Since the time of Mohammed, disputes have been recorded between Jews and Muslims. For thousands of years, Jews (and Christians) living in the Muslim world have been treated as inferiors with a status known as dhimmi. While discriminatory, dhimmi is not antisemitic. Muslim antisemitism is a relatively recent phenomenon. According to Bernard Lewis, “For most of the fourteen hundred years or so of the Arab Jewish encounter, the Arabs have not in fact been anti-Semitic as that word is used in the West . . . because for the most part they are not Christians” (Lewis 1986:117). As Lewis points out, antisemitism is a relatively recent introduction in the Middle East and an import from Christian Europe. According to Lewis, “Another European contribution to this debate is anti-Semitism, and blaming ‘the Jews’ for all that goes wrong. Jews in traditional Islamic societies experienced the normal constraints and occasional hazards of minority status. In most significant respects, they were better off under Muslim than under Christian rule, until the rise and spread of Western tolerance in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries” (Lewis 2002: 171). According to Daniel Pipes, Muslim antisemitism has mostly replaced Christian antisemitism as a concern since Christian antisemitism is on the decline while Muslim antisemitism increases. According to Pipes, “if trends in Christian society are going in one direction, in Muslim societies around the globe they are going in the opposite direction” (Pipes 1999: 35-36). This new phenomenon of Muslim antisemitism is of significant interest.
European Judeophobia, a cross between Muslim antisemitism and traditional European Christian antisemitism, was not found in Europe until the late twentieth-century, after the waves of Muslim immigration into Europe. Its most recent incarnation is a phenomenon of young second and third generation Muslim immigrants targeted toward their peers: young Jews (McClintock and Sunderland 2004). This antisemitism contains a mix of Muslim and Christian antisemitism, but is heavily influenced by and legitimized by contemporary Christian European antisemitism. This new European Muslim antisemitism has risen up, in part, in reaction to Europe’s identity crises stemming from Europe’s self-reevaluation in the wake of European integration.
While their American coreligionists are among the most economically and academically advanced members of the population, the opposite is true of Europe’s Muslim population. A study conducted in the 1970s found that 75 percent of the American mosque-goers interviewed held graduate degrees, a ratio much higher than the general American population (Haddad 2002:35). While subsequent immigration has meant that a lower percentage of American Muslims hold graduate degrees – the figure is now said to be 52 percent of American Muslims – it is still true that American Muslims are disproportionately better educated and earn a higher median salary, mostly in professional jobs – with an average income of $69,000 in 2000 – than the general population (Pipes 2000). European Muslims, however, are among the poorest and least educated members of the European population. According to the 2001 British census, 31 percent of United Kingdom Muslims had no educational qualifications. Muslim and Sikh men were least likely to be managers or professionals. Muslim women were also the least likely to be in the workforce compared to their Christian counterparts (Carvel 2004).
The Western Europe “economic miracle” of the 1950s and 1960s resulted in large-scale Muslim immigration to Europe. These new immigrants, from Europe’s former colonies in North Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean, arrived as temporary migrant workers. Many of them, while intending to leave, have remained in Europe even as their jobs disappeared and they have had European children and grandchildren. These immigrants, primarily young men, either singles or who left their family behind, were seen by their host countries as guests or temporary workers. Four to five decades later many are still seen as such (Masci 2004:5).
Many of the Muslim immigrants who did not arrive in Europe as migrant workers but instead arrived as refugees from the Islamic world. Nearly 100,000 of these refugees were Algerian Muslims fleeing to France – Algeria’s former colonizer. The rate of immigration slowed in the early 1970s, with most of the remaining Muslim immigrants coming to Europe in order to reunite with their family already there (ibid).
