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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Good diagnosis, insufficient prescription

This is the article I never got around to blogging yesterday.

In yesterday's WaPo Dennis MacShane, who is a Labor member of the British House of Commons and has served as Britain's Europe minister discusses resurgent anti-Semitism worldwide:
Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens -- there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant -- that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.

More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.


The problem is worse in other European countries. The Polish politician, Maciej Marian Giertych, recently published a pamphlet under the auspices of the European Parliament that attacked Jews. No action has been taken against him. France and Germany have seen anti-Jewish attacks. Some references to Jews in the Lithuanian press do not bear translating.

Europe is reawakening its old demons, but today there is a difference. The old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous. Anti-Semitism today is officially sanctioned state ideology and is being turned into a mobilizing and organizing force to recruit thousands in a new crusade -- the word is chosen deliberately -- to eradicate Jewishness from the region whence it came and to weaken and undermine all the humanist values of rule of law, tolerance and respect for core rights such as free expression that Jews have fought for over time.

The president of Iran is the most odious example of this new state-sanctioned anti-Semitism. But from the Egyptian Writers Union to the notorious anti-Jewish articles in the charters of Hamas and Hezbollah, hatred of Jews is an integral element of a new ideology rising to prominence in many regions of the world.
MacShane is right in recognizing that no one is reacting properly to the 'new' (really a resurgence of the old) anti-Semitism:
Democracies always take their time, often too much time, to recognize and face a totalitarian threat when it is posed in ideological terms. In prewar Europe, conservatives were soft on right-wing ideologies because they were seen as being anti-communist and anti-labor. In postwar Europe, socialists were soft on the Soviet Union because the communists appeared to challenge capitalism and imperialism. Today there is still denial about the universal ideology of the new anti-Semitism. It has power and reach, and it enters into the soft underbelly of the Western mind-set that does not like Jews or what Israel does to defend its right to exist.


We are at the beginning of a long intellectual and ideological struggle. It is not about Jews or Israel. It is about everything democrats have long fought for: the truth without fear, no matter one's religion or political beliefs. The new anti-Semitism threatens all of humanity. The Jew-haters must not pass.
But MacShane's prescription to fight this 'long intellectual and ideological struggle' just doesn't cut it:
A counterattack is being organized. My own House of Commons has led the way with its report. The 47-nation Council of Europe, on which I sit as a British representative, has launched a lengthy inquiry into combating anti-Semitism in Europe. The European Union has produced a directive outlawing Internet hate speech originating within its jurisdiction.
You can't outlaw thoughts and you can't really outlaw speech either (except in Britain where outrageous libel laws have a chilling effect on everything that's published). But what you can do is for the leadership to stand up and oppose all expressions of hate speech. When the European Parliament sponsors a conference like the one it sponsored last weekend in Brussels, that says more than a hundred 'Councils on Europe.' When the City of Brussels refuses to permit a demonstration on September 11 against the Islamization of Europe, one may be able to brush it off as the result of non-Belgians having a majority in the city council, but the Belgian Council of State's upholding the decision cannot be similarly explained, especially when 9/11 'troofers' and a pro-Hezbullah organization are given permission to demonstrate the same week. You can outlaw Internet hate speech from now until hell freezes over and it means nothing in light of what's gone on in Brussels in the last two weeks.

One solution would be for the native Europeans (i.e. the non-Muslims) to take back Europe. But unless they're going to stop being selfish and start having children that won't happen. And it may be too late even for that.


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