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March 30, 2015 7:48 am

European Anti-Semitism Isn’t Muslim Alone

avatar by Abigail R. Esman

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The site of a Paris terror attack against a kosher market. Photo: JJ Georges via Wikimedia Commons.

“I came to Europe as an American,” a friend once said to me. “I am leaving as a Jew.”

This was more than 20 years ago; but even then, as an American Jew living in the Netherlands, I knew what he meant. Today, I feel it even more.

Twenty years ago, being a Jew in Europe meant that what non-Jews acknowledged and remembered best about you was your Jewishness, as when a Swiss man I’d met at a party once greeted me at another event some four years later with “Oh, right – you’re the Jewish girl.” When we’d first met, we’d not talked about Jewishness; we’d spoken about art, and the articles I was writing at the time.

These days, the “otherness” of Jews is even more pronounced, as with the well-heeled Dutch woman who told me, at a dinner in 2013 that she could see I was Jewish from my appearance: “You know,” she said. “Large nose, brown hair.” Neither she nor her other elegant friends at the dinner party could comprehend why I took offense.

Or the Swiss woman who acknowledged, a few months back, that yes there had been a Holocaust; but Jews, she said, exaggerated its horrors: “only” 600,000 Jews were killed, not six million. She’d read it on the Internet. (As if 600,000 murdered Jews was somehow, then, okay.)

But unlike the time when my friend left Amsterdam, anti-Semitism in Europe no longer stops with such comments, which usually (though not always) are more a factor of ignorance than actual hate.  As a recently released Pew study showed, in 2013, attacks on Jews in Europe reached 76 percent of European cities – the highest of any world region.

And since then, it has gotten even worse: witness the slaughter of four Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May, 2014, and the gunning down of four more at the kosher Hypermarché in Paris this past January.  We find it in the attacks on men in kippahs in Brussels, on the home of an Amsterdam rabbi, in the firebombing of a Paris synagogue, in threats against Jewish schoolchildren in the U.K. – which in 2014 experienced the highest level of anti-Semitic attacks ever recorded, including more than 80 physical assaults.

Most of these attacks are not made by Dutch women with Louis Vuitton handbags,  or blond Swiss entrepreneurs.  They are the work almost entirely of Europe’s Muslims, some of them even born and raised in Paris, in Amsterdam, in Bern or London or Copenhagen or Madrid.

After the killings at the Paris Hypermarche, the world responded with surprise and shock. But to the Jews in Europe, it was hardly a surprise. The truth is we – and they – had all been warned already. The real shock should have been that no one had paid attention.

Or almost no one. In fact, the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia commissioned a report in 2002 to examine the rise in European anti-Semitism – and then, dismayed by their discovery that Muslims in Europe were attacking Europe’s Jews, adjusted the figures, hid the evidence, and published a redacted, falsified report instead. Jewish rights organizations pounded on the redactions until the Center relented, announcing the actual numbers and exposing the growth of anti-Jewish racism and violence among Europe’s Muslim community.

We shouldn’t have had to fight for that.

And yet, the censorship of the report, and the general tendency of Europeans to ignore the problem where they can, is in many ways at the heart of the problem. Indeed, much of the current Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe has been made possible – you could even say “facilitated” – by Europe’s non-Muslim, non-Jewish population, the ones who “know” a Jew by how she looks, the ones who casually explain a businessman’s success with the two simple words: “He’s Jewish.” It is made possible by Dutch soccer fans who support any team that plays against Amsterdam’s Ajax with chants of “all Jews to the gas!” (Prior to World War II, Amsterdam , with its large Jewish population, was known  as the “Jerusalem of the West.”)

But it doesn’t just begin there. For years now, teachers in Europe have given up on lessons about the Holocaust, citing threats from Muslim students. (“We know where your children go to school,” a Muslim group wrote in a note to a Dutch teacher in 2003.) No one considers arresting the students and teaching anyway. No one considers beginning classes on the Holocaust (or Jewish history) at a younger age, in primary school, before students might have had their minds poisoned by hatred and lies in their homes and on the Internet.

