The problem with the SWC’s “top 10 anti-semitic/anti-Israel” incidents of 2015

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

So the Simon Wiesenthal Center has ranked the “top 10 anti-semitic and anti-Israel” incidents of 2015.  It’s convenient to fully entangle and mix these two issues, so that anything that is anti-Israel is not “anti-semitic”, which helps raise the number of “anti-semitic” incidents and confuse two very separate issues.  This is part of a wider trend in which everything that is “anti-Israel” is being re-labelled or mixed in with “anti-semitism” and it is part of a clear agenda and lobby that seeks to shoehorn anti-Israelism into the anti-semitism category to gain momentary relief for Israel on the international stage at the expense of defending Jewish communities in the diaspora.

The more Jewish communities can be convinced every pro-Palestine rally is “raging anti-semitism”, the more fear is inculcated, the more “danger” is around every corner.  Thus 2015 is a year of “raging anti-semitism.”

Is it?  One would be led to believe that 2015 is a year in which Jews are in danger everywhere?  But the reality is that Jews are probably safer in 2015 than at almost any time in history.  Not only is the state of Israel among the strongest, if not the strongest, state in the region, with its highly technological army and massive arsenal, but Jews abroad are among the most secure they have been from a long historical point of view.  They don’t have to rely on the whims of some king, they don’t live in forced ghettos, they don’t live in fields outside the city walls, or enter the city through a gate reserved for garbage, dung and animal parts.  There are more Jews studying in higher education probably than at any time in history.

So what are the incidents for 2015?

  1. The San Barnadino shootings.  Why?  Because the father of a shooter said Israel wouldn’t exist in two years.

2. ISIS threats against Jews.  Even though most of the victims of ISIS, if not all the victims are other people.

3. EU labeling of products made over the Green Line, and “anti-Israel activity on campus.”

4. Anti-semitism experienced by students on campus, which if you look at the data actually is students reporting anti-Israel protests like “Israel apartheid week” as “anti-semitism.”

5. Palestinian leaders who “demonize Israel.”

6. The nuclear deal because Iran has threatened Israel

7. Anti-semitism in sports in Europe.

8. The rise of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Gerald Kaufman (even though Kaufman is Jewish), because Corbyn has spoken positively of Hamas.

9. Kuwait Airlines cancelling a route because it didn’t want Israeli passengers

10. A Polish demonstration against Syrians in which images of Orthodox Jews were burned

So that’s the list.  Only two or three of these incidents have actual anti-semitic content.  That means the soccer hooligans, the Polish demonstration, and a few of the reports, out of the many, on college campuses that actually included anti-semitic content.

The majority of the “anti-semitic” issues related to Israel.  If you don’t want to buy wine made over the Green Line, you are an anti-semite.  Do you think Hamas is not a terrorist organization, you are an anti-semite. Are you an airline from a country that has no relations with Israel and won’t board Israeli passport holders, well, “anti-semitism.”

These are supposedly levels not encountered “since World War Two.”  I’m surprised they stopped at World War Two, why not exaggerate more and say “since the 1930s?  So all those years in the Soviet Union when Jews were purged, solely for being Jewish, in Poland, Czech and other states, that wasn’t nearly as bad?  In the Soviet Union when there was official discrimination against Jews, not as bad.  The expulsion of basically all the Jews from Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, and many other countries, not as bad?

And this what people are being led to believe these days.  They need to feel they are fighting the “new Hitler”.  Iran is the “new Hitler”.  There are Hitlers everywhere on campuses.  Beware some soccer hooligans, it’s the same as Nazism.  And everywhere, always, the concept is to increase the role of “anti-Israel” in the “anti-semitic” definition until it will only be about Israel.  Swastikas on graves?  Not a big deal.  A Palestinian flag at a rally?  Major threat to the Jewish people.  You won’t drink wine from the West Bank or Golan?  You’re a new Hitler.  Someone burns a synagogue.  Well, that’s not such a big deal?

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 5.13.01 PM

a sign near Ramallah with swastikas and a star of David.  Real anti-semitism. Don’t ignore it. (Seth J. Frantzman)

The fact is that there are low to non-existent levels of anti-semitism in the West.  There are high levels of actual anti-semitism in the Middle East.  People hate Jews, not “Israel”.  They pretend that they just can’t tell the different.  But many of them are the exact same voices that will say “don’t blame all Muslims for ISIS” and then they say “Jews suppress Palestinians.”  There is real anti-semitism in these countries where to be Jewish is sometimes almost illegal.  Malaysia has a visceral hatred of Jews, it’s former Prime Minister has launched rants blaming the Jews for running the world.

There are real statements by leaders that are anti-semitic. There are examples of Jewish graveyards desecrated and the examples of the terror attacks in Europe where terrorists attacked free speech and then attacked a Jewish supermarket or synagogue.  Yes, that’s real anti-semitism.  That is a real danger to the life of Jewish people.

The students at a campus who are led to report every Palestinian flag as “anti-semitism” are not suffering anti-semitism.  They suffer basically zero anti-semitism.  The evidence for their supposed “suffering” is a few hundreds pro-Palestine events.  Many of these events are themselves hosted by radical progressive Jewish groups who support Palestine.  They aren’t anti-semitic.

Some pro-Israel groups want to use anti-semitism as a shield for Israel.  They want “anti-semitism” to be applied to a critique of Israel’s policies over the Green Line.  That creates a short-term shield for those policies.  But it is a long-term cost for the Jewish people. Shouting “anti-semitism” for a few decades used to matter.  People who hated Jews were shamed and fired.  But now that anti-semitism and anti-Israelism are said to be the same thing, the anti-Israel masses can swim among the few dangeorus anti-semites, and in basically crying wolf about “anti-semites”, no one will listen anymore.

And yet the tragedy is that there is real dangerous anti-semitism flowing in places in Europe.  There are areas where the Holocaust is not taught for fear of “offending” people.  There are places where they won’t teach about Judaism in school because of “offending.”  Poorer groups, especially immigrant neighborhoods, stereotype Jews as the source of their oppression and no one confronts it.

Beware this entanglement, beware spreading false fears.  Target the real anti-semites.

 

 

 

 

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