewish refuge during WWII, it's quite likely at least some percentage of lives would have been saved.

Also, "come to the Jewish homeland, where people don't kill you for being Jews" isn't accurate in any way shape or form, but it's not antisemitism.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's easy to say this kind of thing when you're not the one being harassed and living in fear every day. It implies that people who choose to leave for their safety are cowards who should have stayed to fight on principle. Who are you to tell them that?

FWIW, a good number of Jewish Europeans don't necessarily agree:
Following attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu has declared Israel “the home of every Jew.” But for many Jews, such remarks ignore, and even insult, the acceptance they feel in the countries where they and their families have often lived for generations.

“We are a little confused by this call, which is basically like a call to surrender to terror,” said Arie Zuckerman, senior executive at the European Jewish Congress. “It may send a wrong message to the leaders of Europe.” Menachem Margolin, general director of the European Jewish Association, said Mr. Netanyahu is wrong in suggesting that Jews can’t live safely in Europe. “To come out with this kind of statement after each attack is unacceptable,” Rabbi Margolin said.

Other Jews in Europe are reacting the same way. Sydney Schreiber, a Canadian attorney who moved to Brussels in 1992, called Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks appalling, complaining of “a statement that can be interpreted as meaning that Jews don’t belong in Europe.”
posted by zombieflanders at 12:05 PM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think that there is a difference between acts of violence/terror perpetrated by a few assholes and mass genocide committed by the government. No?
roomthreeseventeen

Obviously yes, but the latter grows out of the former. It doesn't start with the ghettoes and camps, it ends there. Hitler didn't magically make everyone hate the Jews.

And right now around Europe there are rising political parties who find fertile soil in the anti-Semitic background noise that seems to be growing louder, just as rightists are finding traction by railing against Muslims, foreigners, etc.

You act when it's just a few assholes because when it becomes the government doing terrible things, it's too late.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:05 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Quote:] When you run away, the bigots win and they don't respect you anyway.

Yes, but you survive. That's a key difference between my grandfather and his father. Only my grandfather escaped.


Reading the letters of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem is heartbreaking. Scholem moved to Palestine very early, not just to be safer, but because to him being part of a community of like-minded Jews, in this case Zionists, and producing work related to that, was crucial to his self-respect. Benjamin, who was Scholem's friend and intellectual companion before he left Germany, felt very very European. He couldn't leave, even as Sholem urged him to and even as the situation got worse and worse. He died by suicide when he was convinced the Nazis were going to get him. (Another tragedy, since the party he was in was let over the border from France into Spain the next day, and avoided the Nazis.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:07 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


zombieflanders,

Sure, but that's the point. Those Jews are free to choose to stay. It's just really shitty to tell other Jews who are worried enough to want to leave that they're cowards and need to stick it out to defend abstract principles. If someone is worried enough to leave for another country, how can you criticize their choice?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


What does that prove, exactly? It's super secular Sweden, for goodness sake. When I was at temple for my kids' Sunday school, their were maybe ten people wearing kippot out of 100, and it's sure as hell not because we're too scared. Judaism doesn't have a dress code, unless you're particularly Orthodox.

I'm confused. Did you read the portions of the article on Malmo?

"Acts of anti-Jewish harassment and vandalism are common in Malmö" "Jewish teenagers in Malmö told me that wearing a Star of David necklace can incite a beating" "'There is a lot of cursing at me, and people sometimes throw bottles at me from their cars. Someone backed up their car in order to hit me,' he said when I met with him." "a young woman who was born and raised in Malmö but now lives in Israel. She was visiting her father, trying to convince him to leave." "Kesselman and his wife, the parents of four young children, avoid venturing out in public as a couple, for fear of being targeted together." "I asked Kesselman whether he was scared to stay in Malmö. 'Yes, of course I’m scared,' he said." "I did not hear critiques of Israel’s occupation policies. I heard, instead, complaints about the Jews’ baleful influence on the world."

I guess what I think it proves is what I wrote originally, which you dismissed because 4%: that the Middle East may be "even more dangerous" than Sweden, but it's safer to be visibly Jewish in Tel Aviv than in Malmo.


It's possible you might both be a little wrong here. The ADL survey estimates that the overall rate of anti-Semitism in Sweden in 4%, but the number of survey respondents in Malmo is probably so small that you can't reliably generalized from a statement about Sweden to make the same inference about Malmo in isolation. On the other hand, no matter how many quotes you can pull out, the plural of anecdote is not data.

I think the divergence here is that we have two indicators of anti-Semitism here, public opinion and number of anti-Semitic incidents. According to State Department reports cited in the Wikipedia entry on anti-Semitism in Sweden, Sweden has the third highest rate of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, exceeded only by Germany and Austria. On the other hand, according to the ADL's opinion surveys, Sweden has the lowest rate of anti-Semitic attitudes in Europe. Interestingly, the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes may actually be negatively correlated with the number or rate of anti-Semitic incidents. If hoodlums vandalize synagogues or attack Jews, this can have the effect of making anti-Semitism less "respectable" in the eyes of public opinion, which can explain the negative correlation.

In addition, it looks like Malmo is a special case. Compared to the rest of Sweden, Malmo has a high crime rate, which has earned it the nickname of "Sweden's Chicago." If the criminal element in Malmo is disproportionately anti-Semitic, that could explain the high rate of anti-Semitic incidents, even if the overall prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes might be low. In addition, the mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu, seems to be taking a very problematic see-no-evil stance to these anti-Semitic incidents. Certainly, the Wikipedia entry on anti-Semitism in Sweden singles out Malmo to the exclusion of any other city in Sweden, which suggests that Malmo may definitely be an outlier when compared to the rest of the country.
posted by jonp72 at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also pogroms that were perpetrated by a few assholes managed to hell of a lot of Jews anyway. Not as much as goverment-sanctioned mass genocide, but still a lot of deaths.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think that there is a difference between acts of violence/terror perpetrated by a few assholes and mass genocide committed by the government. No?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:01 PM on March 17 [+] [!]


I feel like you're talking in code here. What's your opinion on the veracity and seriousness of anti-Semitism experienced by Jews across Europe today? Your comments lead me to believe that you dismiss it as anything to be "really" worried about, but perhaps your doubts go further than that?
posted by OmieWise at 12:09 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Exactly how many assholes does it take before one should be afraid for their children?

My in-laws in France are hiring private security for their schools and talking seriously about emigrating. They're reporting a hostile climate, and I'm not going to sit here in NYC and tell them they're overreacting.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:11 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Following attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu has declared Israel “the home of every Jew.” But for many Jews, such remarks ignore, and even insult, the acceptance they feel in the countries where they and their families have often lived for generations.

And each of them will keep saying that literally until the moment he gets the plane ticket.
posted by ocschwar at 12:11 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


without relatives already in the US, it's damned hard to get let in

Yeah, if we are going to be serious about our claimed commitment to be a refuge, we should open the borders wide to European Jews looking to avoid antisemites willing to fucking kill them. The fact that we have not already is horrifying - and just like WWII, where we were turning boats of refugee Jews away.
While the negotiations continued, the St. Louis milled around Cuba and then headed north, following the Florida coastline in the hopes that perhaps the United States would accept the refugees. A U.S. Coast Guard ship and planes followed the St. Louis to prevent it from landing. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. learned of this from the newspapers, but did not intervene beyond verifying with the Coast Gaurd commander the St. Louis was being followed.
posted by corb at 12:12 PM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]




Yeah, if we are going to be serious about our claimed commitment to be a refuge, we should open the borders wide to European Jews looking to avoid antisemites willing to fucking kill them

We should open the borders to everybody regardless of race, religion, or place of origin. Especially if they're looking to avoid people willing to fucking kill them.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:17 PM on March 17, 2015 [27 favorites]


My in-laws in France are hiring private security for their schools and talking seriously about emigrating.

To expand upon this a little... there are about 700 Jewish private schools in France. This past January, the French government deployed 5000 police officers to those schools for security, after the supermarket attack. Once the crisis had passed, the police were reassigned back to their normal duties.
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't treat the US as though it's magically been spared the sorts of things that are happening in Europe. While its supporters aren't exclusively American by any stretch, GamerGate was notable among other things for its supporters happily indulging in "ironic" antisemitism and repurposing antisemitic imagery against their opponents. A lot of this was born out of chan culture--where I remember an ex a few years ago making "joking" antisemitic comments and saying it was all, again, ironic, but then /pol/ started encouraging overt racism and antisemitism.

