Wed, March 21, 2012 | RubinReports | By Barry Rubin
What a tragic, evil joke. A drive-by shooter in the beautiful, almost magical, city of Toulouse, France, murders three Jewish children and a teacher in front of their school. Various VIPs issue statements about how terrible is this deed, how unspeakable.
And yet at that very moment, the next round of murders, the next slanderous and inciting antisemitic lies, are being perpetrated by respectable people and institutions. There is no real soul-searching, no true effort to do better, no serious examination about how the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hysteria is paving the way for murder and fueling dreams of genocide.
The street thugs, fanatics drunk on the interpretations of Islam they are being fed, and the mentally twisted may be pulling the trigger but the distinguished, the powerful, and the honored are providing the ammunition.
Here are three examples of such deeds in nominally democratic countries — not Iran, not Syria, not Pakistan, where such things are even more intense — but in supposedly rational places.
1. The Turkish Editor
Meet Mahir Zeynalov, an editor at Today’s Zaman, a Turkish Islamic newspaper that is supposedly moderate. Meet the modern art of tweeting. Here is Zeynalov’s response to the murders:
Mahir Zeynalov @MahirZeynalov: Gunmen attack Jewish school in France, vandals attack Jewish cemetery in Poland, Jews burn mosques and Quran in Tunisia. What’s wrong?
There are two ways to read this tweet. The more outrageous is this: How can it be wrong for gunmen to murder Jewish children or vandals to attack a Jewish cemetery in Poland if Jews are burning mosques and Qurans in Tunisia? One act balances the other.
The other interpretation is this: What a world in which there is so much hatred! Gunmen murder Jewish children, vandals attack a Jewish cemetery, and Jews desecrate mosques and Muslim holy books.
Yet the second interpretation is almost as inciting to violence as the first. We know from many experiences — including Afghanistan right now — that anyone who burns or does anything to a Koran would set off massive riots and bloody killings. And as for burning a mosque, such a deed might well result in the massacre of every Jew living in Tunisia.
Tunisian Jews today are a couple of thousand terrified people who would run in the other direction if they saw a Koran in front of them lest they be accused of looking at it funny. What Zeyanlov has done is called a “blood libel,” a lie that might lead to the murder of Jews.
A Muslim taking Zeyanlov’s tweet to heart would feel justified in murdering Jews, say children standing in front of their school.
2. The Dutch Cartoonist
De Volkskrant is one of Holland’s leading newspapers, favored by the intellectual elite. Here is a cartoon that it has just run. The cartoon shows Geert Wilders, leader of the conservative party that is very critical of Islam, getting loads of cash from a hidden hand that is clearly referring to Jews or Israel. Yes, the cartoon was written with a Hebrew text balloon, helpfully translated into Dutch as Wilders saying, “Thank you very much.”
So we have here the stereotype of the Jewish money behind the scenes conspiring, in this case against Islam and against Holland. And of course it is also designed to discredit Wilders. As with the Turkish editor’s tweet above, this is based on a total falsehood. There is hardly any Jewish support for Wilders’ party, which is, by the way, a legitimate political force, and there has never been the slightest evidence — even rumor — of Jewish financing for him, or Israeli financing.
Holland is a country where two political leaders have been assassinated and Wilders needs round-the-clock protection against potential assassins.
What is the message here? That Jews and Israel are trying to destroy Islam — as in the Turkish tweet — and are nefarious plotters attacking innocent people. Isn’t it just, therefore, to murder Jews and Israelis in self-defense?
3. Europe’s Foreign Minister
Exhibit three is Catherine Ashton, whose career was originally built on running the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which favored unilateral Western disarmament in the face off Soviet tyranny. She is now the EU’s foreign minister. In response to the Toulouse shooting, she has issued a statement here that spends more time reciting the sufferings of children in the Gaza Strip than about antisemitism and the demonization of Jews and Israel.
Left out is the fact that Gaza is ruled by an organization, Hamas, that is openly antisemitic, openly preaches genocide, frequently has carried out terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews, and then glorifies those who did the murders. Remember that the only reason Hamas can rule Gaza is that Israel voluntarily withdrew from the territory in a gesture intended to promote peace, something Ashton and much of the Western media and governmental elites usually don’t mention.
