Political Correctness Blinds Us To The Causes Of Anti-Semitism

Political Correctness Blinds Us To The Causes Of Anti-Semitism

The New York Times blames Israel for engendering hatred while downplaying some inconvenient facts.
David Harsanyi
By

“Speak up, now, when you glimpse evidence of anti-Semitism, particularly within your own ranks, or risk enabling the spread of this deadly virus,” advises a New York Times editorial that fails to mention the words “Ihan Omar,” “Rashida Tlaib,” “Women’s March,” “Black Congressional Caucus,” or anything about the Democratic Party’s complicity in enabling these people and groups, for that matter.

To be fair, as far as New York Times editorials go, this isn’t the worst. It does, however, engage in the ugly leftist habit of blaming Jews for engendering hatred against themselves while downplaying inconvenient facts about anti-Semitism in Europe.

Earlier this year, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs pointed out that nearly 90 percent of European Jews have suffered some form of anti-Semitic threat, insult, or assault. Of those polled, 30 percent identified the perpetrator as “someone with an extremist Muslim view,” 21 percent as someone with left-wing political views, and 13 percent as someone with right-wing politics.

Even the Times, which insinuates that the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe can largely be blamed on neo-fascists, was compelled to note that a European Union survey from 2018 found that 41 percent of German Jews who had experienced anti-Semitic harassment over the past five years believed the most serious incidents were perpetrated by “someone with a Muslim extremist view.”

“Whatever the reasons for the discrepancy,” the Times writes, brushing off its own advice about enabling hate, “the message from the German government is that anti-Semitism is not largely an imported problem, as far-right groups often maintain — as justification also for their Islamophobia.” The German government’s message to Jews, if we can be forgiven for a bit of skepticism, isn’t terribly convincing.

For one thing, if some wily “far-right” group is condemning anti-Semitism by pointing out some indisputable facts about Muslim immigration, it’s probably a good bet that the group isn’t as radical as the Times might have us believe. “Islamophobia,” after all, is often used to chill speech critical of a certain political and religious philosophy that has an important place in the left’s panorama of victimhood.

For another thing, The New York Times editorial board probably hasn’t been following the news. A number of German officials have already accused the police of obscuring the number of “Muslim extremists and anti-Zionists” who have engaged in anti-Jewish behavior. As Felix Klein, the commissioner tasked with combating anti-Semitism, has conceded, “the subjective perception of the threat posed by Muslim antisemitism is greater than is expressed in the criminal statistics.” There is plenty of evidence to support this opinion.

Not all refugees from Islamic nations are anti-Semites, and only fraction are violent. That doesn’t change the fact that Muslims make up only 5.7 percent of the German population, yet are responsible for somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of anti-Jewish hate crimes—and a larger percent of violent incidents. Even if we accept the low-end number, the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents over the past five years isn’t exactly difficult to track down.

In Germany, police now must guard every synagogue, Jewish school, and daycare center. This is not a tenable situation for any community in any free nation. It was only this weekend that Klein noted he would “no longer recommend Jews wear a kippa at every time and place.”

The context of Klein’s comment, it should be noted, was the upcoming, and increasingly popular, al-Quds day in Berlin—an annual “anti-Zionist” event rife with old-school Jew hatred that was created by the ayatollah of Iran in 1979, advocating for the destruction of Israel and the liberation of Jerusalem from the Jews.

The Times does concede that “radical Islam” is a problem in Europe. But a recent German intelligence study on general Muslim attitudes towards Jews found that hatred is imported and widespread. Turkey, a nation with many immigrants now in Germany, is one of the least anti-Semitic countries, and even there Jews were at “nearly 70 percent” unfavorability. An Anti-Defamation League poll found that 93 percent of Palestinians hold, not anti-Israeli views, but anti-Jewish beliefs.

A Pew poll found that in Jordan 99 percent have an unfavorable view towards Jews, and the same in Lebanon. In Egypt, it’s 98 percent. And so on. Even in Muslim-majority Indonesia, where there has never been more than a couple of thousand of Jews living at one time, 76 percent have an unfavorable view.

Perhaps perceptions regarding Jews will change once Muslim immigrants become acclimated to Western life. Or perhaps “anti-Zionism” will be normalized in Europe. Whatever the case, it’s absurd to believe that millions of new immigrants haven’t transported those views. Then again, the Times adds, maybe Jews shouldn’t be wearing their yarmulkes in public.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” the editorial agues, “has not helped matters by finding common cause with nationalist leaders like the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban or President Trump so long as they do not support a Palestinian state.” How has this not helped?

Netanyahu has, of course, found common cause with a number of leaders who support a two-state solution, including George W. Bush. So the notion that the Israeli-American alliance is predicated on opposing the creation of a Palestinian state is absurd. The Palestinian state isn’t a reality because leadership in those territories embrace terrorism and make outlandish demands that would end the state of Israel.

One wonders, though, if the New York Times editorial writer sees any incongruity in demanding Israelis sit down with group of people who are virulently anti-Semitic and illiberal while wagging their finger at Israelis for being friendly with Hungary, a nation that protects its Jews and fights for Israel in the European Parliament.

Orban’s Hungary is far from perfect—although also far from the fascistic place his antagonists would have you believe. Yet its 100,000 Jews didn’t report a single physical attack against them in the past two years. It seems Jews are enjoying something of a renaissance in that country.

As Evelyn Gordon at Commentary noted not long ago, American Jews might believe that “rightist governments enable anti-Semitism” in Europe, but polls show that Jews feel safer, sometimes by a 20-point margin, in places like Poland, Hungary, and Romania—which, maybe not coincidentally, also have low numbers of Muslim immigrants—than they do in countries like France and Germany, where anti-Jewish violence is spiking.

According to the Times, though, Israel’s leaders also perpetuate anti-Semitism when they find common cause with the president of United States, who has angered anti-Semites worldwide by taking positions once widely supported by a majority of American Jews, like moving the American embassy to the capital of Jerusalem and pulling the United States out of the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal.

It’s gotten to the point where the left regularly lumps the elected leader of the Jewish state in with white supremacists because he’s shown more deference to Donald Trump than to Hamas, Fatah, or Iran. If Israel engenders anti-Semitism, a sentiment that supposedly has absolutely nothing to do with Israel, it’s only because people are predisposed to hating Jews.

Then again, maybe the Times doesn’t understand that it’s not Israel’s or America’s job to placate anti-Semitic thugs in Germany. One of the reasons Israel exists, actually, is so Jews would never again have to worry about such things.

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History with the Gun. Follow him on Twitter.

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