When I was a kid, it seemed so weird to me--I knew people who were racists, but I didn't know anybody who had a problem with Jewish people. Now, though, I'm no longer able to assume that this is a thing that's dead and gone and not going to come back. Angry young white men are something the US still has aplenty, and it turns out not to take very much to go from "this is just a joke, look at us, we're so edgy" and something much worse.
posted by Sequence at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]




The only time I was ever told it wasn't safe to wear a kippah after Saturday morning shul was in a small town 1 1/2 hours away from Amsterdam on the border with Germany with a non-existent Muslim population.... in 2001.
posted by PenDevil at 12:37 PM on March 17, 2015


That was an incredibly depressing read. The ease with which the disenfranchised redirect the anger they should feel towards the establishment and focus it on "the Jews," over and over again, over thousands of years, somehow still surprises me.

On a side note, I realize it would have taken away from the main thrust of his article, but it would have been much cooler, to my mind, if Goldberg had also at least waved a hand in the direction of Muslims who have spoken out in defence of Jews, or acted to protect synagogues in Europe. It's at least as important to acknowledge efforts to combat hatred as it is to acknowledge attacks, possibly more so, if we are to retain any faith in the possibility of interfaith and/or multicultural harmony.
posted by bardophile at 12:50 PM on March 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


The thing is that it does appear that most of the rise in antisemitism is coming from the most despised and marginalised groups. Groups which are subject to racial and religious hatred on a daily basis. From Muslims, pretty much. Talking about "the Jews leaving Europe" sounds an awful lot like "the Jews getting away from the Muslims" - from the "problem of Islam" named in the article.

Once you start drawing those kinds of lines, pitting the despised and dispossessed against each other, you're on the slippery slope back to hell. France has already banned the niqab. France is, in many ways, a profoundly Islamophobic place. To even give the briefest credence to the suggestion that a fucking Nazi like Marine le Pen is using fighting antisemitism as anything but a smokescreen to build her agenda of racial hatred makes me sick to my stomach. It is not "scepticism" her claims should be met with, it is "derision". In this case, first the Nazis are coming for the Muslims. They won't stop there.

The prevalence of Muslim antisemitism is not a myth. And there are monstrous scumbag peddlars of hate in that community too. But they don't poll as well as le Pen does; they don't get to pretend to be respectable. And they are, at this time, less dangerous than she is, despite her friendly, hateful, lying face.

We don't fight hatred by polarising communities. It is as multiculturalism breaks down that racism and hatred increases. There is real work to be done, and real battles to fight. But they are emotionally, politically and philosophically complex and uncertain battles. Exactly what is the right thing to do is unclear to me, but I can't help but fear that the wave of Islamophobia that has swept the world in the last 15 years is exactly the wrong thing to give any further support to.
posted by howfar at 12:53 PM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


Well, tell European Jews not to come to Seattle. In the last two decades, at least 5 people have been shot to death because violent Jewhaters thought they were Jewish. Including an armed invasion of the Jewish Federation building that left one dead, one woman permanently disabled, and another woman who was shot while pregnant (a film about her gun control activism since then is premiering at the Seattle Jewish Film Festival this week). Every synagogue with a building has used DHS funding to harden security. My congregation had to choose between hiring teachers/clergy, or paying for armed guards. These incidents are happening in the least religious region of the US, so it's hard to blame the god-botherers.

Jew hatred is a pernicious ideology not restricted to other people in other places. Let's do our work at home before we try to tell others what to do or where to go.

And I have a go bag packed, but it's for earthquakes.
posted by Dreidl at 12:59 PM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


The thing is that it does appear that most of the rise in antisemitism is coming from the most despised and marginalised groups. Groups which are subject to racial and religious hatred on a daily basis. From Muslims, pretty much. Talking about "the Jews leaving Europe" sounds an awful lot like "the Jews getting away from the Muslims" - from the "problem of Islam" named in the article.

I hadn't heard that that was the largest cause of it, and I'm not sure I believe it - but if so, that's fucking terrible - it really sucks that downtrodden or impoverished people are the ones who start pointing fingers at the Jews. But that doesn't make it any less reprehensible. Nobody gets a free pass to malign the Jews just because they have a shitty life. I mean, the rise of antisemitism with the fucking Nazis was because Germany was oppressed and impoverished as a result of WWI, and decided to point fingers at the Jews. Staying silent about people pointing fingers at the Jews just because they themselves are downtrodden is bad strategy and bad morality, no matter who is engaging in it.
posted by corb at 1:07 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's no good answer, there's no safe place.
posted by tommasz at 1:11 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


> The thing is that it does appear that most of the rise in antisemitism is coming from the most despised and marginalised groups. Groups which are subject to racial and religious hatred on a daily basis. From Muslims, pretty much. Talking about "the Jews leaving Europe" sounds an awful lot like "the Jews getting away from the Muslims" - from the "problem of Islam" named in the article.

This is not true; read the Foreign Affairs article by Yascha Mounk andoatnp linked above:
But to claim that the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is the main culprit for the changed climate -- as the German journalist Jochen Bittner did this week in The New York Times -- is to pin the blame on a small minority while overlooking that anti-Semitism has also grown among the majority. According to a recent Pew Research Center study conducted in Germany, although around 6 percent of the population is Muslim, 25 percent of people readily express unfavorable views of Jews; meanwhile, in Spain, where less than 3 percent of the population is Muslim, close to 50 percent of the population do the same. Although levels of anti-Semitism may be higher among Muslims than among Christians, a European anti-Semite remains far more likely to be Christian than Muslim.
I like Mounk's analysis:
The only way to prevent these endless and destructive pendulum swings is to convince Europeans to broaden their conception of national identity. They need to accept that a true Austrian can hail not only from Innsbruck but also from Istanbul and that imported practices that can enrich local culture include not only sushi and yoga studios but also halal meat and minarets. Whether Europeans are able to change their self-conception in this way remains a decisive -- and still undecided -- question for the continent’s future.
posted by languagehat at 1:14 PM on March 17, 2015 [35 favorites]


Well, tell European Jews not to come to Seattle.

And maybe American blacks should keep a bag packed.
posted by pracowity at 1:17 PM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Every synagogue with a building has used DHS funding to harden security. My congregation had to choose between hiring teachers/clergy, or paying for armed guards.

Same in New York City.
posted by zarq at 1:19 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


My sister used to work for a Jewish-affiliated non-profit in NYC and the amount of security that was required to visit her, even by the more stringent Manhattan standards, was quite shocking. Jewish institutions in NA and Europe almost always have additional security measures and features that I don't think is always apparent to outsiders - and from what I understand Europe has had to really double-down on these efforts.
posted by rosswald at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I, of course, fully agree with the argument and the analysis, languagehat. I am interested (and simultaneously dishearted by the scale of the problem and relieved that it does not prop up the fallacious arguments of the fascists as much as I feared it did) that the statistics contradict my impression, but my impression of things is, of course, very frequently wrong.

I think that one reason that Britain did (and still, to some extent, does) comparatively well in these issues has been the emphasis on a broad and inclusive national identity. It is what I mean when I think of multiculturalism. I think that Islamophobia is the single greatest threat to that, and hence the single greatest threat to members of all marginalised groups.
posted by howfar at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Although levels of anti-Semitism may be higher among Muslims than among Christians

If you were born in a MENA country in the past 70 years it is likely you would never encounter a Jewish person unless you migrated to Europe - Camera: The 850,000+ Forgotten Jewish Refugees of the Arab World.
posted by rosswald at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


The other week the French weekly Le Point explored the question, "Being Jewish in France": here's the link (paywall, sorry). The takeaway is that European Jews are anxious but have always been anxious, and moving to Israel is not necessarily going to simplify things, just reconfigure them. Not Jewish myself, I have learned a colossal amount from people who are, and I would assume that this is what makes this minority a precious resource for Europe: the oldest experience of cultural otherness, the reminder that "European" is not a synonym for "Christian," a reminder too of what happens when majorities trample on the rights of minorities. Of course Jews don't exist to educate non-Jews: like everyone, they justify their existence by existing. But those who choose not to live in Israel are not thereby (I think) "foolish." By living outside Israel they map a different future for Jews, which mirrors the different future desired by all of us who hope to live long enough to see pluralism, cooperation and peace within and among nations.
posted by homerica at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I thought this was really moving just after the Charlie Hebdo killings: Netanyahu visits Paris synagogue, crowd breaks into national anthem
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:39 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


A lot of the anti-Semitism there comes from other immigrant communities which haven't been well-integrated.

