“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)
Israel’s military action in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, has given rise to an anti-Semitic backlash in Europe with a great variety of threats against Jewish people, including attacks, bomb threats, physical attacks on synagogues, and even “Hitler was right” banners in protest rallies.
The backlash has led Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky to comment, according to Britain’s Sunday Times, “We are seeing the beginning of the end of Jewish history in Europe.”
Reports indicate that as many as 45,000 joined mass demonstrations against Israel during the last weekend of July in Europe. (Israel HaYom)
Growing anti-Semitism prompted Charlotte Knobloch, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, to warn Jews living in Germany to avoid being recognizable as a Jew in public in order to avoid being attacked. (JP)
This spread of anti-Semitic demonstrations in Europe and throughout the world resulted in a special session of the Israeli Knesset to discuss the issue last week in Jerusalem. Present at the meeting were members of the Knesset and Jewish leaders condemning this new outbreak of hatred toward the Jewish People.
The meeting, which was called by the Knesset Diaspora Committee involved speakers representing Jewish communities from countries throughout Europe including France, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Germany and Italy.
Vladimir Sloutzker, head of the Israeli-Jewish Congress, which co-sponsored the meeting, said bluntly, “Never before since the Holocaust have we seen such a situation as today. We are potentially looking at the beginning of another Holocaust now.”
Representing the German Jewish community, Nathan Norman Gelbart, the head of Germany’s Keren Hayesod (United Jewish Appeal), said that Jews living in Germany are alarmed by demonstrators shouting “death to the Jews” and other anti-Semitic slogans, saying, “These are things that have not occurred since 1933.” (Times of Israel)
A representative from Belgium, Rafael Werner, said that Jews in his country are being asked, “Why are you killing children in Gaza?” (JPost)
At least one European newspaper is taking a stand against this growing trend.
In a campaign entitled “Never Again Jew Hatred,” the German paper the Bild started speaking out against anti-Semitism. The article which appeared on the paper’s front page included pictures of German leaders, such as Chancellor Angela Merkel, alongside statements denouncing anti-Semitism. (Israel HaYom)
Some of the leaders speaking out against anti-Semitism include:
German president, Joachim Gauck: “I want to call on all people to raise their voices when there is new anti-Semitism in the streets.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel: “These outbursts and utterances are an attack on freedom and tolerance. We cannot and will not tolerate this.”
Turkey’s ambassador, Huseyin A. Karslioglu: “Solidarity with the suffering Palestinian population must not turn into anti-Semitism.” (Forward)
Meanwhile, in international media coverage, there is a disturbing lack of documentation of Hamas terrorist fighters inside Gaza.
“Why haven’t we seen journalists’ photographs of Hamas fighters inside Gaza?” asks the Telegraph.
They suggest that journalists are being intimidated into not showing Hamas militants committing war crimes, such as firing rockets from civilian neighborhoods and that their news agencies are not saying anything about this.
Eileen Murphy, the Times Vice President for Corporate Communications at The New York Times admitted that “our photo editor went through all of our pictures recently and out of many hundreds, she found 2 very distant poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters by our photographer on the ground.”
Murphy also stated that their Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer, Tyler Hicks, is unable to get photos of Hamas fighters “because they don’t have uniforms or any visible insignia,” adding, “our photographer hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun.” (Tablet)
Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati, however, revealed the truth of what is really happening in a Tweet, but only after he left Gaza:
“Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday [yesterday] in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.”
Barbati describes how Hamas rockets being fired from hospitals with the intent of killing Israeli children are misfiring and killing Palestinian children. The Hamas militants then try to pin the blame on Israel.
Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren described in Israel HaYom how Hamas uses civilians as shields in the hope of drawing Israeli fire causing casualties that can in turn earn them points in the international media.
“To maximize harm to civilians,” writes Oren, “Hamas fighters operate under the cover of women and the elderly, shoot from inside ambulances, stockpile rockets in schools and prevent civilians from fleeing the places where the fighting is going on.”
This strategy is also based on the knowledge that Israel will hesitate to return fire if it is located within a residential neighborhood.
Recently, the IDF found the Hamas manual on “Urban Warfare,” which acknowledges that “the soldiers and commanders (of the IDF) must limit their use of weapons and tactics that lead to the harm and unnecessary loss of people and [destruction of] civilian facilities.” (IDF)
Oren explained the bias presented by the international media, saying, “The media’s obsession stems from many sources. These include authentic empathy with Palestinian suffering, opposition to Israeli policy, and in certain cases loathing for the Jewish state.”
Regardless of the conditions of this war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an address given to the nation on Saturday promised “to bring back the quiet,” and said that once the tunnels are demolished, “the military will prepare for continuing action in according to our security needs.”
We can only hope that as Operation Protective Edge ends, calm will also return to social conditions throughout the rest of the world with regards to the Jewish people living in the Diaspora.