2002-08-01 / This Week's Attitude

This Week’s

AttitudeWidespread Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head
By Neil S. Friedman

Attitude
Widespread Anti-Semitism Rears Its Ugly Head


In the last year there has been an astonishing resurgence of anti-Semitism at a level that hasn’t been seen since the Nazis plotted the annihilation of every Jew on the planet. It was no doubt triggered by the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet, most of the incidents have taken place outside of Israel.

In a recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defa-mation League (ADL), it was reported that 17 percent of Americans possess "hard-core" anti-Semitic views. The group also said the trend was a reversal of what had been a 10-year decline.

You don’t have to be Jewish to be appalled and disgusted by that finding. In fact, the survey also revealed that a majority of Americans harbor some kind of prejudice.

Here in Canarsie during that same period there have been no less than half a dozen periodic incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in parks and directed at local synagogues. To date, no one has been charged with these bias attacks.

According to the ADL, from September 2000, at the start of the current Muslim infitada, through last fall, there were literally hundreds of episodes of anti-Semitism just in France, with most in and around Paris. In addition to scores of firebombing of French synagogues, just before last Rosh Hashanah, 200 Arabs attacked Jews on the Champs Elysees. The pace sub-sequently picked up.

Last December, a Paris cinema refused to allow Jewish children on a Hanukkah outing to attend a movie showing because of French-Palestinian threats. It was one incident in an eventful month when synagogues continued to be firebombed and a Jewish kindergarten was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti and set ablaze.

French anti-Semitism is nothing new. It’s almost as common to that nation as eating cheese and drinking wine. The French love their traditions. And, when it comes to hating Jews, the French people have a lengthy, legendary tradition.

Israel is at war, but what is not being recognized is that anti-Semi-tism is not a war against Israel as propagandists advocate, it is a war against each and every individual - Israeli or not, religious or not, right, left or center - who identifies himself or herself as Jewish.

History has taught Jews, perhaps more than any other oppressed group, that waiting for compassion only leads to more attacks, more burned synagogues and more vandalism.

In the aftermath, there’s sure to be grim-faced dignitaries and world leaders crying "never again," while dedicating another memorial or museum.

There’s got to be more that Jews and those who loathe prejudice can do, besides merely expressing revulsion.

Whether you are a fellow Jew, a friend, or simply a person with the capacity to distinguish decency from depravity, don’t be deluded into believing this isn’t your fight. Prejudice knows no boundaries.

•Boycott France and French products. Only Arab nations are more anti-Semitic and, unlike them, France exports more than just oil and hatred. Boycott their wines and perfumes. Boycott their designer clothes and their rich foodstuffs. Boycott the movies. And definitely boycott their shores. Economic boycotts can exert amazing pressure as evidenced by how one transformed South Africa.

•Remind non-Jewish friends that France may not care much for them either. According to the ADL, a recent best-selling book in France "September 11: The Frightening Fraud," claimed no aircraft ever hit the Pentagon.

The only strength is the strength of community and there can be no community without communication. Remember how American patriotism escalated after the terrorist attacks?

I abhor anti-Semitism, not only because of my Jew-ish heritage, but because I have certain standards of civility and integrity. I realized long ago that people should be judged on the basis of whom they are, not what they are or what they believe in. I revile any form of prejudice, regardless of race, religion or sexual preference.

While some may scoff at the recent surge in anti-Semitism, it is nevertheless a distinct indication that man’s inhumanity to man is infinite.

Above all, we must remember that throughout history, most notably in this nation’s recent past, it has been demonstrated that the consequences of ignoring evil can bring terrible consequences.


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