General Antisemitism

Is it time for Jews to leave Europe?

Cross posted by Jacobinsm at Harry’s Place

The moderators [at Harry’s Place] have provided me with login privileges here to post my thoughts. So, until they come to their senses I’ll probably post the occasional short piece [there] while reserving my long-form writing for my own blog. For my first post I thought I’d re-post some brief comments I made on Facebook in response to Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic essay Is It Time For The Jews To Leave Europe? in the interests of generating some discussion about the piece.

It is a very long but thoughtful, and worthwhile read; measured and generally well-written. I do, however, have what may seem like a pedantic gripe with some of the language used to describe Muslim anti-Semitism.

For instance:

There is the use of the passive voice to describe radicalisation, eg: “Merah, who had been radicalized in a French prison…”

There is the passing observation that Islamist anti-Semitism has its roots in European fascism, but without any apparent interest in why Muslim communities are so receptive to such poisonous ideas.

There are the repeated references to European Muslims as ‘disenfranchised’ – a misuse of language, since Muslims in Europe enjoy the same rights and protections as all other European citizens, including of course the right to vote.

And there is the phraseology – repeated multiple times in the article – which strongly implies that fault for the failure of Muslims to assimilate and integrate lies entirely with the host societies. To wit: “the inability of European states to integrate Muslims”; “the failure of Europe to integrate Muslim immigrants has contributed to their exploitation by anti-Semitic propagandists” and “could Europe’s economic stagnation combine with its inability to assimilate and enfranchise growing populations of increasingly angry young Muslims…” and so on.

Do such minor quarrels over language matter, especially in the context of such a wide-ranging essay with so many other obvious merits?

I think so. The clear impression given is one of Muslims as disempowered people lacking in choice and agency; infantilised individuals who are not moral actors. Goldberg does not, by contrast, detain himself with questions about how and why Marine Le Pen ‘became radicalised’, or whether the neo-Nazis of Jobbik are ‘disenfranchised’ – their hatreds are assumed, rightly, to have been freely chosen, and are thus the moral responsibility of those who bear them.

But I detect caution in the language used to discuss Muslim anti-Semitism, and a willingness to indulge – if only in passing – root cause explanations from victimhood and victimisation, specifically at the hands of Europe’s democracies. This subtly excuses – or at least mitigates – the moral responsibility of those who direct their bitter and occasionally murderous rage at Jews for being Jews. I am not sure if this is the result of a conscious decision or a reflex on Goldberg’s part, but it is a common and exasperating error, and it holds true in liberal analyses of Islamic anti-Semitism and fanaticism from the French Banlieues to the Gaza Strip.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that Goldberg is hostage to the same queasiness he identifies among some of the Europeans he meets – a reluctance to criticise a demographic which he perceives to be “in many ways a powerless minority”.

Anti-Semitism is not the inevitable consequence of life on the social margins. It is a conspiracist ideology, selected and not rejected by actors who could alternatively reject and not select it. If one wants to understand the resurgence of European anti-Semitism post-Holocaust, this aspect must be confronted.

It matters how we talk about these things, and Goldberg’s apparent nervousness on this score seems to me to be a blind spot in an essay which otherwise strives to discuss this disturbing phenomenon with an admirable clarity and frankness.

29 replies »

  1. Renewed vitriol among right-wing fascists and new threats from radicalized Islamists have created a crisis, confronting Jews with an agonizing choice.
    Goldberg is in denial. Most of the threat in Europe is coming from the academy, the left-wing media like the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC, the trade unions, from the intelligentsia and from corrupt mainstream politicians who are supporting, tolerating and justifying the radicalization of their Muslim constituency.
    None of them are right-wing fascists or radicalized Islamists.
    But Goldberg wouldn’t see this without taking down his filtering glasses of political correctness.

    • I’d suggest that fascism is most definitely a left-wing ideology and the likes of the bbc are fascist. Given that islam is a fascist ideology, it is natural to see why islam and the bbc fit together so well.

    • “None of them are right-wing fascists or radicalized Islamists”
      – really???!!
      There are plenty of radicalized Islamists in British academia and the media, in local government etc. Look up (just for instance) Tower Hamlets and several northern cities.
      And the ones who are outside those groups are a threat too.

      • Leah, could you provide us with a figure?
        How many are we looking at?
        10,000 people?
        100,000 people?

        • I have no idea, but it’s far from ‘none’. There must be plenty running just Tower Hamlets council, for starters.

      • John, I’m just listening to the standard bbc narrative ‘from our own correspondent’ on radio 4. Apparently the Muslim brotherhood is a moderate organisation unfairly persecuted in Egypt, and it’s offshoot in Gaza is similarly victimised by Israel. Ignoring the chauvinistic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and violent nature of its ideology suggests the bbc does have a propensity to sympathise with fascist causes.

  2. Shrewd analysis, and you’re right about the importance of language. With this in mind and based on my understanding that not all Semites are Jews, I’d replace the term ‘anti-Semitism’ with ‘Jew-hatred’. Let’s call it what it is.

    • Jerry, anti-Semitism is jew hatred.
      Enough already!
      How about you learn when and why the term was coined.
      Stop reinventing the wheel and rewriting history.

      • Itsik, you’re right that’s what it meant when it was coined… by the Jew-haters themselves to distance themselves from the distasteful term “Jew-hatred” (Judenhass)!

        Why should we adopt the language of the Jew-haters? That’s for one. For two, there’s always some bright spark that will say, “Arabs are Semites too” and then we get into an etymological argument and even though we’re right and they’re wrong, it simply distracts from the substantive arguments we make.

        Time to retire the euphemism coined by the Jew-haters. Let’s go back to calling a Jew-hater a Jew-hater.

        • I’m not at all convinced it will be a good thing cba.
          For starters the statisitics will be moved.
          Then you have what many AntiSemites wish for; The history starts shifting.
          You see, 20 years ago when you said AntiSemite no one thought anything except Anti Jewish.
          Now all of a sudden, with the rising momentum of the Anti Israel – anti Zionist – Anti Jewish crowd hurling mud at us we start getting these questions.

          You change this now and the next generation or the one following it will forget what Anti Semitism was actually all about.
          Let;s face it and face it big – There was not a serious case of Anti Semitism in Europe that was not directed against a non Jewish person before the 60’s.
          Even then it was mainly against new immigrants and manifested itself in a more broad way than semitic lines.
          They couldn’t care if you were Iranian which is not a Semitic line or Iraqi which is.

          • “There was not a serious case of Anti Semitism in Europe that was not directed against a non Jewish person before the 60’s”
            – there were exactly none, because the term means ‘hatred directed against Jews’, plain and simple.

            • Leah:
              “there were exactly none”
              There were cases of Anti migrants because of their semitic heritege i.e middle eastern migrants in the 50’s.
              But the numbers were very low and this is why I agree with you that Anti Semitism is the correct term and should remain so regarding the hatred of Jews.

  3. muslims have over 50 countries to which they could relocate. If Christian based Europe isn’t to their liking, then I fail to understand why they stay – for what have they actually done that benefits Europe; they’ve been here long enough to have made a positive difference and yet apart from hatred, lies and violence I don’t see them bringing anything with them that is of value. As for European Jews, I don’t see them causing us any problems and in fact have been beneficial in so many fields that we’d be quite stupid to make it hard for them to stay.

    • John:

      “they’ve been here long enough to have made a positive difference and yet apart from hatred, lies and violence I don’t see them bringing anything with them that is of value. ”

      I’ll try and let my GP Dr Assad know that next time I’m in need of his assistance and care.

      You know, this type of loose generalise talk is what caused my parents to flee Poland to Israel all those years ago.

      Yes, there are issues with some migrants.
      Yes we also have issues with the police force in Rotherham judging by the late scandal involving child abuser ring.

      Does that mean all Pakistanis should be tarred with the same brush or that all coppers are rubbish at their job?

