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Thread: Europe's New Face Of Anti-semitism

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    HeavyMetalParkingLot's Avatar Poster
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    Jun 2003

    One of the first steps in Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic drive in the creation of his Third Reich was instituting a ban on the kosher slaughter of animals.

    Today, as a new wave of ugly, and sometimes violent, anti-Semitism sweeps through the European continent, at least five countries have banned kosher food production, and one of them is considering halting all import of kosher meat.

    The latest nation to join the movement is Holland, where the move was guised in concern for cruelty to animals.

    "They simply don't want foreigners and they don't want Jews," said Rabbi Michael Melchior, former chief rabbi of Norway, another European nation that bans kosher meat production. "I won't say this is the only motivation, but it's certainly no coincidence that one of the first things Nazi Germany forbade was kosher slaughter. I also know that during the original debate on this issue in Norway, where shechitah has been banned since 1930, one of the parliamentarians said straight out, 'If they don't like it, let them go live somewhere else.'"

    While animal-rights activists have indeed been at the forefront of the recent efforts to ban kosher slaughter, there is growing concern on the part of people like Melchior, now an Israeli official, that initiatives spreading through Europe are gaining popularity because of deep-seated anti-Semitism manifesting itself in many other ways, from Belgium to Germany to France and Switzerland.

    * On Saturday, unknown assailants hurled a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue in the Belgian port city of Antwerp, where riots by Arab immigrants began a week ago following the shooting of a 27-year-old Moroccan immigrant. About 30,000 people of Arab origin live in Antwerp. It is also home to a long-established Orthodox Jewish community of about 20,000.

    * Several weeks ago, Germany announced a decision to stop all arms sales to Israel. This comes at a time when attacks on memorials to Nazi-era victims are on the rise. In at least seven attacks this year, extremists destroyed a memorial plaque at Raben-Steinfeld, vandalized a memorial in Woebbelin and a memorial column in Lutterow, and drew a swastika on the grounds of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the Nov. 9 anniversary of Krystalnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis targeted Jewish businesses and synagogues in 1938.

    * German police are investigating an incident last month where anti-Semitic disruptions occurred at a Berlin ceremony to restore a street name referring to Jews that was erased by Nazi officials in 1938. Hecklers at the event booed, whistled and shouted slogans including "Jews out" and "The Jews crucified Jesus," according to Germany's Central Council of Jews. Paul Spiegel, the group's head, said he was horrified and that the incident "reminds us painfully of the late 1920s," when the Nazis began their rise to power in Germany. The event re-established Juedenstrasse – an old German word for Jews' Street – in the western district of Spandau after years of deliberations by local officials. The name, dating back to the 16th century, recalls Spandau's former Jewish community. Under Nazi rule, the street was renamed for Gottfried Kinkel, a 19th-century poet and art historian who was once imprisoned in Spandau.

    * Fiona Macaulay, public affairs director of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, says incidents of anti-Semitism have increased 400 percent in Britain since the start of the intifada in the fall of 2000.

    * A one-day international conference on sanctions and divestment in London last week called for a boycott of Israel "not dissimilar to the campaign which contributed to the end of apartheid in South Africa."

    Of course, it's not just Europe that is experiencing a wave of new anti-Semitism.

    Avi Beker, the secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, says in the past two years Jews around the world have experienced the worst anti-Semitism since World War II, primarily because of the effects of the Middle East conflict. In Canada, the U.S. and Europe, there have been attacks on synagogues and other Jewish centers as well as individual Jews, he says.

    "Anti-Semitism, showing itself to be the most enduring and the hardiest manifestation of the racism virus, has reared its ugly head once again," says Keith Landy, the Canadian Jewish Congress president. Landy said across the world Jewish people continue to face discrimination, harassment and violence because of their faith. It is a sad day for any religion when a security guard must be posted at the door of a place of worship so people may pray in safety – a common occurrence at many Jewish synagogues, he stated. "Instead of declaring 'never again,' we find ourselves painfully asking, 'will it ever end?'"

    Since October 2000, there have been 300 anti-Semitic occurrences in Canada, he said. Also, he argued, the current international attack on Israel is clear anti-Semitism.

    Australia's Jewish community is also experiencing the highest level of anti-Semitism since statistics were first collected 57 years ago, figures released recently by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry showed.

    Council President Jeremy Jones told United Press International there were 593 reports of anti-Semitism in the year to Sept. 30, with incidents ranging from physical and verbal assaults to firebombs thrown at synagogues and community centers, telephone threats, hate mail and e-mail.

    He said there are dozens of groups perpetrating hate crimes. The main ones are the Australian League of Rights, the Adelaide Institute, neo-Nazi fringe groups and the Citizens Electoral Councils, which are followers of U.S.-based Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.

    The man with the highest profile is historian Frederick Toben of the Adelaide Institute, who, like British historian David Irving, denies the existence of the Holocaust.

    Jones also lamented what he calls horrific material from Muslims in Australia and singles out Sheik Taj al Din al Hilaly, spiritual leader of Australia's Muslims and one of the country's most contentious religious figures. After he arrived from Egypt in 1982, the government tried to expel him for making statements condemned as incitement to racial hatred. A Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Alan Ramsey, wrote that these included comments that Jews are the underlying cause of all wars, use sex and abominable acts of sodomy to control the world, and that Jews had a malicious disposition toward all mankind.

    But it is in Europe where anti-Semitism is getting the most attention – perhaps because the Holocaust occurred just a generation earlier in the continent.

    When there was an effort by Jews in Switzerland to lift the century-old ban on the production of kosher meat, an anti-Semitic backlash erupted earlier this year.

    "This is a trend that is very much worrying us," said Beker. He points out that a movement in Sweden, another European nation that bans kosher slaughter, attempted to ban ritual circumcision – the quintessential rite of passage for Jewish males. "We regard this as interference in Jewish religious practices."

    Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said bans on kosher slaughter are the result of activism between animal-rights extremists "aided and abetted" by anti-Semitic politicians.

    "Sometimes anti-Semites will use this as a vehicle to try to isolate the Jewish community by reaching out to those who are so preoccupied with animal rights," he told Jewish Week. "The key is whether or not there is a history in that country. ... What other issues of animal rights have they engaged in to prohibit cruelty? When they begin and end with kosher slaughter, that's when I become suspect."

    While the Holland ban offers some loopholes to the Jewish community in the country, the Swiss ban on shechitah may go even further. The government earlier this year considered a ban on the import of kosher meat, and the Swiss Animal Association is calling for a national referendum on barring the import of such products. A poll shows 76 percent of the population would support such a move.

    "It's ominous," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the kashrut administrator for the Orthodox Union, the largest kosher-certifying organization in the world. "This kind of legislation in Europe has to be understood in the context of European history. A person would have to be extremely naive not to think that this is linked to anti-Semitism."

    Melchior makes the case that kosher slaughter is actually more humane than the practices in slaughterhouses.

    "The Torah forbids cruelty to animals, and the shechitah process ensures that the animal loses consciousness immediately," he explains. "We have been dealing with this issue for many years, and there are many scientific studies that back us up."

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    HeavyMetalParkingLot's Avatar Poster
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    Jun 2003
    Anti-Semitism and Ethnicity in Europe

    By John Rosenthal
    John Rosenthal has taught modern European philosophy and political philosophy at schools in the United States and France. He is presently writing a book on ethnic-national politics and the principle of “self-determination.”

