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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
An increase in anti-Semitism
The New Anti-Semitism
Obama's put a dent in racism. Will he defend Jews?
America has just thrown one of the world's biggest parties, rejoicing
with good reason at the fall of the racial barrier to the White House.
But bigotry ebbs and flows on many fronts, and a question for President
Obama as he takes up his responsibilities as leader of the free world is
whether he will now champion--or at least strive to protect--another
minority whose members are today the targets of resurgent prejudice.
I am speaking of a minority that even in the relatively enlightened 21st
century is increasingly subject both worldwide, and to a disturbing
extent even inside the U.S., to double standards, slurs, threats, arson,
bombings, stabbings and other attacks on their persons, shops, homes and
places of worship.
Yahoo! BuzzIt is not unusual in some parts of the world to hear them
described, not least by official media outlets, as apes and pigs. In
some prestigious quarters, notably the United Nations, it appears
acceptable--in practice, if not as a matter of official policy--for
member states to promote or even issue calls for their extermination.
As you have probably guessed, I am speaking of the Jews. To many
Americans, that may sound overwrought. American Jews are by and large a
prosperous bunch, sending their children to good schools, filling some
of the top ranks in publishing, finance, medicine, academia and
government. One of their own, Rahm Emanuel, is currently serving as
Obama's chief of staff. What's to worry about?
Plenty. They belong to a minority that just 64 years ago was subject to
industrial-scale slaughter in the heart of Europe. The 6 million Jews
murdered in that Holocaust are remembered and their deaths commemorated
today with cries of "never again."
Yet there are proliferating signs that in too many places, and too many
ways, the world is tacitly coming to accept not only persecution of the
Jews, but the possibility of a second genocide--not necessarily by way
of active complicity, but under labels familiar from the last century:
It was not our fault. There was nothing we could do.
Compared with the world's population today of 6.7 billion, the entire
Jewish population worldwide is infinitesimal, estimated at roughly 14
million. Some 40% of those Jews live in the U.S. Some 40% live in the
world's only Jewish state, Israel.
The rest are scattered from France to Canada, the United Kingdom,
Russia, Argentina, Australia and beyond. Collectively, they account for
no more than about 0.2% of humanity.
That's also miniscule compared with a worldwide Muslim population very
roughly estimated at some 1.5 billion. And Israel, for all its U.S.
support, walks a lonely and beleaguered path compared to the 57-member
strong Saudi-headquartered Organization of the Islamic Conference--one
of the core lobbying blocs in the UN General Assembly.
Many Muslims may well desire simply to live in peace. Unfortunately,
some of the most vocal, politically active and militarily aggressive
among them--ruling Iran and Gaza, and harbored in places such as Syria
and Lebanon--are explicitly dedicated to destroying Israel.
Through Internet and television propaganda, through pronouncements from
the UN stage, through everything from subsidies to anti-Semitic lobbying
associations to money and arms for terrorist groups, they spend
considerable resources fueling movements to boycott, denigrate and
There are many spokes in the anti-Semitic web now being re-woven around
the globe, from Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian schools and media that
feature maps without Israel, and role models such as a martyred version
of Mickey Mouse.
But as Obama takes office, two hubs stand out. One is Iran, supporter of
terrorists, source of genocidal proclamations against Israel and seeker
of nuclear bombs.
Whatever the doubts about that bomb program raised by the U.S. National
Intelligence Estimate of late 2007, Obama's pick for cabinet-rank
ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, clearly sees a problem. In her written
testimony for her confirmation hearing Jan. 15, she noted that "Iran
continues its illicit nuclear program unabated."
The other hub is the United Nations, which, despite its own sanctions on
Iran and its own 1945 charter which aims to avert such horrors as
another holocaust, continues to dignify Tehran and some of its fellow
anti-Semitic despotic states with a slew of important UN posts, while
treating Israel as a pariah state.
Though a democracy, Israel has never been allowed to hold one of the 10
rotating seats on a Security Council that in recent years has welcomed
such tyrannies as Syria and Libya.
Currently, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is fueling the
problem--publicly condemning Israel's battle to stop the terrorist
attacks by Hamas, touring Gaza and demanding a probe of Israeli actions,
while offering no viable protection to Israelis.
Don't hold your breath for a UN inquiry into weapons and training
supplied to Hamas by the same Iranian regime whose nuclear bomb program
the UN’s leaky sanctions have failed to stop.