Slothrup, a lot doesn't. I can't find the reference, but when a French mayor (IIRC) had budget problems, he joked that 'we'll just kill a rich Jew and get all the money we need." When it caused a scandal, a German friend of mine (in his 20's, not a skinhead by any means) said, "What's the problem? He just said what everyone is thinking."

That's one anecdote, but when I lived outside the USA for many years I sometimes encountered the belief that Jews were an elite of bankers who controlled economies and had a stranglehold on commerce. Not morons, as one would expect if one heard that opinion in the US, but from educated Brits, for instance. I was shocked at how different the perception of Jews is - still - in Europe.

I won't even get into the vibe my Jewish girlfriend got when she played music at a meeting of a kameradschaftsbund (kind of like a veteran's club) in Austria in the 80's. That was the old generation, but it's still around, and I find it chilling.
posted by QuietDesperation at 1:43 PM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, tell European Jews not to come to Seattle.

I would so love it if European Jews came to Seattle. We could get a good bagel here, for one thing.
posted by QuietDesperation at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2015 [11 favorites]




That was an incredibly depressing read. The ease with which the disenfranchised redirect the anger they should feel towards the establishment and focus it on "the Jews," over and over again, over thousands of years, somehow still surprises me.

It shouldn't, because it's a dynamic that occurs over and over with outgroups looking for an "in" - they try to "enforce" a societal belief or norm as a bid for acceptance, and tend to be more vicious about that enforcement than the original insiders.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:23 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like Mounk's analysis:

Mounk doesn't really set out any solution, however. Although shifting the concept of national identity away from ethnicity is a good thing, he seems to condemn those who have built a new identity upon cultural values as being exclusive. It is hard to see what, if anything, he believes will actually bring Europeans of all religions and none together. Indeed, the US--arguably one of the most open societies in history--is built on values of freedom and democracy. Those Europeans who seek to delineate a set of shared values which can encompass all groups should be encouraged.
posted by Thing at 2:29 PM on March 17, 2015


And maybe American blacks should keep a bag packed.

“The President of Liberia made a statement to the African-American residents of Ferguson, MO, today, urging them to emigrate.”
posted by acb at 2:35 PM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Although shifting the concept of national identity away from ethnicity is a good thing, he seems to condemn those who have built a new identity upon cultural values as being exclusive.

Because this is what is driving the problem in Europe right now - the countries there have, in many ways, retained the same structures, only reframing them in terms of "culture" rather than race. And he does, in fact, point out a solution - that outgroups need to be treated as full members of the society even if they don't fully line up with it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:37 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


“The President of Liberia made a statement to the African-American residents of Ferguson, MO, today, urging them to emigrate.”

Frankly, you could substitute "Liberia" with most Western countries and they'd have a better track record on racism against Black people than we do.
posted by zarq at 2:53 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Except that Liberia was established specifically as a homeland for emancipated Black Americans (the capital, Monrovia, is named after President Monroe, who supported the project), hence the parallel with Israel.
posted by acb at 3:02 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Because this is what is driving the problem in Europe right now - the countries there have, in many ways, retained the same structures, only reframing them in terms of "culture" rather than race. And he does, in fact, point out a solution - that outgroups need to be treated as full members of the society even if they don't fully line up with it.

No, that's not a solution, simply an imperative. Mounk does not outline what he expects European society to be based on for anybody to be a full member of. He does not want people to hold up values as the foundational ideas for society--having quite rightly thrown out ethnicity--but what, then? Without something shared, some set of values we can adhere to as European, there's little linking a French Jew with other French people but that they happen to live on the same patch of land. Like the US, Europe needs to be an idea as well as a place, and values are the route to that.
posted by Thing at 3:03 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


acb: Ah. Didn't realize.
posted by zarq at 3:05 PM on March 17, 2015


Sadly, today the main agenda in many European countries is nationalism. And in many of these countries, polemicists claim Christianity is part of the national identity. Their purpose is to exclude Muslims, but obviously their thinking leads to anti-semitism. As a result, European Jews experience a cross-pressure, from Palestinian and Lebanese refugees as well as from European nationalists. This is serious and dangerous, and in my view, the various leaders in EU do not take this seriously because they are fishing for votes among the nationalists. Our leaders are following the basest instincts rather than leading the way.
Here in Denmark, it seems a new generation is more open. The popular role models cannot identify with the scare tactics used by the politicians of all colors, and the majority young follow suit. In spite of being more conservative than previous generations, they are also more open to different religions and cultures. But the current demography says that old age rules.
posted by mumimor at 3:11 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Echoing again that that Foreign Affairs article is really good and well worth reading!
posted by overglow at 3:34 PM on March 17, 2015


Bardophile wrote: On a side note, I realize it would have taken away from the main thrust of his article, but it would have been much cooler, to my mind, if Goldberg had also at least waved a hand in the direction of Muslims who have spoken out in defence of Jews, or acted to protect synagogues in Europe.

With respect, Bardophile, the reports you link to don't show Muslims protecting synagogues. Those were media events: people turned up, had their photos taken, and went home. The volunteers who protect synagogues are there every night; I believe they are almost all Jewish members of their local community. I haven't heard of any Muslim volunteers, although I'm prepared to believe they exist.

It's great that there are some Muslims who are willing to say they oppose anti-Semitism, but this is a bit like men willing to say they oppose misogyny: it's what we should expect from any decent human being. The only reason this deserves any recognition is that it's so unusual.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:42 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Followups to the main article:

[The Atlantic] Editor’s Note: To Stay or to Go
Commentary Magazine: Can Americans Tell European Jews to Leave for Israel?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:14 PM on March 17, 2015


It's great that there are some Muslims who are willing to say they oppose anti-Semitism, but this is a bit like men willing to say they oppose misogyny: it's what we should expect from any decent human being.

Disregarding the problems with the Oslo demonstration, which we have discussed ad infinitum in another thread, there is value in symbolic demonstrations of unity that say "We oppose hatred and violence." Their actions may act as a sign or reminder to other members of their (and other) communities that finding common ground is possible. They may also send a message to agitators: that their own people do not support what they are doing.

The only reason this deserves any recognition is that it's so unusual.

A few years ago, I posted an FPP about Jews in Montana. The article included this:
"Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped."

Symbolic gestures can send powerful messages. And change the way people behave and look at their fellow human beings.

Sometimes the tiniest spark can be fanned into a roaring fire.
posted by zarq at 4:24 PM on March 17, 2015 [25 favorites]


I don't understand this world and religious hatred. It seems that the core of all religion is to worship your own god alone. To act out and seek damage in the name of any god demonstrates no understanding of one's selve. Let's act out against SCOTUS.
posted by breadbox at 7:17 PM on March 17, 2015




Joe in Australia: It's possible that my links weren't the best examples. He could have talked about the French Muslim worker who helped people out of the kosher supermarket. He could have talked about the statements of solidarity from Muslim faith leaders. I don't think it's reasonable that when people who identify themselves as Muslims do bad things, we identify it as being somehow related to their Muslim identity, but when they do good things, to say that it's just the decent thing to do as a human being and has no connection with their Muslim identity. The same holds true for other groups as well, of course.

My larger point was that discounting acts of solidarity harms the cause of interfaith and multicultural harmony. I think that's true even if they are small gestures.
posted by bardophile at 9:39 PM on March 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think that one reason that Britain did (and still, to some extent, does) comparatively well in these issues has been the emphasis on a broad and inclusive national identity. It is what I mean when I think of multiculturalism. I think that Islamophobia is the single greatest threat to that, and hence the single greatest threat to members of all marginalised groups.

I'm not sure Trevor Phillips would agree with any of the points you make.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:19 AM on March 18, 2015


Tablet is in the middle of a series on Jewish life in the UK. This is the current article:

Manchester’s New Jewish Ghetto
In the third of Tablet’s five-part series on anti-Semitism in the U.K., a dispatch from a northern city under siege

posted by Joe in Australia at 6:02 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]




Gosh. Here's the Jerusalem Post's report on it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:17 AM on March 22, 2015


They certainly did not look like Islamists.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:33 AM on March 22, 2015


Or "men", for that matter! It looked like your standard bunch of thugs and thugesses.

Muslim anti-Semitism is obviously a huge problem (e.g.), but I think people who criticise it specifically are deflecting attention from classic European anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Part of the problem faced by European Jews is that Jewish concerns have not been taken seriously. So you have people dismissing anti-Semitic assaults as being isolated or part of "normal" levels of criminal violence, and refusing to spend extra resources on combating anti-Semitism while simultaneously refusing to do the social research necessary to demonstrate that anti-Semitism is a distinct problem. I think that cultivated blindness is a form of anti-Semitism or xenophobia in itself.