    "Say that you’re a Jew,” Marinus Schöberl’s tormentors are supposed to have demanded as they beat him. As of this writing, three young men — the brothers Marcel S. and Marco S., 18 and 24 years old respectively, and their friend Sebastien F., also 18 — are on trial in Neuruppin, Germany for the murder of the then-16-year-old Marinus near the small eastern German town of Potzlow in July 2002. None of the accused disputes his involvement, and the prosecution’s reconstruction of the events leading to Marinus’s death is based largely on the boys’ own confessions. Marinus was not in fact Jewish, but various markers of “otherness” — the fact that the teenager stuttered, that he wore baggy “hip hop” pants, perhaps most importantly that his hair was dyed blond — were apparently sufficient to convince his three assailants that he was or might be. They “wanted to create for themselves the image of an enemy,” Thomas Weichelt, the lawyer for Marinus’s parents, has observed. A local district attorney told the Berliner Zeitung that the cruelty displayed in Marinus’s murder “represents a new dimension even for hard-baked prosecutors.” After having forced him to drink alcohol until inebriated, beaten him unconscious, and then urinated on him, the trio of assailants dragged Marinus to a nearby abandoned stable. There, having ordered Marinus to bite the side of a concrete feeding trough, Marcel S. stomped on the back of Marinus’s head with his combat boots. After Marinus, nonetheless, apparently survived this maneuver, Marcel S. crushed his skull with a concrete slab. In a statement given to the police, another witness, Nicole B., reported that Marcel S. would later describe Marinus as a “shitty Jew” and remark that as such “he didn’t deserve any different.”1

    The Potzlow case is significant in several respects, not the least of which is that it will likely be entirely unknown to my readers. It has of late become common for “liberal” commentators to charge that reports of European anti-Semitism are greatly exaggerated, part of yet another “vast right-wing conspiracy” fostered by powerful media moguls (read Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black) and designed to delegitimize European support of the Palestinian cause and “deflect” European criticisms of Israel. In fact, however, coverage in the English-language media as a whole, especially indeed the American media, has tended, if anything, to understate the true dimensions of the phenomenon.

    Leftist myths and leftist responsibility

    In early spring 2002, a wave of anti-Jewish arson attacks swept across France. In the most spectacular of the incidents, late on the Friday night of March 29-30, a group of 10-20 masked youths used two stolen cars as battering rams to smash through the front and side doors of the synagogue in the La Duchère section of Lyon and then, with the cars still ensconced in the building, set them ablaze. According to witnesses, as the cars caught fire, the perpetrators broke into applause. That weekend, synagogues would also be set ablaze in Strasbourg and Marseille and bullets would be fired at a kosher butcher shop in Toulouse. In the following week, at least three other synagogues — in Marseille, Montpellier, and the Kremlin-Bicêtre suburb of Paris — would be the targets of Molotov cocktails (with the Montpellier attack setting on fire an adjacent building). The wooden doors of a prayer chapel in a Jewish cemetery in Strasbourg were set on fire, as was the school bus of a Jewish school in another Parisian suburb. This sudden spike in what was an already-growing trend of anti-Jewish violence in France was widely reported in the United States and even provoked some words of admonishment from President Bush. As the violence settled back into an alarmingly regular pattern, however, the interest of the English-language media waned — and this despite the fact that the more recent incidents, unlike the rash of reported violence last March and April, have included an increasing number of attacks on persons. When, for instance, just this past March, a 21-year-old Jewish student returning home from a debate on Middle East politics in Aix-en-Provence was attacked by three masked assailants who proceeded to carve a Star of David into her arm with a knife, such an event was apparently considered sufficiently banal as not to merit reporting by almost any American media outlet.2

    Moreover, coverage of anti-Jewish violence in Europe has focused almost exclusively on France, with some occasional allusions to incidents in Belgium and Great Britain. This is also the case, incidentally, for most of the European coverage of anti-Jewish violence in Europe. Since the authors of the French violence are typically presumed to be (and often indeed turn out to be) North African immigrant youth from France’s dilapidated banlieues — “a group itself that is the victim of some of the worst race hate and discrimination in Europe,” according to the sympathetic assessment of Peter Beaumont in the British weekly Observer (February 17, 2002) — the assumption is then easily made that the problem is not really a European one anyway, but has merely been imported into Europe along with Muslim immigration. And the Muslim youth can, after all, be forgiven — so this line of reasoning continues — for taking offense at Israel’s “heavy-handed” treatment of their co-religionists in the Middle East conflict. This is the clear implication of Beaumont’s Observer piece, which thus appears to treat the logic of targeting French Jews in retribution for Israeli policies as somehow self-evident. We will see shortly just how erroneous an account this is even of the forces driving anti-Jewish violence among France’s North African immigrant population.

    Germany, in any case, is rarely mentioned in this context. This is odd, since although the murder of Marinus Schöberl was notable for the baroqueness of the cruelty involved, it was by no means an isolated incident with respect to the anti-Jewish motives involved. The number of anti-Jewish incidents officially reported in Germany is in fact greater than the number of those reported in France. According to statistics published by the French Consultative Commission on Human Rights (cncdh), there were 924 anti-Jewish incidents reported to the French police in 2002. This figure comprises both acts of violence committed against persons or property (193) and “threats and acts of intimidation” (including under this latter heading, for example, the desecration of Jewish monuments with anti-Semitic graffiti). For the same year and covering roughly the same array of crimes, the German Ministry of the Interior records some 1,594 reported incidents. It is true that Germany has not experienced the sort of marked upsurge in anti-Jewish crime in recent years that has been recorded in France, but this is only because the German incidents, as will be seen below, form part of a much longer-term trend dating back to around the time of German reunification. With reference to its 2002 statistics, the French Commission could accurately speak of “an explosion of anti-Semitic incidents,” noting a six-fold rise. By contrast, the 1,594 incidents recorded by the German Ministry of the Interior for 2002 represent a slight decrease from the previous year, thus permitting Interior Minister Otto Schily, in light of this statistic and a similarly slight fall in reported xenophobic attacks, to announce a “success.”3 Furthermore, those German cases involving physical attacks on persons have tended on the whole to be far bloodier than the comparable French cases. Indeed, it should be noted here that the German authorities seem often to prefer not to classify particularly brutal attacks as anti-Semitic in nature even when the prima facie evidence clearly suggests anti-Semitic motives were involved. The murder of Marinus Schöberl, for instance, has not been so classified.

    Despite all this, when the television newsmagazine 60 Minutes recently ran a story on the role of the Holocaust in German public debate (June 1, 2003), Morley Safer could reassuringly preface the report by noting that “most of Germany’s Jews . . . see that country as one of the safest places in the world to raise their children.” It is as if there were a sort of taboo, in light of the exterminationist extreme to which German anti-Semitism has gone in the past, on bringing Germany into too close connection with discussions of anti-Semitism today. This reticence is perhaps reinforced by the prevailing belief in American political circles that as the dominant European power — not to mention a major source of foreign investment in the U.S. economy — Germany is or at least ought to be America’s privileged European partner. Individual peccadilloes do receive coverage, such as those of the late Jürgen Möllemann, the onetime vice-chairman of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, who was accused by his adversaries of having tried to exploit anti-Jewish resentments for electoral purposes during the summer 2002 election campaign. Symptomatically, the 60 Minutes report gave prominent place to the commentaries of Michel Friedman, then vice-president of Germany’s state-sanctioned Central Council of Jews in Germany and the target of what the report described as a “blatant anti-Semitic attack” by Möllemann. But as such apparent indiscretions come up only in the context of the vigorous intra-German reactions to them, they serve in fact to reinforce the image of a Germany safely protected from the anti-Semitic excesses of its past. Möllemann, after all, was forced to resign from all his party posts, expelled from the fdp’s parliamentary faction — he was assigned a special seat in the German Bundestag, set apart from all the other parliamentarians, as if he were politically leprous — and, finally, when faced with the threat of expulsion from the party as well, renounced his party membership altogether.