The rise in antisemitic behaviour among Europe’s Muslim population is not seen from these immigrants but rather from their European-born children. The Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times that of non-Muslims (Savage 2004:28). The immigrants, while not engaged in overt antisemitism, did import to Europe forms of Muslim antisemitism (Bensoussan:22). According to Majib Cherfi, the lead singer of the Toulouse (French) group Zebda, “When I was young, we didn’t like the Jews. My parents were antisemitic, as people are in the Maghreb. The word ‘Jew’ in Berber is an insult. It has nothing to do with Palestine, or with politics, that’s just how it was” (ibid). Yet the immigrant generation did not actualize their antisemitic feelings into concrete action. While arriving from an array of countries and holding a host of ethnic identities, the immigrant generation was focused on their employment and attempting to integrate into a resistant European society (Masci 2004: 6).
The phenomenon of European antisemitism is ultimately a phenomenon of the second and third generation. These native-born Muslims, unlike their parents, do not believe that they will be going back to Tunisia, Algeria, or Morocco. The failed attempts to fully integrate all of the Muslim population, particularly during the past decade as European integration forces Europe to reassess its identity, paves the way for identity politics and post-colonial memory. The first manifestation of this post-colonial memory may be attacks on “the other minority” – the Jews – many of whom are also of Maghreb origin (Suzan and Dreyfus 2004:2; Bensoussan: 5-6). According to a report of antisemitic incidents by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Conseil Représentaitif des Institutions Juives de France, crif) fifty-percent of all 2003 incidents were directed against Jewish youth and in police reports, the attackers are generally described as groups of young people (McClintock and Sunderland: 4).
Their failure to assimilate has bolstered post-colonial memory. According to Dr. Georges Bensoussan, the decline in the status of the father “fuelled the revolt of the sons. Added to this was the heritage of the colonial memory transmitted from generation to generation, and the memory of an often violent decolonization. This memory would certainly have dimmed with time had most of them been successful. They were not” (Bensoussan 36). The decolonization process has encouraged Europe, “with its permanent feelings of guilt about the Third World” to allow its recent Muslim immigrants, previously its colonized, and “the entire Muslim-Arab world to present itself as victims” (Ibid., 26).
This has served to bolster a sense of Islamic identity among the youth. Muslim youth’s primary identification is increasingly as Islamic and not with either their countries of origin or the European country in which they reside and in which many of them were born (Savage 30). Mirroring a global return to religious fundamentalism, a 2001 Le Monde poll showed that French Muslims were attending mosque and praying more frequently than in 1994. According to Chris Soper, a professor of political science at Pepperdine University, “In Europe 30 years ago, Muslims concealed their religious practices because, in the traditional immigrant way, they wanted to fit in. But today, especially among second and third generation Muslims, you see much greater interest in religion” (Masci 6). It is not clear if this increase in religious identity is due to genuine religious sentiment. According to Jonathon Laurence, a visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution, “There’s certainly an increase in symbolic religion, like fasting on Ramadan and things like that. But whether that means that people are becoming more pious is an open question” (Ibid). It appears that the young generation’s return to Islamic symbolism is an assertion of their Muslim identity in an increasingly secular Europe as they struggle to integrate into European society. Young Muslims interviewed by the French newspaper L’Express were not found to have any particular interest in Islam. This disinterest in Islam was also verified by French police. Instead, a return to the mosque and anti-Jewish violence is seen as a way of exerting their Islamic identity, according to one young man interviewed who stated “we want to show that we’re Muslims here too” (Rosenthal 2003:24).
This growing interest in Islam, even if symbolic, is posing challenges to Europe. Some school students refuse to visit churches or, especially, synagogues as part of field trips (Bensoussan 7). .At their mosques, they are often encountering radical Muslim preachers, often new immigrants, who are preaching the same hatred and jihad against America and against the Jews that is heard in mosques throughout the Muslim world. Only this time, they are preaching it to native-born European Muslims.
