Shattered shop fronts in Jewish neighbourhoods. Shards of glass crunching underfoot. Jews attacked in the streets. Synagogues and Jewish cemeteries vandalised. Marauding crowds screaming “Kill Jews!” and “Slit Jews’ throats!”, with police looking on.
This isn’t Kristallnacht in Germany, 1938.
This is Paris, London, Rome and Berlin today. Seventy years after six million Jews were murdered by the Germans, with the acquiescence and avid participation of most countries under German control.
Some new shouted chants provide the accompaniment to the riots. For example, Germans didn’t shout “Hitler was right!” and “Gas the Jews!” in 1938.
The former was impossible for grammatical reasons: as Hitler was still in power, the past tense would have represented a solecism. The latter would have been implausibly prescient: the Nazis hadn’t yet discovered the delights of Zyklon B.
The firm that produced it was also the first to synthesise aspirin, but during the war most of its profits came from satisfying the needs of Germany’s growth industry. That, however, isn’t mentioned much these days, while the aspirin sideline is touted as yet another vindication of progress-happy post-Enlightenment modernity.
Since true progress must be built on past achievements, it’s good to see that the European crowds are acknowledging their debt to their Nazi predecessors. The reference to gas is particularly popular in Berlin, proving that the spirit of pan-European unification hasn’t yet diminished the nation’s pride in her days of glory.
These outbursts are supposed to have been provoked by Israel’s self-defensive counterattack against Palestinian terrorists.
Personally, I find it hard to think of a recent military action anywhere in the world that’s more richly justified. There are only so many rockets fired into her territory, so many of her citizens murdered or kidnapped that any nation can tolerate.
Yet I realise that some may assess the Israeli-Palestinian conflict differently. I’m also man enough to admit that I don’t react to the murder of an Englishman and, say, a Columbian with the same dispassionate objectivity. The latter upsets; the former enrages.
Likewise, the Arabs and other Muslims who make up the majority of European rioters probably feel more upset about a few hundred Palestinians killed by the Israelis than about the thousands of rockets raining on Israel from Gaza every year.
Hence one can understand a peaceful demonstration outside the Israeli embassy, with people holding up placards saying things like “Hands off Gaza”. The romantic in me would still yearn for a few strategically placed machineguns, but the realist would acknowledge that such protests are both legal and excusable.
But to use Israel’s actions, no matter how objectionable one finds them, as a pretext for attacking European Jews is neither legal nor excusable. It’s monstrous and, which is worse, illogical.
When some African tribes murder hundreds of thousands from other tribes, as they do from time to time in places like Rwanda or Burundi, one doesn’t see many demonstrations in Europe under the slogan of “Kill blacks!”
An understanding exists, as in civilised countries it should, that Europeans who have ethnic or religious links with foreign governments aren’t to blame for such governments’ actions, no matter how much one dislikes them.
Such moderation, however, doesn’t extend to Jews, all of whom are held collectively responsible for any Israeli action that can be construed as a pretext for rioting.
This means that the savage crowds screaming “Kill Jews!” don’t do so to express a geopolitical preference for Hamas over Israel. They do it because they hate Jews.
This means that European anti-Semitism is leaving its latent phase for an acute one. For it’s not just the Muslim screamers and bottle-throwers who are at fault.
The riots would be instantly and, if need be, violently quashed should the non-Muslim populace close ranks against the anti-Semitic brutes. Alas, one observes exactly the opposite.
A recent study shows that 37 per cent of the French, 25 per cent of the Italians and almost 30 per cent of the Germans are openly anti-Semitic. Add to them those who are reticent about expressing the anti-Semitism they feel, and one can understand why riot police forces in Europe, such as the normally uninhibited French CRS, are being so polite to the rioters.
A few days ago I commented on Europe’s blatantly biased press coverage of the current conflict. Yet my friend Tony, who reads French (and any other) papers more regularly than I do, objected that Le Figaro tends to be fair on such matters.
Yet here I am, reading a Figaro article written by the award-winning journalist Natacha Polony, who this once has stepped outside her speciality area of education.
Sure enough, in the first couple of paragraphs she deplores the anti-Semitic riots in Paris, especially their slogan “Mort aux Juifs!” However, two column inches down comes the good stuff:
“Of course, Israel’s policy of colonialism and militarisation is unsupportable and suicidal…
“Of course one would like to see the international community taking a firmer stand on banning the iniquitous wall that cuts off Palestinian villages with no regard for the borders established by the UN…
“Of course one would like to hear more Jewish voices denouncing Israel’s policy…
“Of course one hopes that any criticism of the State of Israel… would not be taken as a sign of anti-Semitism…”
Mlle Polony is hereby using the rhetorical device of anaphora (the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause) to shatter Tony’s claim that Le Figaro covers the conflict with unbiased detachment.
Well, I can do anaphora too:
What she calls ‘colonialism and militarisation” are the Israelis’ desperate attempts to save themselves from annihilation, to which all her neighbours are firmly and vociferously committed.
What she calls “the iniquitous wall that cuts off Palestinian villages” is Israel’s attempt to stem the flow of terrorists across her borders.
What she calls a dearth of “Jewish voices denouncing Israel’s policy” is a fiction that can only be believed by those who never open leftie papers, which are alive with such voices.
What she calls “any criticism of the State of Israel… [being] taken as a sign of anti-Semitism” is simply the failure of every attempt to find a different explanation for the shamefully pro-Palestinian bias in most newspaper articles.
Such as her own.