Among the topics discussed at today’s seminars on National Review’s cruise was that of the “new anti-Semitism.” Unlike the old anti-Semitism of neo-Nazis and skinheads–who have no wider social influence and are effectively pariahs in modern European politics — the new anti-Semitism is the work of respectable intellectuals, politicians, union activists, journalists, students, and lecturers in the media, the universities, and in various “progressive” organizations, often in alliance with radical Muslim groups. It organizes academic boycotts of Israel, disruption of concerts by visiting Israel orchestras, campaigns to prohibit traditional Jewish practices such as kosher butchering or circumcision, and other aspects of Jewish life. The distinction on which it relies for its own respectability between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is growing less and less credible; radical Muslim groups don’t really bother to cite it. Yet when this fig-leaf disappears entirely, those preaching the new anti-Semitism doesn’t seem to become less respectable. In other words anti-Semitism is becoming more respectable in Europe.
Just how bad things have become for Jews in countries such as France is laid out with sadness by Michel Gurfinkiel in Mosaic magazine. Having quoted the famous French liberal offer to the Jew in the 19th century: “To the Jews as individuals, everything; to the Jews as a people, nothing,” he lays out the current European reality:
Now, busily building monuments and museums, Europe ostentatiously engages in celebrating and mourning its lost dead Jews of yesterday, whose murder it variously perpetrated, abetted, or (with exceptions) found it could put up with. Meanwhile, it encourages and underwrites the withering of Jewish life today. Once again, Jews are accepted on condition: that they separate themselves from their brethren in Israel and join the official European consensus in demonizing the Jewish state; that they learn to accommodate the reality that so many ethnic Europeans hate them and wish them ill, and that Islamists on European soil seek their extinction; and that in the interest of justifying their continued claim to European citizenship, they accept Europe’s proscription of some of the most basic practices of their faith.
To the dead Jews of yesterday, everything; to the living Jews of today, little and little.
What this describes is a slow pogrom — but one that can pass unnoticed and be ignored because of its very gradualness. Governments are doing some good things about it, but the battle for decency will have to be fought in the universities, the media, political parties, and other places where the virus is spreading. It will have to deal honestly but intelligently with Muslim anti-Semitism, which European officialdom shrinks from confronting. And it will have to start soon.