England is becoming a very important center for these radical immigrant preachers, attracted by Britain’s liberal asylum laws. Opposition groups have set up in London, setting up dissident newspapers agitating against their home countries, often non-fundamentalist nationalist Arab states. Many of these Islamic fundamentalists, operating from Europe, call for jihad against rulers in the Middle East (Israeli 2000: 161). Young people go to these mosques in a quest for identity. According to one European Muslim, these imams “continually repeat to young people that the French do not like the Arabs, that they detest Islam” (Bensoussan 25). One such preacher, Syrian-born Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad is the founder of the London branch of several Islamist organizations and he purports to be the spokesman of Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. According to Bakri the organization fund-raises for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and has contacts with Hizbullah. Despite this radical history, Bakri is a naturalized British citizen and one of his aides, Makbool Javid, was appointed to the Race Relations Forum by Jack Straw, Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s government. Bakri also admits to living off welfare provided by the British government. According to Bakri, “I’m fully eligible. It is very difficult for me to get a job. Anyway, most of the leadership of the Islamic movement is on [state] benefits” (Feldner 2001).
Sheikh Bakri spends part of his time sending Muslims to fight in paramilitary groups, in places such as Kashmir, Afghanistan and Chechnya. He also recruits volunteers to fight Israel in the West Bank. Many of these volunteers are provided paramilitary training in the United States. His recruits are Muslims raised in Europe or America. According to Bakri, the recruits have “different backgrounds – some British, some American, Arab, or Asian – but all of them have European or American citizenship. There is no need for visas” (Ibid). While there is a tendency among some observers to separate radical Muslim terrorism and antisemitism, the two phenomenons are directly related. For example, there is evidence that the perpetrators of the March 2004 Madrid train bombings had earlier considered bombing a Jewish community center instead of the Madrid train station (McClintock and Sunderland 3).
European Islamic antisemitism is a Europe-wide phenomenon. While most noticed in France, with the highest Muslim and Jewish population in Europe, it is more prevalent in Germany. The number of anti-Jewish attacks in Germany may even be higher than reports as German authorities are reluctant to classify some attacks as antisemitic even when the evidence suggests antisemitic motivations (Rosenthal 19-20).
While most European Muslim youth do not go abroad to fight, many are engaged in anti-Israel activity at home, which serves as license for Europe’s Christian majority to ignore or justify Muslim discontent instead of facing up to challenges that Europe’s Muslim population poses to a transnational secular Europe. Incidences of antisemitism increase during times of Israeli-Palestinian violence (Taspinar 2003). One of the first measurable increases in antisemitic violence in France occurred immediately after French television showed the images of the 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura being shot, an incident in which credible doubt was later raised about Israel’s culpability (Rosenthal 23). While the Israel-Palestinian conflict is only one dimension of European Islamic Judeophobia, it allows European Christian society to ignore Muslim antisemitism in making the excuse that anti-Zionism, a common belief among European elites, is not antisemitism. Since many French Jews have origins in North Africa, but fled to France after the Maghreb countries gained independence and French colonial rule ended, and most of the European Muslims have origins in the same parts of the Middle East and North Africa, many Europeans see the problem of Islamic antisemitism as “not really a European one anyway” (Ibid: 19) but rather one “imported into Europe along with Muslim immigration” (Ibid). Colonization and the decolonization process can not, however, be blamed for European antisemitism. Given Europe’s overwhelming sympathy towards the Palestinians, there is a tendency to forgive Muslim youth’s behaviour towards French Jews, given Israel’s “heavy-handed” treatment of the Palestinians (Rosenthal 19). According to a report by the NGO, the Human Rights Foundation:
The argument that antisemitism is in some way an inevitable side-effect of the Middle East conflict and opposition to actions by the government of Israel has, in some cases, been seized upon by European governments to justify not outrage but inaction. The involvement of European Muslims and immigrants in many incidents, in turn, has been highlighted by some monitors of antisemitism who tend to identify both the problem and the needed remedy in terms of European attitudes and policies towards the Middle East conflict (McClintock and Sunderland 29).
While the Muslim youth may have legitimate feelings of animosity towards Israel, their proxy war is antisemitic. Their behaviour, and European excuses of it, ignores the fact that French Jews are not Israeli soldiers. Many, particularly the older generation, share Europe’s general disdain for Israeli policies and, particularly prior to Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, dislike Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sympathizing with the Palestinians (Ibid 3). The images of the Arab-Israeli conflict on European television and Arab satellite television fuels an identity crisis and serves as a shadow to the real issues of identity and assimilation faced by these Muslim youth.