    And the chastening of the once-powerful Möllemann went still further. Shortly after the elections, public prosecutors opened an investigation into alleged financial misconduct by Möllemann in connection with the financing of a controversial campaign flyer. The flyer drew criticism on account of what was termed its “anti-Israeli” message, though many suggested anti-Semitic overtones as well. Although the investigation was not officially related to the content of the flyer, the impression was nevertheless created that Möllemann was somehow receiving his just deserts. The entire episode came to an abrupt and bizarre end shortly after noon on June 5 when Jürgen Möllemann, a member of Germany’s paratrooper reserves and a hobby skydiver, jumped out of an airplane and at 3,000 feet apparently uncoupled his parachute, plunging to his death. A mere quarter of an hour or so earlier, the Bundestag by a unanimous vote had withdrawn Möllemann’s parliamentary immunity, and at the very moment of his demise investigators were at his home preparing to search the premises.

    The Möllemann affair had thus concluded as a sort of morality play, illustrating what will happen to a German politician who dares to engage in anti-Jewish politicking. But the problem with the apparent lesson of Jürgen Möllemann’s decline and fall is that his supposedly culpable remarks and public interventions, while clearly supportive of the Palestinian intifada and openly hostile to the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon, were not in fact overtly, much less “blatantly,” anti-Semitic. The infamous flyer, for instance, contained the following caption beside a picture of Möllemann: “Jürgen W. Möllemann has long been a steadfast advocate of a peaceful solution of the Middle East conflict: with secure borders for Israel and an independent state for the Palestinians.” Next to a picture of Ariel Sharon, the text continued: “Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejects an independent Palestinian state. His government sends tanks into refugee camps and ignores U.N. Security Council decisions.” In the context of hysterical denunciations of a Jenin “massacre” or even “Jeningrad,” charges of genocide, and comparisons of Sharon to Adolf Hitler, this was comparatively tame stuff.

    Möllemann’s only originality — and perhaps greatest sin — was to have given such free expression to his partisanship from the position of a high-profile party leader, and as a leader of a self-styled centrist party no less. If in his Middle East advocacy Möllemann was guilty of an anti-Israeli bias, then this is a guilt that is shared by virtually the entirety of the European left, ranging from relatively fringe Trotskyist or Communist factions to what might be called the establishment Green/Socialist left, which governs in Germany and until lately (with the collaboration of the Communists) did in France as well. Even the most seemingly outrageous of Möllemann’s remarks — an outright apology for Palestinian suicide bombings as a legitimate form of resistance to “occupation” — was in substance no different from remarks one could already hear with mind-numbing regularity at virtually any meeting of “anti-globalization” activists across Europe. (In the meanwhile, of course, such observations have also passed into the vernacular of what counts as political debate on college campuses across America.) As the German political scientist Matthias Küntzel writes in his book Djihad und Judenhass (Ça ira Verlag, 2002), “while the escalation of the suicide bombings should have led to increased solidarity with the largely Jewish victims and a taking of distance from the organizers of the attacks, on the left exactly the opposite transpired: the more indiscriminately Palestinian commandos killed Israeli civilians, the more frenetically was the intifada covered with ‘anti-imperialist’ applause.” Indeed, it is probably not a coincidence that Möllemann made his remark in an interview with Germany’s trendiest leftist daily: the Berlin-based Tageszeitung, long allied to the German Greens.

    The outbreak of anti-Semitic violence in France has clearly been linked to this groundswell of support for the Second Intifada. For leftist commentators like Peter Beaumont, this is to be expected: It is only natural that France’s North African immigrants would feel solidarity with their Muslim brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and apparently also natural that they would seek to express this solidarity by way of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. The then-foreign minister of France, the Socialist Hubert Védrine, himself suggested as much in a January 2002 interview when, in dismissing Israeli warnings of rising French anti-Semitism, he remarked: “One shouldn’t necessarily be surprised that young French people from immigrant families feel compassion for the Palestinians and get agitated when they see what is happening.” But this standard “leftist” account is in fact a highly deceptive foreshortening and tells us more about the biases and preconceptions of its purveyors than about the actual attitudes of France’s North African immigrants (which, as the case tends to be among individuals, are various). What is missing from it is, above all, the crucial mediating role played by the French institutional left’s own partisanship in the issue, most notably inasmuch as such partisanship has been reflected in a starkly Manichean presentation of the Middle East conflict in much of the French media. Since the privately owned leftist dailies Le Monde and Liberation are barely read in the provinces or in popular milieus more generally, the influence of publicly owned electronic media has no doubt been especially important in this connection. Coverage in the latter has persistently served to demonize the Israeli side in the conflict as personified by the “war criminal” — so termed by the Franco-German “cultural” channel Arte, although he has never been tried, much less convicted, as such — Ariel Sharon.

    Shortly after the string of synagogue burnings in spring 2002, journalists from the French weekly L’Express conducted interviews with young North Africans, or “beurs,” from one of the problem neighborhoods of Strasbourg. While indeed discovering notable hostility to Israel and “the Jews,” the reporters also found that their interviewees had virtually no concrete knowledge of the Middle East conflict. They were evidently not even able to say what the plo is. “No,” one young man responded, “all we know is what we see on the television.”

    The question, then, is this: What do they see on the television? After all, a first spike in anti-Jewish incidents in France occurred shortly after the showing on French television of the now-internationally famous images of the killing of the 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura, ostensibly by Israeli fire. As related by James Fallows in the Atlantic Monthly (June 2003), investigations have since uncovered evidence suggesting that the entire episode may have been staged. Whether or not this is the case, it is certain, by virtue of simple considerations of geometry, that the supposedly fatal shots could not have come from the position of the Israeli army unit that virtually the entirety of world opinion held responsible for the boy’s death. It so happens that the only footage of the alleged shooting was filmed by a Palestinian cameraman in the employ of the French public television channel France 2. France 2 has refused to release its complete rushes of the scene, which could once and for all clarify what really occurred.

    The young beurs interviewed by L’Express (April 25, 2002) also were not found to have any particularly profound interest in Islam, even if the same young man who spoke of “only knowing what we see on the television” added obligingly, apparently with reference to anti-Jewish violence, that “we want to show that we’re Muslims here too.” A relative lack of interest in Islam has also been confirmed by the French police in interviews with many of the young persons of North African descent who have been apprehended and charged in the attacks. This is not particularly surprising. In fact, until lately the image of Islamists in French-North African popular culture was, if anything, likely to be a negative one. Mahmoud Zemmouri’s 1997 movie 100% Arabica, starring the hugely popular Algerian-born rai singers Khaled and Cheb Mami, depicts the imams in a French banlieue as brutal puritanical power-mongers — and as being in bed with the local political establishment to boot. The movie ends with a scene of a rai concert being broken up by Islamist thugs swinging baseball bats. (Incidentally, Khaled’s 2000 release Kenza includes a trilingual — Arabic, English, and Hebrew — duet version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” performed with the Israeli singer Noa. The song is, of course, best known for its generic pacifist sentiment, but it is at least equally relevant to recall in the present context that it also enjoins listeners to “imagine there’s . . . no religion.”)

    Far from reflecting some deep-rooted and organic hatred of Jews and Israel amidst France’s populations of North African extraction, it would seem, then, that the anti-Semitic attacks are just the pursuit by other means of the latest cause célèbre of Parisian intellectuals and students, with disaffected and déclassé North African teenagers happily assuming the role of “shock troops” for their more privileged comrades au centre ville. One should not underestimate the quotient of sheer delinquency among the motivations of the perpetrators of the French attacks. The youth who set fire to Jewish monuments in Strasbourg are not likely very different from the youth who for years now have every weekend also been setting fire to parked cars in Strasbourg, apparently for the pure pleasure of it. On April 10, 2002, in one of the most widely reported incidents, some 30 masked assailants armed with baseball bats and crying “Death to the Jews!” broke up the soccer practice of a Jewish youth club in a Parisian suburb. As the soccer players scattered, the assailants took a moment to steal their sport sacks and portable telephones — the latter being the most coveted prize of France’s juvenile gangsterdom — before taking flight themselves.

