The headlines have been grim. Europe’s Jews face “rising anti-Semitism”; in some countries, many are leaving in “record numbers.” In separate incidents in recent months, gunmen have targeted Jews and Jewish institutions in Paris and Copenhagen. Even the Jewish dead have not been left in peace, with reports of graves being desecrated.
But the future of tolerance and multiculturalism in Europe is far from bleak. The bigotry on view has been carried out by a fringe minority, cast all the more in the shade by the huge peace marches and vigils that followed the deadly attacks. And some communities are trying to build solidarity in their home towns and cities.
One group of Muslims in Norway plans to form a “ring of peace” around a synagogue in Oslo on Saturday. On a Facebook page promoting the event, the group explained its motivations. Here’s a translated version of the invite:
Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come!
THE first victims of the First Crusade, inspired in 1096 by the supposedly sacred mission of retaking Jerusalem from Muslims, were European Jews. Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story, as told in both Hebrew and Christian chronicles.
The message from the medieval past is that religious violence seldom limits itself to one target and expands to reach the maximum number of available victims.
Just as the Crusades were integrally linked to Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, terrorist movements today are immersed in a particular anti-modern interpretation of Islam. This does not imply that a majority of Muslims agree with violent religious ideology. It does mean that the terrorists’ brand of belief plays a critical role in their savage assault on human rights.
Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.
Times were hard in northern Europe when the crusaders began to gather in the spring of 1096. A disappointing harvest in 1095 had brought famine to the poor. As James Carroll observes in “Constantine’s Sword,” there is “no doubt the crusading impulse rescued many serfs, but also landowners, from desperate economic straits.”
Pope Urban II did not tell crusaders to murder Jews, but that is what happened when at least 100,000 knights, vassals and serfs, unmoored from ordinary social restraints but bearing the standard of the cross, set off to crush what they considered a perfidious Muslim enemy in a faraway land. Why not practice on that older group accused of perfidy — the Jews?
The city of Trier, on the Moselle River, was one of the early stops. The Jews were, according to a Hebrew chronicle, offered the choice of conversion, exile or death — similar to the choices offered by groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram. After the Jews of Trier made an unsuccessful attempt, by paying off a bishop, to persuade the crusaders to bypass their community, they sought refuge in the prelate’s palace.
The chronicle recounts that “the bishop’s military officer and ministers entered the palace and said to them: ‘Thus said our lord the bishop: Convert or leave this place. I do not wish to preserve you any longer.’ ” It goes on: ” ‘You cannot be saved — your God does not wish to save you now as he did in earlier days.’ “
But the allegations don’t stop there: Delpani, who is Italian, also reportedly hates “small-minded” and “dirty” Americans and thinks that all Jews “stick together,” according to recently filed court documents viewed by the New York Post.
According to the lawsuit filed by Alan Meyers, 56, a former chief scientific officer at Revlon, Delpani reportedly wasn’t fond of America and allegedly “couldn’t wait to get back to a real country.”
A Mississippi rabbi and a restaurant owner have agreed to sit down and talk about a salad order gone wrong.
Rabbi Ted Riter, of Jackson’s Beth Israel Congregation, says he was kicked out of a Wraps Greek restaurant in Jackson because of his faith. But restaurant owner John Allis claims the whole thing was a big misunderstanding about a “Jewish Salad” that his restaurant sells.
The controversy between the two men began soon after Riter entered Allis’ restaurant on Tuesday.
“I asked the owner if I could have a Greek salad to go and he said, ‘The regular size or the Jewish size?’” Riter told WAPT. “He just goes into a tirade, throwing out all these expletives, ‘Get out of here.’”
Riter claims the owner told him, “You know Jews are small and cheap! Everyone knows that.”
The rabbi reportedly responded, “Did you really just say that to me?”
After asking whether Riter was Jewish, the rabbi was allegedly ordered to leave the restaurant.
“Expletives, F-bombs, and since I’d never been the recipient of that before, I was in shock, so I didn’t register it until the second or third time he told me to leave,” Riter told the Clarion Ledger. “It was a bit surreal. So I left.”
But Ellis has a different version of events. He claims the restaurant was extremely busy at that time and that Riter was acting indecisive. Ellis says he harbors no ill will toward the Jewish people.
“The guy said he didn’t want to do any business with us. He was probably offended because we offer different salads — that’s all,” Ellis told WAPT. “I said, ‘Greek salad or Jew?’ We have different salads. We have Carlito’s Way Salad. We have Grecian Salad. We have Jewish Salad. We have Greek Salad. We have Cesar Salad — we have a lot of salads. Names of salads derive from people; they don’t derive from the sky.”
