Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hordes of Jew Haters

Pajama Media has a round up of recent expressions of antisemitism. Meryl Yourish has had two of these recently.

I'm mostly linking to these useful resources for future reference. An intelligent cataloging of items is almost always preferable to Google; that's what I make part of my living from.

It is however interesting to see how things change. Back when I began observing such matters, some 25 years ago, the mantra was that the critics were not antisemites, heaven forbid, they were actually friends of Israel, and all they were doing was a spot of friendly critical engagement. Kritischer Auseinandersetzung, in German, a term I found so peculiar at the time it remains etched in my psyche. I remember once asking one of these critical engagers what made him think his understanding of the situation was so superior to ours that he might have anything useful to say. He looked pained, I remember - though to be fair, his subsequent positions indeed prove that he decided to learn first and condemn either later or not at all.

Nowadays, it seems, the party line is no longer critical friendly engagement, but the need to be even-handed. Here's a German blogger who's having a tiff with the editor of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung; the editor apparently feels vindicated because people from both sides of the story are miffed at her, proving she must be right. A juvenile line of reasoning. This fellow continues to dog the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung for their intellectual and professional sloppiness. Lizas Welt is always a nice place to visit if you're feeling glum about the state of the world, and want to hear a German tell you you're right about it. And of course, you shouldn't miss Achse Des Guten (Axis of Good), parts of which are in English, to get a feeling for the malice that swirls round Europe (and elsewhere) these days.

Having said all this, however, I'd like to bring a different, or partially different perspective, sent by e-mail from Bremen. My correspondent is actually mildly surprised, he tells me, by the fact that things aren't all that bad, and he tells of five different reactions he's picking up in the German public sphere.
1. The top politicians. They're mostly silent, but in a pro-Israel way. This is certainly true of Angela Merkl, who indeed has been a pleasant surprise since she took office.
2. The media. He thinks they're not as bad as the Guardian, but admits that's not much of a recommendation.
3. The demonstrators. These are almost exclusively Muslims of this group or that, along with a smattering of far-Lefties (which brings us back to the Guardian...)
4. The handful of Israel's supporters, most of them Jews or nearby - to which I'll add that there's another group, even smaller, of German Left-wingers whose primary impulse is to dislike what mainstream German society does, and who've decided that since mainstream German society is anti-Israel, they're now staunch Zionists. There are such people, I've had occasion to meet hundreds of them, among the 80-million Germans.
5. Finally, so my correspondent, the most surprising group are the vox populi (we might call it "The German Street"). The run-of-the-mill Germans, he tells me, seem mostly neutral about Israel's actions in Gaza, having been convinced that Hamas really did provoke the violence.

Is this happening also elsewhere in Europe? I haven't been to Poland for a number of months, and haven't been trawling Polish media sites. The Iberians and Greeks seem pretty adamant in their hatred.


Ruth said...

I agree with your correspondent from Bremen. I am traveling to Germany 2-4 times per year on business. I noticed the first change in attitudes in May 2007
and would say that this is the trend. The intellectuals are actually fighting a rearguard battle. That's why they go in for such strange alliances.

Gavin said...

I'm afraid it's happening everywhere Yaacov. In my country (NZ) we've just had a Turk in a kebab shop tell two Israeli ladies to leave after he heard them talking in Hebrew & asked where they were from. He's a recent immigrant, yes he's Muslim. It's also strictly illegal in NZ to discriminate like that.

The effrontery of a Turk, of all people, having the audacity to judge Israelis on perceived massacres is breath-taking. That aside it's the reactions of Kiwis that's been the eye opener. Most of us want to boot the prick out & send him back to whatever cesspit he came from, but an alarming number are making excuses for him & trying to justify his actions. There's a definite anti-Israeli sentiment, and some is progressing on to comments about jews & othrr anti-semitic remarks.

The western world has changed Yaacov, whatever moral compass we used to guide us has lost its magnetism for many in the newer generation.

Marc said...

Here in Italy we had a demonstration in front of the parliament in Rome with a coalition if pro-Israeli Italian politicians (headed by Fiamma Nirenstein). Obviously, no flags were burned, there was no hate-talk, just a lot of Israeli flags, words of solidarity, and cries of viva Israele! Things have indeed been worse here in the boot.