Le Pen, Brexit, Trump: the new dilemmas facing Jews

TO paraphrase Shakespeare, no people in the annals of man’s enduring inhumanity to man has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as the Jews, yet somehow survived.

   Despite enforced dispersion, ostracism, oppression, inquisition, torture, expulsion and pogrom to industrialized mass murder – a crime that redefined the margins of evil – the light from the tiny nation that bequeathed morality to the world continues to shine.
   Yet now, following seven decades of relative enlightenment since the end of the Shoah, Israel is threatened and vilified, its legitimacy impugned, while Diaspora Jewry continues the same, millennia-old struggle against the dark forces of anti-Semitism, who’ve invented a new lexicon of hate and the means to deliver it, like BDS.
   Today’s Jew-bashing has morphed from medieval bigotry inspired by Christian clergy and political xenophobia, reaching its ghastly climax in the Nazis.
   The latest paradigm, though, is probably the most absurd yet: an unholy alliance between those self-styled vigilantes of political virtue, the hard-Left, and radical Islam, hid behind a burqa of fictitious victimhood and built upon a trash-heap of Palestinian myth.  
   So the world’s only Jewish state – the sole oasis of sanity, modernity and equality in the Middle East – has become the catalyst for a surge in worldwide anti-Semitism, where fact is sacked and history shafted.
   And anyone with the courage to query post-truth’s loony tunes is heretical, as new UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, quickly found himself to be after stating Jerusalem’s Temple Mount was the site of the ancient Jewish Temple.
   Cue scorn and outrage from the Palestinian-led Muslim glee club, their voices still hoarse from cheering UNESCO’s cockamamie hogwash that the holiest of holies of Judaism and Christianity incontrovertibly belongs to upstart Islam.
   A parallel scenario of fiction is playing in France, where Georges Bensoussan, an expert on the Jewish world and an avowed anti-racist, is on trial for “provoking racial hatred”.
   In the eyes of several radical Islamic organizations – one of whom brought the prosecution – the respected historian’s sin was to quote Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, who’s said on France 3 TV: “It is a shame that, in order to maintain this taboo, to know that in Arab families in France – and everyone knows this but nobody wants to say it – anti-Semitism is sucked in with a mother's milk.”
   The accusers claim this is an Islamophobic “blood libel”; Bensoussan counters legalistically, insisting Islam is a religio-political system, Muslims are not a race and anti-Semitism is passed on “culturally”, not genetically.
   Nobody who’s had a brush with reality in France doubts the existence of  a “counter-society” and principally within the country’s huge Arab minority, uninterested in those hallowed articles of secular faith, “liberty, equality, fraternity”.
   And, under hard-Left prompting – plus the acquiescence of a craven governing elite – they have sabotaged and perverted the human rights agenda, bending it to the very reverse of what was intended.
   As Bensoussan says, “Anti-racism [as] an instrument of intellectual terrorism has become today the greatest channel of the new anti-Semitism.”
   With presidential elections in May and the field of candidates verging from the insipid or money-grubbing to the downright scary, French Jewry is stuck between a rock and hard place.
   The one contestant pledged to vanquish Islamic extremism is Marine Le Pen, the populist hustler, who has sanitized her Holocaust-minimiser father, Jean-Marie’s neo-fascist Front National, ditching the party logo and rebranding its battle-cry, “In the name of the people”
   The stench of anti-Semitism still permeates the FN’s ranks, but Le Pen – whose long-time partner, Louis Aliot, is the maternal grandson of an Algerian Jew – has cleverly distanced herself from such criticism, claiming she’s rooting out Jew-haters.
   But her mask slipped when she defended the anti-Semitic comic, Dieudonné’s right to perform and, more recently, when she called for a ban of kippahs, stating, “Obviously, if the veil is banned, the yarmulke [should be] banned in public as well.”
   Like her hero, Donald Trump, Le Pen promises to curb immigration and put France first by following Britain’s example and quit the European Union with a Frexit.
   While French Jews are traditionally conservative, there’s no doubting more are wooed into voting FN – a record 13% supported the party in the 2012 election – though they do so with trepidation.
   In one respect they know Le Pen will be a bulwark against rampant Islam, but, in another, they fear what new can of worms the far-Right populists will open if Le Pen ever gets the keys to the Elysee Palace – a not entirely remote prospect in today’s age of totally unpredictable election outcomes.
   Most Gallic Jews are also pro-EU and have seen how anti-Semitism has grown exponentially in the UK since the Brexit referendum, with police recording a 25.7% increase in hate crimes against Jews – violent crime multiplying by nearly 51% – making it the worst year on record for anti-Semitic offences.
   The blame no longer lies just with the usual, neo-Nazi headbanger suspects, but with Islamist agitators, some of whom are elected lawmakers of an unelectable Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a grizzled, far-Left ideologue, obsessed with the fable of Palestinian dispossession.
   The Trump effect also concerns socially-liberal Jews, not merely in France, but across Europe, let alone the USA, where Jewish Democrats have instantly forgotten the perfidy their icon, Barack Obama, committed against Israel.
   So, despite the new American president’s pledge of devotion to the Jewish state, they fear his unpredictability, Trump’s rush to executive judgement and a temper as short as his fingers.
   Jews everywhere, then, have much to fear and more than ever to contemplate in this new world order of Right-wing populism.