One can’t help but wonder if the reaction would be the same if we were talking about, say, Algebra or the French Revolution, or, for that matter, Jesus. I suspect not: because really, the Jews and their history have always been somewhat expendable to Europe –that same Europe which nonetheless exists largely as it does thanks to people like Spinoza, or the Jewish patrons of Rembrandt and his circle, or Einstein.

Which explains why, for instance, in 2013, a Dutch-Turkish teenager declared casually on national TV that he was pleased with what Hitler had done, and that the killing of women and children was fine if they were Jewish. (His friends, being interviewed alongside him, nodded their assent.) It explains why “Jew” is currently among most common curse words in the Dutch schoolyard or why Belgian public schools are becoming “Judenfrei,” as more and more Jewish students escape the abuse and threats that they experience there. And it explains why 7,000 French Jews fled to Israel in 2014 alone.

Recently, Dutch author Natascha van Weezel penned a column for Dutch daily de Volkskrant, “Sorry That I Am Not Afraid.” “When you grow up as a Jew in the diaspora,” she wrote, “you are accustomed to Jewish settings are heavily guarded, because they are always potential terrorist targets. That is not just something from the past few months.  However harsh it sounds, I would only be concerned if there were no trained bodyguards standing at the synagogue door.”

As a Jew raised in the diaspora of New York City, I found this tragic – and disturbing.  Such security is not normal for American Jews. We are not “accustomed” to being heavily guarded. I am sorry Ms. Van Weezel has never known this kind of life.  Yet as long as European non-Jews view Jews as “other,” danger will remain the condition of our lives. And as long as Europeans – Jews and non-Jews – accept both “otherness” and danger as the norm, they will be.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West(Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

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  • Fred

    Surprise, surprise a new discovery made by M/s Abigail, the church started all this in 364 ad it never stoped & still goes on strongly with slack take up by current Muslim colonists of Europe. Anti Semitic murder during the Hitler period reached a concentrated number only because of the complicity of all European Nations and the USA. The end of the war was not the end of the anti Semitic attacks but a respite & with the arrival of the Muslim “Guestworkers” it was given extra impetus. European government do respect & fear the new Muslim colonist & do their bidding not to offend them. However the Jew of Europe has become fair game again with the complicity of the so called Europeans on the menu of attack.

  • anant

    It is totally absurd to leave Europe.Jews are living in europe over thousand years and they have contributed a lot for europe’s development.So all European countries must protect Jewish community.

    • Max Zimmerman

      The point of the article is that Europeans are looking the other way thus, in a fashion, condoning the anti-Semitic acts to repeat.

  • anti – semitism and Special Relativity
    ( Or, Who was the Very First German Nazi? )

    Answer: Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

    Martin Luther:

    What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? …

    First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ­ and I myself was unaware of it ­ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us ( as was heard above ), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them ( … remainder omitted ).

    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses ( Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.] ) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: ‘what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.’ Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 [:18], ‘You are Peter,’ etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

    Fifth, I advise that safe­conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home ( … remainder omitted ).

    Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.

    Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam ( Gen 3[:19] ). For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.

    End of quote.

    source: Jewish Virtual Library, A Division of The American – Israeli Cooperative Enterprise

    • Max Zimmerman

      Thank you, Don, for the insight.

  • This is surprising that it comes from Europeans who are supposed to be liberal One woud expect Anti Semitism from a lage Moslem Community given the situation in the Middle East but from enlightened Europeans this is surprising. I assume that European Governments disparobe of anti Semetic Acts though don’t they?

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    Jews need to leave Europe and stop functioning as liberal human shields. Just leave. After that who cares what happens to Europe. It’s dying a slow death one way or another.

  • Larry Andrews

    This is an excellent article that points out the facts of life for Jews in Europe. But, it would be grossly ignorant to think America is a safe haven from anti-Semitism. That ignores the truth about what is happening in the US. There are three major factors involved in European anti-Semitism. First, it has always existed.
    Second, those Europeans who witnessed the horrors of World War II as a direct result of Nazi Germany are no longer alive. And, there is a complete lack of teaching about World War II in schools. And third, the inbred hatred of Jews in Muslims. Other than that, everything
    is idyllic.

  • response to that foolish willfully ignorant woman

    “just like Jesus Christ”
    “with my nose & hair I am better looking than you”
    “most important I am smarter than you”

  • The answer to that woman is three fold

    “just like jesus Christ
    with my nose & hair iam better looking than you
    iam also smarter like most jews

    • abigail

      actually, what I’ve long berated myself for not saying was: “Oh. Right. You’re blonde.”

  • Time to go home, before the door shuts!

  • Expressed antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world. 70 years has passed and the holocaust deniers are rising from Jews’ ashes, claiming that the number of Jews who perished in Europe were only 600,000 and not 6 million. The true number still numbs the soul, brain and spirit even of the antisemite. The secularists are overtaking the world and actually believe they can be moral without the authority of the higher being. We are in an intense war and someone will lose. This is one Jew who will not tolerate a loss.


    You can see it beginning here on our college campuses. The ultra liberal academic climate, combined with CAIR funded Palestinian student activist groups, is fueling anti-Semitism on campus. You know we’ve moved a tad too far to the left when college students remove the American flag from the student hall.

  • steven L

    Europe was the birthplace of antisemitism and remains highly antisemitic. Antisemitism is growing quickly in the US with the move of the democrats to open socialism.

  • Leo Toystory

    As the muslims grow exponentially in number and begin their process of devouring Europe, claiming it as their own and subjugating the native Europeans just as they did to Constantinople and all of Byzantium, the idiot Europeans deflect their anger onto the Jews. This is not going to workout at all well for the Europeans.

  • Two thousand years of Catholicism in Europe goes a long way to explain the current tolerance of non-Jewish Europeans for anti-Semitic violence, verbal abuse or indifference.

    Even here in New Zealand a colleague speaking in a Catholic school discussion group about the Holocaust as an example of human rights abuse [the topic human rights abuse of Catholics] was repeatedly referred to her face by teachers, admittedly a few but those few administrators and over 50, as a ‘smart little Jew’. The young woman concerned was not Jewish. No witnesses. ‘She said, she said’ stuff.

    The union rep who took the complaint, person concerned had been intimidated enough into not giving it in writing, was told by managers, that she was being supersensitive and if she felt slighted could always leave. She left for a variety of reasons one being these incidents.

    The union rep was labelled with all the ridicule, derision, contempt that the school authorities could summon up, a ‘Jew lover’. Never any witnesses and he too eventually left. The union? The union field officer concerned explained tiredly it was typical bigotry associated with the schools of that particular religious denomination. History of litigation associated with the RCC stated restitution in the courts would be dragged out for years and a paltry amount awarded, most of which would be gobbled up in legal fees.

    Does the RCC have a monopoly on anti-Semitism? Of course not. But the mindset is there. Indifference to evil is to not just allow it but encourage its propagation.

  • Dr. Steven Goldenberg

    As an American Jew, I realize the absolute importance of keeping the American-Israeli bond immutable and there for the world to see. These events under score the efforts of AIPAC.

    • Larry Andrews

      AIPAC? AIPAC has been as soft on President Obama as President Obama has been on Iran!! The most solidly pro-Israel organization is the Zionist Organization of America. Join their e-mail list and learn the truth!!!

  • BH in Iowa

    This time Europe’s Jew-hatred is biting it on the behind. The Muslims are exploiting Europe’s Jew-hatred – distracting the Europeans while stealing their countries.

  • Eurasian = White Trash

    Euros are the rest of the World’s burden.

    Let Israel and the Global South Unite and be cleansed of the eurasians in our own lands!!

  • Van

    get out of europe, it is not your land. move to israel.