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France: Muslims under attack... and Jews

The interminable divide-and-rule game between Muslims and Jews worldwide goes on, with the latest maddening development in France. We noted last month that a bomb attack on a kosher grocery store in a Paris suburb was met with equivocation by the authorities and media, with an unseemly reluctance to acknowledge the incident as anti-Semitic—and only right-wing Zionist commentators rose to the occasion of calling it out. (Except us, of course.) Now those same right-wing Zionist commentators—namely, Jewish Policy Center on Oct. 19—weigh in on new developments in the case, as well as an anti-Semitic outburst in Malmo, Sweden. The statement ironically mimics the time-honored tactic of anti-Semites, of mixing up legitimate points with cynical shots, confusing the gullible. To wit:

For the 600 Jews of Malmo, living alongside 60,000 Muslims, Jewish life has been difficult for years, with harassment of individuals and vandalism of the cemetery and synagogue. What makes it harder is a city administration that believes the Jews are asking for it. In a 2010 interview, Mayor Ilmar Reepalu told Skanska Dagbladet, [Jews] "have the possibility to affect the way they are seen by society," urging the community to "distance itself" from Israel. "Instead, the community chose to hold a pro-Israel demonstration," he said, adding that such a move "may convey the wrong message to others." He said, "There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo."

Presented with information that Jews had, indeed, been attacked in Malmo, the mayor retreated just a step and said, "We accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism or other forms of ethnic discrimination." Zionism thus defined becomes the reason people in Malmo attack Jews -- who should be distancing themselves from "ethnic discrimination" rather than supporting Israel, according to Repaalu.

This may be why the Jewish community in Malmo, not the government, pays nearly all the cost of its own protection. The Simon Weisenthal Center called it a "Jew tax." Even then, according to the community president, Swedish authorities twice refused permission to install security cameras outside the Jewish community building, home to a kindergarten, meeting rooms and Chabad apartments, because it is a "quiet street." After the latest brick and firebomb attack on the Jewish Center, police spokesman Anders Lindell told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "The suspects (two 18-year old men) never said or indicated they were perpetrating a hate crime." That was good enough for him, so he charged them simply as criminal vandals. Only after an angry international response, including from the U.S., were the charges upgraded.

France at first glance would seem different.

The French government responded quickly and firmly to an attack on a kosher market in Sarcelles, a Paris suburb, with raids in Strasbourg, Paris, Nice and Cannes. President François Hollande said the government would introduce bills for stronger counter-terrorism measures, including allowing police to access Internet communications. He added that places of worship would receive increased surveillance and protection, "because secularism, one of France's fundamental principles, directs the state to protect all religions."

On the other hand, Hollande also visited the head of the French Muslim Council, to reassure him there would be no "scapegoating" of the Muslim community. "French Muslims must not suffer from radical Islam. They are also victims," he said, channeling his predecessor. After a rabbi and two children were killed at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March, then-President Sarkozy announced that both Jewish and Muslim schools would receive protection, saying, "I have brought the Jewish and Muslim communities together to show that terrorism will not manage to break our nation's feeling of community… We must not cede to discrimination or vengeance."

No one called for discrimination or vengeance against Muslims and there were no discernible acts of either. But last week's series of raids by French police points to a broad and wide effort by Muslims across France to build a network, create an arsenal and attract recruits. At some point, the French government will have to acknowledge two things: that the purpose of this effort is to attack French Jews; and that there is no "Muslim community" that sits apart from its own radical elements. It is the sea in which the radicals swim – to paraphrase Mao – and it has a share of the responsibility.

Oy vey. Where to begin?

1. Mayor Reepalu's response was indeed abhorrent blame-the-victim crap. However, that doesn't mean that Jews "distancing themselves" from Israel isn't a good idea. The problem is, when a goy politician essentially demands it as a diktat, telling his Jewish constituents they have to buy peace by being "Good Jews," it is guaranteed to have precisely the opposite effect. To really be legitimate, such calls must come from within the Jewish community.

2. While applauding the raids following the Sarcelles attack, Jewish Policy Center fails to note that (according to the Oct. 6 New York Times story they themselves link to!) one man was killed in one such raid in Strasbourg. The report says he fired at police when they "entered" his apartment. Whatever the facts may be, given the recent intifadas by North African immigrant youth in French suburbs, heavy-handed raids could just be more fuel for the fire. And (as we keep pointing out) if repression is presented as protecting the Jews... it certainly isn't going to be good for the Jews. Jewish Policy Center should think twice before they take glee at police raids.

3. Ditto applauding police snooping on Internet communications and "increased surveillance." Jews have all the historical reason in the world to be wary of unleashing police states. How quickly we seem to forget, despite all the "Never Again" propaganda. Hatred of the Muslims seems to be blinding voices like Jewish Policy Center to the reality that the worst persecution of Jews has been at the hands of the state, not insurgent youth, and at the hands of Europeans (including Frenchmen).

4. Most sickening of all is the assertion that "no one called for discrimination or vengeance against Muslims and there were no discernible acts of either." First of all, Jewish Policy Center's own enthusiasm for police raids and Internet surveillance comes damn close (at least) to being a call for discrimination. (The targeting of Muslim communities for surveillance and infiltration in New York City has certainly been discriminatory, and raids against Muslims after the Toulouse terror in March also seemed to be.) And glibly dismissing the threat of attacks on Muslims certainly seems ironic given this Oct. 22 report from Reuters:

The French Muslim Council (CFCM) urged the government on Monday to ban a far-right group that occupied a mosque on Saturday and issued a "declaration of war" against what it called the Islamization of France.

