The violence against the Jews of France, which has escalated as feelings have boiled over against the war in Gaza, is shocking and terrifying.
A mob of mainly Muslim demonstrators in Paris, reportedly armed with knives, axes and iron bars and chanting “Death to the Jews,” tried on Sunday to storm the Don Isaac Abarvanel Synagogue within which nearly 200 congregants were praying for the safety of Israel.
The attackers were kept at bay by members of Jewish defense organizations. A French Jewish journalist said: “Thank God they were there, because the protesters had murder on their minds and it took awhile before police reinforcements arrived.”
The previous day, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a synagogue at Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Parisian suburb. At Asnieres, another suburb, the police said a Muslim mob of 300 gathered in front of the synagogue and shouted anti-Israel slogans. A firebomb was hurled at a synagogue in Belleville. A Middle Eastern man shot pepper spray at the face of a 17-year-old Jewish girl on a Paris street shouting: “Dirty Jewess, inshallah you will die.”
Muslim attacks on French Jews long predate the current hostilities in Gaza. Earlier this year, a 59-year-old Jew was beaten up on a Paris street by three North African men who screamed “Dirty Jew’ and scrawled a swastika on his chest.
In 2006, Ilan Halimi, a young Parisian Jew, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered. In 2012, a radicalized Muslim murdered a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Muslim attacks on Jews are spiraling across Europe. In May, four Jews were killed in an attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels; the suspect, another radicalized French Muslim, was said by the Belgian state prosecutor to have confessed to the attack “against Jews.” In Sweden, Jews have been driven out of the city of Malmo by Muslim attacks, harassment and intimidation.
All this goes virtually unreported by mainstream Western media. Street protests are routinely described as “anti-Israel.”
Everyone is therefore missing the big story: the tsunami of anti-Jewish hatred rolling across Europe. In Paris and elsewhere, the always paper-thin “anti-Zionist but not anti-Jew” excuse has been stripped away.
“Death to the Jews” is the cry that resounds through the Middle East. Nazi images demonizing Jews pour out of the Arab and Muslim world. The Tsarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which alleged that the Jews formed a conspiracy to take over the world, is widely published and believed as historical fact. Iran’s leadership claims the Jews are trying to destroy Islam. Islamist ideologues from Syed Qutb to Osama bin Laden, Hamas and beyond have taught millions of Muslims that the Jews are behind all the ills of the world.
Palestinian society is suffused by this lunacy.
Palestinian Media Watch reports that the “moderate” Palestinian Authority presents Jews as inherently treacherous, corrupt, deceitful and unfaithful. Forgeries and fiction masquerading as history are used to document and support the libel that Judaism is in essence racist and evil. Jews are said to be planning and executing heinous crimes, including burning Palestinians in ovens, murder, using prisoners for Nazi-like experiments and more.
A few days ago, Yahya Rabah of the Fatah Leadership Committee in Gaza was but the latest Arab to recycle the medieval blood libel when he wrote in the official PA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida that the “Jewish God” demands Jews offer sacrifices during Passover in the form of matza “made from the blood of our children.”
Last year, a PA TV show for children taught them that the devil and the Jews were on the same side. Earlier his month, Al-Hayat al-Jadida wrote that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “confirms the Talmud’s teachings, [according to which] killing others – the insects (gentiles) – is a good thing.”
It is astounding that neither the media nor any Western leader has sounded the alarm over this epidemic anti-Jewish madness in the Islamic world. But neither political nor cultural leaders want to join up the dots.
Partly this is due to the cultural confusion over “Islamophobia” and third world-ism. But mainly it is because anti-Semitism is now the prejudice that dare not speak its name. It’s the big one, the crime of crimes, the knockout blow. If the Muslim world is driven by anti-Semitism, all the excuses being used by Western leaders to appease that world and limit the push-back against it are invalidated.
It would mean it is being fueled by something which is utterly immune to reason or negotiation. So it would mean there could be no half-measures against it. It would have to be identified as a source of evil in the world and utterly defeated.
But of course, that hardly sits with the dominant Western narrative that says the Palestinians are entitled to a state and that Israel is to blame for the conflict. So the Jew-hatred pouring out of the Islamic world is simply ignored.
Worse, all those in the West who trumpet their progressive support for the “oppressed” Palestinians are thus tacitly supporting this frenzied anti-Semitism.
The Palestinian strategy is to efface Jewish history altogether: denying or destroying the historic evidence of the biblical Jewish Kingdom of Judea, obscuring the Jews’ unique right to settle what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza enshrined in treaty obligation in the 1920s by the international community, and inverting the Holocaust to claim that Israel is committing genocide. When London demonstrators and British intellectuals declare that Israelis are the new Nazis, colonizing land to which they have no historic connection and which they have stolen from the Palestinians, they make themselves accessories to an infernal creed which is inciting violence and murder against Jews.
Anti-Jewish hatred is not just directed against Israel and the Jews of Europe. It is fueling the Islamic war against the West. It is often said that the Jews are the “canary in the mine.”
Those who turn against the Jews in their own societies invariably deal a death blow to those societies themselves.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times of London.