      You’ll find that the vast majority is very much against what is going on in Syria and Iraq and speak out angrily about those who join the IS.
      You’d probably also find that many of the Muslims here in the UK are perfectly happy with it remaining a Christian based country.
      This might be one of the reason they chose to flee to this haven.

      • Good point Itzik.
        One of the great difficulties in identifying the problem in this discussion is actually defining the problem as accurately as possible in the first place. Only then is one able to deal with it more effectively.I found this cool headed discussion helpful to understand some of the difficulties involved.

      • You really, really cannot or refuse to see that certain cultures are causing more problems than others?

        • I didn’t say that Leah.
          Statistics can be misleading.
          Are you trying to alienate a whole section of society?
          Let’s say for the sake of argument that there are more Muslims than any other relisions who pose a threat to national security but that percentage within the Muslim population in this country as a whole stands at 5% or 10% (numbers made up).
          Are you seriously looking at segragating the remainder 95% – 90%?

          Who’se your next target when your “done” with the Muslims, will it be the gays because they shouldn’t adopt or raise kids because some see it as so?

          Climb down from your horse “Mi’lady”.
          Let me ask you this simple question. Do you know Muslim people or people who have Muslims families?
          Do you fear them or not trust them simply because of that fact?

          With that thought I’d leave you in peace and bid you to go to this week’s Shabbat service at your nearest synagogue.
          We must not forget where it is we came from.
          Yes, lessons must be learnt, but quotes of our historical narrative must not be forgotten in that process.
          Shabbat shalom dear.

  4. Immigrants to Europe come for the economic & welfare benefits and superior healthcare. Why would feckless people wish to live elsewhere, Muslims or not ? Those who can, do leave – those who can’t stay.

    • “Immigrants to Europe come for the economic & welfare benefits and superior healthcare.”

      Thanks for the brush statement!
      I’m a migrant to Europe and i came for neither!
      When I left Israel it had a far better Health system than the UK and economic and welfare were roughly similar at the time.
      I cam here because my European partner wanted to return nearer to her parents.
      I sacrificied my personal life to live among people I have vbery little in common with but unlike the twats who choose to stay away and adapt to new cultures I made friends and made that extra effort to make sure my children speak English as a first language and view it as their home.

      Who knows how many come here and for what possible reasons. who knows how many of those even choose to do so are a smuggled cross to pay up for their famillies back home living life of slavery.

      Your name should be Republican not Democrat.

  5. Let’s see. It’s Jews who are seriously considering, and in some cases leaving Europe. Is anyone hearing of Muslims fleeing for their safety? Why not? Who is it that’s being disenfranchised again?
    Between the article and peterthehungarian’s lead off comment, I think the dynamic at work has been revealed to my satisfaction.

    • If you believe what Will Self says then he met one on his way to BBC Question Time yesterday.

      • Just to reiterate, I do not know of any Muslim who does what you, Jeff, suggests.
        But I also don’t [personally know of any Jew who thinks like that and I know quite a few.

        The Jewish friends of mine are more concerned with the rise of the right wingers following a UKIP general win.

        You see, unlike some people here, i know that maybe not all or even not most UKIP voters are against Jews but current;ly focus on the Muslims.
        suffice to say that the Jews will be next.

        • Maybe Muslims will be next in considering leaving places like France where Jews are already emigrating, or Britain where according to polls they are considering it.

  6. Jews make a contribution and people would love them to stay but Muslims have been there for years but make very little contribution. So why are Jews leaving if they are so valuable? Its because the radical Muslims are bullies and people can’t stand up to them. Once again a culture of appeasement has infected the West like a virus. I don’t know what’s worse, the extremism or the unwillingness to stand up. We have not learned from history. I just saw a documentary on the Sudetenland. They interviewed a key Czech diplomat. This poor man looked at the West with such disdain because those who pledged to defend the Czechs so easily sold them down the river. So disgraceful and its happening all over again.

    • I’ve been commenting here for quite a while. You can avoid confusion by not using my name to post here. Please at least alter your name.