Personally I would not have even entered that restaurant, I only eat at restaurants that are strictly kosher. It would appear this menu item was kosher, that is, it contained only vegetarian ingredients but it may have come into contact with non-kosher ingredients while it was being prepared. However that was not the cause of the dispute. The cause of the dispute was that the restaurant owner is a bigoted asshole.
That said, I hope the rabbi & his friends never enter that restaurant ever again.
SARCELLES, France — From the immigrant enclaves of the Parisian suburbs to the drizzly bureaucratic city of Brussels to the industrial heartland of Germany, Europe’s old demon returned this summer. “Death to the Jews!” shouted protesters at pro-Palestinian rallies in Belgium and France. “Gas the Jews!” yelled marchers at a similar protest in Germany.
The ugly threats were surpassed by uglier violence. Four people were fatally shot in May at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. A Jewish-owned pharmacy in this Paris suburb was destroyed in July by youths protesting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, was attacked with firebombs. A Swedish Jew was beaten with iron pipes. The list goes on.
The scattered attacks have raised alarm about how Europe is changing and whether it remains a safe place for Jews. An increasing number of Jews, if still relatively modest in total, are now migrating to Israel. Others describe “no go” zones in Muslim districts of many European cities where Jews dare not travel.
But there is also concern about what some see as an insidious “softer” anti-Jewish bias, which they fear is creeping into the European mainstream and undermining the postwar consensus to root out anti-Semitism. Now the question is whether a subtle societal shift is occurring that has made anti-Jewish remarks or behavior more acceptable.
“The fear is that now things are blatantly being said openly, and no one is batting an eyelid,” said Jessica Frommer, 36, a secular Jew who works for a nonprofit organization in Brussels. “Modern Europe is based on stopping what happened in the Second World War. And now 70 years later, people standing near the European Parliament are shouting, ‘Death to Jews!’ “
This is not the Europe of 1938. French leaders have strongly condemned the violence. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany this month led a rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin at which she told Germans, “It is our national and civic duty to fight anti-Semitism.”
Europe has seen protests and outbursts of anti-Semitism whenever the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has erupted, and some analysts say this summer’s anger is a cyclical episode that like others will fade away. Some note that the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents this year in France, for instance, is well below some years in the 2000s.
Yet as European support for the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel have hardened, many Jews describe a blurring of distinctions between being anti-Israel and being anti-Jew.
PARIS - Prominent Jewish group the Simon Wiesenthal Centre has sent a letter to France’s interior minister to demand that a tiny hamlet south of Paris called “Death to Jews” be renamed.
The group’s director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote to Bernard Cazeneuve saying he was “shocked to discover the existence of a village in France officially called ‘Death to Jews’.”
“It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the (pro-Nazi) Vichy regime,” he wrote.
However, the deputy mayor of the village of Courtemaux - population 289 - which has jurisdiction over the hamlet located around 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Paris, dismissed the concerns.
“It’s ridiculous. This name has always existed,” Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP.
“No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming up again,” she added.
Changing the name would require a decision by the municipal council, which Secretand deemed unlikely.
“Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.” “A previous municipal council, at least 20 years ago, already refused to change the name of this hamlet, which consists of a farm and two houses,” she explained.
In May, residents of a village in Spain with a similarly unfortunate name, Castrillo Matajudios (“Castrillo Kill Jews”), voted to change the name.
In a tight referendum, the citizens opted for the less offensive, older name for the town, Mota de Judios, or “Hill of the Jews”.
- See more at: news.asiaone.com
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
More: Stop the Anti-Semitism When Talking Gaza
By Dean Obeidallah
Criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza is one thing. But anti-Semitism is quite another. Keep it away. Far, far away.
At a crowded Muslim-American event I attended Sunday in North Jersey, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, spoke about a range of issues. The audience, many of whom have supported Ellison since he was first elected in 2006, cheered many of his comments, but the biggest applause line came when Ellison said: “There’s absolutely no place for anti-Semitism in discussing Israeli policy.”
And that reaction is not atypical in my experience. On Saturday, I attended another large Muslim-American event in Long Island, New York, and that same sentiment was expressed there.
Muslims, like Jews, are a minority faith in America. Consequently, we have endured our share of vicious barbs launched by hate-group leaders, elected officials and even clergy members of other faiths. This has made us keenly aware of the pain of being demonized simply for our faith. That is why Ellison and I and the Muslims I know find it so despicable to see instances of anti-Semitism arise over the conflict in Gaza.