So when something happens that can't be ignored, like the recent terror outrages, it's relatively easy to say "Oh, that wasn't done by real French/Danish/German/whatever people, it was just some radicalised immigrants." But this has been going on for years - these Jewish institutional security measures are a decade or so old. It's a huge problem! Why was it tolerated for so long? And is it going to be seriously addressed, even now? I doubt it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:22 AM on March 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


[One comment deleted; no harm meant I know, but we ask folks not to link to white supremacist sites from here. It's fine to repost with the same info but no link. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:15 PM on March 22, 2015


" 'Risk Has Gotten Greater': German Jews Advised Against Wearing Kippah"
The question of Jewish safety in Germany became the subject of public debate on Thursday after Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wondered in a radio interview whether it "really made sense" in "problem neighborhoods with large Muslim populations to make oneself recognizable as a Jew by wearing a kippah?" He suggested that in "might be better to choose a different head covering" in such instances.
posted by Rumple at 7:59 PM on March 22, 2015


No.
No, no, no.
Hell no.

That's classic victim blaming. It's as wrongheaded as blaming rape victims for what they wear. And equally offensive. Don't tell victims of assault or hate crimes that they have somehow "invited" or "incited" crimes against themselves. The blame and responsibility lies with the people who are attacking Jews and synagogues, not the other way around.
posted by zarq at 6:26 AM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Part of the problem faced by European Jews is that Jewish concerns have not been taken seriously. So you have people dismissing anti-Semitic assaults as being isolated or part of "normal" levels of criminal violence, and refusing to spend extra resources on combating anti-Semitism while simultaneously refusing to do the social research necessary to demonstrate that anti-Semitism is a distinct problem. I think that cultivated blindness is a form of anti-Semitism or xenophobia in itself.

And is it going to be seriously addressed, even now?

In Germany, there's good news and bad news.

The good news is, they've set up a new commission to address the increase in antisemitic incidents. It will report to Germany’s parliament within two years with an analysis (and hopefully) suggestions of how antisemitism can be addressed and reduced.

The bad news is, there is (no joke) not a single Jew on the antisemitism commission.
posted by zarq at 7:13 AM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Zarq: There's a sort of reactionary perception that Jews' experience with anti-Semitism can be pre-emptively dismissed because they are either obsessed by it, or cynically use it to their advantage. That last view is becoming shockingly mainstream; see:

Why Are James Fallows and His Commenters Annoyed by the Holocaust?
The ugly accusation that Jews ‘use’ the Shoah to drive nations to war migrates from the swamps of the right to the foreign policy left
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:37 PM on March 23, 2015


Why Are James Fallows and His Commenters Annoyed by the Holocaust?

As I said above: I'm Jewish. I also happen to know a hell of a lot about the Holocaust. And I'm firmly with Fallows on this one.
posted by asterix at 5:54 PM on March 23, 2015


Oh, and that link is tendentious in the extreme. (Which is exactly what I would expect from a Jamie Kerchick piece.)
posted by asterix at 6:03 PM on March 23, 2015


Asterix wrote: I'm firmly with Fallows on this one.

Really? Wow. The article links to one of Fallows' articles in which he quotes an email from a reader:
The ability of money to highjack [sic] American political processes is a dangerous thing. And the, shall I say, chutzpah of Israel, a foreign power, to inject itself (with disrespectful swagger) into the heart of the American political process should be seen as a real harbinger of those dangers. How much of the dark money being invested into 501(c)(4)'s has its origins in foreign treasuries? Israel is a potent example of how a savvy foreign power can, with careful political management and financial investment, hijack American politics. The analogy to a virus or a cancer springs to mind.
This could have come straight out of the darkest side of the Internet; it probably does. In another recent article he quotes another email:
[...] the Holocaust is not particularly good to think with. Its extremity serves as a bludgeon. Its use is nearly always intended to cut off debate or critique, to seize the moral high ground, and ideally to incite panic.
It's "use"? And "nearly always"? That's really, really offensive. It's like saying that African-Americans "use" racism, that when they mention segregation it "is nearly always intended to cut off debate or critique". I suppose you can find people who say things like that, but they are invariably the very worst kind of bigots and their views are both worthless and unfit for decent society.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:49 PM on March 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't expect you to agree with me. I commented only to register the fact that neither Jamie Kerchick nor Likud speak for all Jews. No matter how much they both might arrogate themselves that right.
posted by asterix at 12:02 AM on March 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nobody suggests that they do. I don't think anyone even mentioned Likud, so that's a weird interpolation right there.

How about the emails that Fallows quotes, approvingly. Do they speak for you?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:46 AM on March 24, 2015


I don't think anyone even mentioned Likud, so that's a weird interpolation right there.

... that's the entire context for the Fallows post you link and the letters he quotes. The clue is in the head and sub-head:
The Case for Democrats Skipping the Netanyahu Speech
Why should they willingly serve as GOP-Likud campaign props?

As for the letter writers:

I believe, like the first writer, that there is the potential for foreign money to influence the American political process (although I don't think it's as much of a problem as he or she does). I have issues specifically with the kind of influence AIPAC wields. And I also think that, when talking about Jews in particular, disease metaphors are questionable at best (even if they're a natural comparison to reach for) and they do make me wonder a bit about people who use them.

The second writer: I recognize exactly what they're talking about. If you've never encountered Jews who use the Holocaust in precisely the way he or she mentions, then you're a far more fortunate person than I am.
posted by asterix at 10:02 AM on March 24, 2015


Anti-Semites typically cloak themselves in the populist rhetoric of the day: when socialism is popular they talk about "financiers"; when nationalism is ascendant they talk about "internationalists"; when the pendulum swings the other way they talk about "bolsheviks" or "right wing nationalists". The underlying language doesn't change much, although I admit that I was surprised to see a contemporary use of "disease" as a metaphor for Jewish influence. And no, it's not "a natural comparison to reach for". I won't give analogies to other forms of racism, because those analogies are highly offensive in themselves, but you've probably seen racist cartoons depicting the US President.

If you've never encountered Jews who use the Holocaust in precisely the way he or she mentions, then you're a far more fortunate person than I am.

I have never encountered them, no. And you're shifting the goalposts: he says that the Holocaust is not only "used", but "nearly always" used that way. By implication, a reference to the Holocaust can be pre-emptively dismissed; the speaker's motives are already impugned.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:50 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


And no, it's not "a natural comparison to reach for".

Well this is unedifying.

I have never encountered them, no.

Then like I said, you're far more fortunate than I.

And you're shifting the goalposts: he says that the Holocaust is not only "used", but "nearly always" used that way.

In the context that the letter writer is speaking? If it's not "nearly always", it's a hell of a lot more than "nearly never". I find I'm not terribly interested in quantifying precisely how often it's used that way; in any event it's a cheap rhetorical ploy and I find it repugnant. (In large part precisely because I know as much as I do about the Shoah, and because my Judaism is so important to me.)

By implication, a reference to the Holocaust can be pre-emptively dismissed; the speaker's motives are already impugned.

I personally have found it to be a decent heuristic.
posted by asterix at 3:00 PM on March 24, 2015


And let me add: analogies/references to the Holocaust are, IME, just a particularly special case of historical analogies in general. They serve more to confuse than to illuminate, and I'd be perfectly happy if I never saw another one.
posted by asterix at 3:05 PM on March 24, 2015


Harvey Weinstein Urges Jews to Take on Anti-Semites: "Kick These Guys in the Ass"
"Weinstein, 63, then went off-script to speak about his father, who was a sergeant stationed in Cairo during World War II. The elder Weinstein aided the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF before Israel was a state) and later taught his sons about anti-Semitism. Weinstein emphasized his concern about anti-Semitism around the world, which Wiesenthal Center studies indicate is at its highest levels since the end of World War II.

I'm upset when I read The Atlantic Monthly's headline that says, 'Should the Jews leave Europe?' — a resounding 'no' on my end — and [New York Times columnist] David Brooks today talking about how to combat anti-Semitism," Weinstein said. "It's like, here we go again, we're right back where we were [before the Holocaust]. And the lessons of the past are we better stand up and kick these guys in the ass."

The co-head of The Weinstein Company continued, "I think it's time that we, as Jews, get together with the Muslims who are honorable and peaceful — but we [also] have to go and protect ourselves. We have to build, once again, back into the breach. There's a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's book The Sirens of Titan and it always was the motto of Miramax and now The Weinstein Company. It says, 'Good can triumph over evil if the angels are as organized as the mafia.' That's how we built our company! And, unfortunately, we [Jews] are gonna have to get as organized as the mafia. We just can't take it anymore. We just can't take these things. There's gotta be a way to fight back."

