The Canary In Europe’s Mine
By Jeff Jacoby, 4/28/2002
Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe
THE ROCKS have been lifted all over Europe, and the
snakes of Jew-hatred are slithering free.
thugs beat up the chief rabbi, kicking him in the face and calling him ''a
dirty Jew.'' Two synagogues in Brussels
were firebombed; a third, in Charleroi,
was sprayed with automatic weapons fire.
the cover of the New Statesman, a left-wing magazine, depicted a large Star of
David stabbing the Union Jack. Oxford
professor Tom Paulin, a noted poet, told an Egyptian
interviewer that American Jews who move to the West Bank
and Gaza ''should be shot dead.'' A
Jewish yeshiva student reading the Psalms was stabbed 27 times on a London bus.
Anti-Semitism, wrote a columnist in The Spectator,
''has become respectable ... at London
dinner tables.'' She quoted one member of the House of Lords: ''The Jews have
been asking for it and now, thank God, we can say what we think at last.''
the daily paper La Stampa published a Page 1 cartoon:
A tank emblazoned with a Jewish star points its gun at the baby Jesus, who
pleads, ''Surely they don't want to kill me again?'' In Corriere
Della Sera, another cartoon showed Jesus trapped in his tomb, unable to rise,
because Ariel Sharon, with rifle in
hand, is sitting on the sepulchre.
a rabbinical student was beaten up in downtown Berlin
and a grenade was thrown into a Jewish cemetery. Thousands of neo-Nazis held a
rally, marching near a synagogue on the Jewish sabbath. Graffiti appeared on a synagogue in the
western town of Herford:
''Six million were not enough.''
skinheads attacked Jewish worshippers and smashed the windows of Kiev's
main synagogue. Ukrainian police denied that the attack was anti-Jewish.
Jewish graves were desecrated in Ioannina and vandals
hurled paint at the Holocaust memorial in Salonica.
In Holland, an anti-Israel
demonstration featured swastikas, photos of Hitler, and chants of ''Sieg Heil'' and ''Jews into the
sea.'' In Slovakia,
the Jewish cemetery of Kosice was invaded and 135
But nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France.
In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on
fire. In Montpellier, the Jewish
religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg
and Marseille; so was a Jewish school in Creteil. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse
was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris,
the words ''Dirty Jew'' were painted. In Bondy, 15
men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The
bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked
three times in the last 14 months. According to the police, metropolitan Paris
has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents per day since Easter.
Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming
''Jews to the gas chambers'' and ''Death to the Jews.'' The weekly journal Le Nouvel Observateur published an
appalling libel: It said Israeli soldiers rape Palestinian women, so that their
relatives will kill them to preserve ''family honor.'' The French ambassador to
was not sacked - and did not apologize - when it was learned that he had told
guests at a London dinner that the
world's troubles were the fault of ''that shitty little country, Israel.''
''At the start of the 21st century,'' writes Pierre-Andre Taguieff, a well-known social scientist, in a new book,
''we are discovering that Jews are once again select targets of violence....
Hatred of the Jews has returned to France.''
But of course, it never left. Not France;
not Europe. Anti-Semitism, the oldest bigotry known to
man, has been a part of European society since time immemorial. In the
aftermath of the Holocaust, open Jew-hatred became unfashionable; but fashions
change, and Europe is reverting to type.
To be sure, some Europeans are shocked by the re-emergence of Jew-hatred all
over their continent. But the more common reaction has been complacency. ''Stop
saying that there is anti-Semitism in France,''
President Jacques Chirac told a Jewish editor in January. ''There is no
anti-Semitism in France.''
The European media have been vicious in condemning Israel's
self-defense against Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank;
they have been far less agitated about anti-Jewish terror in their own
They are making a grievous mistake. For if today the violence and vitriol
are aimed at the Jews, tomorrow they will be aimed at the Christians.
A timeless lesson of history is that it rarely ends with the Jews. Militant
Islamist extremists were attacking and killing Jews long before they attacked
and killed Americans on Sept. 11. The Nazis' first set out to incinerate the
Jews; in the end, all of Europe was burned in the fire.
Jews, it is often said, are the canary in the coal mine of civilization.
When they become the objects of savagery and hate, it means the air has been
poisoned and an explosion is soon to come. If Europeans don't rise up and turn
against the Jew-haters, the Jew-haters will rise up and turn against them.
This story ran on page E7 of the Boston Globe on 4/28/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.