The Toxic Reality Of Antisemitism In Europe

editor Saturday 21 April 2018 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email Printer friendly

By Melanie Phillips.. Antisemitism in Europe has become mainstream and normalized at a level “not seen since the Second World War.” So says the president of the European Jewish Congress, Dr. Moshe Kantor, who states: “There has been an increase in open, unashamed and explicit hatred directed against Jews.” It’s as if a veil lowered after the Holocaust has now been lifted to reveal that little has changed. Poland is seeking to deny its own history of antisemitism, with a new law criminalizing anyone who accuses Poland of having been complicit in the Nazi destruction of European Jewry. [Photo top right: 1819 Hep-Hep riots in Frankfurt. An engraving by Johann Michael Voltz. Two peasant women are assaulting a Jew with pitchfork and broom. A man wearing spectacles, tails, and a six-button waistcoat, “perhaps a pharmacist or a schoolteacher,” holds another Jew by the throat and is about to hit him with a stick.].  This is of particular interest to me because my first novel, The Legacy, which was published this week happens to deal with antisemitism in wartime Poland as well as in present-day Britain.

Those who deny their antisemitism are doomed to repeat it. So it is in Poland.

Antisemitic outbursts there in the media and among politicians have significantly increased since the law’s passage last February, with wild claims of Jewish conspiracies and comparisons of Jews to animals.

Most concern, however, focuses on the rise of nationalist parties across Europe. Kantor says: “Right-wing populist parties are resorting to both antisemitic and anti-immigrant discourse to gather political support.”

Such a statement, however, does not reflect the complexities of this situation. For however distasteful Jews may find it, this “anti-immigrant discourse” is in fact critical for their protection.

Jews are instinctively sympathetic to immigrants. How can we not be, given our historic Diaspora experience of finding the passage to safety barred by laws passed to keep refugees out? Read the full story.



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