"While we must be understanding of our Arab brothers and our Islamic brothers," he added, "we also have to understand that these crazy bastards [Arab and Islamic extremists] are also killing their own — they're killing neighbors, they're killing people from all sorts of different races. And, unlike World War II, when we didn't act right away and we paid the price, we better start acting now. Trust me, I'm the last guy who wants to do anything about it, but I realize if we don't, we will perish. We can't allow the bad guys to win. So, as they say in The Godfather, 'back to the mattresses,' and back to the idea that we will not ever forget what happened to us."

posted by zarq at 7:51 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


That sounds great! What exactly does that mean, Harvey? Be specific.

(This is like when Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds was asked what the US should do in Iraq in... '04? '05? His response: "Win.")
posted by asterix at 8:07 AM on March 26, 2015


He was speaking at a Simon Wiesenthal Center event and reaffirming their mission. Which is to vocally challenge expressed antisemitism in public, and educate the masses so they can recognize and understand why antisemitism is harmful, as well as what it can lead to.

Which, by the way, means using the Holocaust as a metric. Not as an excuse for destructive behavior, but as a reminder, a warning that in the past, antisemitism has led to horrific acts. And to acknowledge that when antisemitism becomes institutionalized and government-led, isolated hate crimes can turn into a push for genocide.
posted by zarq at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Wiesenthal Center's About page:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. With a constituency of over 400,000 households in the United States, it is accredited as an NGO at international organizations including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO) and the Council of Europe.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center maintains offices in New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.

posted by zarq at 8:26 AM on March 26, 2015


He was speaking at a Simon Wiesenthal Center event and reaffirming their mission.

In a particularly stupid way. Unless the Wiesenthal Center has a secret counter-terrorist unit I've never heard about.

Which, by the way, means using the Holocaust as a metric. Not as an excuse for destructive behavior

This would be more convincing to me if Harvey weren't talking about emulating the mafia and preparing for a gang war.
posted by asterix at 8:35 AM on March 26, 2015


In a particularly stupid way. Unless the Wiesenthal Center has a secret counter-terrorist unit I've never heard about.

Exactly what sort of reaction do you think he was talking about? A gang war? Ridiculous. That wasn't a literal call to arms, for heaven's sake. 'Being organized as the mafia' means unifying against a common threat. It doesn't mean that Jews should become vigilante criminals, or some sort of anti-terrorist unit.

In this context, and given where he was speaking it seems apparent that he was talking about challenging/speaking out against antisemitism, lobbying against it, fighting back against stereotypes and hatreds. Etc., What the Center does.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Exactly what sort of reaction do you think he was talking about? A gang war? Ridiculous. That wasn't a literal call to arms, for heaven's sake. 'Being organized as the mafia' means unifying against a common threat. It doesn't mean that Jews should become vigilante criminals, or some sort of anti-terrorist unit.

Maybe not. When I hear that sort of rhetoric, though, I hear echoes of the furor that Hilberg and Arendt set off (and the accusations that they blamed the Jews murdered in the Holocaust for complicity in their own deaths). And at a moment in time where the US is starting to bomb Iraq again, and people are arguing we should bomb Iran too, I can't be quite as certain as you are that it wasn't a literal call to arms.
posted by asterix at 9:12 AM on March 26, 2015


And since it occurs to me that my comments about Iraq and Iran could be misconstrued in a particularly unsavory way: I'm not for a moment suggesting the Jews are behind either push. Just that the idea of direct military action is in the air and so I'm particularly sensitive to rhetoric that approaches it.
posted by asterix at 9:20 AM on March 26, 2015


Denmark:
Sex With Animals: Legal
Kosher and Halal slaughter: Illegal.
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on March 27, 2015


What makes that especially affronting is:
  1. Hunting in Denmark is legal, and quite popular. Foreigners can buy a hunting license online. They can even use arrows, as long as they can hit a deer in a vital area five out of six times, from a distance of five meters. [source]
  2. Denmark is known for its pork production, and there have been ghastly stories about cruelty in its factory farms.
  3. Nobody was actually producing kosher meat in Denmark, but they banned it anyway, just on prejudice principle.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:31 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Biden goes off-message (again): American Jews should let Israel protect them

It was already mentioned in Jeffrey Goldberg's article, but I thought Corey Robin's take on it was worth reading.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:28 AM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Biden goes off-message (again): American Jews should let Israel protect them

The fact that he's the one saying it is unusual (and indicative of how earnestly awkward-sounding our VP can be,) but that's the same sentiment that drove the Zionism movement in the United States and elsewhere for decades, and probably still drives it to some extent today. It's not so much the idea that Israel will protect us as provide a refuge, from slaughter. As the article says, it's "a sentiment widely if privately shared in the Jewish community."

The "Irish and Ireland" argument doesn't equate. They weren't massacred by the millions, while others turned their backs.
posted by zarq at 7:22 AM on March 30, 2015


The "Irish and Ireland" argument doesn't equate. They weren't massacred by the millions, while others turned their backs.

Not in the diaspora, anyway.
posted by ocschwar at 9:10 AM on March 30, 2015


Also, the Kennedy family had Irish roots; their representative isn't going to risk implying that Ireland is his sentimental home. The charge of divided loyalties is a pernicious one, and Robin goes on to (possibly, implicitly) make that allegation regarding Jews in the USA:
Personally, I don’t have a problem with Jews wanting to be separate and apart, or even with their having divided loyalties [...]
Personally, I don't have a problem with professors repeating anti-Semitic slurs, or even promoting them ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:54 PM on March 30, 2015


Did you miss the part where Corey Robin is Jewish, Joe?
posted by asterix at 3:45 PM on March 30, 2015


Surely you don't imagine that being a member of a minority prevents one from adopting the prejudices of the dominant group. Minorities are immersed in these discriminatory views and are given every incentive to confirm the prejudices and thereby ease the conscience of the majority.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:31 PM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mazel tov on avoiding the specific phrase "self-loathing Jew", I guess?

(I don't even like Corey Robin, but FFS if you want to talk about avoiding rhetoric with unsavory connotations you might want to have a look at the beam in your own eye. And I'm pretty goddamn sure that he really thinks that there's nothing wrong with Jews wanting to be separate and apart, or having divided loyalties, for reasons that have not a goddamn thing to do with "the prejudices of the dominant group".)
posted by asterix at 4:46 PM on March 30, 2015


I'm guess also impressed that you managed to work an accusation of anti-Semitism into a blog post dedicated to criticizing an American politician for not standing up for the rights of Jews.
posted by asterix at 4:50 PM on March 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Talking about anti-Semitism can be unpleasant, but if you consider it to be "rhetoric with unsavory connotations" then you're giving a pass to anti-Semites. David Schraub has some thoughts on this, and it's worth reading his paper Playing with Cards: Discrimination Claims and the Charge of Bad Faith.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:15 PM on March 30, 2015


Talking about anti-Semitism can be unpleasant, but if you consider it to be "rhetoric with unsavory connotations"

No, I consider anti-Semitic rhetoric to be "rhetoric with unsavory connotations". I have no problem with talking about anti-Semitism. I just happen to disagree with your assessment of this particular situation.

(And I have to say that that Schraub piece lost me at
Another part of being Jewish in America is that I've yet to attend a synagogue on holiday services that wasn't surrounded by armed guards -- and they weren't there to direct traffic.
A) That's not my experience of being Jewish in America .
B) God knows we should uncritically accept the things law enforcement/security people say about threats.)
posted by asterix at 7:32 PM on March 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have no problem with talking about anti-Semitism. I just happen to disagree with your assessment of this particular situation.

Disagreement over offensive language and its implications isn't an issue in itself, but characterising your opponent's views as "rhetoric" is a silencing tactic. It implies that the speaker is dishonest and is only arguing for the sake of tactical advantage.

That's not my experience of being Jewish in America .

I will stipulate that different people have different experiences, and I bet he would too. You seem to acknowledge this when you say "God knows we should uncritically accept the things law enforcement/security people say about threats." So it looks as though you acknowledge the high level of security around Jewish institutions; you just ascribe it to gullibility or paranoia? But surely you're aware that Jewish institutions are a target for hate crimes; that these attacks are not infrequent; and that they occur even in the USA? In the very next paragraph he says
Jews face the second highest rate, per capita, of hate crimes of any group in the country (behind only gays and lesbians), matters. When we talk about Jews and lack this attunement, we will make mistakes. When we talk about Jews and deny that we even need to be so attuned, we will commit a wrong.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:22 PM on March 30, 2015


Disagreement over offensive language and its implications isn't an issue in itself, but characterising your opponent's views as "rhetoric" is a silencing tactic. It implies that the speaker is dishonest and is only arguing for the sake of tactical advantage.

I swear to god, it's like we're speaking different languages. I use "rhetoric" to mean "persuasive speech", that's all.

So it looks as though you acknowledge the high level of security around Jewish institutions; you just ascribe it to gullibility or paranoia?

I acknowledge the high level of security around some Jewish institutions (yes, I've been to services where they had armed guards). And yes, without any supporting evidence I do in fact ascribe some of it to gullibility or paranoia.

But surely you're aware that Jewish institutions are a target for hate crimes; that these attacks are not infrequent; and that they occur even in the USA?

Did you even click through to the sources he links? The overwhelming majority of hate crimes against Jews are "destruction damage/vandalism" (from this table). Yes, they're worrisome, but it's so clearly a different case than anti-Black (the term used in that table) or anti-LGBT hate crime that lumping them together like that makes no sense to me. If we're talking actual violence against people, Muslims are actually more likely per capita to suffer from hate crimes than Jews.

(Even still... we're talking a total of just under 700 total hate crimes in the entire country directed against Jews in all of 2012. That's not a lot.)
posted by asterix at 8:50 PM on March 30, 2015


Even still... we're talking a total of just under 700 total hate crimes in the entire country directed against Jews in all of 2012. That's not a lot.

It's enough for synagogues to require armed security guards. Also, the table only compiles reported events that are (a) known to agencies that participate in the reporting program; (b) been classified as hate crimes; (c) have actually been reported to the FBI; and (d) have been accepted by the collection program. It is inevitable that many crimes will not be represented in this collection. For instance, the table reports only one case of "murder and non-negligent manslaughter" in the USA during 2012 (the victim was white, incidentally). There were nearly 15,000 murders in the USA that year; it would be ludicrous to imagine that only one of those was occasioned by bias.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:07 PM on March 30, 2015


It's enough for synagogues to require armed security guards.

This is pointless. Neither one of us is going to convince the other of a goddamn thing. Enjoy what looks like a lovely day where you are, and I'm going to go read a book.
posted by asterix at 9:23 PM on March 30, 2015


The Jerusalem Post evidently reads Salon, because they have now noticed Jeffrey Goldberg's article in The Atlantic: 'Biden told US Jews that Israel - not America - guaranteed their security'
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:31 AM on March 31, 2015


I acknowledge the high level of security around some Jewish institutions (yes, I've been to services where they had armed guards). And yes, without any supporting evidence I do in fact ascribe some of it to gullibility or paranoia.

In some cases, that "paranoia" is justified. I'd venture to say that here in NYC, synagogues should be taking advantage of every possible security measure. There have been a number of incidents involving synagogues here over the years, ranging from people acting suspiciously to plotting to blow up synagogues, or even outright vandalism. As a result, most have added visible and invisible security measures, many of which were paid for with federal funding.

My wife works for a Jewish non-profit and used to get threatening faxes that named her and her co-workers (and their families) by name from the Westboro Baptist Church on a regular basis. Being targeted by those folks is frightening and sobering.

When the Federal government earmarked security funding for non-profits nationwide, the majority went to Orthodox Jewish groups. Mostly because they were organized.
posted by zarq at 3:13 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The overwhelming majority of hate crimes against Jews are "destruction damage/vandalism" (from this table). Yes, they're worrisome, but it's so clearly a different case than anti-Black

And Kristallnacht was just about the broken glass.
posted by corb at 4:21 PM on March 31, 2015


There have been a number of incidents involving synagogues here over the years, ranging from people acting suspiciously to plotting to blow up synagogues, or even outright vandalism.

The "plotting to blow up synagogues" case is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. There's serious question as to whether or not Cromitie actually wanted to blow up a synagogue, or whether he was goaded into it. And it's not like, if that's what actually happened, it would be an isolated incident.

My wife works for a Jewish non-profit and used to get threatening faxes that named her and her co-workers (and their families) by name from the Westboro Baptist Church on a regular basis. Being targeted by those folks is frightening and sobering.

Look, just to clarify: I'm not saying that anti-Semitism doesn't exist at all, or that anyone who's concerned is wrong to be so. Being targeted like that has to be terrifying.
posted by asterix at 4:27 PM on March 31, 2015


And Kristallnacht was just about the broken glass.

Well that was predictable.
posted by asterix at 4:28 PM on March 31, 2015


Well, maybe you could stop being dismissive of anti-Semitic hate crimes, and these comparisons wouldn't have to be brought up.

Really, why the hell would you come to a thread about anti-Semitism and be like "okay, guys, but I mean, it's not really bad, not like this OTHER group of people!"? What would make you think that was appropriate?
posted by corb at 4:36 PM on March 31, 2015


I thought this was really interesting, and kinda supports some of the points you're making, asterix. (Albeit on college campuses): The Anti-Semitism Surge That Isn't.
posted by zarq at 4:41 PM on March 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


What would make you think that was appropriate?

I'm a Jew. I don't want other Jews to be fearful when I don't think they have any particular reason to be; and there's a long and ugly history (not just among Jews) of fearmongering as a tactic of political persuasion. I don't like it when members of other groups do it to themselves, and I particularly don't like it when it's directed at me.
posted by asterix at 4:46 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's a great link, zarq.
posted by asterix at 4:59 PM on March 31, 2015


ARE ALL TERRORISTS MUSLIMS? IT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE
For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

[...]

...when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities?
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "plotting to blow up synagogues" case is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. There's serious question as to whether or not Cromitie actually wanted to blow up a synagogue, or whether he was goaded into it. And it's not like, if that's what actually happened, it would be an isolated incident.

I have no sympathy for any of the four Bronx plotters. Entrapment or no, they voluntarily said antisemitic things, declared their willingness to kill people and do harm to Americans and Jews, obtained what they thought were explosive materials, then built and planted fake bombs. The plots were elaborate and premeditated enough that I don't think they really can be fairly compared to a guy being coerced into buying drugs from an undercover cop or informant. Which is why the three judges rejected claims of entrapment, or government misconduct.

I suppose there's also an argument to be made that most if not all terrorist acts can be characterized as isolated incidents. That's why they're difficult to uncover. The so-called "lone wolf" threat. But I do understand your meaning. There have been other incidents, but not many. Someone sent letters to area synagogues threatening to blow them up on New Years Eve a few years ago. The argument of course is that one incident is more than enough to justify at least some increased security. It's hard to argue with.

I lived here in the years before and after 9/11, and through the craziness of the Homeland Security color bars and fake and real terrorist plot warnings. Republican, neocon fearmongering and their empty, paternalistic promises of security are infuriating. But still, it's hard not to worry, and it's difficult to find a balance between rational awareness and paranoia. Especially among Ashkenazi Jews, as we have a thread of victimhood that winds through our culture.

If reasonable added security measures help people feel more secure, then I'm okay with them. But I agree with you that dipping into paranoia doesn't help.

That's a great link, zarq.

Fascinating, isn't it? Quite a surprise!
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have no sympathy for any of the four Bronx plotters.

Oh, me neither! I was imprecise; instead of "actually wanted to blow up a synagogue", I should have said "would have actually taken the steps he did without the informant there". In this context, though, all I really care about is assessing the legitimate threat of anti-Semitic violence, and a case like that seems qualitatively different to me from one like the shooter at the LA JCC a few years ago, or the one at the Overland Park JCC.
posted by asterix at 8:25 AM on April 1, 2015


[One comment deleted; don't drag people back into this thread by name if they've left it weeks ago.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:38 PM on April 2, 2015




The Savage Mind - A look at how modern France came to spurn its Enlightenment heritage
As I sit down to write this review of a book about persistent French cultural pathologies, Paris has just witnessed a mass march against the government of Socialist president François Hollande. On this self-styled “Day of Wrath,” one contingent of demonstrators sang a Holocaust-mocking ditty titled “Shoah-nanas,” made popular by the comedian Dieudonné; recently, France’s minister of the interior banned Dieudonné’s one-man show Le mur as an affront to “human dignity” for its allegedly anti-Semitic content. Dieudonné’s defenders sometimes claim that his performances are not anti-Semitic but merely anti-Zionist. The Paris demonstrators made it clear, however, that they have little use for such subtle distinctions, since immediately after their rendition of “Shoah-nanas” they began to chant “Juif, la France n’est pas à toi” (Jew, France is not for you)—a direct echo of anti-Semitic chants heard in the streets of Paris in the period described in Frederick Brown’s The Embrace of Unreason. Brown’s thorough and patient psychoanalysis of the French “soul,” which began in 2010 with For the Soul of France, continues here—at a time when, alas, the French penchant for xenophobic intolerance is once more of urgent topical interest.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:46 AM on April 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


My understanding is that Dieudonné is a French anti-Zionist comedian who ended a show (that apparently included some Holocaust revisionist statements) by saying "Isra-Heil." He was then put on several trials for inciting racial hatred and lost to the tune of €30,000+ -- a huge fine.

