The Bergische Synagogue in the German town of Wuppertal has a history with arson. The nearly 120-year-old synagogue was burned down during Kristallnacht in 1938. Rebuilt after World War II, it was targeted again about a week ago by arsonists who threw Molotov cocktails at the house of worship (although, thankfully, they failed to set it aflame).
Welcome to the New Europe, where the street thugs have learned a lot from the Old Europe. Their protests of the Gaza War during the past few weeks haven’t been anti-Israel so much as anti-Jew. Some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world — Paris, Berlin, London — have witnessed demonstrations airing hatreds associated with Europe’s darkest crimes.
You don’t have to be a German speaker to sense the ugliness in the chant, “Jude, Jude feiges Schwein! Komm heraus und kämpf allein!” That was the verbal calling card of protesters in Berlin a few weeks ago. Translation: The former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany warned that Jews shouldn’t do anything to make themselves recognizable in public. The current president says, “We would never in our lives have thought it possible anymore that anti-Semitic views of the nastiest and most primitive kind can be chanted on German streets.”
In France, protesters have stormed synagogues yelling “Hitler was right!” and “Death to the Jews!” -- apparently forgetting in the heat of the moment that what they are supposed to be upset by is disproportionate Israeli attacks in Gaza, not that Adolf Hitler didn’t finish the job.
On Twitter, the hashtag #HitlerWasRight was trending globally in mid-July. Usually, Israel-bashers accuse the Jewish state of being the new Nazi Germany. But don’t sweat the details. All they know is that they hate the Jews, and they will use whatever rhetorical provocation is at hand to communicate their venom.
The most innocent representatives of Israel are targets. In Austria, pro-Palestinian protesters stormed the field to attack Israeli soccer players during a friendly match with a French team. In Edinburgh, Scotland, the student dance company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev chose to cancel its performance at a summer arts festival after protests were planned. “We received warnings that their participation could endanger the dancers,” the president of the university said.
To their credit, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy have denounced “ugly anti-Semitic statements, demonstrations and attacks.” The French prime minister has said that the new anti-Semitism “hides itself behind a fake anti-Zionism.”
Europe thought it had entered a new era of blissful tolerance, but it imported ancient hatreds in the form of immigrants from Muslim countries who are not assimilating to the new European norms but reviving the worst of the old ones.
Originality is not their strong suit. A researcher for a Berlin university studying contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe found all the same old tropes, such as “usurer” and “child murderer.” Just the other day, a Hamas official said on Lebanese TV that Jews are addicted to killing women and children, a holdover from their practice of killing Christians to use their blood in making matzos. Can’t these cretins at least come up with new lies?
Even before the Gaza War raised the temperature, the new anti-Semitism was making itself felt. Earlier this year, the Israel immigration ministry did a survey that showed that two-thirds of France’s Jews are considering leaving the country.
For a Jew-hater, it makes perfect sense to work to render Europe increasingly unlivable so Jews leave for Israel, and then to support all those forces fighting to push Israel into the sea. Problem solved.
This is why the Jewish state is forever important, as a refuge and a beacon in a world where Jew-hatred never goes away.
Rich Lowry can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.