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7. 8/22 A Jewish school in Copenhagen had its windows smashed and anti-Semitic graffiti referring to the conflict in Gaza spray-painted on its walls.
A rise in the number of reported anti-Semitic crimes in Denmark last week prompted local politicians to organize a "kippah march" in central Copenhagen in support of Jewish people's right to display their religion openly.
Although historian Deborah Lipstadt has spent much of her career in high-profile cases combating Holocaust deniers, of late the Emory University professor is working to convince the world that Jews are not on the brink of a second Shoah.
To clarify: surging anti-Semitism in Europe is indeed serious, with violent physical attacks as well as hate speech, anti-Jewish bias and graffiti, Lipstadt believes. But it’s not a new Holocaust.
“Each event made me think something strange is happening here and we should take notice,” she said in a phone interview from Atlanta. “But it’s a whole different world.”
“We have condemnation by leaders of countries, prosecution by police, we have history, we know what happened — we have the State of Israel,” she said.
Calling warnings of a new Holocaust “Chicken Little talk,” as a historian of the deliberate genocide it is important to Lipstadt that the term not be devalued.
“It is beneath us and counterproductive” for Israeli and Jewish leaders and politicians to use it as a scare tactic to validate their own agendas, she said.
Among others, Vladimir Sloutzker, head of the Israeli-Jewish Congress, said at a July Knesset meeting, “Never before since the Holocaust have we seen such a situation as today. We are potentially looking at the beginning of another Holocaust now.”
Lipstadt asked rhetorically what a “new Holocaust” means. “Are Jews being taken off to a camp, deported?”
“They’re wrong historically. They prey on people’s fears and the worse thing you should do is make people frightened. It is ethically wrong, Jewishly wrong and strategically wrong” — because if or when there really would be a Holocaust, no one would pay attention, she said.
In an op-ed last week for The New York Times called “Why Jews Are Worried,” Lipstadt discussed the serious rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Citing examples of anti-Semitic attacks — including murders — from the past few years, Lipstadt rebuts the notion that the anti-Semitism is “just rhetoric” and that the current Hamas-Israel conflict is the impetus.
“Nor am I comforted by the explanation that these actions are being taken by ‘disgruntled Muslim youth.’ (By one estimate, 95 percent of anti-Semitic actions in France are committed by youths of Arab or African descent.) Many of these Muslims were born in Europe, and many of those who weren’t are the parents of a new generation of Europeans,” she wrote in the much-shared op-ed.
Lipstadt said she chose The New York Times — as opposed to a Jewish media outlet — to reach the most diverse readership possible.
“The point I really wanted to address is that all the members of the European elite seemed to not be disturbed by this [rise in anti-Semitism] and seemed to be saying, ‘Israel has done terrible things, so this is ok,’” said Lipstadt.
Scholar of anti-Semitism Prof. Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University has also spoken of the importance of “elite opinion,” including academia and the media.
Particularly in Britain, “elite opinion is the most disconnected from reality,” said Wistrich in a July interview with The Times of Israel.
In the UK there is an elite opinion that is “truly poisonous and has a great deal of responsibility for this very deliberately one-sided and massively partisan pro-Palestinian and hypocritical response [to Operation Protective Edge],” he said.
“British media are in fact for several decades now, especially the last 14 years, injecting the population with arsenic in small doses… I don’t think they give a damn for the Palestinians,” said Wistrich.
Addressing the paucity of pro-Israel advocacy among Europe’s elite, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi wrote an oped for eJewishPhilanthropy.com Monday called “An ‘Iron Dome’ Needed to Protect Jews in Europe.”
Mizrahi is a founder of The Israel Project (TIP), which was formed to change US and European perceptions of Israel. In her op-ed, a call to action, she writes, “Serious philanthropists and the government of Israel should get together to support focus groups of opinion elite men, opinion elite women, moderate Muslims and Jews in Europe.
“Scientific strategic communications plans need to be put in place and implemented – along with strong partnerships with European security organizations,” wrote Mizrahi. (TIP’s European advocacy efforts halted in 2012 when Mizrahi left the presidency.)
In the meantime, saying the Holocaust should not be compared “to any other event in human history,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid addressed Europe last week in a speech at Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial in defense of Operation Protective Edge and in condemnation of surging anti-Semitism.
“Some of the criticism stems from anti-Semitism. It has raised its ugly head once more. To those people we say: we will fight you everywhere. The days when Jews ran away from you are over. We will not be silent in the face of anti-Semitism and we expect every government, in every country, to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and fight this evil with us.”
Read more: New anti-Semitism is bad enough, but it's no Holocaust, says scholar | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/new-anti-semitism-is-bad-enough-but-its-no-holocaust-says-scholar/#ixzz3BSqZ98Mc
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Years ago, living in London as a graduate student, I confided to a fellow student that I'd been set up on a blind date with an Israeli. "How many Palestinians has he killed?" was his prompt reply.
Equating Israelis with murderers was still a social taboo when this exchange took place. True, there were the occasional anti-Israel marches through the streets, but calling an entire country killers was still considered rude; my fellow student apologized for making such a blatant, racist remark.
No more. Over the past several years, being anti-Israeli has become more and more the mark of a civilized person in Britain; opposing the Jewish state is increasingly a sine qua non, an essential hallmark, of being a considered "moral" person in Britain. And as anti-Israel sentiment grows, anti-Semitism is rising throughout the United Kingdom.
Britain's press has treated the current war in Gaza not just as another piece of world news, but as something utterly unrivalled in its scope or horror. Blanket coverage and biased reporting have ensured that Israel is uppermost in the minds of people throughout the United Kingdom.
