For several years Jewish leaders and scholars in Europe and Israel have been warning that antisemitism on the continent is approaching pre-Holocaust levels. Today that warning is heard also among American Jewish leaders.
The Gaza war has been shaped by Hamas into a media event in which Israel, and Jews in general, are portrayed as murderer’s of innocent Palestinian women and children. And while some protesters may be demonstrating out of genuine concern for lives lost, inspired by the war and Hamas-controlled images of death and destruction the collective image of protest rallies is of mindless and indiscriminate Jew-hatred, blaming not only Israel but all Jews as “Nazis” committing a “Holocaust” on innocent Palestinians.
“The world''s reaction to the situation in Gaza has been disproportionate, bordering on absolute hysteria… In Europe, it has become fashionable again to call for sending the Jews to the ovens. Perhaps the latest wave of anti-Semitism is being led by Muslims, but Europe is showing very little resistance to being dragged into an ugly, terrifying and barbaric reality. We know. We have been there before
.” (emphasis added)
After-the-fact disclosures by journalists of threat and coercion that succeeded in suppressing news harmful to Hamas fail to dampen the enthusiasm of the mobs. Disclosures that Hamas staged “atrocities” by moving corpses from site to site to create a media event do not suppress hatred for the “the Jews” as perpetrator. That rocket launches from civilian neighborhoods and protected sites such as hospitals and schools, disclosed after the fact were suppressed by Hamas fail to impress these enthusiastic protesters.
Centuries-old stereotypes of Jews in western society prevail and all, regardless of origin or association with “the crimes” are “Jews.” Antisemitism makes no distinction.
It is human nature to deny a threat apparently uncontrollable. This has been true for Jews over the centuries and continuing today. Faced with implied or overt threat we lapse into self-reassuring denial insisting our surroundings are not as they seem. Fear leads to paralysis in which we substitute denial for action; convince ourselves that despite perceived danger that we are secure in our adopted homeland. Aware that the Holocaust did take place, that six million Jews were murdered in pursuit of Germany’s Final Solution to the West''s Jewish Problem we self-consolingly abstract the Shoah. We pay tribute to our victims but transform the Final Solution from historically determined fact into insane dream born of a megalomaniacal madman who charismatically convinced the most cultured and “sane” nation of Europe to follow his pathological dream.
If even Auschwitz can be reduced to an event “unique” in defiance of history, ignore two-thousand years of persecution and murder preceding, what difficulty reducing those images of mobs raging across previously “safe” centers of Jewish life and culture, cities spanning Europe and America? Synagogues daubed with swastikas, demanding death to the Jews; European Jews afraid to wear identifying clothing, daily assaulted in Europe; Jewish school children as young as five years old terrorized on a school bus by Australian teens; "Hit a Jew Day" craze in American schools; shootings at Jewish day care centers, the April, 2014 at Kansas City merely the most recent. A guard killed at the United States Holocaust Museum and a rabbi murdered on his way to synagogue in Miami Beach this week, a swastika scratched on the car of a mourner.
From Canada to Australia, despite its “disappearance” following Auschwitz “the longest hatred” has again resurfaced, inspired this time by the Hamas “blood libel.”
Hamas has provided us all, Israeli and Diaspora, a warning that challenges complacency and denial, a reminder that our security today is no less illusory than that of German Jewry in the early 1930’s following Hitler’s election. Jewish leaders across the West are forced to challenge old and cherished assumptions, to reluctantly accept the reality of eternal antisemitism: