The only word for it is chutzpah: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for European Jews to flee to Israel from the claws of a newly rampant anti-Semitism that is supposedly sweeping Europe. Why Chutzpah? Because one of the major causes for the upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe over the past several years have been the actions of Israel--under Netanyahu.
Those who monitor such attacks for many years have found a direct relationship between outbreaks of deadly violence between Israel and the Palestinians to an upswing of attacks on Jewish targets from cemeteries, to synagogues, to shops, to individuals.
This has got nothing to do with whether or not you think that Israel’s actions have been justified or not; the fact is that the relationship is clear: Every time Israel undertakes a violent action against the Palestinians—from the first and second Intifadas, to last year’s invasion of Gaza, the result is trouble for the Jews of Europe
The reason is obvious: They may not go out of their way to support the Palestinian cause, but millions of Muslims now living in Europe—particularly the young—naturally identify with the Palestinians rather than Israel. On the social media and TV they saw the terrible carnage wrought in Gaza last summer and were horrified and outraged.
What made matters worse was that leaders of most major Jewish organizations publicly defended Israel’s incursion into Gaza —despite the fact that many European Jews were also upset by them.
In France, for instance Roger Cukierman, the head of the leading Jewish organization, the CRIF, called for a massive demonstration in support of Israel’s actions in Gaza and attempted to get the French government to outlaw a march that others had called to support the Palestinians. He also condemned French President Francois Hollande for appealing to the international community to end the “massacre” going on in Gaza.
Hollande, he charged, parroting the statements issued by Netanyahu’s government, was excoriating Israel without taking account of the many provocations of Hamas in Gaza—rocketing Israel, using Palestinian schools and hospitals to stock weapons, etc.
And so it goes, the CRIF, as if it were an arm of the Israeli government itself, continues to clarion all-out support for Israel’s actions.
Since the CRIF supposedly represents the views of France’s Jewish community, is there any wonder that not just French Muslims conclude that France’s Jews support Israel’s actions against the Muslim population in Gaza, and whatever else the Israeli government is up to?
Unless more Jews in France and elsewhere are willing to speak out publicly about their disagreements with organizations like the CRIF and Israel’s policies, that’s the way it’s going to be.
Is there any wonder that, given the ghastly images coming out of Gaza, that some of the French and other European Muslims react by attacking the nearest Jewish target at hand, be it a gravestone, synagogue wall, kosher restaurant, or individual wearing a kippah?
This is not to say that there are other forces as well behind the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe. The virulent hatred propagated by the new social media, the increasing militancy of Muslim youth, for instance.
But all that is inflamed by the actions of Israel itself. The direct relationship between those acts and the increase in anti-Semitic attacks can’t be denied.
Indeed, the Israeli government has increasingly claimed that the mounting criticisms of Israel for having committed war crimes or human rights violations, all such claims—even if they are coming from Jews as well-- are nothing but the product of anti-Semitism.
An outspoken Israeli writer, Uri Avnery, for decades one of the most acerbic critics of his country’s policies, has pointed out the irony: Israel, created as a haven from anti-Semitism for Jews around the world, has instead, by its actions, become the greatest promoter of anti-Semitism around the world.