Israel ranks fifth in the list of countries covered by the Guardian, the influential British newspaper, whose Associate Editor said Israel "has no right to defend itself" and claimed as his personal goal the spreading of "revulsion" against Israel around the world at an anti-Israel rally in London in August, 2014. Britain's Sky News characterized Israel's goals in the Gaza war as "smashing and maiming, dismemberment and mass grief" and compared Israel's actions to the bombing of Dresden and nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Over at Channel Four, all pretext of impartial reporting was abandoned when veteran journalist Jon Snow cried on camera as he spoke of visiting children in a hospital in Gaza. "I can't get those images out of my mind," he said. "I don't think you can either, because they've been everywhere. They are the essence of what is happening in Gaza."
Of course, to an objective reporter it is Hamas' provocation by firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and its cynical use of human shields - Hamas headquarters are located in the basement of the Al-Shifa hospital that Mr. Snow visited - that are the "essence" of what is happening in Gaza. Mr. Snow, however, erroneously reported that none of Hamas' rockets have hit Israel.
BBC's bias is legendary. This lack of context - in which Israel is seen as a bloodthirsty aggressor - often echoes classic anti-Semitic themes. The Guardian defended its decision to run a cartoon portraying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controlling British Prime Minister David Cameron as a puppet, even though it evokes the anti-Semitic canard that powerful Jews somehow control world leaders. An infamous cover of The New Statesman magazine depicted a Jewish star piercing a Union Jack, the British flag, under the headline "A Kosher Conspiracy"? Even the Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, depicts Israel as a murderous provoker, calling Israel's measured response to thousands of rockets being launched from within civilian sites in Gaza "the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre" of innocent women and children.
Such images have an effect. 41% of Britons say their opinion of Israel has worsened because of the current Gaza conflict, and more than half feel Israel has acted disproportionately.
Media messages and provocative statements also create an atmosphere in which egregious statements receive little or no protest; these in turn enter the public dialogue and further degrade people's opinion of Israel. When Britain's National Union of Students, in an emergency session called to debate the Gaza war, voted to boycott Israel, a member erroneously stated "Palestinian students are tortured and imprisoned" in Israel: in the echo chamber created by such anti-Israel rhetoric, no allegation is too outlandish to repeat.
Simplistic, one-sided views of Israel have also been on display in the massive anti-Israel protests in Britain's cities this summer where Israel is slandered as the sole obstacle to peace, and routinely compared to Nazi Germany. Protestors in London waved signs saying "Well done Israel - Hitler would be proud". Many placards are provided by Britain's "Stop the War" coalition, which accuses Israel of bizarre, horrific crimes such as deliberately "slaughtering" pregnant women. Some protestors have chosen to identify with Hamas. Ignoring Hamas' brutal imposition of Islamic law, its execution of political opponents, refusal to hold elections, its sending of thousands of rockets into Israel, and miles of terror tunnels dug in order to carry out attacks, protestors this summer have shouted "We are all Hamas" at rallies in front of Britain's parliament and Israeli embassy.
Increasingly, anti-Israel sentiment is gaining official sanction. MP George Galloway declared that Israelis are not welcome in his constituent city of Bradford; MP Nick Ward, representing Bradford East, tweeted "if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes". In Scotland, prominent figures have come out strongly against Israel: activist Yvonne Ridley has declared her intention to make Scotland a "Zionist-free zone". Her message came ahead of decisions by governments in Glasgow and Fife to fly the Palestinian flag over official buildings in solidarity, a Glasgow spokesman said, with the "innocent victims" of Gaza - but not the innocent Israelis killed and terrorized by Hamas rockets. Scotland's Deputy First Speaker Nicola Sturgeon has also come out as an opponent of Israel, speaking at an anti-Israel event in Scotland.
Anti-Israel protesters are now using bully tactics to create an economic boycott. When protestors gathered outside a Sainsbury's supermarket in Holborn in central London on Saturday, August 16, 2014, calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, managers ordered their entire kosher section to be removed. A shopper who confronted asked why was told "because we support a free Gaza." It wasn't the first time a store gave into anti-Israel protestors: Ahava, an Israeli beauty company finally closed its Covent Garden location in 2011 after years of anti-Israel demonstrations outside its store, and 2014 saw the closure of Brighton's Sodastream outlet after similar protests, and the decision by John Lewis to stop selling the company's products. The Tricycle Theatre in London dropped - and then reinstated - its support for the annual UK Jewish Film Festival. The Israeli group Incubator was forced out of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (though it eventually performed in Glasgow, Leeds and London).
Attacks on Jews in Britain haven't reached the levels seen in France, where synagogues have been besieged and Jewish-owned stores firebombed. But anti-Semitic attacks have skyrocketed. July 2014 was the second worst month since records began, logging 240 anti-Semitic incidents in one month alone. Paul Morron, President of Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, has said "the level of anxiety is quite unprecedented." That sounds like a typically reserved British way of saying that the community is beginning to question its very future in Britain. A poll conducted by the Jewish Chronicle found that nearly two thirds of British Jews are questioning their future in the United Kingdom.
British Jews are fighting back, though. Pro-Israel rallies are flourishing throughout the UK, and British communal life is thriving. Perhaps the best way to counter the negative feelings about the Jewish state is to embrace what is being attacked: to engage in Jewish life, to use Jewish and Israeli products, to remain strong in our commitment to Jewish life around the world and especially in Israel, the Jewish state.
By Yvette Alt Miller via aish.com