    All of this is not to deny that anti-Jewish stereotypes and prejudices have currency in certain North African immigrant milieus in France. But it is to say that they do not necessarily have more currency there than in other social milieus and, in any case, that the responses of the French left and the French media to the Palestinian intifada have served to make Jews and Jewish institutions seem like socially acceptable targets of hatred and contempt in France. After all, it was before synagogues began to burn in France that protesters could be seen at pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris carrying banners juxtaposing Sharon and Hitler or featuring a swastika and a Star of David connected by an equal sign.

    The responsibility of self-styled leftists in fostering an atmosphere of fevered suspicion toward “Israelite” institutions can be further gauged by the famous remarks of José Bové, spokesman for the Confederation of French Farmers and darling of anti-globalization activists worldwide, made upon his return to France in early April 2002 from a “solidarity mission” to Ramallah. Asked to comment on the recent string of anti-Semitic attacks, Bové suggested that one ask in turn “who profits from the crime?” About six months earlier, the French academic Marie-José Mondzain had used the same phrase in a delirious article in Le Monde in order to insinuate (“Bush, Putin and Sharon!” was the author’s emphatic answer) joint Israeli and American responsibility for the September 11 attacks. Horst Mahler, the German neo-Nazi and former raf member, had likewise responded to the September 11 attacks by asking “cui bono?” In his April remarks, Bové went on to explain that “the Israeli government and its secret services have an interest in creating a certain psychosis, to make one believe that an anti-Semitic atmosphere has developed in France, in order better to divert attention.” In the meantime, Daniel Lindenberg, in a bestselling pamphlet denouncing those he has baptized France’s “new reactionaries” — including under this heading the philosopher Pierre-André Taguieff, who was one of the first to call attention to the recrudescence of anti-Semitism in France — has flatly declared “the reality” of France’s problems with anti-Semitism to be “open to doubt.”

    Germany: New Jews, old prejudice

    y contrast to the French case, in which the recent escalation of anti-Jewish violence has followed the rhythms of Middle East politics and Parisian intellectual fashions, anti-Semitic incidents in Germany have been a regular feature of everyday life since reunification. Their proliferation first became manifest amidst the wave of xenophobic and racist violence which swept across Germany in the early 1990s and which — even though in this case too the interest of the foreign media quickly waned — has since that time barely abated. Whereas the targets of the most notorious racist attacks were persons — Turkish “guest-workers” or foreign asylum-seekers — the targets of the anti-Semitic incidents tended for most of this period to have a strictly symbolic character. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise. After all, as an obvious legacy of the Nazi regime’s “Jewish policy,” there were until recently an almost infinitesimally small number of persons of Jewish ancestry living in Germany (or at least such as would have, according to the Nazis’ own relatively ample criteria, counted as Jewish).

    Thus, the anti-Semites in Germany have had to content themselves largely with attacks on the residual artifacts of an earlier Jewish existence — Jewish cemeteries or the few remaining synagogues — or indeed on memorials to the events which extinguished that existence. On the night of September 4-5, 2002, for example, vandals set fire to the so-called Museum of the Death March in the Belower Forest. The museum owes its name to one of the final chilling episodes in the history of the Third Reich. In April 1945, as allied forces closed in on Berlin, inmates of the nearby Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück concentration camps were evacuated by the ss and led on a forced march toward the north and west. Thousands died, hundreds of them in the Belower Forest, falling victim to exhaustion, the elements, and the exactions of their guards. The arson attack on the Belower memorial occurred exactly 10 years to the day after the “Jewish barracks” at the Sachsenhausen camp were destroyed in an earlier arson attack. The perpetrators of the latest attack spray-painted swastikas and ss runes on memorial columns standing across from the museum building. On the columns’ pedestal, in meter-high letters running three meters across, they spray-painted the phrase “Juden haben kurze Beine”: “Jews have short legs.” The phrase makes allusion to the German proverb “lies have short legs,” implying that their credibility is short-lived, and hence indirectly to what Holocaust deniers label the “Auschwitz lie.”

    The destruction of the Museum of the Death March did receive some coverage in the American press, but the everyday acts of anti-Semitic vandalism that have become part of German normality for over a decade now rarely do. Since late 1998, solely in Berlin and its surroundings, the following acts of vandalism took place: (1) In December 1998, the gravestone of Heinz Galinski, a former chairman of Berlin’s officially sanctioned “Jewish Community,” was blown up; (2) in October 1999, 103 gravestones were overturned in the Jewish cemetery at Weissensee; (3) in October 2000, the windows of a synagogue on the Fraenkelufer in Kreuzberg were smashed; (4) in January 2001, the prayer chapel at the Jewish cemetery in Potsdam was set on fire; (5) in March 2002, a bomb was exploded in the Jewish cemetery in the Heerstrasse; (6) in April 2002, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Fraenkelufer synagogue. It should be kept in mind that by far the greater part of Berlin’s synagogues were already destroyed either during or immediately after World War ii. The various small memorials to the persecution of Berlin’s Jews that are dispersed around the city are regularly desecrated. For many years now, a plaque commemorating the deportation of Berlin’s Jews located on the Putlitz Bridge in western Berlin has been a favorite target for anti-Semitic vandals. Since 1992, it has, among other things, been covered with excrement, blown off its moorings with explosives, and repeatedly desecrated with swastikas.

    One can easily imagine that Peter Eisenman’s gigantic “central memorial” to the Holocaust to be erected in downtown Berlin will someday likewise be a magnet for anti-Semitic attacks. Its design is so abstract, however, consisting of a field with some 2,500 concrete slabs of differing heights, and so lacking in any relation to the events it is supposed to memorialize that its power of attraction for the anti-Semites may be attenuated. Nonetheless, the architects are taking the precaution of having the slabs treated with a special “anti-graffiti coating,” according to the Berliner Zeitung (January 27, 2002).

    Given the relative paucity of Jews in Germany, contemporary German anti-Semitism tends to have a certain spectral quality. Anti-Semitic youth such as those who murdered Marinus Schöberl have likely never met someone of Jewish ancestry or would not have known it if they had. Indeed, in his deposition Marcel S. admitted as much, conceding that he did not know what “exactly” a Jew is.4 Not having living Jews readily available in a provincial town like Potzlow, the anti-Semite must resort to imagining them.

    A very small number of media personalities, conspicuously marked for their “Jewishness,” play a significant role in this state of affairs by providing the German public with the elements of their image of what constitutes a Jew. Among these public figures, no doubt the most important is Michel Friedman, until lately the vice-president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews in Germany and host of two television talk shows, Friedman and Vorsicht! Friedman (roughly “Watch Out, Friedman!”). It was Michel Friedman, it will be recalled, who was the target of what 60 Minutes called a “blatantly anti-Semitic attack” on the part of Jürgen Möllemann during the 2002 German election campaign. Exactly what Möllemann said was this: “I fear that hardly anyone has won more supporters for the anti-Semites that, unfortunately, there are in Germany and whom we have to fight than . . . Michel Friedman with his intolerant and malicious manner, his arrogant manner.”5 This remark was widely interpreted — notably by Friedman’s direct superior in the Central Council, Paul Spiegel — as a version of the classical retort of the anti-Semite that Jews themselves are responsible for anti-Semitism. Indeed, it became common to suppose that this was actually what Möllemann said. In fairness, however, he did not, and it is by no means obvious that he even implied it. His remark referred to a particular individual (in fact two individuals, since he also mentioned in passing Ariel Sharon), not to Jews in general.