Afterwards, he made a youtube video attacking 'well-off merchants and businessmen' for making money off him and others, by forcing people to remember the Holocaust. He begged for money to pay his legal fees from his supporters. Eventually, he created a couple of music videos that included anti-Jewish tropes and at least one anti-Zionist statement -- something along the lines of 'remembering the holocaust gets you a country in the sun [Israel] and millions of dollars.' He was tried again and fined another €20,000. Apparently he's a complete idiot.

The Paris demonstrators made it clear, however, that they have little use for such subtle distinctions, since immediately after their rendition of “Shoah-nanas” they began to chant “Juif, la France n’est pas à toi” (Jew, France is not for you)—a direct echo of anti-Semitic chants heard in the streets of Paris in the period described in Frederick Brown’s The Embrace of Unreason.

Lovely.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2015




The Guardian: A new exodus? The reality of being Jewish in Europe today
"After a wave of antisemitic attacks across Europe, many Jews are wondering what the future holds. We hear seven contrasting voices, from France to Turkey"
posted by zarq at 7:10 AM on April 5, 2015


The Jewish experience in Europe (*) has been that they were tolerated as long as they were useful. Their defenders rarely spoke up for them as people with an inherent right to equal treatment; they usually argued that Jews were economically important, or were a valuable historic lesson, or whatever. That story in The Guardian does the same thing:
Some voices, among them Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu, have called on Europe’s Jews to emigrate to Israel for security. Fear can be understandable, but that kind of message is not what is needed. It would mean the negation of Europe’s diversity and very identity.
For whom is that message not needed? Netanyahu's offer was directed to Europe's Jews, who are the ones best placed to decide if they want to take it up. The fact that Europe might lose "its diversity and very identity" really isn't relevant; Jews have no obligation to fill Europe's diversity quota.

It's possible that in time Jews in Europe will be able to live (as Jews) in reasonable security without taking extraordinary security measures. At present they can't. Europe has failed the Jews; it is the most awful arrogance to imply that the Jews are failing Europe.

(*) Very likely the experience of minorities generally.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:22 PM on April 5, 2015


This:
I Probably Won’t Share This Essay on Twitter
Some thoughts on being Jewish in contemporary polite society
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:25 AM on April 7, 2015


Netanyahu's offer was directed to Europe's Jews, who are the ones best placed to decide if they want to take it up.

Netanyahu is exploiting some of the most pernicious and disgusting anti-Semitic tropes in order to get his point across, a tactic that he has spent the last several months deploying in what is clearly an extremely cynical political gambit. Chief among those has been to prey on the idea that Jews have split loyalties, and that those who aren't 100% behind Israel are somehow not real Jews. We've seen it the US, where he explicitly aligned himself with the evangelical Christian GOP and had their mouthpieces basically accuse every American--and especially Jewish Americans--to his left of being either a traitor to Israel or to their religion, if not both. In Europe, it plays even better, since it simultaneously reinforces the suspicions of those who hate Jewish Europeans and undermines the work of those trying to improve Jewish life in Europe. And in Israel, it plays best of all, since the Jewish Israeli right wing (particularly émigrés from Russia and/or Orthodox Jews) are reassured that the influx of immigrants that agree with their worldview is almost sure to increase.

Some thoughts on being Jewish in contemporary polite society

This is a perfect illustration of the mindset I described. It's all there: the implication that not prostrating one's self in front of a right-wing Israeli government isn't just anti-Israel but actually anti-Semitic, the muttering about liberal conspiracies, the claim that her viewpoint is swept under the rug, and the implication that being related to Holocaust victims confers some sort of "uber-Jew" status. She claims she's puzzled why her viewpoint "has gone from a liberal one to a capital-c Conservative one" without ever once acknowledging that Netanyahu has spent decades as a honorary member of the Republican Party, who have all but declared him their de facto US President. She also completely ignores the fact that hardcore Jewish conservatives like Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg, with generous assists from their evangelical allies, dominate the political talk shows while Jewish politicians or public figures on the left are almost always either brought on when they agree with the right or to be punching bags. It's almost criminally easy to get away with accusing the largest proportions of Jewish Americans (including pretty much every one of them holding elected office) of being anti-Semites, especially among the right. It's a stance that has the barest of majorities in Israel, let alone among Jews in the US and the rest of the world, but there's certainly plenty of others to pick up the slack. I mean, I can actually hear her left-leaning Jewish acquaintances rolling their eyes second-hand. I would too, if every time I disagreed with the Israeli right wing she accused me of being a self-loathing Jew and tried to shut down the conversation with a Because Holocaust argument. I certainly hear it enough from conservative gentiles who spout nonsense that comes straight out of /r/badhistory or, in all seriousness, make statements that sound like the @LOLGOP Twitter feed .
posted by zombieflanders at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Netanyahu is exploiting some of the most pernicious and disgusting anti-Semitic tropes in order to get his point across, a tactic that he has spent the last several months deploying in what is clearly an extremely cynical political gambit. Chief among those has been to prey on the idea that Jews have split loyalties, and that those who aren't 100% behind Israel are somehow not real Jews..

I am not the biggest Netanyahu fan but this is simply false. Of course Netanyahu has a very real political agenda in calling for European Jews to move to Europe - but calling for Jews to immigrate to Israel is as old as the state itself, and though I find his rhetoric heavy handed it doesn't seem out of line to offer Jews a route to a different country if they so choose.
posted by rosswald at 7:19 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not the agenda I'm criticizing, it's the tactics, which are most certainly cynical. As I posted upthread, it's one that many (most?) Jewish Europeans disagree with. For instance, here's the former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research:
Jews are a constituent part of Europe and have been for 2,000 years. Tragic and devastating as it was, the Holocaust didn’t negate that. European Jews can’t control their own fate, but American Jews can’t either. European Jews can change their fate, however, by following one good American Jewish example: Make horizontal alliances to fight racism, discrimination, social and economic exclusion and injustice. Also, show sympathy and concern for Jews and Palestinians in Israel and the Palestinian territories by supporting equal rights for all, not Jewish exceptionalism — not to curry favor with critics but because it’s the right thing to do.

Although Goldberg thinks Israel’s future as a Jewish haven is open to question, by concluding that Jews should leave Europe, he effectively endorses Netanyahu’s classic Zionist call for all European Jews to go and live there. How perverse that in an 11,000-word piece of reportage designed to expose the consequences of contemporary hatred of Jews in Europe, Goldberg ends up validating the classic anti-Semitic charge: Jews don’t belong.
Personally, I think he's exaggerating Goldberg's position a bit, but the underlying sentiment about Netanyahu's methodology is absolutely spot-on.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:31 AM on April 7, 2015


Personally, I think he's exaggerating Goldberg's position a bit, but the underlying sentiment about Netanyahu's methodology is absolutely spot-on.

I'm not sure what you are reading in that quote, but the only mention of Netanyahu is about him making "the classic Zionist call for all European Jews to go an live [in Israel]." That isn't cynical or particularly manipulative. It is, indeed, the classic Zionist rhetoric to Jews in the Diaspora.

I tend to think N. was cynical in his deployment of that call, too, but that quote doesn't suggest that.
posted by OmieWise at 7:37 AM on April 7, 2015


expose the consequences of contemporary hatred of Jews in Europe, Goldberg ends up validating the classic anti-Semitic charge: Jews don’t belong.

This seems pretty circular. It shouldn't be a requirement that Jews set aside their own rational best interests to protect Europe's multicultural ideals. If Jews leave Europe because they feel they can't live their lives the way they want, then it is Europe failing Jewish people and not the other way around.

It is unfair to label someone who chooses to leave Europe as reinforcing anti-Semitism and vice-versa, Jews who choose to stay shouldn't have to do so as ideological warriors.
posted by rosswald at 7:55 AM on April 7, 2015


Netanyahu is exploiting some of the most pernicious and disgusting anti-Semitic tropes in order to get his point across,

I said this recently in another thread, but it's not in any way antisemitic for a Jewish leader to say to other Jews that in the wake of anti-Jewish attacks, emigrating to the Jewish homeland is an option. In fact, many Zionists would probably think that as Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu's obligated to do so -- whether or not they agree with him for capitalizing on a tragedy.

