Why Do Europeans Increasingly Hate Israel?

Why does European opinion increasingly hate Israel? I think some reconsiderations may be in order. One starting point is to take seriously, at least up to a point, what post-modern European elites claim about their motives.

First, anti-Semitism or Jew hatred is of course operative widely in Europe. But it is not wise to reify it. I am coming to the conclusion that European anti-Semitism is increasingly a farrago of three residual forces: first, Christian Jew hatred which is not to be dismissed as a force, especially in Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) countries; second, the recrudescence of fascism, which ethnically is more about Muslims than Jews yet does activate some atavistic anti-Semitic memories; third, Muslim immigrant anti-Semitism with is virulent and increasingly influential, yet is still contained within a politically marginal minority community.

Second, if these sources of anti-Israel bias are not the chief motivator among European elites of hatred of Israel—which the French Ambassador to the UK a few years ago over wine and cigars called “a shitty little country”— what is?

I would say it is the confluence of two factors. The first is primarily leftist “anti-colonialism.” Influential anti-Israel zealots who say they are truly “anti-Zionists” really mean it. They disapprove of Israel as the product of a backward-looking ideology which they dislike both because it is a unfashionably “nationalistic” but even more because it allegedly represents the intrusion of a European national fragment into what should be the post-colonial Mideast including a “liberated” Palestine. Of course, this take denies Israeli and Zionist claims for deep Jewish roots in the history of the Holy Land that predate the modern colonial era by more than three thousand years.

In addition to “anti-colonialism,” I would suggest as a second ideological dynamic motivating European elites what might be called “anti-Judeo-Christianism.” European postmodern elites are now monolithically secular and often aggressively anti-religious. It is true that they give the Muslim immigrants a sort of pass, partly because they patronize their religion as an exotic cultural survival and partly because they are afraid of their violence. But their dominant animus is against their own Christian roots and any aspect of traditional culture rooted in Jewish tradition or history. This goes back to Spinoza and Voltaire both of whom used merciless debunking of Judaism—and, in Voltaire’s case, of Jews—as a pivot for their attacks on Christianity.

What a Year for the Launch of Our Law School Chapters

UCLA LawThe Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law launched law student chapters that will fill an important gap in American legal education, offer the opportunities that members seek, and provide a resource to other members of the university community.   Many law students are eager to combine their legal training with their interest in Jewish civil rights issues, including fighting the contemporary resurgence of global and campus anti-Semitism.  Some students are interested in educational programming, while others want to develop their research and advocacy skills.  Some undergraduate students feel embattled by political controversies at their institutions, such as movements to boycott the State of Israel, and would like support from law students who are trained in applicable legal areas.  Few law schools offer meaningful activities for students who share our mission.  To be sure, some schools have active Jewish law students’ associations that provide important social, cultural and perhaps religious activities, but they seldom provide much substantive legal programming. 

UC Davis: The Louis D. Brandeis Center Approach to Preventing Threatening, Anti-Semitic Behavior

When three Jewish students tried to speak at a November 2012 protest against Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense on the University of California, Davis campus, they were silenced with shouts of “Leave our space!” “Shame on you!” and “Long live the intifada!”

The harassment only got worse.

The protesters then started chanting “F**k Israel” and gave the Jewish students a choice – join the chant, or be removed from the building. When they refused to leave, the three students were forcibly backed against a wall of windows while the protestors pounded their fists in the air, and made threatening physical gestures. The school officials nearby did nothing to try and control the situation.

There was a clear pattern of troubling behavior – these bitter clashes took place shortly after an unrelated outdoor demonstration held on campus turned into a rally against Israel.

UC Davis had quickly become a hostile environment for Jewish students. In addition to fostering a malicious campus culture, by allowing this threatening campus life to continue, the school threatened its federal funding: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the use of federal funding for public programs – including public universities – found to discriminate based on race, color or natural origin.

Vendetta Claims a Victim

Arab teenager

According to Lee Smith whose beat is the Mideast, Arabs are better at feuding than making war. This is why it was not only a terrible crime, but a tragic mistake when apparently Jewish extremists—outraged by the kidnap-murder of three teenage Jewish boys, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Shaar—invited an Arab-Jewish blood feud by kidnapping and killing an innocent Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. Multiple arrests have been made in Israel with relative alacrity—in contrast to the Palestinian Authority which lacks the will or the ability or both to arrest those responsible for the triple murder. Whoever killed the Arab boy, Mohammed Hussein Abu Khdeir, should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent of the law for a terrorist crime that weakens the moral foundations of the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said as much and virtually every other Israeli in publish life has said as much.