This is especially the case in Europe. While the media have noted that in large part the rallies there opposing the Netanyahu government’s military action in Gaza have been peaceful, there has been an alarming amount of anti-Semitism on display.
“Gas the Jews” and “Death to the Jews” have been heard at some rallies. Firebombs have been thrown at synagogues in France and Germany, and Jewish-owned businesses in Paris have been vandalized. As Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute explained to the International Business Times, “If you attack a synagogue, explain to me what this has to do with being concerned about Gaza. You just want to hurt the Jews.” He’s 100 percent correct.
This type of conduct is despicable. Period. There’s no “but” or “let me explain why I said or did that.” It doesn’t matter how much you are angered or heartbroken by the image of children being killed in Gaza. And being of Palestinian heritage, I’ve been very aware of the suffering of Palestinian civilians well before social media has recently made this information instantaneously accessible. So I say this as someone who is very supportive of Palestinian humanity.
Anti-Semitism is morally wrong. It’s just like racism, Islamaphobia, homophobia, or any other type of hate. It can’t be tolerated, defended, or contextualized regardless of the form it manifests.
1) Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of ALL Jews — it says so in their charter and they refuse to repudiate it.
2) I am a Jew so Hamas is trying to kill me and my family.
3) Someone who supports, aids or provides information in support of Hamas (and by extension their mission) is an accomplice in my attempted murder and does not get to be my “friend”.
When Tatyana fled the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk late last week, she felt relieved just to have made it out alive.
“It was a horror. We boarded the train under heavy bombing,” explains Tatyana, 50, who escaped together with her daughter, son-in-law and 7-year-old grandson. “It was relatively calm until July 13; there was some transport around the city, some stores were open. But then the real fighting began, and everyone ran to buy tickets to leave the city; we were lucky to purchase tickets for July 24. Anyone still there can no longer leave because the central train station was bombed, and trains cannot leave the city. People are dying in Lugansk, and it is getting worse each day.”
Tatyana, who declined to give her last name, and her family, are among the more than 250 Jewish refugees from Lugansk and surrounding towns slowly recuperating at the first Jewish refugee camp established in Ukraine. The site was secured on campgrounds owned by Chabad-Lubavitch of Zhitomer and is being organized by Rabbi Sholom Gopin, Lugansk’s rabbi and the director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Lugansk.
Since early July, when Ukrainian armed forces began closing in on the pro-Russian separatists who control Lugansk, the border city has been transformed into a virtual war zone. With artillery explosions and gruesome death quickly becoming a daily part of life, thousands of Lugansk’s citizens have fled, and together with them, an estimated 1,000 members of the Jewish community.
“This is the biggest Jewish refugee crisis in Ukraine since World War II,” exclaims Gopin, speaking to chabad.org from Zhitomer, where he is directing the camp as he attempts to help community members resettle, at least temporarily. Like so many of their neighbors in embattled eastern Ukraine, “the Jews of our community left everything behind,” he says. “They have no homes, no jobs, no money. Many still have family stuck in Lugansk. This week, five elderly people were killed in an explosion at an old-age home adjacent to our Simcha Jewish Orphanage, where close to 40 Jews are now staying.”
NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — Authorities are searching for the vandals who spray painted anti-Semitic messages on a South Florida synagogue.
Residents who voluntarily patrol the area discovered swastikas and the word, “Hamas” spray painted in red on columns on the Congregation Torah V’Emunah at 1000 NE 175th St, early Monday morning.
“I saw this and then I stopped and I said, ‘Wait a minute. What am I seeing here?’ and then I backed up again and I looked again and I immediately sent a text to the two supervisors,” said resident and neighborhood watchman Yona Lunger.
Residents are now trying to figure out who would want to desecrate their place of worship. “Absolute hate and why are you doing this, what have we done to you? We want to live at peace over here, we’re not fighting with you, we want to get along,” said Lunger. “We don’t go to any mosques, we don’t go spraying, anything like that. All we want to do is get along.”
Some residents are even concerned about their safety.
“I mean honestly it makes you question if it’s safe to walk around, wearing your yamaka, like how safe you really are in America,” said neighbor Josh Rosenberg.
Pictures of the defaced columns were posted on Facebook and many people around the world are reacting. “It’s like disgusting,” said Yossi Rosenberg.
The vandalism has since been removed.
This incident comes a day after a Miami Beach family’s vehicles were egged and defaced with the words, “Jew” and “Hamas” smeared on the windshields.
This is a few blocks from where my youngest daughter lives.