Behind Europe’s Anti-Semitic Slurs

A Belgian doctor refuses to provide emergency medical care to a Jewish woman, telling her, “I’m not coming . . . Send her to Gaza for a few hours, then she’ll get rid of the pain.” A Spanish writer calls (yes, again) for the expulsion of the country’s tiny Jewish community.

Renowned Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo declares, “I’d like to shoot those bastard Zionists.: A German teen firebombs a synagogue. French anti-Israel protestors attack synagogues full of worshippers. An Irish Sinn Fein city councilman urges the shelling of Israel.

Rabid anti-Israeli sentiment that bleeds into pathological anti-Semitism has also infected the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Poland.

These latest blips are supposedly in reaction to Israel’s most recent offensive against Hamas.

But they run deeper than that.

To understand — and ultimately confront — the outbreak of contemporary Jew-hatred, a sociological theory provided by two German Jewish philosophers carries great explanatory power. Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) argued that post-Holocaust Germany was contaminated with “Guilt-defensiveness anti-Semitism.”

In short, they argued, many Germans sought to purge their guilt by blaming the Jews for the Hitler movement. The Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex captured this outlook in one sarcastic, ironic sentence: The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.

While Germany and a few other EU countries have tried to work through their destruction of European Jewry via commemorations and memorials, Jew-hatred has morphed into relentless bashing of Israel.

All this helps to explain why anti-Israel protesters, politicians and commentators are pathologically obsessed with the Jewishness of Israel.

A 2012 survey of Norwegians showed 38% of respondents deem Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to be the equivalent of Nazi policies toward Jews. Studies over the last decade of German attitudes toward Israel consistently reveal that nearly half (at times more than 50%) of Germans view Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to be comparable to the Nazis obliteration of Jews.

Put simply, the obscene parallel likening Israel to Nazi Germany has gained traction across Europe.

It’s a comparison that allows many Europeans to cleanse their guilt about the Holocaust. The equation serves as an emotional catharsis for a guilt-ridden continental Europe.

Look at how quickly and reflexively the latest trigger has seemingly unleashed waves of pent-up anti-Semitic sentiment.

Before Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to try to silence Hamas rocket attacks, mass demonstrations and articles attacking Jews were mainly viewed to be politically and socially incorrect. That has profoundly changed over the last few weeks.

Sadly, many Europeans now openly view anti-Zionism — the rejection of the Jewish state and any semblance of Jewish self-determination — as respectable opinion. The lack of U.S.-style countervailing forces to debunk the rising anti-Zionism in Europe has contributed to the now ubiquitous displays of anti-Semitism.

Not one European national parliament has mirrored the U.S. House of Representative’s resolution defending Israel’s measures against Hamas.

To be fair, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande issued powerful condemnations of modern anti-Semitism in their countries. But their actions remained ineffectual.

Germany and other European states chose to abstain during a shamelessly one-sided United Nations Human Rights Council vote blasting Israel for war crimes and calling for an investigation. Germany is widely considered Israel’s most important ally in Europe, but it failed to join the U.S. in opposing the anti-Israel resolution.

The large communities of European Muslims are playing a crucial role in the violence. The Jerusalem Post’s headline “Islamists, neo-Nazis declare: ‘You Jews are Beasts’” captured the alliance at one protest in Frankfurt.

Absent a wholesale change, the continent’s Jews are left with three options: Make aliyah to Israel, form self-defense groups or emigrate to the United States.

The article was first published in NY Daily News.

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