    Moreover, whether or not Möllemann intended it as such, as a sociological observation his remark probably has some validity, for there can be little doubt that Friedman serves at once as a kind of support for anti-Semitic stereotypes and a magnet for anti-Semitic resentments in Germany. Impeccably clad in a three-piece suit, with his hair slicked back and an eyebrow or two characteristically arched, it has often seemed as if Friedman were consciously playing the role that the German public has assigned him. He is, in effect, the Jew whom Germans love to hate. The popular response to the Möllemann affair massively confirms this. Thus, in a contribution to an internet forum, one defender of Möllemann chose to address Friedman directly and on behalf of all his presumed compatriots: “your arrogant and revolting manner really gets on the nerves of us Germans.” In the condolence book at Möllemann’s funeral, another sympathizer wrote that Möllemann had been punished “for saying what everyone thinks.” In yet another bizarre and theatrical turn in the whole affair, on June 11, less than a week after the violent death of his political adversary Möllemann, police conducted raids at the office and home of Michel Friedman and seized three plastic bags containing a white powder. Tests subsequently confirmed the presence of cocaine. The police were reportedly led to Friedman by the testimony of prostitutes whom they were questioning in connection with another investigation. It was now the turn of Michel Friedman to resign his public offices.

    The spectral quality of contemporary German anti-Semitism is not, by the way, without a certain tradition. The paranoid exaggeration of Jewish presence and thereby of “the Jewish threat” is a more or less constant trait of the anti-Semitic Weltanschauung. In the late 1990s, when Jews in Germany numbered in the tens of thousands, about a third of Germans surveyed imagined them to number in the millions.6 Even in the early 1930s, as the Nazis came to power promising to combat the “Verjudung” or “Jewification” of German society, the number of Jews in Germany did not exceed 600,000 or just around 1 percent of the population. Most German Jews, moreover, were concentrated in urban centers. As in the Potzlow of today, Jews would have been largely unknown in most rural areas. Thus, a joke which circulated at the time of Göring’s famous call for a “Jewish boycott” in April 1933 had the mayor of a small town in East Prussia sending an urgent telegram to the Ministry of the Interior: “Send two Jews immediately. Otherwise boycott impossible.”

    Ironically, in light of the post-reunification recrudescence of anti-Semitism, the vast majority of Jews living in Germany today are in fact recent immigrants. Most of them have come to Germany from the countries of the former Soviet Union under the provisions of a law inherited by the Federal Republic from the last East German government. Whereas the number of Jews living in Germany was estimated at somewhat less than 30,000 at the time of reunification, it is perhaps four times that many today. More ironically still, the German government’s assumption of the obligations created by the East German law was presented as a “humanitarian” measure aimed at populations presumed to suffer from anti-Semitic persecution in their countries of origin. The immigrants are thus treated as refugees — so-called “contingent refugees,” meaning they are not required to pass through the usual asylum procedure — and classified by the German authorities, following former Soviet and current German practice, as being “of Jewish nationality.” Unlike refugees from former Soviet lands presumed to be “of German nationality” (i.e., “ethnic Germans”), they are not given German citizenship.

    In what is perhaps the bloodiest and most gruesome incident of anti-Semitic violence in postwar European history, in July 2000 a cluster bomb was detonated on the platform of a Düsseldorf train station as a group of “contingent refugees” were waiting there for their train. Ten people were wounded. A five-months-pregnant Jewish woman from the Ukraine had her leg ripped off in the explosion. Her unborn child was killed as a bomb fragment pierced her womb. Although the same group of refugees, all of whom were enrolled in a German course at a nearby school, took the same train at the same time every weekday, the German authorities have declined to qualify the incident as a racist or anti-Semitic attack. No arrest has been made.

    The location of the attack, furthermore, gives the lie to the supposition, frequently reproduced in the American media, that xenophobia and anti-Semitism are somehow a specifically eastern German problem and thereby a legacy of communist rule. Opinion surveys conducted shortly after reunification found, on the contrary, that East Germans were markedly less predisposed to anti-Semitic prejudices than West Germans.7 In a manner reminiscent of the receptivity of certain North African youth in the French banlieues to the anti-Semitic delirium of Islamist cadres, the demonstrated receptivity of certain East German youth to the anti-Semitic delirium of neo-Nazi cadres has no doubt as much to do with social marginalization and the search for a scapegoat as with any deep-seated ideological convictions. With the official unemployment rate in eastern Germany pushing 20 percent and the real unemployment rate much higher, the prospects for advancement of young Germans in the eastern provinces are nearly as dim as those of the average young banlieusard in France. That anti-Semitic sentiment is no more restricted to one social stratum than it is to one geographical area in Germany can be further gauged by an incident last November in the moderately well-to-do Spandau neighborhood of Berlin. Spandau, incidentally, is part of what used to be West Berlin. After many years of discussion, Spandau’s Kinkelstrasse was being re-christened “Judenstrasse” — literally “Jews Street” — the name it bore until 1938 when it had been re-named “Kinkelstrasse” by the Nazi regime. As Alexander Brenner, the current chairman of Berlin’s “Jewish Community,” attempted to give a speech on the occasion, he was interrupted by cries of “Juden raus!” (“Jews get out!”) as well as “You Jews are to blame for everything” and “You have no God.” The local fdp politician Karl-Heinz Bannasch, who was participating in the ceremony, noted afterwards that “these weren’t the skinhead people from whom we’re used to hearing such insults. These were people who belong to the middle class.”

    An anti-Semitism of the elites

    Even if the comments of the Spandau hecklers bore the specific mark of German history, similar observations could be made nowadays throughout at least the “old” Europe. For if anti-Semitic violence has become increasingly prevalent on the margins of the European society of today, anti-Semitic motifs are increasingly prevalent in the mainstream. No one who has spent significant time in continental Europe recently — or at least no one for whom anti-Semitism has not yet taken on the air of normalcy — can fail to have noticed the frequency with which apparently well-educated Europeans will refer, without the slightest hint of self-consciousness, to “powerful Jewish interests” or to a putative “Jewish lobby” in order to explain world or local events of which they disapprove. A Greek journalist friend even reports overhearing two well-dressed women in their early sixties commenting that “the Jews” were, after all, “too powerful” back then and they are becoming “too powerful” again today — this as they attended a showing in Athens of Roman Polanski’s saga of the Warsaw Ghetto, The Pianist!8 One can only conclude from such remarks that an alarmingly high percentage of Europeans believe that there really is some such “lobby” and that persons of Jewish ancestry necessarily perceive their interests as Jews and not simply as individuals or as citizens of their respective states or, for that matter, amidst myriad other social and personal connections.

    The European elites bear a heavy responsibility in this regard, for it is their own manifest indulgence of and indeed in the classical motifs of “Jewish conspiracy” theories — notably with regard to Middle East politics and their criticisms of American foreign policy — that will have made the specific choice of Jews as scapegoats seem quite legitimate. The American public got a hint of this style of discourse in September of last year when William Safire in the New York Times (September 19, 2002) cited Rudolf Scharping, Germany’s former minister of defense, as explaining President Bush’s eagerness to oust Saddam Hussein by the influence of “a powerful — perhaps overly powerful — Jewish lobby.” It is interesting to note that, when Scharping sent a letter of denial to the Times (October 4, 2002), he disowned “blaming American Jews” for the Bush administration’s Iraq policy but went on to refer to the “understandable” interests of American Jews as being somehow especially germane to the issue. Since Scharping, like the government he lately represented, was radically opposed to any military intervention in Iraq, this amounted to a rather feeble rhetorical attempt to square the circle. As an empirical matter, furthermore, he would have had to look no further than the pages of, say, a Tikkun magazine to find American Jews and even self-styled Zionists who were as hostile to the administration’s Iraq policy as he was himself. But it is precisely the peculiarity of anti-Semitism as an ideology to efface the empirical diversity of individuals and to conceive Jews as acting everywhere en bloc.

