Friday, January 09, 2009

Anti-Semitism and the Gaza crisis

In Europe's response to the Gaza crisis, disturbing echoes of an intolerant past are coming from several points, not least from Norway, where violent riots took place in Oslo last night, when pro-Palestinian demonstrators smashed store windows along the city's main thoroughfare Karl Johans Gate, firing rockets, throwing eggs and stones, fighting with police and threatening the members of a small pro-Israeli demonstration. Meanwhile in Rome, leftist Italian labour unions have launched a campaign to "identify and boycott" Jewish-owned shops in a move which has been likened to the anti-Semitic laws of the Mussolini era. In the Wall Street Journal, Rabbi Marvin Hier has claimed that a double standard is being applied to the Gaza conflict because of "an insidious bias against the Jewish state", and has expressed the fear that

There are a great many people in the world who, even after Auschwitz, just can't bear the Jewish state having the same rights they so readily grant to other nations. These voices insist Israel must take risks they would never dare ask of any other nation-state -- risks that threaten its very survival -- because they don't believe Israel should exist in the first place.

Just look at the spate of attacks this week on Jews and Jewish institutions around the world: a car ramming into a synagogue in France; a Chabad menorah and Jewish-owned shops sprayed with swastikas in Belgium; a banner at an Australian rally demanding "clean the earth from dirty Zionists!"; demonstrators in the Netherlands chanting "Gas the Jews"; and in Florida, protestors demanding Jews "Go back to the ovens!"

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