There is something Jews have been confronted with for hundreds of years. It is called antisemitism. In both Europe and America, this very old form of hate towards an entire ethnic group is on the rise.
Antisemitism comes along in different forms. It can be violent, it can be more subtle. And his has different sources. It comes from both the right and the left and part of the Arab world.
But it is all based on two things: Hating Jews, and applying double standards. Both antisemitic actions, whether they are violent or not, and antisemitic statements are usually based on conspiracy theories.
This publication just got an antisemitic comment a few hours ago. Under an article about the relatively positive history of the Bulgarian Jews, a reader with the initials P.T. wrote, he was “sick of saying sorry” and wanted to “move on”. He said he was “not a racist”, and pointed out the Palestinians were letting the Jews “slaughter” them.
This is a good example. First of all, the Jews are not slaughtering or killing Palestinians. Israel defends itself against attacks and terror acts. The country has been forced to do so since its foundation. But, more than any other military in the world, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) try to avoid harming Palestinian civilians while doing so. They even warn them before they attack buildings in which rocket launchers are being hidden.
Secondly, not wanting to say sorry and insisting on “moving on”, whenever Jews are involved in history, is typical for antisemitic points of view. If, like in this case, the history of the Bulgarian Jews should be forgotten, in order to “move” on, should the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 be forgotten as well? Should the 500 years of Ottoman rule be forgotten? Should Vassil Levski be forgotten? Of course not.
In the United States of America, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has released its Annual Audit for Antisemitic Incidents for 2017. The outcome is worrisome. Especially in schools and on college campuses, there was a significant increase in incidents. Their number nearly doubled for the second year in a row.
In 2017, there were 1,986 recorded antisemitic incidents in the U.S.. For the first time, there was one in every state. The ADL also says, the number of incidents tended to correlate with large Jewish populations.
In New York, 380 antisemitic incidents were recorded last year, more than one per day. In California, there were 268 incidents, in New Jersey 208. Attacks against Jewish institutions in the U.S., such as schools or synagogues, have doubled.
Things do not look any better in Europe. Antisemitism at schools is on the rise in Germany. So are attacks with an antisemitic background, generally. In some areas of Europe, e.g. in the Parisian banlieues or in eastern German towns, walking the street wearing a Kippah is not recommended, because of an even higher danger of attacks than in other areas.
In Germany, Jewish institutions have police protection. While no country can “afford” antisemitic attacks, those look even worse in Germany, because of the country’s recent history.
But 73 years after Auschwitz was liberated, the recent developments are problematic. And the ugly phenomenon is changing: While attacks involving violence were usually committed by radical right groups such as skinheads and similar haters in those circles, they are now increasingly coming from Muslims living in Germany.
Eight percent of all Jews in Germany said in a recent poll, either they or their relatives had been targets of physical attacks. This poll revealed that 81 percent of those antisemitic attacks were committed by Muslims.
Another interesting trend was uncovered in Germany, 73 years after Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender: The memory of World War II among Germans does not seem to correspond with reality.
Many of “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”, this is how Daniel Goldhagen’s 1996 book about ordinary Germans during the Holocaust was entitled, were victims, according to what today’s Germans remember, or want to remember.
For a study by the EVZ Foundation, in cooperation with the University of Bielefeld, 1,000 Germans were asked about their opinion about perpetrators, victims and their helpers during the war.
While 17.6 percent of those polled said that their ancestors were perpetrators, 18 percent stated their ancestors had helped potential victims. And 54.4 percent told the interviewers there had been victims among their ancestors who lived during World War II.
As it turns out, many Germans seem to be mixing or replacing memories with wishful thinking.
Historians believe that about 10,000 non-Jewish Germans actually helped Jews to prevent their deportation and murder. That would be 0,16 percent of the German population, or 1,6 percent, if that number was multiplied by ten, in order to be on the safe side, mathematically.
The problem is that 100 times more Germans believe their ancestors helped Jews or other people persecuted by the Nazis. In this case, but also when it comes to victims and perpetrators, the memories of many Germans do not seem to have a lot in common with reality.
Recently, a group of independent experts completed a 300-page study about the nature of antisemitism in Germany in 2017. They came to the conclusion that there are three main forms:
> Classic antisemitism
> Secondary antisemitsm
> Israel-related antisemitism
Classical antisemitism is based on stereotypes such as “The Jews’ influence is too big.” Eight percent of Germans polled agreed with that antisemitic statement.
According to the conclusions of the experts behind that study, the label “secondary antisemitism” applies to attitudes of people who either deny the Holocaust happened, or those who want to leave that part of history behind and forget about it. According to the study, 26 percent of Germans believe that today “many Jews try to derive benefits from the times of the Third Reich”, which is an alarming figure.
Israel-related antisemitism is the most “popular” form. Forty percent of Germans agree with the following statement: “Looking at Israel’s policies, I understand people don’t like the Jews.”
Not only is the number worrisome, but also the perception of Israel’s policies, and the fact that in the eyes of many, Israel seems to equal all Jews, meaning every single Jew, even in Europe or elsewhere, seems to be responsible for decisions taken by the government in Jerusalem.
Bulgaria, the country this publication is being written in, is confronted with antisemitism too. Recently, 1,500 Nazis walked the streets of Sofia while “honoring” Hristo Lukov, a notorious Nazi leader during the early 1940-s. Swastikas are being painted on walls in the city center, Nazi literature is being offered at the central book market.
The “Ataka” party, which the U.S. State Department has accused of “antisemitic rhetoric” in a 2007 report, is part of the Bulgarian government today.