Governments need to be more proactive to ensure racism is kept in check

While in Europe voices are heard against Jewish traditions and campaigns are hold to make kosher slaughter and even circumcision illegal and Jews do find that one decision is taken after another by governments taking away their religious freedoms and driving them out of the country, in Australia it does not seem so bad yet.

English: "Anti-Semitic Jewish Postcard"

“Anti-Semitic Jewish Postcard” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile in Israel the rabbis look with fear to the growing debate around ritual male circumcision elsewhere in the world, and voiced their fear of the precedent that could be created by a Jewish Israeli woman allowed not to circumcise her son. The rabbis opposed Israeli Jews to freely decide on the ritual circumcision of their own children because it goes against God His Law and might have a bad impact on the global debate over the issue.

“We have witnessed for some time now public and legal struggles against the brit milah in many countries in Europe and in the United States,”

the judges wrote.

“The public in Israel has stood as one man [sic] against these trends, seeing them as yet another aspect of displays of anti-Semitism that must be combatted. How will the world react if even here the issue of circumcision is given to the discretion of any person, according to their own beliefs?”

Religious courts in Israel hold complete sway over all matrimonial issues, including divorce. An appeal to the Haifa District Court by the woman was turned down, and the woman said the only resort left now is an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Europe’s Jews feel increasingly threatened and abused, fearing antisemitic abuse from Muslim extremists, the extreme right-wing, and left-wing radicals. With few European member states taking any serious action, and the failure of the authorities to tackle this growing problem, the human rights of Jewish Europeans are under threat.

75 years after Kristallnacht, has Europe failed to learn from history?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week described Kristallnacht when the savage attacks of 9th November 1938 saw Jewish businesses attacked, hundreds of synagogues torched and around 30,000 Jewish men rounded up for deportation to concentration camps, as

“one of the darkest moments in German history,” urging “all the people in this country to show their civil courage and ensure that no form of anti-Semitism is tolerated.”

But 75 years on, where do German Jews stand? Merkel herself went on to observe that today it is “almost inexplicable but also the reality that no Jewish institution can be left without police protection.”

Image of New Statesman Cover from wikipedia co...

Image of New Statesman Cover from wikipedia commons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the increasingly distressing amount of anecdotal evidence appearing in the news, it has been hard to gauge the extent of Europe’s antisemitism problem. Stories of individuals suffering antisemitic discrimination and even violence are, of course, unacceptable. But they cannot alone provide a clear picture of a trend. Some argue that ‘legitimate’ criticism of Israel is erroneously labeled as antisemitism (it rarely is). Academics and commentators are unable to agree what it all means. Manfred Gerstenfeld writes in his recent book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, that

polls show that well over 100 million Europeans embrace a satanic view of the State of Israel… [this] view is obviously a new mutation of the diabolical beliefs about Jews which many held in the Middle Ages, and those more recently promoted by the Nazis and their allies.

But others warn that comparisons with German National Socialism of the early 20th century are alarmist and overblown. It is true that the cracks on German shop windows this week will be nothing more than stickers, applied as a part of a peculiar campaign of remembrance and solidarity with the murdered Jews of Kristallnacht. One British Jewish community leader once challenged me, asking, “surely you don’t think it’s as bad here as it was in Nazi Germany?”, as if Europe’s Jews ought to wait for a full-scale repeat of such extreme levels of Jew-hatred before we allow ourselves to say “enough.”

Australia also faces anti-Semitic incidents in Australia in 2012 being the highest ever on record, though the number of serious physical attacks was the lowest since 2005. After eight young men attacked families who were walking home from a synagogue in Bondi last month Australia’s peak Jewish body  called for the national anti-racism strategy to be strengthened following an alleged anti-Semitic attack in Sydney’s east.

The council’s Peter Wertheim says governments need to be more proactive to ensure racism is kept in check.

He says the national anti-racism strategy needs to be strengthened and included in the education curriculum.

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Preceding articles:

Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe

Holocaust remembrance statue not desired

More on the circumcision debate:

  1. Stand up for your son: Say ‘no’ to ritual circumcision
  2. My (inadequate) justification for circumcision
  3. Outlawing circumcision: Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic

On the ongoing Anti-Semitism:

  1. Did France ignore the Islamic radical threat?
  2. New attacks target Jews in France
  3. Chief rabbi fears anti-semitism
  4. Increasing attacks in Germany
  5. Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia in 2012 highest ever on record

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  • Woman fined $140 a day for refusing to circumcise son (972mag.com)
    An Israeli woman is being fined NIS 500 ($140) every day for refusing to circumcise her one-year-old-son, Israel’s Channel 2 reported today. There is no sweeping legal requirement for Jews in Israel to circumcise their children, but the woman is undergoing a divorce process at the Haifa Rabbinical Court, and her husband has appealed to the court to pressure the woman into circumcising the son.
  • Antisemitism In Europe: The New Jewish Exodus. Anti-semitism is reaching terrifyingly high level… (pjmedia.com)
    This is something that InstaPundit has been covering since the beginning. It’s only gotten worse. If I were Jewish, I’d be buying property in the U.S., or somewhere safe. Related archive item here.
  • The double-pronged threat to European Jewry (blogs.timesofisrael.com)
    In his 1996 book Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945, historian Bernard Wasserstein predicted the imminent disappearance of European Jewry. This was not, he wrote, due to anti-Semitism, which he did not consider a serious danger. The problem was rather the “very beneficence of the surrounding environment” which “tends to diminish the Jews’ attachment to specific Jewish practices, languages, traditions and values.”
  • Israeli court orders mother to circumcise her son (telegraph.co.uk)