In this, Ban is carrying on a deep-seated UN tradition of bias against
Jews and Israel. That is broadly obvious from the UN's torrent of
anti-Israel statements, resolutions and so forth, including plans to
hold a repeat in Geneva this April of the UN's anti-Israel 2001
conference in Durban, South Africa, ostensibly convened to discuss
But if anyone wants more detail, an illuminating account of the UN's
anti-Semitic inner circles can be found in the memoir of a former senior
UN official, Pedro Sanjuan, The UN Gang, published in 2005.
Sanjuan, who served at the UN in the 1980s and early 1990s, but kept in
touch with it well after that, devotes an entire chapter, rich in
anecdote, to "The Anti-Semitic UN Culture." Sanjuan writes that though
he himself is not a Jew, what bothered him most during his years at the
UN was "this unrelenting bigotry" against them.
During Israel's recent battle with Hamas in Gaza, attacks both verbal
and physical against Jews have risen worldwide. To cite just a small
sample, there have been reports of a double shooting in Denmark, Molotov
cocktails hurled at synagogues in France, a Jewish burial chapel
fire-bombed in Sweden, graffiti scrawled across British buildings saying
"Jihad 4 Israel" and "Kill Jews," schools and synagogues desecrated on
the North Side of Chicago, and--in an echo of Germany's 1938
Kristallnacht--rocks shattering the 50-year-old stained glass windows of
a Jewish temple in Knoxville, Tenn.
At risk of being written off as hysterics--which the rising stack of
evidence suggests they are not--a handful of journalists have tackled
the story. These include syndicated columnist Mark Steyn, who in an
article last week on "The Oldest Hatred, Resurgent," reeled off a
staggering list of epithets, threats and physical attacks targeting
Jews, including a crowd in Amsterdam chanting "Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the
gas!," and Palestinian demonstrators in Florida sneering, "You need a
big oven, that's what you need."
From Britain, writing in The Wall Street Journal Europe, social critic
Melanie Phillips describes a demonstration at which Hamas supporters
showed up dressed as "hook-nosed Jews pretending to drink the blood of
The message British authorities gave to pro-Israeli demonstrators who
turned up at the same scene was to put away their Israeli flags because
these were deemed "inflammatory."
But whatever surge of anti-Semitism might have accompanied Israel's
battle to stop terrorist attacks by Hamas out of Gaza, the rising
prejudice and malice dates back well before that.
Last year, a State Department report to Congress on "Contemporary Global
Anti-Semitism" noted that "Over the last decade, U.S. embassies and
consulates have reported an upsurge in anti-Semitism." That would be the
decade in which Israel pulled out of Lebanon (2000), accepted the
"roadmap" that sought to establish a democratic Palestinian state (2003)
and withdrew from Gaza (2005).
Government-affiliated studies in recent years in both Europe and Britain
have reported that, in the words of a 2006 UK all-party parliamentary
inquiry: "It is clear that violence, desecration of property and
intimidation directed toward Jews is on the rise."
A report leaked in 2003 from the former Vienna-based European Monitoring
Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, an independent body of the European
Union, observed an outbreak of anti-Semitic acts in Europe following the
Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
These included conspiracy theories that Jews were behind those attacks,
denial of the holocaust and "desecration of synagogues, cemeteries,
swastika graffiti, threatening and insulting mail." There were "physical
attacks" on Jews and Jewish temples, "often committed by young Muslim
The study also described some of the anti-Jewish acts to young people
who reportedly had no "specific anti-Semitic prejudices," but joined the
Jew-baiting "just for fun."
Nor are Jews in the U.S. entirely spared. In the hate-crime statistics
released each year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, attacks on
Jews routinely outnumber religiously based attacks against any other
For 2007, FBI figures show that among 1,477 religiously motivated hate
crimes reported by U.S. law enforcement authorities, 9% were
anti-Islamic, 9.5% were "anti-other religion," 4.4% were anti-Catholic
and, by far outstripping any other category, "68.4% were anti-Jewish."
While much of the world may live today in the shadow of terrorist
threats, actual attacks over many years have zeroed in repeatedly and
specifically on Jews. That's why one now sees Jewish centers in places
such as Manhattan surrounded by security barriers. From the bombings in
Argentina of the Israeli embassy in 1992 (killing 32) and Jewish
community center in 1993 (killing 87), to attacks on synagogues and
other Jewish watering holes in places such as Tunisia, Turkey, France
and, just two months ago, the terrorist slaughter in Mumbai, which
specifically included a Jewish chabad, actual attacks have zeroed in
again and again on the Jews.
This scene is also part of a world in which President Obama has become a
symbol of what freedom, hope and virtue can do to deliver better days to
a long embattled minority. What will he do about the Jews?
Claudia Rosett, a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for
Defense of Democracies, writes a weekly column on foreign affairs for