For nearly three generations, Jewish culture in the diaspora has presented Israel as a refuge. A place where Jews can go and be free from institutionalized persecution, and the only country in the world where we are not in the minority. There have been extensive campaigns in the US and Europe to free Jews from persecution in places like Russia, and help Jews there and elsewhere make aliyah in Israel. There are whole organizations, religious and non, who are devoted to bringing Jews to Israel. If a person grew up in an American Jewish family in the 60's, 70's and 80's, they probably encountered a JNF blue tzedakah box at least once. If not in their own house, then at temple or a friend's house. There are organizations that fund vacations, educational trips and even moves to Israel. To help people who move there, Israel has a Ministry of Immigrant Absorption with the minister holding a minor Kinesset cabinet post.

At seders this past weekend, most Jews celebrating Passover outside of Israel probably ended with the words: לשנה הבאה בירושלים. ( "L'shanah haba'ah b'yerushalayim: Next Year in Jerusalem!") Many families and congregations sing them instead.

Also see: "The Land of Israel embraces our people, and it waits for you like a mother with outstretched arms that never tire."

I'm guessing most non-Jews are probably unaware of all of this. But it exists, and calls to emigrate to Israel have been intimately intertwined in some way with Jewish culture in the diaspora for decades. Especially in Europe and the Americas.
posted by zarq at 8:09 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I said this recently in another thread, but it's not in any way antisemitic for a Jewish leader to say to other Jews that in the wake of anti-Jewish attacks, emigrating to the Jewish homeland is an option. In fact, many Zionists would probably think he's obligated to do so -- whether or not they agree with him for capitalizing on a tragedy.

I don't disagree. I'm saying that Netanyahu has made it clear that he's doing so not out of the goodness of his heart, but to further the divide between Jewish and gentile Europeans (and to a certain extent, Americans). Furthermore, he's using fears of anti-Semitism and of being labeled as an anti-Semite as a bludgeon against both Jews and gentiles who don't agree with him.

For nearly three generations, Jewish culture in the diaspora has presented Israel as a refuge. A place where Jews can go and be free from institutionalized persecution, and the only country in the world where we are not in the minority.

The problem is, as most Jewish Americans (myself and my family included) feel, that it seems that the desire of the Israeli government continues to gravitate towards Jewish supremacy in Israel, and thereby continue to disenfranchise non-Jewish Israelis in order to create a fully apartheid state. Netanyahu and his supporters have basically spent the last month reinforcing that viewpoint.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:23 AM on April 7, 2015


I guess the tl;dr of what I'm trying to say is that, whether or not a Jewish leader is obligated to call for aliyah, the way the current one is going about it is plainly divisive and serves to fuel anti-Semitic sentiment.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on April 7, 2015




zombieflanders: I don't disagree. I'm saying that Netanyahu has made it clear that he's doing so not out of the goodness of his heart,

I don't think this is necessarily clear, although I could be wrong. I am completely convinced that Netanyahu's a racist, fearmongering opportunist who showed his true colors during the end days of the last campaign. But he has done nothing to suggest that he either doesn't believe the offensive things he's saying, or that he does not believe Israel is a better choice for Jews than Europe. He's been saying similar stuff for years.

but to further the divide between Jewish and gentile Europeans (and to a certain extent, Americans).

The tenets of Zionism and the observation that European governments have in some cases turned a blind eye to hate crimes against Jews in the last few years are not incompatible concepts. I mean, it's fairly obvious from even a superficial google search that we're being subjected to a certain level of antisemitism throughout Eastern and Western Europe. I know American Jews who have been talking about how bad the antisemitism has been getting in France for years. That it's been running virtually unchecked. French Jews have been the targets of multiple antisemitic hate crimes -- physical attacks, defaced synagogues and cemeteries, nazi graffiti, etc., yet it literally took a supermarket massacre for the government to act aggressively.

So yes, there's a divide. It wasn't created by Netanyahu. And even though I disagree with him, I think he's raising a question that should be answered in public forums. If for no other reason that Europe be made aware that people are paying attention and expecting them to react when faced with attacks against Jews.

Furthermore, he's using fears of anti-Semitism and of being labeled as an anti-Semite as a bludgeon against both Jews and gentiles who don't agree with him.

I don't disagree with you about the bludgeon.

With regard to Europe, he's referencing and responding to actual antisemitic incidents that have happened. He's not wrong that it's a systemic problem. So that's capitalizing on realistic fears. I think his "solution" (to move to a war zone where Jews are being targeted) is ludicrous, but it's not like the idea exists in a vacuum.

The problem is, as most Jewish Americans (myself and my family included) feel, that it seems that the desire of the Israeli government continues to gravitate towards Jewish supremacy in Israel

If by Jewish supremacy you mean "a Jewish majority" then yes, it's a Jewish state and Israeli nationalists are obviously going to do what they can to keep it that way.

You could be right about Jews turning away from Israel. I am honestly not sure how most Jewish Americans feel, but from observation I think Israel has probably not lost too much Jewish support in the diaspora. AIPAC is certainly still ascendent. JNF is still well funded, as are aliyah programs. Pro-Israel events are still heavily attended and funded by Jews. J Street is still having a great deal of difficulty winning hearts and minds. I can tell you from experience and observation that here in the largest Jewish population center in the United States, New York generally remains pretty pro-Israel. Our religious Jews tend to be more pro-Zionist than not.

and thereby continue to disenfranchise non-Jewish Israelis in order to create a fully apartheid state.

The Israeli government is overtly supporting religious extremists and that's getting MUCH worse since the election. It sickens me. Israel has also clearly been attempting a long-term land grab in the occupied areas of the West Bank. Etc.

Can the term "apartheid" properly apply when a lot of the actions dividing Palestinians and Israelis that Israel has taken (the wall, the separate highway, etc.,) were a response to terrorism? Should that matter? I think it does, but admit I might be wrong.

I guess the tl;dr of what I'm trying to say is that, whether or not a Jewish leader is obligated to call for aliyah, the way the current one is going about it is plainly divisive and serves to fuel anti-Semitic sentiment.

Plain divisive, I agree with. Fueling anti-semitic sentiment... if you mean by that 'calling Jews' loyalties into question' then maybe. But blaming Jews for stirring up antisemitic sentiment strikes me as terribly victim-blaming.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


he has done nothing to suggest that he either doesn't believe the offensive things he's saying

He's so completely mendacious in pretty much every other way that I find it hard for their to be any truth in his convictions, but I could be overly cynical.

If by Jewish supremacy you mean "a Jewish majority" then yes, it's a Jewish state and Israeli nationalists are obviously going to do what they can to keep it that way.

No, I mean where certain groups (namely, Arabs and/or Muslims) are permanent second-class citizens or worse. The idea of a Jewish state or a Jewish majority is great...as long as it's democratic, or at least makes the pretense that it is. I don't think that pretense exists any more, thanks to Netanyahu.

You could be right about Jews turning away from Israel.

Let me clarify again: I don't think Jews are necessarily turning away from Israel, but from the Israeli government, and in particular the right wing of the government.

Can the term "apartheid" properly apply when a lot of the actions dividing Palestinians and Israelis that Israel has taken (the wall, the separate highway, etc.,) were a response to terrorism? Should that matter? I think it does, but admit I might be wrong.

Well, apartheid is meant to describe discrimination, regardless of minority/majority status or where the conflict started. Thus the desire for the two-state solution that most Israelis and Jewish Americans support. The point was made in the Iran thread that Israel has to decide whether it wants to be a Jewish state or a democracy, and I think that (at least for the moment) that's true. It's not a simple solution by any stretch of the imagination, but a lot of the more extreme Zionists seem entirely too comfortable with the idea that every Palestinian or Arab or Muslim is a terrorist by default.

Plain divisive, I agree with. Fueling anti-semitic sentiment... if you mean by that 'calling Jews' loyalties into question' then maybe. But blaming Jews for stirring up antisemitic sentiment strikes me as terribly victim-blaming.

Oh, definitely the calling Jews' loyalties into question. That's what I meant about him leaning on anti-Semitic tropes, as expressed in the WSJ article I linked to upthread.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is actually not a new thing, or a particularly surprising one: Dutch Soccer fans boast Nazi heritage at game, chant 'Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas'
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:06 PM on April 7, 2015




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