By now, the relationship between anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Semitism is readily understood by everyone but the most evasive. Arab and Muslim extremists in the Middle East portray Israel as a monstrous nation and its inhabitants worthy targets of violence. It takes a while, but eventually, this hostility expresses itself in anti-Jewish incidents in Europe and to a lesser extent, in North America. Some people express outrage, but for the most part bystanders do nothing and in some instances, run away from the confrontation for fear of putting themselves in harm's way.
One recent manifestation of this process took place in Italy where an Israeli Jew, a student at Genoa University, was menaced by a Palestinian who apparently has done this sort of thing in the past. According to Ynet, his fellow students tried to protect him for a while, but eventually dissappeared in the face of the assault. The police refused to investigate the attack until pressed by Jewish community leaders. The student who was attacked is abandoned by most of his friends and condemned for calling the police:
"Only one lone Italian student came up to me and said that he was willing to testify to the police about what happened. All the rest – even the guy who shares my dorm room and witnessed the incident – saw everything but are afraid to be associated in the case. The house mother at the dorms came up to me and said, 'why are to turning to the police? It will ruin his life.' In her opinion, if I'm kicked out of the dorms it would be the best solution."
Robert Wistrich from Hebrew University in Jerusalem offers some insight into the process in a Nov. 15, 2010 interview in Arutz Sheva:
Wistrich explained that anti-Semitism today is directed not just towards Israel but towards Jews around the world. According to him, most people identify anti-Semitism with very obvious symbols and images, such as Nazis, fascist demonstrations, or calls to throw the Jews out of a particular country. However, as he explained, these images are much less visible today, and anti-Semitism in 2010 has changed its form. “In the last 40 years, the most dynamic form of anti-Semitism is the one that is transmitted through anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel,” explained Wistrich.
He believes that anti-Semitism based on hatred of Israel is easier to carry out since it is legal in most countries to say anything one wants against Israel and not be prosecuted by the law.
Addressing the question of whether differences exist between anti-Semitism of the past and modern anti-Semitism, Wistrich said that there are not many differences today, since boycotts of Jews which existed then and still exist now. “[A] boycott works first of all against the Jews who live in Israel and it works against Jews who are supportive of Israel. This is a clear continuity from the classic anti-Semitism that we knew in the past.”
The contagion spreads.
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