“The abduction of the Arab teenager was carried out by extremists, acting on their own, who stand condemned by every sector of Israel’s democratic society. The kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens, who have not been yet captured, was carried out by members of a terrorist group (Hamas) that is part of a Palestinian government,” declared Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The young men arrested for burning alive the Arab boy are being compared to European berserk “football hooligans.” No analogy is adequate to the depravity of the crime, but a better one is the kidnap-murder in Paris in 2006 of Jew of Moroccan descent, Ilan Halimi.

There are those among left-wing Jewish commentators whose initial reflex was to demand that we place the kidnap-murder of three Israel teens “in political context.” “Providing this context may be taboo at a time when the entire country is focused on the fate of three kidnapped Israeli teens, wrote journalist Mairav Zonszein, “but it is part and parcel of the story here.” Gidean Levy in “Haaretz” went so as to declare: “Only Israel is permitted to carry out illegal, immoral operations. Only it is permitted to be sanctimonious, to be shocked and to shout from the rooftops when others do the same thing to Israel.”

Zonszein, Levy, and other critics of the Jewish state in western newspapers as well as Israel should take more seriously the perverse reactions—and not only by Palestinians—to the kidnap-murder of three Jewish teens whose deaths should give us all pause.

The Worst Campus Anti-Semitic Incidents of 2013-2014

This past academic year was a turbulent  one on many college campuses, keeping the Brandeis Center’s legal advocacy initiative busy from coast-to-coast protecting Jewish students from hostile environments.  Which incidents do you think were the worst?  Unfortunately, there have been many to choose among.  Here are a few to consider:

BDS protestASA – On December 15, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  By a membership vote of 2-to-1, the association supported a limited academic boycott of Israel, the first country the ASA has treated this way.

AASA – Before there was the ASA, there was the AASA.  Earlier this past year, the Asian American Studies Association unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities.

Vassar SJP neonat HolocaustVassar – Vassar College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) posted a 1944 German poster on its Tumblr page portraying a many-handed monster wearing a KKK mask, holding a little man grasping a moneybag, while stomping over a European town. The Brandeis Center urged Vassar to take swift disciplinary action against the student group.

New York University – At NYU, SJP members shoved mock eviction notices under students’ dormitories room doors and into their private rooms at two NYU dormitories.  One of the dormitories is known for its high concentration of Jewish students.  The Brandeis Center and The Lawfare Project have urged NYU to “firmly and forcefully” discipline the students.

Michigan IIMichigan – In mid-March, Jewish pro-Israel students were called “kikes” and “dirty Jews,” threatened and otherwise harassed by BDS activists.   The Brandeis Center has urged the university to respond.

San Francisco State – Mohammad Hammad, a then-San Francisco State University student, late last year posted pictures on his Tumblr account with him holding a long knife captioned, “Imagine me cutting off the heads of those in the Israeli Defense Forces with this.” More recently, the Brandeis Center has joined an AMCHA Initiative letter calling for investigation into the use of university funds to sponsor a faculty member’s trip to the Middle East to meet with groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. Department of State. In the past, San Francisco State has been very strong at responding to problematic incidents, and we are hopeful that President Wong will maintain former President Corrigan’s strong legacy.

Northeastern University School of LawNortheastern – Northeastern University’s chapter of SJP has been charged with many offenses including sliding unauthorized documents under students’ dormitory doors, not obtaining required permits, and defacing school property.  Northeastern placed the chapter on probation, later reinstating them subject to various important conditions. The Brandeis Center has established a chapter at Northeastern School of Law.

Temple – Recently, a Temple University professor questioned the deaths of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. These comments come during unsuccessful efforts to convince MLA to adopt resolution critical of Israel. According to a spokesman from the University, Professor Alessio Lerro is “entitled to promote his controversial ideas.” The Brandeis Center has urged Temple President Theobald to respond more forcefully to these outrageous statements.

July 9th Symposium: 10 Years and Counting

The Brandeis Center is pleased to co-sponsor The July 9th Symposium: 10 Years and Counting…” with Heideman Nudelman Kalik and several major national organizations. The event will take place at 10:00 am at the United States Congress’ Capitol Visitors Center.  Ambassador Ron Dermer and former Canadian Prime Minister Irwin Cotler will deliver keynote addresses.  LDB…

The More Things Change…

The late Gary Tobin was often ahead of his time.  Here is what he said about the Presybterian Church nine years ago: The vast majority of Presbyterians are neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Israel.  Yet, a few activists were able to capture the institutional decision-making processes to pass anti-Israel resolutions.  This phenomenon is widespread on campuses as…