Failed integration leads some Muslims to exert conspiracy theories about Jews. Conspiracy theories are a common form of classical Christian Judeophobia. Akim, a 22-year-old French-born mechanic from Sarcelles, thinks that “The Jews control everything in this town – the shops, the banks, the police, even the buses.” According to Akim, “If someone gets assaulted around here, you’ll never see a police officer. The only time we see them is when they come round to give us parking fines. But if even the slightest thing happens to a Jew, there’ll be a whole squad of them. They’re outside the Jewish schools and synagogues all the time… The Jews never get a parking ticket. They park their cars in the middle of the road when they take their children to school, and the police do nothing, even though our bus is always delayed because of these cars” (Sage 2002:13). Akim fails to understand the economic and social factors for the phenomenon he mentions. In certain Muslim enclaves in Europe, police do not dare enter out of fear of local hostility (Masci 10). The police are at the Jewish schools and synagogues to protect the Jews from violent antisemitism and, of course, Jews do get parking tickets if they park illegally.
The failure of some Muslims to integrate provides an attraction to the Islamist ideology. Akim has espoused radical Islamist ideology, calling Osama bin Laden “a great man.” He lives surrounded by graffiti glorifying bin Laden and stating “Screw America” and “The state manipulates us like objects” (Sage 14). According to Akim, “I’m a foreigner everywhere. In France I’m a foreigner and in Morocco I’m a foreigner” (Ibid). French Muslims watch antisemitic programs on Arab satellite television, surf Islamist websites, some of which are produced in Europe (Eberstadt 2004:51), and are otherwise exposed to anti-Jewish media both in Europe and the Arab world.
According to one analysis, “The effects of some Islamic groups to profit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to gain influence on young Muslims can be seen in numerous public institutions, including the universities. In this context, anti-Israeli, and even anti-Semitic, rhetoric can be quite useful in motivating Muslim youth that have little intrinsic interest in Muslim orthodoxy but for whom the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generates a sense of anger and identity” (Suzan and Dreyfus 4).. According to one immigrant Muslim women, fundamentalist importation into France transformed the way French Muslims view Jews. She said, “After the Iranian revolution, suddenly radical Islam arrived in France.” They entered through the construction of mosques by foreign governments, particularly by Saudi Arabia. European Muslims are also manipulated by Muslim countries within Europe. According to a Brookings Institute analysis:
The majority of the anti-Semitic violence in France has been committed by young North Africans who have been influenced by images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen on national television and on Arab satellite channels as well as by the sermons of radical imans. But looking at the issue more deeply, the violence perpetrated by Muslims in France is more an expression of the general and unfocused discontent present in the French Muslim community. That discontent stems not essentially from concerns over Palestinian suffering but rather from the difficult process of political, social, and economic integration into French society.
While legitimate criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, the veil of anti-Zionism provides a veneer of European acceptability to these Muslim youth. The Arab-Israeli conflict’s manifestation in Muslim-Jewish violence in Europe serves as a cover for French uncertainty of how to deal with the failed integration of North African Muslims. The European Muslim proxy-war is a way to connect both with European leftist society and with the Muslim world. According to Bernard Lewis, in the Muslim world, “in much of the literature produced by the Islamic organizations, the enemy is no longer defined as the Israeli or the Zionist; he is simply the Jew, and his evil is innate and genetic, going back to remote antiquity.” Jealousy over perceived Jewish power, which manifests itself in criticism of the Jewish state, may be one cause for anti-Israel criticism. One twenty-two year old student from Angouleme in France said, “The Jews are like gods. No one can touch them.” In response to an assignment in her French school about the Holocaust, one Muslim student wrote that “… whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; the Nazi regime did not succeed in wiping out this people, who nevertheless built a state called Israel; and today the state of Israel is not nothing.”