    The denouement to the controversy surrounding Gretta Duisenberg’s Palestinian flag is similarly revealing. Mrs. Duisenberg is the wife of Wim Duisenberg, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank. Having, on her own account, carried the flag in a pro-Palestinian rally in mid-April 2002 — a rally at which, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, slogans like “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas!” were chanted — she then proceeded to hang it from the balcony of the Duisenberg family home in Amsterdam. When, some weeks later, Jewish neighbors called Mrs. Duisenberg to object to the presence of the flag and ask her to remove it, she is supposed to have deflected their objections with the observation that “rich Jews” are responsible for “the oppression of the Palestinian people.” This is at least how Mrs. Duisenberg was quoted in the Dutch press, based on the reports of the neighbors in question.

    At this point she took matters into her own hands, going public with her account of the conversation in order to avoid any possible misunderstandings. Here again, the ostensible denial speaks more voluminously and thereby more damningly about the mindset of contemporary European elites than the original quotation. “I did not say that rich Jews,” Mrs. Duisenberg explained, “but rather that the rich Jewish lobby in America maintains the oppression of the Palestinians. Every president who is elected and who wants to be reelected must do what this lobby wants.” Her critics “will have to come up with something better than childishly accusing me of being guilty of anti-Semitism,” she added defiantly, confident that the addition of the noun “lobby” had cleared her of any such suspicion.9 In today’s Europe the presumption that the American presidency is hostage to a “rich Jewish lobby” is apparently supposed to be not a symptom of submission to archetypal anti-Semitic phantasms, but rather a sign of lucidity.

    Finally, consider the observations on American foreign policy of Otto von Habsburg, heir to the defunct Habsburg monarchy and long-time member of the European Parliament representing Bavaria’s Christian Social Union. Interviewed last November by the Austrian weekly Zur Zeit, Habsburg declared the Pentagon to be “today a Jewish institution,” and thereby explained the then-pending threat to Iraq. In making such an association, Habsburg’s comments were not in fact much different from those of Scharping or Duisenberg. It was, however, in his more comprehensive and fine-grained analysis of the American conjuncture that Habsburg showed some real originality. More fully, this is what he said: “If we consider America’s internal politics, then we find that it is split in two halves. On the one hand, the Defense Department, in which the key positions are held by Jews; the Pentagon is today a Jewish institution. On the other hand, the blacks are in the State Department: for instance, Colin Powell or especially Condoleezza Rice. It is an internal conflict between hawks and doves. Currently, the Anglo-Saxons, that’s to say the white Americans, are playing a relatively minor role.” Far from earning the opprobrium of the European elites and the European media for such overtly racist (not to mention rather demented) remarks, just days after making them Habsburg was being celebrated by the European institutions and in the European press on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. Munich’s Suddeutschezeitung, for instance, ran a profile, describing, among other things, “a reception and ceremony in the Hofburg [the former imperial residence in Vienna], where Otto von Habsburg made a speech in French and German — extemporaneously as always — in honor of Valery Giscard d’Estaing, by whom he had previously been lauded.” Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president, was at the time chairman of the recently concluded European convention charged with drafting a “constitution” for the European Union. The article noted that Habsburg was soon thereafter off to yet another birthday party, this one in the Gödölö Palace in Budapest: “he is, after all, by blood also Magyar.”

    The mobilization against the Iraq war has permitted such associations — of Jews, “hawks,” the Pentagon, and so on — to gain a still firmer and broader footing in the collective European psyche or what the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has celebrated as an emergent “European public opinion.” Indeed, a string of remarkably similar articles that appeared in many of the leading organs of the European press last spring served to condense all the associated terms into a single term: “neo-conservatives.” A story that appeared in London’s Financial Times under the title “America’s Democratic Imperialists” (March 5, 2003) is exemplary of the genre. While adopting the register of “some people say” and affecting to nuance the claims of “leftwing demonology,” the article traced the origins of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy to a clique of “neo-conservatives” in and around the White House. Elaborating on the history of “neo-conservatism,” the authors explained that “Most of the first generation of neo-conservatives were Jewish; just about all of the later neocons were.” Interestingly, the alleged internal opposition to the “neocon” faction in the White House was supposed to be provided by none other than Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — here gropingly identified as “realists” rather than “blacks” — and, furthermore, in complete harmony with Otto von Habsburg’s account, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and John Bolton — in effect, the presumptive “white Americans” or “Anglo-Saxons” — were explicitly set apart from the “neocons.” On the very same day as the Financial Times story appeared, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin was cited in the French weekly Le Canard Enchaîné denouncing a “pro-Zionist lobby” in the Bush administration supposed to consist of Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, and Richard Perle — all three also mentioned by name in the Financial Times article.

    If one reflects on the examples here cited, the diversity of the political currents from which they stem is striking. When it comes to suspecting shadowy “Jewish” forces behind dastardly American policies, Christian Democrats like Habsburg and Social Democrats like Scharping are apparently in perfect agreement. As ravings about the machinations of Mossad, on the other hand, have become the stock in trade of what might be called the extra-parliamentary European left, as exemplified by a José Bové, one is left wondering what the great fuss was supposed to be about last spring as the French National Front leader and reputed racist and anti-Semite Jean-Marie Le Pen made some modest gains in the French presidential elections. Especially in light of their highly orchestrated quality, it is difficult not to suspect that the mass demonstrations called by “the left” ostensibly to prevent what was in any case a virtual impossibility (viz., a Le Pen victory in the second round of the elections) served more effectively as eyewash to obscure the extent to which anti-Semitism and a certain sort of racism (on which, more below) have installed themselves very much in the mainstream of European political discourse. In this sense, the French mobilization against Le Pen served much the same function of ritualized purging as the German campaign against Möllemann. Toddlers could be viewed at the Paris demonstration, for instance, bearing signs reading “Down with the National Front!” — prompting more jaded observers to mutter in response: “Down with the exploitation of children.”

    The examples are also revealing of the manner in which the prevailing anti-Semitism in Europe forms a system with the typically more openly avowed anti-Americanism. On a popular level, this gets crudely and symptomatically expressed by the allusions to Coca-Cola and McDonald’s — those icons of supposedly “Americanized” globalization — that are a virtually constant feature of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli demonstrations and discourse in Europe. In May 2002, this author was himself witness to a pro-Palestinian rally in Paris’s Barbès district, during which the main speaker delivered a head-spinning harangue alleging that every hamburger purchased at McDonald’s creates revenues for the Israeli state which are in turn used to purchase tanks to kill Palestinian children. The conclusion that inevitably followed was that McDonald’s — and other likewise “Jewish” (sic) chains — had to be boycotted. As leftist trade unions and Jose Bové’s Confederation of French Farmers have, with various pretexts and at various times, called for just such action, their campaign against the “American fast-food giant” was now invested with the aspect of a veritable “Jewish boycott.” The comparison, it must be said, in light of the methods employed by the leftist groups — including vandalism, intimidation of customers, and the spreading of bizarre atrocity stories (one McDonald’s manager was accused, for instance, of intentionally locking an employee in a freezer) — did not seem wholly inappropriate. As it happens, it was just days after the Barbès rally that the Israeli embassy in Paris went up in flames in a fire that the French authorities immediately called accidental — even though the Parisian police admitted nearly a week later to having not yet inspected the grounds.

