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August 5, 2011

The New Anti-Semitism

By Uri Avnery

Source:  Gush Shalom

The Nazi Propaganda Minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, calls his boss, Adolf
Hitler, by hell-phone.

“Mein Führer,” he exclaims excitedly. “News from the world. It seems we
were on the right track, after all. Anti-Semitism is conquering Europe!”

“Good!” the Führer says, “That will be the end of the Jews!”

“Hmmm…well…not exactly, mein Führer. It looks as though we chose the
wrong Semites. Our heirs, the new Nazis, are going to annihilate the Arabs
and all the other Muslims in Europe.” Then, with a chuckle, “After all, there
are many more Muslims than Jews to exterminate.”

“But what about the Jews?” Hitler insists.

“You won’t believe this: the new Nazis love Israel, the Jewish State - and
Israel loves them!”

THE atrocity committed this week by the Norwegian neo-Nazi – is it an
isolated incident? Right-wing extremists all over Europe and the US are
already declaiming in unison: “He does not belong to us! He is just a lone
individual with a deranged mind! There are crazy people everywhere! You
cannot condemn a whole political camp for the deeds of one single person!”

Sounds familiar. Where did we hear this before?

Of course, after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

There is no connection between the Oslo mass-murder and the
assassination in Tel Aviv. Or is there?

During the months leading up to Rabin’s murder, a growing hate campaign
was orchestrated against him. Almost all the Israeli right-wing groups were
competing among themselves to see who could demonize him most

In one demonstration, a photo-montage of Rabin in the uniform of an [] SS
officer was paraded around. On the balcony overlooking this demonstration,
Binyamin Netanyahu could be seen applauding wildly, while a coffin marked
“Rabin” was paraded below. Religious groups staged a medieval, kabbalistic
ceremony, in which Rabin was condemned to death. Senior rabbis took part
in the campaign. No right-wing or religious voices were raised in warning.

The actual murder was indeed carried out by a single individual, Yigal Amir, a
former settler, the student of a religious university. It is generally assumed
that before the deed he consulted with at least one senior rabbi. Like Anders
Behring Breivik, the Oslo murderer, he planned his deed carefully, over a
long time, and executed it cold-bloodedly. He had no accomplices.

OR HAD he? Were not all the inciters his accomplices? Does not the
responsibility rest with all the shameless demagogues, like Netanyahu, who
hoped to ride to power on the wave of hatred, fears and prejudice?

As it turned out, their calculations were confirmed. Less than a year after the
assassination, Netanyahu indeed came to power. Now the right-wing is ruling
Israel, becoming more radical from year to year, and, lately, it seems, from
week to week. Outright Fascists now play leading roles in the Knesset.

All this – the result of three shots by a single fanatic, for whom the words of
the cynical demagogues were deadly serious.

The latest proposal of our fascists, straight from the mouth of Avigdor
Lieberman, is to abrogate Rabin’s crowning achievement: the Oslo
agreements. So we come back to Oslo.

WHEN I first heard the news about the Oslo outrage, I was afraid that the
perpetrators might be some crazy Muslims. The repercussions would have
been terrible. Indeed, within minutes, one stupid Muslim group already
boasted that they had carried out this glorious feat. Fortunately, the actual
mass-murderer surrendered at the scene of the crime.

He is the prototype of a Nazi anti-Semite of the new wave. His creed consists
of white supremacy, Christian fundamentalism, hatred of democracy and
European chauvinism, mixed with a virulent hatred of Muslims.

This creed is now sprouting offshoots all over Europe. Small radical groups
of the ultra-Right are turning into dynamic political parties, take their seats in
Parliaments and even become kingmakers here and there. Countries which
always seemed to be models of political sanity suddenly produce fascist
rabble-rousers of the most disgusting kind, even worse than the US Tea
Party, another offspring of this new Zeitgeist. Avigdor Lieberman is our
contribution to this illustrious world-wide league.

One thing almost all these European and American ultra-Rightist groups
have in common is their admiration for Israel. In his 1500 page political
manifesto, on which he had been working for a long time, the Oslo murderer
devoted an entire section to this. He proposed an alliance of the European
extreme Right and Israel. For him, Israel is an outpost of Western Civilization
in the mortal struggle with barbaric Islam. (Somewhat reminiscent of Theodor
Herzl’s promise that the future Jewish State would be an “outpost of
Western culture against Asiatic barbarism”?)