    An Israeli mother has been ordered by a rabbinical court to circumcise her son in a ruling that could set a legal precedent

  • Anti-Semitism is Rife Among America’s Far Left (Review) (algemeiner.com)
    If you’ve ever wondered why “do-gooder” is a pejorative label, Stephen Norwood’s book on “Antisemitism and the American Far Left” will enlighten you. Rarely has there been a group of Americans so prone to mistake feeling good about what they are doing for actually doing good as “far leftists.”

    They comprise Stalinists, Trotskyists, Old Leftists, New Leftists, loyal readers of The Daily Worker, New International, PM, Labor Action, The Nation, Ramparts, Tikkun; members of the CP, SP, SWP, SDS, SNCC, and indeed the whole alphabet soup cooked up by the dissidence of dissent.

  • Jewish Court Tries to Force Mother to Circumcise Her Young Son, on Penalty of Daily Fines (patheos.com)
    The rabbinical judges in the case said in their decision the woman was opposing the circumcision as a means to bringing her husband back to her. They also referred explicitly to the growing debate around ritual male circumcision elsewhere in the world, and voiced their fear of the precedent that could be created by a Jewish Israeli woman allowed not to circumcise her son.
  • Anti-Semitism lives on 75 years after Germany’s Kristallnacht (dralfoldman.com)
    Being Jewish, albeit not particularly religious and fairly cosmopolitan in my views, I have always struggled to understand anti-Semitism. Let me share two short stories which changed me fundamentally.
  • French Jewish leader: Majority of Jews too afraid to put kids in public school (jta.org)
    Perceptions of increasing anti-Semitism over the past five years were most widespread among French Jews, with 74 percent of respondents saying it has “increased a lot” compared to 27 percent in Britain. Among French respondents, 46 percent said they have considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism compared to 18 percent in Sweden, Latvia and Britain.
  • French Jews too afraid to put kids in public school (timesofisrael.com)
    French Jews are not leaving France in large numbers, according to Cukierman, who downplayed the significance of figures that show a 49 percent increase in Jewish immigration from France to Israel in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same time frame last year.

    “These figures fluctuate between 1,500 and 3000 every year, and at their highest represent half a percent of French Jewry. So this is not such a big figure,” he said.

  • Holocaust remembrance statue not desired (steppingtoes.wordpress.com)
    In Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe we can see that about two-thirds of the respondents for the survey considered anti-Semitism in Europe a problem and three-quarters said it was worsening.

Holocaust remembrance statue not desired

In Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe we can see that about two-thirds of the respondents for the survey considered anti-Semitism in Europe a problem and three-quarters said it was worsening.

Time Magazine (September 13, 2010) ...item 2.....

Time Magazine (September 13, 2010) …item 2.. The New Anti-Semitism – What it is and how to deal with it (July 12, 2011) … (Photo credit: marsmet541)

Elite opinion in Europe would surely disdain such anti-Semitism, but in its own way demonstrates considerable discomfort with Jews. Unlike Americans, whose Bill of Rights and historical experience commit them to the protection of religious freedom, most educated Europeans are deeply secular. They have little respect for religious traditions – especially those held by minorities – and do not take seriously the right to practice religion when it comes in conflict with currently defined “rights.”

Anti-Semitism may perhaps not overtly raised in the parliamentary debates but countries like Poland outlawed kosher slaughter. Last month the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called for countries to protect children from violations of their physical integrity, specifically including infant circumcision for religious reasons. The claim was that this age-old Jewish practice deprived children of their human rights. If the absence of kosher slaughter would only make life difficult for Jews – the meat could, after all, be imported – the criminalization of ritual circumcision would make the survival of Jewish communities in Europe virtually impossible.

In a drastic move designed to bring attention to anti-Semitism in Sweden, Swedish Jewish activist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein has filed for asylum in her own country Monday. The 31-year-old political adviser and mother of two took the unprecedented step to protest a series of measures in Sweden banning kosher slaughter, ritual circumcision, and possibly even the importation of kosher meat.

Rothstein, who has also been active in helping to organize Jewish solidarity and pro-Israel rallies in Sweden, said she hoped her actions would help move the issue from being a discussion on Twitter, around dinner tables and in synagogues to something that political decision-makers are talking about as a problem that needs to be addressed.

“One thing that we are good at is having conversations among ourselves, but I don’t see this as a Jewish problem because I don’t think there are a lot of Jewish anti-Semites out there,”

she told The Times of Israel in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“It’s not our responsibility to solve this on our own. It is a political problem that needs to have political consequences and solutions.”