Demonization of the Jew and antisemitic reactions to Israeli behaviour serves as an answer to the Muslim psyche, scarred by the establishment of Israel. According to Lewis, “As some writers at the time observed, it was bad enough to be defeated by the great imperial powers of the West; to suffer the same fate at the hands of a contemptible gang of Jews was an intolerable humiliation. Anti-Semitism and its demonized picture of the Jew as a scheming evil monster provided a soothing answer.”
According to Professor Yehuda Bauer, while anti-Zionism does not have to be antisemitic, it often is. An anti-Zionism that does not believe in Israel’s right to exist, while supporting the right of every other state to exist is antisemitic. According to Bauer:
The Arab-Israeli conflict, and now the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation, provide ample material for an antisemitism that sees itself as anti-Zionist, and not anti-Jewish. Indeed, one can be, in theory at least, anti-Zionist without being antisemitic, but only if one says that all national movements are evil, and all national states should be abolished. But if one says that the Fijians have a right to independence, and so do the Malays or the Bolivians, but the Jews have no such right, then one is anti-Jewish, and as one singles out the Jews for nationalistic reasons, one is antisemitic, with an attendant strong suspicion of being racist.
According to Bernard Lewis, Arabs in the Muslim world attacking Israel or equivocating Israeli leaders with Hitler or comparing Israeli actions to Nazi actions may not be antisemitic, rather merely emulating the intense rhetoric common in Middle Eastern discourse. He notes that
Not so many years ago young Americans with a sufficient level of education to be admitted to major universities were likening the campus police to the Nazi Gestapo and comparing American politicians and academicians to the obscene tyrannies that devastated Europe, inflamed the world, and brought death to countless millions. If American students could not see the difference between the flaws of democracy and the essential evils of fascism, young Arabs, having no direct acquaintance with either form of government, could hardly be expected to do any better.
Hence, according to Lewis’s analysis, the Muslim immigrants to Europe, whether the parents of today’s younger generation, responsible for much of Europe’s antisemitism, or the radical Muslim immigrant imams preaching in European mosques may not be engaging in antisemitic behaviour when they denigrate Zionism. The same can not be said, however, of the native-born European Muslims, who study in European state schools and have absorbed the values and norms of the society around them. Nazi imagery and comparisons of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Hitler have increasingly been found in European anti-Israel rallies. These rallies, attended by Muslims and European Christians, can be said to be antisemitic according to Lewis’s analysis. According to Lewis, “The use of the term Nazi to describe Israel, in Western and more especially in Eastern Europe, from which the Arabs first learned the practice, is a very different matter. The Europeans, unlike most Arabs or Americans, know at first hand what Nazism was, and what Nazis did to Jews. Knowing this, they must also be aware of the absurdity of such comparisons. In making them, they raise profound and disquieting questions concerning their own attitudes and motives.” Hence, when European-born Muslims learn to call Sharon “Hitler” from European Christians, who have lived in Europe for generations, they are engaging in antisemitic acts, whereas their parents or grandparents, immigrants from the Arab world, making the same comparison may not be. If they learn in their French school that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are justified, then it follows that French teachers explaining that Arab terrorist attacks against Israel “are legitimate,” then they are merely echoing the sentiments of French society. When one French Jewish parent complained to her daughter’s teacher about antisemitic remarks made at school, the teacher responded, “Of course it’s because of Sharon. I’m surprised your daughter takes it so personally.” This is true, even when they are exposed to anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate speech through Middle Eastern websites, increasingly an important component of European Muslim antisemitism. The French academic Georges Bensoussan notes that it would be antisemitic to justify European antisemitism on Israel’s actions. He writes:
Are we to believe those who rush to assure us that the antisemitic flames are being fanned by the ‘policies of General Sharon’? We would then have to forget that anti-Jewish violence increased tenfold between October 2000 and February 2001, a period when Labour Prime Minister Ehud Barak headed an Israeli government engaged in a peace negotiation (meeting in the Egyptian town of Taba in January 2001). Furthermore, are the Jews of France Israeli citizens that they should answer for the actions of the Israeli government? Are the synagogues and Jewish schools consular premises of the state of Israel, so that the aggression inflicted on French citizens in their own country can be interpreted as a legitimate consequence of Israeli government policy?
