How should Europe fight anti-Semitism?
In March the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was stabbed to death in her apartment in Paris. In April an Israeli wearing a kippah was attacked in broad daylight in Berlin. These recent incidents of anti-Semitism have made headlines across Europe and sparked a debate about whether Jews can still feel safe in Europe - and what should be done to protect them.
Jews left in the lurch
Being a Jew in Europe is scary once more, laments journalist and author Pierluigi Battista in Corriere della Sera:
“Sadly anti-Semitism is not merely the preserve of a gang of neo-Nazis with shaved and empty heads. Wearing a kippa also sparks the hatred of those who want to see the Jews annihilated and Israel destroyed. Infidels who dare to sully and defile the 'Holy Land'. In a Europe defined by the passive tolerance of a scared and resigned majority, anti-Semitism is spreading without encountering even a hint of rebellion, despite the - empty - words uttered at official Holocaust commemoration ceremonies. So the Jews, who have been left to their own devices, must once again take action: they must hide themselves and conceal the symbols of their identity. A sad development. The Jews are gripped by a legitimate sense of fear and isolation that should make all Europe ashamed.”
Campaign against all forms of hatred
The French daily Le Parisien on Sunday published a manifesto against the "new anti-Semitism" with an Islamic background, signed by 300 prominent figures. But this can only be part of the fight against racism, historian Marie-Anne Matard Bonucci stresses in Le Monde:
“Certainly, one can't but share the concerns expressed by the authors of this text. Nevertheless it also reminds us that the fight against anti-Semitism - like that against other forms of identity-based hostility - cannot be confined to a few simplistic solutions. This fight cannot be waged independently of the fight against other forms of identity-based hostility that exist in our country: anti-Arab or anti-black racism, prejudice against Muslims who are stigmatised merely for their religious practices, as well as anti-Asian or anti-Roma sentiment.”
Religious texts need to be put into context
The authors of the manifesto call on the highest representatives of Islam to declare obsolete those passages in the Koran which incite violence against those of other faiths. A pointless initiative, writes Dorian de Meeûs, editor-in-chief of La Libre Belgique:
“It is regrettable that some Koranic verses which call for violence against Jews, Christians and non-believers are taken literally and given an old-fashioned interpretation. However, we should also recognise that there are more moderate interpretations of these texts dating back to the 7th century. ... Wanting to change the foundational text of Islam seems like a pipe dream given the Muslims' relation to these holy texts. And it would do nothing to eradicate anti-Semitism. What we need is a new perception - and recontextualisation - of religious texts that are often taken too literally.”