Rothstein said many people she’s talked to have told her to forget about it and that the only solution for Jews in Europe is to move to Israel, but she’s unwilling to accept that.

Israel’s foreign ministry condemned the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe last month after it adopted a resolution calling for regulation of religious circumcision, which is also carried out on Muslim boys shortly after birth.He demanded that the resolution be annulled, saying it

“casts a moral stain on the Council of Europe and fosters hate and racist trends in Europe”.

Jews in the Minsk Ghetto, 1941

Jews in the Minsk Ghetto, 1941 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The commemoration of the Holocaust seems also to become a problem in certain countries.
Last week, the Foundation for the Jewish Monument Utrecht applied for a permit to build a monument for commemorating the city’s Holocaust victims, which will cost $237,000, according to the Dutch daily Telegraaf. The Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht its director Paul Vlijmen opposes the erection of a statue near his museum in memory of 1,224 Jews who were deported to death camps from Utrecht during the Holocaust. He believes that his museum, built on an old train station from which the Jews were deported, devotes enough attention to the subject with a plaque and an exhibition titled “Loaded Trains,” according to the local news site DeStadUtrecht.nl.

Maarten van Ditmarsch, a spokesperson for the Jewish foundation, said the Railway Museum has thwarted earlier attempts to honor the victims.

“People said that the city already has a monument for those who fell during the war. I think, however, that this time we will succeed,”

he was quoted as saying on DeStadUtrecht.nl.

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Please do find to read:

  1. Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe
  2. The double-pronged threat to European Jewry
  3. Dutch museum opposes Holocaust memorial
  4. Rothstein published article on the Mosaic Magazine website on Monday to announce her petition to be recognized as a refugee in Sweden.

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Graffiti near a synagogue in Salzwedel, Germany. 3 Oct 2013

Swastikas and slogans were daubed near a synagogue in Salzwedel, Germany

  • Dutch museum opposes Holocaust memorial (whitenewsnow.com)
    Maarten van Ditmarsch, a spokesperson for the Jewish foundation, said the Railway Museum has thwarted earlier attempts to honor the victims.
  • French Jews too afraid to put kids in public school (timesofisrael.com)Anti-Semitism “affects Jewish families very seriously and is the main reason there are so few Jewish children in public schools,” Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, said Tuesday during a symposium on anti-Semitism at the European Parliament. “Most of them go to Jewish or Christian private schools.”

    Cukierman spoke at a symposium organized by the European Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith International with European lawmakers on the findings of a recent survey undertaken last year by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency among 5,847 self-identified Jews from nine European countries.

  • Anti-Semitism lives on 75 years after Germany’s Kristallnacht (dralfoldman.com)
    If you have the time, read the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report entitled “Discrimination and Hate Crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism” which is highly recommended reading.For another more passionate perspective, I would strongly recommend the following article by  Jonathan Sacerdoti who is a political analyst, broadcaster and writer based in the UK.

    מידה — Groundbreaking Survey Reveals Scale of Europe’s Antisemitism Crisis

    Sacerdoti takes a historical look at anti-Semitism arguing strongly and passionately that seventy-five years after Germany’s  Kristallnacht that anti-Semitism is still thriving in Europe.

  • Anti-Semitism ‘on rise in Europe’ (bbc.co.uk)
    Respondents in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom were asked to give “their opinions and perceptions on anti-Semitic trends and anti-Semitism as a problem in everyday”.
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    The President of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, welcomed the survey, but said “the fact that a quarter of Jews are not able to express their Jewishness because of fear should be a watershed moment for the continent of Europe and the European Union.””The Jewish reality in Europe is of great concern and the authorities need to deal with incidents of hate and intolerance in a holistic manner, to really combat these manifestations before it is too late.

    “We would like to see concrete steps being taken, including creating legislation to specifically deal with anti-Semitism and racism, bolstering law enforcement agencies and ensure a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism, even, and perhaps specifically, when opinion-shapers and decision-makers engage in these forms of hate,” he said.

  • Jewish Issues Watchdog: preading European Anti-Semitism (jiw.blogspot.com)
    European Jews fear that they, their friends or their families might become victims of an anti-Semitic attack, if all this is a regular part of European discourse…
  • CHANGE: Exodus: Migration of Jews Out of France Begins. “They wonder whether classic anti-Semitism… (pjmedia.com)
    “They wonder whether classic anti-Semitism is not back with a vengeance all over Europe, after several decades of post-Holocaust toleration. The fact that campaigns to make kosher slaughter and even circumcision illegal are gaining ground in several countries, and were even endorsed at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, is seen as particularly ominous.”
  • Israeli court orders mother to circumcise her son (telegraph.co.uk)

    An Israeli mother has been ordered by a religious court to circumcise her son against her will or face fines of £90 for every day the procedure remains undone.

    The unprecedented ruling has been handed down by one of Israel’s rabbinical courts, which have legal jurisdiction over religious questions – including marriage and divorce – concerning the country’s Jewish majority.