By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
BERLIN – Where do Iran’s quest to speed up the production of uranium centrifuges for its alleged nuclear weapons program and global anti-Semitism cross paths? Both processes are proliferating at an astonishingly fast pace, and are not being met by fierce resistance. Just days before Israelis observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Islamic Republic marked its National Nuclear Day last Friday, proclaiming its accelerated drive to go nuclear.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voiced pained frustration over global indifference toward Iran, saying at Yad Vashem on Sunday that “at best we encounter a limp reaction, and even that is fading.”
The European reaction to the Shoah, however, is not evaporating, but instead turned into envy of the Holocaust. Europeans frequently view the Iranian regime’s genocidal threats against Israel not as a lesson to be extracted from the Holocaust to stop Iran’s lethal mix of anti-Semitism and atomic weaponry, but as a way to make use of the annihilation of European Jewry during World War II as a catharsis to alleviate their guilt-ridden history.
That partially explains a demonstration in late March where Germans depicted today’s Muslims as the new persecuted Jews of post-Holocaust Germany at a rally against “Islamophobia” in front of the largest mosque in Germany, located in the gritty industrial city of Duisburg.
An amalgam of 6,000 protesters from left-liberal political parties and organizations such as trade unions, churches and anti-fascist groups – some of whom donned striped pajamas with a Star of David – rallied against racist right-wing extremists groups.
The protest – with its crude show of concentration camp imagery – took place against a backdrop in which the Left Party Duisburg city councilman Hermann Dierkes belittled the Holocaust and played down Israel’s right to exist as “trivial.” After The Jerusalem Post exposed Dierkes’s anti-Israeli tirade in March, the WDR television station aired a news report, citing the Post story, with statements from regional politicians.
The WDR report showed a classic split along left-right lines. While conservative CDU councilman Frank Heidenreich called for Dierkes to resign, his Green Party colleague Ralf Krumpholz said he “could not evaluate” Dierkes’ statements because the Greens are preoccupied with working with the Social Democrats and the Left Party on the new “city budget.” According to WDR, the Social Democrats on the city council were not available for comment. The indifference of Krumpholz, the Green Party member, toward modern anti-Semitism raised eyebrows because the Greens purport to fight contemporary expressions of Israel hatred.
The marriage of European leftists and political Islam to promote an intense loathing of Israel was the subject of the new anti-Semitism study released on Sunday by Tel Aviv University’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism showing a massive spike in anti-Semitic violence in 2009.
According to the report, which only gauged physical acts of violence and not widespread verbal aggression, the number of attacks increased from 559 in 2008 to 1,129 in 2009. The United Kingdom is currently the hotbed of anti-Semitic violence, with 374 acts compared to 112 in 2008. Anti-Jewish violence in France, which followed England as the number two violator of human rights, mushroomed to 195 attacks from 50 in the previous year.
Dr. Dina Porat, the director of the Stephen Roth Institute, summed up what is considered common knowledge among observers of modern Jew-hatred, namely, the explosion of anti-Semitism expresses itself as disgust for and rejection of Israel. In short, anti-Semitism equals anti-Zionism.
The actual number of anti-Semitic acts of violence is considered to be significantly higher because of the feeble, or simple lack of, reporting and monitoring structures. A telling example: There is no centralized operation in Germany that could be modeled on the Community Security Trust in the United Kingdom, which aims to protect British Jews against anti-Semitism and terror. Combative watchdog organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League – much to the disappointment of many Jews in the Federal Republic – do not maintain satellite offices in Germany.
In late March, two men and a woman were asked if they are Jews and then viciously beaten by apparently Muslim perpetrators. The Berlin Jewish community issued a statement calling for an “urgent need to fight the roots of anti-Semitism, especially coming from young Turks and Arabs, and to effectively counter it.”
When asked about the case, Martin Otter, a Berlin police spokesman, told the Post on Monday that the assailants have not been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
The Stephen Roth study dovetails with previous Israeli and German studies in late 2009 and early 2010 documenting extraordinarily high levels of anti-Israeli sentiments across Europe, with Scandinavian Jews on the front lines of modern anti-Semitism.
In Norway, many Jewish students are subjected to violence and harassment linked to Muslim students, according to media reports. Critics argue that Socialist Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen’s strident attacks against Israel coupled with her efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state through boycott measures has contributed to a vile anti-Semitic climate in the country.
A number of German commentators observe that there is an almost Pavlovian-like response to mount massive protests to combat bias and hatred against Islam, but the toleration of attitudes and expressions articulating contempt – both verbally and physically at times – for Israel and Jews in Europe remain the norm. That helps to explain the intersection of passivity toward rising modern anti-Semitism and the kids-glove approach toward preventing Iran from securing nuclear weapons capability.