Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Bandwagon

Well, eventually I figured the rise in anti-semitism would start making the mainstream news. And it seems to have happened. There are a flurry of articles on it now. New York Magazine has it on their cover with a sobering, sometimes maddening, and absolutely depressing article this week. Time has a slew of them: two in November (An Old Evil Raises Its Weary Head and What's Causing the Anti-Semitic Attacks?) and a more substantial one last week (Seven Days Of Hatred). And today, National Review (other than the excellent ones written by Victor Davis Hanson, in particular, Those Jews) published a piece by Andrew Stuttaford called As Rome Starts to Smoulder: European illusions of multiculturalism. Stuttaford's piece is particularly interesting. While I think he great underestimates the deep-seated antisemitism that I believe is endemic in Europe, I think he is right that at least part of what is going on is the "Europeans' desire to accept any compromise so long as it could buy them a quiet life, at least for a while."
It's an attitude that used to show itself in the argument, once popular among large sections of the European Left, that there was a broad degree of moral equivalence between the Cold War's American (Holiday Inn, McDonalds) and Soviet (Gulag, mass graves) protagonists. It's an attitude that regards "peace" (that word again) as a good that trumps all others ... so when Israel is labeled the worst threat to world peace, or the U.S. and North Korea are described as being as dangerous as each other, it shows only that Europeans, left powerless by years of relative decline, falling self-confidence, and shrunken military budgets, have realized that both Israel and America are more interested in self-defense than suicide. That these two countries may be fully entitled to take the positions they do is, naturally, quite irrelevant.

He is also right in noting that Europe is playing a dangerous game by appeasing the changing face of its demographics.
To the EU, combating anti-Semitism, it seems, is less important than preserving the dangerous illusions of multiculturalism, and, probably, recognizing the demographics of a Europe where there are more Muslims to appease than Jews to protect.

I guess I should be glad to see all this attention to the issue. The increasing acceptance of social and political anti-semitic speech is so alarming that dramatic action needs to be taken over and over again to counter it.... if possible. Maybe this is a start. But I'm not that comforted. Most of the articles are facile and superficial and have an undercurrent of blaming Israeli policy for at least some of what is going on. Stuttaford's and Hanson's pieces are much better but will never reach the necessary audiences (if there is such a thing). So while I welcome the recognition, we have a long way to go. And a much, much, much longer way in terms of strategies on how to counter this evil.

UPDATE: I forgot to post this article by Anne Bayefsky in the Wall Street Journal today: The U.N.'s Dirty Little Secret: The international body refuses to condemn anti-Semitism. A must read.


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