Part of the professed philo-Zionism of these Islamophobic groups is, of
course, pure make-believe, designed to disguise their neo-Nazi character. If
you love Jews, or the Jewish State, you can’t be a Fascist, right? You bet you
can! However, I believe that the major part of this adoration of Israel is
entirely sincere.

Right-wing Israelis, who are courted by these groups, argue that it is not
their fault that all these hate-mongers are attracted to them. On the face of it,
that is of course true. Yet one cannot but ask oneself: why are they so
attracted? Wherein lies this attraction? Does this not warrant some serious

I FIRST BECAME aware of the gravity of the situation when a friend drew my
attention to some German anti-Islamic blogs.

I was shocked to the core. These outpourings are almost verbatim copies of
the diatribes of Joseph Goebbels. The same rabble-rousing slogans. The
same base allegations. The same demonization. With one little difference:
instead of Jews, this time it is Arabs who are undermining Western
Civilization, seducing Christian maids, plotting to dominate the world. The
Protocols of the Elders of Mecca.

A day after the Oslo events I happened to be watching Aljazeera’s English TV
network, one of the best in the world, and saw an interesting program. For a
whole hour, the reporter interviewed Italian people in the street about
Muslims. The answers were shocking.

Mosques should be forbidden. They are places where Muslims plot to
commit crimes. Actually, they don’t need mosques at all – they need only a
rug to pray. Muslims come to Italy to destroy Italian culture. They are
parasites, spreading drugs, crime and disease. They must be kicked out, to
the last man, woman and child.

I always considered Italians easygoing, loveable people. Even during the
Holocaust, they behaved better than most other European peoples. Benito
Mussolini became a rabid anti-Semite only during the last stages, when he
had become totally dependent on Hitler.

Yet here we are, barely 66 years after Italian partisans hanged Mussolini’s
body by his feet in a public place in Milan - and a much worse form of anti-
Semitism is rampant in the streets of Italy, as in most [or “many”?] other
European countries.

OF COURSE, there is a real problem. Muslims are not free of blame for the
situation. Their own behavior makes them easy targets. Like the Jews in their

Europe is in a quandary. They need the “foreigners” – Muslims and all – to
work for them, keep their economy going, pay for the pensions of the old
people. If all Muslims were to leave Europe tomorrow morning, the fabric of
society in Germany, France, Italy and many other countries would break down.

Yet many Europeans are dismayed when they see these “foreigners”, with
their strange languages, mannerisms and clothes crowding their streets,
changing the character of many neighborhoods, opening shops, marrying
their daughters, competing with them in many ways. It hurts. As a German
minister once said: “We brought here workers, and found out that we had
brought human beings!”

One can understand these Europeans, up to a point. Immigration causes real
problems. The migration from the poor South to the rich North is a
phenomenon of the 21st century, a result of the crying inequality among
nations. It needs an all-European immigration policy, a dialogue with the
minorities about integration or multiculturalism. It won’t be easy.

But this tidal wave of Islamophobia goes far beyond that. Like a Tsunami, it
can result in devastation.

MANY OF the Islamophobic parties and groups remind one of the
atmosphere of Germany in the early 1920s, when “völkisch” groups and
militias were spreading their hateful poison, and an army spy called Adolf
Hitler was earning his first laurels as an anti-Semitic orator. They looked
unimportant, marginal, even crazy. Many laughed at this man Hitler, the
Chaplinesque mustachioed clown.

But the abortive Nazi putsch of 1923 was followed by 1933, when the Nazis
took power, and 1939, when Hitler started World War II, and 1942, when the
gas chambers were brought into operation.

It is the beginnings which are critical, when political opportunists realize that
arousing fear and hatred is the easiest way to fortune and power, when
social misfits become nationalist and religious fanatics, when attacking
helpless minorities becomes acceptable as legitimate politics, when funny
little men turn into monsters.

Is that Dr. Goebbels I hear laughing in hell?