How to tackle anti-Semitic violence in Europe?

As the situation escalates in the Middle East, Europe has seen a spate of anti-Israeli demonstrations and anti-Semitic attacks in recent days. Commentators voice concern and discuss strategies to combat anti-Semitism.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Don't ignore imported anti-Semitism

Society must not look the other way when Muslims make anti-Jewish statements, urges Susanne Schröter, a professor of ethnology, in an opinion piece for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“Scholars from Muslim-majority countries persistently point out that anti-Semitism is already taught in schools in many countries of the world, that children and young people grow up hating Jews. This hatred is also being unleashed in Germany against Jewish schoolchildren. ... Trivialisation, deliberate suppression and relativisation are leading to life becoming unsafe for Jews in Germany. And that must be prevented at all costs.”

Expressen (SE) /

Teachers need appropriate tools

There have also been anti-Semitic incidents in Sweden in response to the conflict in the Middle East. Schools are among the sources of hatred against Jews, Expressen explains:

“Schools are perceived as unsafe and are riddled with anti-Semitic jargon, which is often downplayed as humourous. Schools must be places that show zero tolerance for anti-Semitism. ... For this to succeed, teachers and school directors must be given tools in the form of knowledge and clear routines. This way they can counter the anti-Semitism related to the conflict in the Middle East.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

These aren't human rights demonstrations

Support for Palestinians is a vehicle for anti-Semitism, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy rails in La Repubblica:

“Why didn't [the demonstrators] take to the streets to show their solidarity with the Kurds of Kirkuk when they were attacked in October 2017 by squadrons of Iran's Revolutionary Guards? Why did they not show solidarity with the cities of Syria bombed by the planes of the Arab dictator Bashar al-Assad - in attacks of unprecedented cruelty, supported by Vladimir Putin? ... There are many people who care neither about human rights nor about the forgotten war, nor about the Palestinians, and who only bother to go out and demonstrate if they can kill two birds with one stone and shout 'Death to Israel' and 'Death to the Jews' at the same time.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Déjà vu - but people remain silent

Lidové noviny deplores a lack of clear reactions to the anti-Semitic tenor of the protests:

“This seems to be déjà vu. Israeli flags are burning on German streets, stones are flying into the windows of synagogues and shouts along the lines of 'dirty Jews' ring out. ... Has Germany learned nothing from history, and is it now repeating itself? This question seems provocative in multicultural Germany, nevertheless it must be asked. When a neo-Nazi attacks a synagogue in Halle it becomes a national trauma. But when 'people with a migration background' attack synagogues in Germany because of a conflict happening thousands of kilometres away, silence prevails. And one looks almost in vain for clear reactions.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Don't stay silent about German anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism can easily seem to be most prevalent among immigrant minorities, writes the taz:

“Because it is mainly migrants and their children who take to the streets, especially those from Arab countries and Turkey. Because hardly anyone has ever done anything to fight hatred of Jews in these communities, it is particularly convenient to condemn their behaviour - yet at the same time remain silent about the attitude of Müller, Maier or Schmitz. After all, anti-Semitism only affects the others. But the fact is that although hatred of Jews is a problem in migrant communities, it is also rampant among those who have lived here for a long time.”

La Stampa (IT) /

No space left for proper arguments

In Italy, too, people took to the streets over the weekend because of the Middle East conflict. Philosopher Donatella Di Cesare criticises undifferentiated expressions of solidarity in La Stampa:

“As we all know, we live in times when people have neither the time nor the inclination to discuss the opinions of others. It's easier to just hate them. Hence the parade of narrow-minded supporters on social networks and in the streets, the waving of flags, the absence of dialogue. All over the world and in our country too. Not without paradoxes: those on the left go so far as to defend Hamas, while the Star of David appears behind representatives of the institutional right who collude with neo-fascism. There is little room left for those who try to argue. They end up in the crossfire.”