    A poster displayed at an “anti-war” demonstration last October in Berlin provided a graphically condensed version of the same “theory” developed by the Barbès orator. On it was depicted a Big Mac with a dead baby in place of the hamburger meat, a bullet hole through its stomach. The words “Made in Israel” were written under the illustration.10 A still more fevered expression of analogous phantasms, shorn even of the real pretext of the Middle East conflict, was recently observable on the streets of Paris in the form of a sticker featuring the phrase “Sida sans frontières” (“aids without Borders”). This is a play on the formula adopted by various ngos, such as “Doctors without Borders” or “Reporters without Borders.” Above the phrase were three symbols: a dollar sign, a star of David, and a hammer and sickle. Thus, apparently America and Jews are supposed somehow to be responsible for the global aids crisis. One could hardly imagine a more extreme, or more convoluted, vehicle of demonization. The bizarre addition of the hammer and sickle ominously recalls Nazi propaganda, which alternately — or indeed seemingly all at once — made Jews the purveyors of “Anglo-Saxon” mercantile interests and of Bolshevism. Here the hammer and sickle was presumably meant to connote Communist China, which by virtue of recent reports of its own struggles with the aids virus is seemingly supposed to form part of the aids-spreading global syndicate. In lieu of the “Judeo-Bolshevik-Anglo-Saxon” conspiracy of yore, we have an apparently “Judeo-Sino-American” conspiracy of today.

    A “law of ethnic groups”

    There is one final regard in which Habsburg’s comments are especially representative of a more general feature of contemporary European politics, one which may in fact hold the key to the entire problem of anti-Semitism in Europe. Although the American public has remained almost entirely in the dark about this, the process of European integration has been characterized by a gradual, so to speak, “ethnicization” of political discourse and political life in the countries belonging to the European Union or which are expected to join in the near future. The introduction of “ethnic groups” as virtual actors in political life has taken place largely under the innocuous-sounding covers of “regionalism” and “minority rights.” The traditional states of Europe are supposed to be inhabited, apart from the members of their “majority” nations, by those of any number of other “nationalities” or “national minorities,” each reputedly concentrated in regions to which they are “autochthonous” and some being in principle just “branches” of the “majority” nation of a neighboring state. As they are evidently not constituted by political membership in the state — or, in other words, by the citizenship of their countries of residence, which the putative members of these “national minorities” in any case hold — such “nationalities” must, then, be conceived in “ethnic” terms, that is, as being constituted by real or imagined commonalities of “culture” and ancestry. The project of developing a “law of ethnic groups” (in German, “Volksgruppenrecht”), as championed by ngos such as the Federal Union of European Nationalities (fuen), is meant to provide a legal framework taking appropriate account of this supposedly at once ethnological and political fact, if necessary by relativizing or even amending the structures and borders of existing states. Proposals emanating from the fuen and kindred organizations have already influenced the development of European norms as embodied in documents like the European Charter on Minority and Regional Languages and the Framework Convention on Minority Rights.

    In the past decade, the Balkans have served as a kind of laboratory for the “law of ethnic groups.” Largely through the “good offices” of the Council of Europe, systems of government have been devised and are in the process of being implemented that compel parliamentarians and government officials to act, in effect, as the guardians of the interests of their putative “ethnicities.” Ethnic Croat officials in Bosnia are thus supposed to represent “Croat interests,” or ethnic Albanian officials in Macedonia “Albanian interests,” and so on. The so-called Annan Plan for the reunification of Cyprus, devised in consultation with European officials and incorporating existing European norms in anticipation of Cyprus’s accession to the eu, exhibits analogous features. While it promises the administrative “reunification” of the island, it would in fact guarantee a permanent spatial and institutional segregation of the island’s residents within their respective ethnic “communities.” A European politician no less influential than Peter Glotz, who was the German representative to Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s “Constitutional Convention” for much of its existence, has not hesitated to propose forms of ethnic-national representation as an appropriate substitute for the principle of “one man-one vote” throughout Europe. Not coincidentally, the Social Democrat Glotz is, along with Otto von Habsburg, one of the founding members of another influential ethnicist think tank, the Munich-based International Institute for Ethnic-Group Rights and Regionalism (intereg). The racist dementia reflected in Otto von Habsburg’s supposition that Paul Wolfowitz represents Jews or Condoleezza Rice represents “blacks” is, in short, a dementia with which Europe as a whole is increasingly afflicted — so severely that it is attempting to translate its affliction into political practice.

    What has this to do with Europe’s recent Jewish problems? Well, everything here hinges on the notion of “autochthoneity.” As noted, according to the advocates of a Europe of regions and ethnicities, a European nation or nationality must be “autochthonous” — meaning presumably that members of it have lived on the European continent for a very, very long time — and be concentrated (i.e., its members must be concentrated) in some “relatively well-demarcated traditional area of settlement.” Jews obviously, at least as they are usually viewed, meet neither of these criteria. In the terminology of the “law of ethnic groups,” they are not “autochthonous” but rather “allochthonous” or, more simply put, foreign. The same goes for the members of more recent immigrant groups, such as Turks or Algerians, who, inasmuch as they are “allochthons,” are likewise conspicuously excluded from the protections laid down by the European conventions on “minority rights.”

    On May 12 of last year, as a group of 15 young beurs assaulted five Jewish teenagers on a soccer field in the Val de Marne near Paris, they are reported to have shouted the following insults: “Dirty Jews! Go back to your country! You’re not in your land!” Apparently unconsciously, the North African youth expressed what is becoming a most European point of view. Nor were they cognizant, it seems, of how easily their words could be turned against them. Indeed, whereas in 2002 most of the targets of racist violence in France were Jewish, most of the non-Jewish targets were North African or Arab. Contrary, however, to what one would be led to believe by the standard leftist vision of European racism, relatively few of the “anti-Muslim” attacks occurred on continental French territory and even fewer were attributable to the so-called extreme right (e.g., supporters of the National Front or its splinter parties). Fully 61 percent of the reported “anti-Muslim” attacks (45 out of 74 incidents, according to the statistics published by the cncdh) occurred on the little island of Corsica, where slogans like “Corsica for the Corsicans” and “Arabs get out” — as well as “French get out,” for that matter — have wide currency as graffiti and in political pamphlets. Corsican nationalist groups explicitly claimed responsibility for many of the attacks.

    This is highly significant, for the greatest “beneficiaries” of the new ethnically inflected European “regionalism” in the French context have been precisely the Corsican nationalists. With the tacit support of the European institutions and the more conspicuous support of the French Greens, Corsican nationalists have been able to win concessions from the central government on devolving powers to local institutions as well as legal recognition of the island’s “cultural specificity” (though it is by no means obvious, as the outcome of the recent referendum in Corsica illustrates, that a majority of the island’s population supports either of these goals). Judging by the words and deeds of the nationalists, the preservation of such “cultural specificity” excludes the assimilation of “allochthons.” A recent “anti-Muslim” tract that circulated in Corsica referred to the “incompatibility of two communities that everything separates living together on the same land.” An earlier tract warned that “non-indigenous persons [les allogènes] should know that this land will never belong to them.”

    The danger for European Jews

    European “regionalism” and the “law of ethnic groups” represent a threat to Jews. They convert an individual’s “Jewishness” from a private matter of personal history (or, indeed, pre-history) into a matter of public interest. The fine-grained ethnic survey of Europe’s national populations recently co-authored by former fuen president (and current director of the South Tirolean Ethnic Group Institute) Christoph Pan makes this perfectly clear.11 As a result of this sort of exercise, “Jews” are set apart from the populations among which they live as being somehow significantly different and furthermore, to the extent that they are “allochthonous,” as “not belonging.”

