As the bonfires of Lag BaOmer turned to embers, flash fires of anti-Semitism erupted in Europe. In quick succession, a Jew in Djerba, Tunisia, was stabbed by a Muslim assailant; four people, including an Israeli-Jewish couple, were slaughtered at the Jewish Museum in Brussels with a Muslim suspect now under arrest; several hours later two Jewish brothers were stabbed outside a synagogue in Paris by a Muslim. On the European political front, right-wing neo-fascist parties holding virulently anti-Semitic tenets in France, Denmark, Austria, Greece and elsewhere won great gains in public support, garnering seats in the European Parliament. In celebration of this electoral breakthrough and a powerful showing by the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, a Jewish cemetery in Greece was desecrated. All this in the last two weeks.
The European attacks were geographically isolated and were perpetrated by the very same Muslim class that the xenophobic right-wing nationalist parties seek to remove from Europe. But nothing can unite the insane and the psychotic like the implacable hatred of Jews. The sons of Ishmael and Esav have found common cause in Europe in the abuse of the continent’s Jews.
This infection has spread to the New World as well. Anti-Semitism incubates and develops in the one place that should be “sterile,” and immune from diseases of racial and religious hatred: the institutes of higher education. Colleges and universities, academic organizations and professional unions actively support openly anti-Israel organizations which promote explicitly anti-Semitic positions. Student governments throughout the nation have put forth legislation supporting the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement with the intention of isolating Israel academically and financially. Student groups like SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) and even putatively Jewish organizations like Open-Hillel have committed their energies to the pursuit of a rabidly anti-Israel agenda and, indirectly, an anti-Semitic agenda. Even Jewish enclaves like Boro Park are not safe from anti-Semitism with the numerous knock-out game assaults and the more recent barrage of graffiti by a former NYC policeman.
This short list of incidents is merely the symptomatic manifestation of the underlying malaise of global anti-Semitism which, if the recent report compiled by the Anti-Defamation Leagues is correct, infects one out of every four adults on the planet, roughly 1.1 billion people. Even accepting that some of the data gathering may be flawed and that the survey reflects “attitudes” and not actions or the desire to commit anti-Semitic actions, that still leaves a vast number of anti-Semites and anti-Semitic sentiments floating out there in the world.
As it is Erev Yom Tov, Zman Mattan Torateinu, there should be some good news as well.
Acknowledging that there is an enemy is an important first step in the battle. It is not a revelation that there is a legion in the world comprised of those who hate Jews and Israel. The good news is that there are also Gentiles and even Muslims who bravely speak out against the anti-Semitism in Europe and are committed supporters of Israel. There are far more people of goodwill than we are led to believe by the media and the depressing results of studies.
The good among men are undoubtedly the majority, though all too often the silent majority. Sometimes, though, they do find their voice and speak in word and action, as they did last Monday night.
In the immediate aftermath of the murders at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Rome’s Jewish Museum remained open until midnight Monday to accommodate the thousands of people, both Jew and Gentile, who wanted to express solidarity with the Jewish people and express their sorrow at the tragedy.
A leading Italian newspaper’s description of the crowd: “Youth, seniors, families and children, all waiting to learn the traditions of the Jewish culture and send a message of solidarity with the victims of Brussels.”
The paper continued its coverage of the event by quoting Nicola Zingaretti, President of Italy’s Lazio region whose capital is Rome, who said, “We find ourselves in a place of culture to give a firm answer against hatred, violence, ignorance and contempt towards the other… This initiative is also launching another message: [Let] no one be deceived, in any corner of Europe or the world in which someone is hit, humiliated, hurt or killed as a victim of ignorance, racism or anti-Semitism, [for] they will bring upon themselves the eyes of the world.” The Honorable Mr. Zingaretti has chosen to echo the statement attributed to the 18th century Irish statesman Edmund Burke who said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The three out of four people in the world who do not evince ant-Semitic attitudes is tasked by Burke and Zingaretti to keep a vigilant eye and speak out against anti-Semitism and anti-Israel statements and evil of any kind.
The omeric countdown to Shavuot is nearly completed and therefore it should come as no surprise that just as we the Jewish people prepare to encamp at Har Sinai to receive anew the greatest gift the world has known, the Torah, anti-Semitism is flaring up. It is said that the entire world was aware the moment Hashem gave us this gift, this mandate. Perhaps the spate of anti-Semitism is due to subliminal jealousy of the Torah’s recipients. Perhaps it is because the Torah is the most polarizing force the world has ever known. To Hitler and the Nazis it was the Jewish curse upon mankind, the introduction and formal expression of an absolute morality in the world, and for those who cling to Torah it is a Tree of Life. This battle of values rages on in Europe, the United, States, all four corners of the world, and, I am sad to say, even in Israel. If we the Jewish people accept and properly fulfill this Divine mandate, good men will be inspired to act, vanquishing evil and, I hope, never needing to mourn the spilling of Jewish blood again.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com,