Ben Cohen notes that in the United Kingdom “Jews are confronted with a rigid Islamist standpoint which concedes no legitimacy to the State of Israel and which justifies terrorist violence against Jews in the name of Palestine, regardless of whether the victims carry Israeli passports.” Militant Islamists may also foster contacts with Europe’s far-right. The banned German Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) maintained ties with the neo-Nazi National Party of Germany.
Despite the failure of a small minority of European Muslims to integrate, research shows that most European Muslims are well integrated and hold views similar to the rest of the European public. According to one study, 91% of the almost two-million Maghreb women in France say that they feel well integrated in France. Other studies claim that the North African community share similar attitudes to the general population on issues such as divorce, family size, contraception and abortion. Economically, while perhaps less-so than the American Muslim population, a sizable percentage of French Muslims are members of the middle class. French researcher Olivier Roy noted that the sociological background of Europe’s militant Islamists fits a pattern common to the western European radical leftists of the 1970s and 1980s.
In fact, some of the Muslim antisemitism can be seen of as mimicking European society and reflective of European antisemitism. According to John Rosenthal:
The outbreak of anti-Semitic violence in France has clearly been linked to this groundswell of support for the Second Intifada. For leftist commentators like Peter Beaumont [of the British weekly Observer], this is to be expected: It is only natural that France’s North African immigrants would feel solidarity with their Muslim brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and apparently also natural that they would seek to express this solidarity by way of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. The then-foreign minister of France, the Socialist Hubert Védrine, himself suggested as much in a January 2002 interview when, in dismissing Israeli warnings of rising anti-Semitism, he remarked: ‘One shouldn’t necessarily be surprised that young French people from immigrant families feel compassion for the Palestinians and get agitated when they see what is happening.’ But this standard ‘leftist’ account is fact a highly deceptive foreshortening and tells us more about the biases and preconceptions of its purveyors than about the actual attitudes of France’s North African immigrants (which, as the case tends to be among individuals, are various).
One reason why European antisemitism is primarily a youth phenomenon may relate to the struggles of European integration. The process of integration has led to a gradual “ethnicization” of discourse in European Union countries. Hence, a second-generation French Muslim with North African heritage will be seen of as North African instead of French despite being born and raised in France. The same is true for a Jew, whose family may have lived in Europe for generations. In this new “ethnicization” of Europe, only a white Christian European is a true European. This may explain why younger Muslims are resisting assimilation into secular Europe much more than the older generation. Studies in France and Germany find that second and third generation Muslims are less integrated into European society than their parents and grandparents. This exacerbates identity politics in Europe and allows Europe to essentially view Muslim antisemitism as tribal. According to Rosenthal:
On May 12 of last year , as a group of 15 young beurs assaulted five Jewish teenagers on a soccer field in the Val de Marne near Paris, they are reported to have shouted the following insults: ‘Dirty Jews! Go back to your country! You’re not in your land!’ Apparently unconsciously, the North African youth expressed what is becoming a most European point of view.