    All of this amounts, in effect, to a renaissance of the “blood and soil” ideology whose disastrous consequences for Jews and other “non-indigenous” persons in Europe in the past century are well enough known. Indeed, in Greek mythology, the “autochthons” are literally those who spring directly from the soil. Not surprisingly, some of the pioneers of a European “law of ethnic groups” in the 1930s were Nazi legal theorists. Several of them were successfully rehabilitated after the war and substantially contributed to the founding of the fuen and the intereg.12 To take but one example, Theodor Veiter, the longtime editor of the fuen organ Europa Ethnica, wrote in a 1938 study on “national autonomy” that “The destructive questioning of the highest human values . . . by Jewry shows that Jews are already excluded from the ethnic-national life of other nations by virtue of their mode of thought, which flows precisely from their race, and that they should therefore be excluded from the other nations.”

    The dangers represented by a resurgent ethnicist or ethnic-national ideology for Jews in Europe are especially grave in light of the simultaneous resurgence, under the banner of “anti-globalization,” of a vaguely “leftist” ideology that stigmatizes cosmopolitanism — that traditional marker of the “uprooted,” “wandering” Jew in the anti-Semitic Weltanschauung — and blames the “anonymous power” of financial markets — that most important channel of supposed “Jewish influence” according to the same — for much of the world’s problems. This is not to say, of course, that every criticism of the functioning of financial markets or of free trade is automatically to be regarded as anti-Semitic. But it is to say that given the historical affinities between the critique of economic liberalism and traditional anti-Semitism, and given the highly under-theorized, largely “spontaneous” character of the anti-globalization movement, it is not surprising that classical anti-Semitic stereotypes will frequently fill the intellectual void and endow the ubiquitous but dimly perceived “capitalist” enemy with a well-known “ethnic” incarnation. It is not for nothing, after all, that August Bebel described anti-Semitism already in the nineteenth century as the “socialism of fools.”


    1 “Das lange Schweigen der Mitwisser,” Berliner Zeitung (May 31, 2003). On the witness stand, Nicole B. would then deny that Marcel S. had made these remarks. Nicole B. is, incidentally, an ex-girlfriend of Marcel’s elder brother Marco and is charged in a separate case with having been an accomplice of Marco in an attack on an African asylum seeker. The Berliner Zeitung reported (May 21, 2003) that she herself threatened another potential witness from Potzlow that “if you say anything, then I’m going to stomp you and let you rot like the Jew.”

    2 “Agression antisémite contre une étudiante,” Le Figaro (March 13, 2003).

    3 The Ministry of the Interior reported some 1,624 anti-Semitic incidents for 2001. See “Weniger politisch motivierte Straftaten in Deutschland,” Deutsche Press Agentur (May 14, 2002).

    4 “Gequält, erniedrigt, erschlagen,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (May 27, 2003).

    5 The comment was made on May 16 in an interview with the German public television channel ZDF. See the documentation of the “Möllemann Affair” assembled by the Mitteldeutschen Rundfunk at

    6 The survey was conducted by the Forsa Institute for the weekly paper die Woche, which published the results in its December 24, 1998 edition. This is not to say, of course, that every such response can be regarded without further ado as an index of the anti-Semitism of the respondent. But even in the most well-intended of cases, it would seem at least to be symptomatic of an odd sort of involuntary negationsm.

    7 This according to a study conducted by the Emnid Institute. The results of the Emnid study are summarized in two consecutive issues of Der Spiegel (January 13, 1992 and January 20, 1992).

    8 My thanks to Loukia Richards for relating this anecdote.

    9 Deniz Yücel, “Palituch am Dekolleté,” Jungle World (June 5, 2002).

    10 A photograph of the poster can be viewed at

    11 Christoph Pan and Beate Sibylle Pfeil, Die Volksgruppen in Europa: Ein Handbuch (Vienna: Braunmüller, 2000).

    12 For details, see Walter von Goldendach, Hans-Rüdiger Minow, and Martin Rudig, Von Krieg zu Krieg (Berlin: Verlag 8. Mai, 1996).

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    Rat Faced's Avatar Broken
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Strange that they go to all this length about the banning of Kosher slaughter, and how its anti-semitism.......but dont mention at all that the halaal meat is also being banned... ie the meat eaten by Muslims.

    The above is about cruelty to animals, thats all... there are minimum standards allowed in the slaughterhouses and both these fall short of them.

    As to Germany cutting off arms sales to Israel..well, the Human Rights abuses by that country have been upsetting the Germans for years. The final straw is probably because of a certain wall that a is being built....much like the one that the Germans spent so long trying to tear down...

    I hope the UK joins the Germans in the banning of Arms Sales to Israel.

    And no, that is not anti-semitism...I would welcome the ban of Arms Sales to any country that used them in such a way. Much as i approved of banning Arms sales to Iraq and Iran.

    An It Harm None, Do What You Will

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    Skillian's Avatar T H F C f a n BT Rep: +1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    11,000 words? That's longer than my uni dissertation has to be.

    Some interesting points in there, although there are a few descriptions of isolated events that don't necessarily indicate a wider tide of anti-semetism.

    To be honest, where I live in the UK I see a lot more discrimination towards muslims than jews. I would say all kinds of religious discrimination seems to be on the increase, a sad fact.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    Rat Faced's Avatar Broken
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Anyone caught plastering swastikas around in Germany is asking for trouble.

    They are well and truly f***ed if they are caught. For obvious reasons, Germany has the strictest Laws in Europe regarding Nazism....

    An It Harm None, Do What You Will

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    that is just tooo loong

    Just replying to the first point in the first post, looking at the countries mentioned as not allowing cruel killing of animals, I can say that I'm not surprised and that I believe that the bans have nothing to do with anti-semitism. ( Switzerland, Sweden & Holland).

    I'm not gonna comment on the rest, cos i didn't really read it all, this caught my eye though
    The location of the attack, furthermore, gives the lie to the supposition, frequently reproduced in the American media, that xenophobia and anti-Semitism are somehow a specifically eastern German problem and thereby a legacy of communist rule.
    Right wing extremists are more common in the former East Germany, I don't think its got anything to do with communism, there is however a strong correlation between unemployment,(&poverty) and racism. Its not really specifically anti-semitism though, I think a lot more of the anger & abuse is directed at the large number of turkish and kurdish immigrants.
    Overall i personally haven't really noticed any rise in anti-semitism or racism, but I would guess the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment after Sept 11, plus the Iraq war, and the Israel - Palestine thing would in some places give rise to sympathy for Muslims and some backlash against jews.

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Cairns, Queensland.
    Does anyone know exactly how these animals are slaughtered? I was led to believe they had their throats cut and bled to death. Is that the case?

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Originally posted by Billy_Dean@14 November 2003 - 19:10
    Does anyone know exactly how these animals are slaughtered? I was led to believe they had their throats cut and bled to death. Is that the case?

    Halal Meyhod -slaughtered by making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides; as also the trachea and oesophagus.

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    Rat Faced's Avatar Broken
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    I think Kosher is the same method..

    There is also a movement to ban in the UK, of which im all in favour.

    All that is being removed in Europe is the exemption to Jews/Muslims to stun the animals prior to slaughter, as far as im aware.

    I dont think anyone is saying you cannot kill them like this...just they must be unconsious/stunned first.

    An It Harm None, Do What You Will

  11. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Originally posted by Billy_Dean@14 November 2003 - 18:10
    Does anyone know exactly how these animals are slaughtered?
    there throats are cut and the blood is let to drip out >_<

    the whole concept behind halal and kosher meats is that it is harmless to the animal itself, so isnt the concept behind stunning a bit stupid

    (i havent read all the post, to lazy to)

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