CFCM President Mohammed Moussaoui said the Council also wanted better protection for mosques and Muslim cemeteries against racist attacks, which he said jumped sharply in 2011 and continued to rise this year.

Some 73 protesters from a movement called Identity Group seized a mosque in the western city of Poitiers on Saturday and unfurled a banner referring to Charles Martel's historic defeat of advancing Muslim troops there in 732.

They stayed for more than six hours before police ejected them.

In a video posted on its website, the movement issued what it called a "declaration of war" on multiculturalism. It also called for a referendum to block further immigration from outside Europe and further construction of mosques in France.

Ah, yes. The Charles Martel fetish, which was also exhibited by the charming Oslo bomber, Anders Behring Breivik. And as we pointed out after his terror spree, his media manifesto displayed both enthusiasm for Zionism (for standing up to the Muslim menace) and anti-Semitism (those Jews are polluting Europe with their multi-cultural values). As we have had all too many opportunities to point out: anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are genetically linked phenomena. Why doesn't anyone else seem to get it?

Even in Sweden, there have been disturbing signs of a violent anti-Semitic resurgence—coming not from Muslim youth but a nativist neo-Nazi movement. If there are some neo-Nazis who may embrace Islamism for standing up to the Jewish menace in the same way that Breivik embraced Zionism for standing up to the Islamic menace, this embrace is certain to be just as equivocal. It is in the interests of Jews and Muslims in Europe (and everywhere else) to reject such alliances with the right-wing backlash (whether in the form of the police state from "above" or neo-Nazi thuggery from "below") and make common cause with each other against the forces of cultural cleansing and xenophobia (of which anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are both but variants).

Which is why, by invoking the supposed Maoist tactics of radical Muslims in Europe and implicitly calling for collective targeting of the "Muslim community," the Jewish Policy Center has forfeited all right to protest Europe's anti-Semitic resurgence. 

So we ask again: Where are the legitimate progressive voices that are anti-Zionist and anti-fascist—meaning, intrinsically, genuinely opposed to anti-Semitism? For whom neither opposition to Zionism nor opposition to anti-Semitism is a mere afterthought or lip service?


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Anti-Semitism and "Hasbara": which is worse?

Well, a much bigger cheese than Jewish Policy Center now takes on the question of Europe's anti-Semitic resurgence (and the left's nonreaction to it) and with a much bigger soapbox. Colin Shindler of the "Israel Studies" department at London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has an op-ed in the New York Times Oct. 27 entitled "The European Left and Its Trouble With Jews." The same maddening problem is evident from the first two paragraphs:

Last week, Twitter shut down a popular account for posting anti-Semitic messages in France. This came soon after the firing of blanks at a synagogue near Paris, the discovery of a network of radical Islamists who had thrown a hand grenade into a kosher restaurant, and the killing of a teacher and young pupils at a Jewish school in Strasbourg earlier this year. The attacks were part of an escalating campaign of violence against Jews in France.

Today, a sizable section of the European left has been reluctant to take a clear stand when anti-Zionism spills over into anti-Semitism. Beginning in the 1990s, many on the European left began to view the growing Muslim minorities in their countries as a new proletariat and the Palestinian cause as a recruiting mechanism. The issue of Palestine was particularly seductive for the children of immigrants, marooned between identities.

Starts out pretty good—notes the mounting wave of Jew-hatred that everyone is in denial about, and calls out the left's paradoxical flirtation with political Islam—as we have. But then he slips into stupid condescension about how leftists view Muslim immigrants in Europe as the "new proletariat" (aren't they?) and cynically use solidarity with the Palestinians as a mere "recuirting mechanism." (Well, some do, of course, but that hardly means solidarity with the Palestinians isn't a legitimate concern.)  So we are led to believe  that only those who are unconcerned with the Palestinians and the rights of Muslim immigrants will be concerned with the anti-Semitic resurgence... and vice versa.

The preamble to an interview with Shindler in Britain's Jewish Chronicle portrays him as heroicially standing up to the anti-Israel consensus at SOAS:

The Palestinian Society at SOAS is the only one in the country run by a professional organiser and has held anti-Zionist events, including an Israel Apartheid Week. Meanwhile, posters advertising Shindler’s book, What do Zionists Believe?, were daubed with swastikas.

So, once again—organizing an Israel Apartheid Week is conflated with defacing posters adverstising a book by a Jewish author with swastikas. Now you see, both sides have got to take responsibility for their shit here: Jewish Chronicle for engaging in the sleazy conflation, and the acitivsts at SOAS who thought it was a good idea to paint the swastikas. (Was this dumb tactic called out by the Palestinian Society? We hope so.)

Now, assuming the swasktikas were intended not as a Nazi menace to Jews but to tar Shindler as tantamount to a Nazi? Well, for starters, the ambiguity about the intention is bad enough. For seconds: Shindler's book seems problematic, but hardly the equivalent of Mein Kampf. Progressives who are the first to object to such problematic constructions as "Islamo-fascism" should be a little less promiscuous with their own Nazi analogies. 

Mondo Weiss informs us that there are some who consider the entire enterprise of "Israel Studies" to be a mere exercise in "hasbara" (Zionist propaganda). Could be, but we wish there were at least a little overlap among those concerned with hasbara indoctrination and those concerned with books being defaced with swastikas or synagogues getting shot up...

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