France’s tradition of state secularism impedes this process of ethnicization. When the Swiss Muslim philosopher Tariq Ramadan posted a polemic on a popular French Muslim website accusing several French Jewish intellectuals of betraying their commitment to universalism and the “universal” ideas of the French Republic on the mantel of a narrow sectarianism – code words for Zionism – French readers were shocked. It was not the content of Ramadan’s polemic that shocked mainstream France but rather that he chose to identify these philosophers as Jewish. That tactic stood in violation of French cultural norms prohibiting racial or ethnic profiling. These cultural norms, in which “differences” are not to be manifested in public discourse, are being challenged by this new resurgence of Islamic identity among Europe’s Muslim youth. Rosenthal claims that European Muslim antisemitism merely mimics the themes around Europe. According to Rosenthal, “anti-Semitic incidents in Germany have been a regular feature of everyday life since reunification.” Antisemitic motifs are becoming more common in mainstream Europe. Rosenthal notes that “no one who has spent significant time in continental Europe recently – or at least no one for whom anti-Semitism has not yet taken on the air of normalcy – can fail to have noticed the frequency with which apparently well-educated Europeans will refer, without the slightest hint of self-consciousness, to ‘powerful Jewish interests’ or to a putative ‘Jewish lobby’ in order to explain world or local events in which they disapprove.” Rosenthal claims that “far from reflecting some deep-rooted and organic hatred of Jews and Israel amidst France’s population of North African extraction, it would seem, then, that the anti-Semitic attacks are just the pursuit by other means of the latest cause célèbre of Parisian intellectuals and students, with disaffected and déclassé North African teenagers happily assuming the role of ‘shock troops’ for their more privileged comrades au centre ville.” According to Rosenthal:
All of this is not to deny that anti-Jewish stereotypes and prejudices have currency in certain North African immigrant milieus in France. But it is to say that they do not necessarily have more currency there than in othersocial milieus and, in any case, that the responses of the French left and the French media to the Palestinian intifada have served to make Jews and Jewish institutions seem like socially acceptable targets of hatred and contempt in France. After all, it was before synagogues began to burn in France that protesters could be seen at pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris carrying banners juxtaposing Sharon and Hitler or featuring a swastika and a Star of David connected by an equal sign.
According to Frank Savage, a career State Department diplomat, “The September 11 hijackers were not simply based in Europe; they were Arabs whose outlook had been radically transformed by their experiences in Europe.” Some of the European Muslim antisemitism is supported by the European elite. London Mayor Ken Livingtone publicly embraced radical Qatar-based Islamist Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi upon his visit to the United Kingdom, denouncing al Qaradawi’s opponents as “Islamophobic.” The behavior of the London mayor, echoed by Europe’s Islamic community, is a reflection that European antisemitism is, in fact, not a phenomenon of the downtrodden but rather one of the elites. According to Yehuda Bauer:
It appears that the present, fourth wave of antisemitism in the West since 1945, is a basically upper middle class, intellectual phenomenon. It is widespread in the media, in universities, and in well-manicured circles. Typical is the statement of the French ambassador to Britain at a cocktail party, later reported in the British Press, referring to Israel, with typical diplomatic politeness and finesse, as that “shitty little country.” What is important here is not the statement itself, but the fact that that gentleman felt perfectly at ease making it in an environment he was sure would understand and appreciate it. It is the atmosphere, the ambiance, that is important.
European Muslim antisemitism is a combination of traditional European antisemitism and Islamic fundamentalism. It is perhaps for this reason that a recent European Union study on Muslim antisemitism whitewashed Muslim antisemitism, instead of blaming it disproportionately on the traditional target: the far right. As social psychologist Neil Kressel points out, “Muslim antisemitism has a global dimension.” Muslim antisemitism borrowed from Christian European antisemitism. It seems that modern European Muslim antisemitism, while influenced by Muslim antisemitism is heavily legitimized by Christian European antisemitism, often disguised as anti-Zionism. Globalization, European integration, identity politics, and a Europe struggling for its identity meld together and provide legitimacy for a growing European Muslim antisemitism. In creating a new European identity, a new European Muslim Judeophobia that is a combination of ideologies is being formed. It is often said that antisemitism is the “canary in the coal mine” and a foreshadowing of the future. Europe faces a multiplying Islamic population and its own identity crises, the impact this new European Muslim Judeophobia will have on Europe remains to be seen.
Avram Hein is a Legacy Heritage Fellow in Jerusalem and a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. He holdsa a graduate degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland. His writings have previously been featured in Conservative Judaism, the Jerusalem Post, ynetnews.com, FrontPage Magazine, IsraelInsider, Israel21c, and Israel National News.
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