Hardly any anti-Semites nowadays admit they hate Jews. The accepted guise for Judeophobes is to claim that they harbor no ill-will toward Jews and that they are merely anti-Zionist or oppose given Israeli policies. Yet on occasion their words and actions offer a glimpse into the sinister darkness behind the cynical politically-correct façade.
So it was last Sunday in Paris during a demonstration against Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Some of the marchers broke off and made a beeline for two centrally located Paris synagogues.
The worst incident occurred at the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue on the Rue de la Roquette (in the heavily Jewish 11th arrondissement of Paris). A mob donning keffiahs, waving jihadist flags and wielding clubs (and chairs grabbed from nearby sidewalk cafes), converged on the synagogue, attempted to storm the building and attack the worshippers trapped inside. They were thwarted by police and Jewish security volunteers. Injuries were reported both among the Jewish defenders and the officers.
Many witnesses reported that the attackers chanted “death to the Jews” in French, along with the Arabic Itbach el-Yahud (slaughter the Jews). The siege on the synagogue lasted for well over an hour, during which time the congregants couldn’t extract themselves.
Sascha Reingewirtz, President of the Union of Jewish Students in France, noted in an interview with Le Parisien that the rioters blamed French Jews for the conflict in Gaza, “though they have nothing to do with it… Some people use any pretext to attack Jews and call for the death of Jews.”
Indeed this was precisely the classic modus operandi of old-school anti-Semites who felt no compulsion to pretend they were anything but Jew-haters. For them any trumped-up excuse sufficed to blame all Jews anywhere collectively and the issue of any actual culpability – individual or otherwise – never entered into it.
If all the Parisian demonstrators wanted was to “free Palestine” (without even going into the merit of their incitement on that front), what business have they to attempt to beat up Jews who are quite clearly out of Palestine? This is the touchstone of irrefutable racism.
The Sunday synagogue attacks weren’t the first instigation to violence against Jews under the cover of protesting Israel’s current campaign in Gaza.
Near a synagogue in the Belleville suburb of Paris, a demonstration Saturday featured the same hoarse shouts of “slaughter the Jews,” and “death to the Jews.” One day earlier a firebomb was hurled at another synagogue, this one at Aulnay-sous-Bois, a northeastern suburb of the French capital.
On July 8, the day Operation Protective Edge was launched, a 17-year-old Jewish girl was attacked with pepper spray on a Paris street near the Gare du Nord train station. The Middle Eastern-looking assailant yelled: “Dirty Jewess, inshallah, you shall die.”
The Paris synagogues or Paris Jews targeted cannot be held liable for Israeli actions, not that Israeli self-defense need altogether be regarded as villainous. Attacking them is every bit as racist as is wholesale rocketing of Israeli civilians; as was as was the abduction, torture and eventual murder by fire of Ilan Halimi in 2006; as was the shooting of a Jewish teacher, his two toddler sons and a small Jewish girl at the Jewish school in Toulouse two years ago; or as was the shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels just recently.
One would think that no rational person can justify such crimes of unspeakable and unabashed hate. Yet they are whitewashed and not necessarily at the expected fascist or Muslim fringes of the arena. Most worrisome is the free pass given such violence by seemingly ultra-liberal sorts. Thus, for example, French Ecologist Party activist Pierre Minnaert opined that “when synagogues start acting like embassies, one cannot be surprised to see them attacked in the same way.”
The shame of it is that this might not be an entirely out-of-favor viewpoint. It will lurk behind official denunciations of anti-Semitism and it will thrive as long as the world refuses to recognize the Arab war against Israel as often being a war against all Jews wherever they are.