When Hamas maintains a war with Israel, firing rockets, missiles, and mortars, Israel defends itself. Hamas also deliberately sites military arsenals and weapons in residential areas. Thus, civilians and even children are accidentally killed by Israel in the fighting. This is precisely what happens in other wars, including those being waged now by EU countries.
Yet Ashton does not defend Israel or its right to defend itself. She does not take sides against the terrorists. At best we get spurious neutrality that is actually anti-Israel propaganda. Note that she even refers to Palestine as a currently existing country even though the EU recognizes no such country. So much for diplomatic responsibility. Her “apology” and “clarification” came after criticism but she meant exactly what she said and will do the same thing next time as she and other EU officials have done many times on previous occasions.
Indeed, while Palestinian children are killed during fighting in Gaza, let’s note the two most notoriously publicized examples of the last week:
— A photo sent around, in one case by a UN official, purporting to show a little girl as being injured this week was in fact a photo of a girl injured in an auto accident several years ago.
— The claim that Adham Abu Selmiya was killed by Israelis has now been shown to be false. He was killed by a bullet fired into the air by Palestinians during a funeral.
— And what of the recent photo widely published purporting to show an Israeli soldier menacing a child despite the fact that the man was wearing a concocted Israeli army uniform and carrying an AK-47, a weapon used by terrorists against Israel but never by Israeli soldiers, showing that the photo was a phony?
— The downplaying or omission of the fact that Israel was defending itself from a barrage of missiles. In one case, a prominent Dutch newspaper published a photograph with the caption that showed a rocket being fired by Israel into Gaza, instead of the exact opposite.
In short, Ashton and many others are contributing to the demonization of Jews and Israel. If Israel is so horrible that it makes little children in Gaza suffer for no reason, shouldn’t Israelis and the Jews who support them be shunned, harassed, attacked, and murdered?
These three examples are only a small sample of the hate poured out against Israel and Jews in the Middle East and elsewhere. I could go on with dozens more and so, perhaps, could you. From Sweden’s largest newspaper claiming Israel murdered Palestinians to harvest their organs to a Harvard professor’s tales of Jewish-Zionist conspiracies to control U.S. foreign policy to the dozens of “academic” conferences on Western campuses that demonize Israel, paid for by student fees.
What is needed is not more hypocrisy or professions of innocence or expensive conferences where long speeches are made about the evils of antisemitism by those who do nothing but get free plane tickets and nice hotel rooms. The real solution is a real change in the behavior of the mass media that pours out lies, the academics who slander and distort, and the governments that refuse to stand by a democratic country and people beset by terrorism and the world’s oldest hatred.
Oh, and one more thing is needed: the admission that the greatest threat of hatred, “racism,” dehumanization of the “other,” and threat of persecution today — as the statistics for Europe and North America show — is not “Islamophobia” but antisemitism.
And none of those things are going to happen because the liars, haters, apologists, and enablers will not acknowledge their own behavior while those who are supposed to supervise them will not act. Hating and lying about Israel and the Jewish people is too useful politically and too entwined with the version of left-wing ideology, not to mention Islamism and the dominant interpretation of Islam, currently so powerful in the world.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Europe is no longer a safe place for Jews to live. Yet it is accurate to say that it is becoming an unsafe place for Jews to live, and certainly for those who wish to express mainstream Jewish views and to practice their religion openly. Meanwhile, the EU and various governments dare not admit that the principal cause of antisemitic activity is radical Islam, and the principal inspiration for popular antisemitism is trendy leftist ideas that now dominate much of that continent and are spreading in North America.
Thus, Jewish children are deliberately murdered by a terrorist in the midst of France. In response, come get the formal statements and the crocodile tears. Yet at the exact same time as the bullets are entering the children’s bodies, as the victims fall to the ground, as the ambulance sirens sound, the incitement and the lies and the slanders continue, laying the groundwork for more hatred and more murder.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, “Israel: An Introduction“, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include “The Israel-Arab Reader” (seventh edition), “The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East” (Wiley), and “The Truth About Syria” (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.