Magazine article Anglican Journal

The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism: Is Gaza an Impetus or an Excuse?

Magazine article Anglican Journal

The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism: Is Gaza an Impetus or an Excuse?

Article excerpt

Berlin: "Jews to the gas!" Paris: "Death to the Jews!" Milan: "Nuremberg trial for Israel!"

Montreal: "The diaspora is scattered around the world where they take economic control, provoke the hatred of local na-tions ... They make Washington, Paris and Ottawa submit."

These are not comments from the history books but examples this summer of an ugly, Hydra-headed phenomenon experiencing a dramatic surge since the most recent Hamas-Israel conflict broke out in June. A new wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping Europe. Its roots would seem to go far beyond--and beneath--the political passions stirred by the latest Gaza-Israel conflict. And it's reaching Canadian shores.

In actions reminiscent of 1930s Germany, comments are complemented by actions. By August, British police had recorded more than 100 anti-Jewish hate crimes since the Gaza conflict began, double the usual number. These included an attack on a rabbi and bricks lobbed through the windows of a Belfast synagogue. In Wuppertal, Germany, Molotov cocktails firebombed a synagogue and an imam in Berlin openly called for the destruction of every last Jew.

Back in May, a U.S. Anti-Defamation League poll of 53,000 people in 102 countries reported that 26 per cent are "deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes"--including 24 per cent of Christians and 14 per cent of Canadians.

As the conflict in Gaza dragged on this summer, Toronto pro-Palestinian protesters beat Jewish supporters at a rally. A Montreal woman carrying an Israeli flag was trampled at a pro-Palestinian demonstration; a Jewish man was punched in the face outside a restaurant; a Jewish community building was invaded by anti-Israel protesters. "They accused us of complicity in massacre. They took political discourse to an inappropriate level," says Eta Yudin, director of public affairs and community relations for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Quebec.

If you thought such phenomena died with the destruction of the camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, you may find the resurgence surprising. But for Yudin, these flare-ups are nothing new. "Every time there's a conflict in the Middle East we see these actions," she says. What concerns Yudin about the current spike is the new climate of tolerance in Canada: "There's a feeling that people are free to express classic anti-Semitic views without being called on it. It goes unchallenged."

She referred to a recent Montreal talk radio show in which a hateful email was unapologetically read out on air. …

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