Uri Avnery’s article, “The Fallacy of Rising anti-Semitism” (AMUST, 5 March), must be seen through the prism of Israeli domestic politics. Avnery, an Israeli citizen, wrote his piece as a long-standing critic of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and in the context of Israel’s impending election. Avnery berates Netanyahu’s call for European Jews to immigrate to Israel as a mere scare campaign.
But Avnery goes too far when he attempts to minimise antisemitism, and even to justify and legitimise violent attacks against diaspora Jews by Muslims. Avnery’s excuse is that the motivation for these attacks is anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish.
This “analysis”, which is often unthinkingly embraced by Muslims living in western societies, is dangerously short-sighted. If it is acceptable to attack Jews, anywhere and everywhere, for the real or imagined wrongs of Israel, then it is equally acceptable to attack Muslims, anywhere and everywhere, for what is done in their name, and in the name of Islam itself, by avowedly Islamic groups or by Muslim-majority states. It is simply not credible to condemn Islamophobia while attempting to rationalise antisemitism.
Contrary to Avnery’s assertions, antisemitic incidents are on the rise, and the perpetrators make no distinction between Jews and Israelis. Often their avowed motivations have nothing to do with Israel.
All the data from the police services of European countries, the FBI, and others who monitor hate incidents, show that antisemitic incidents are increasingly prevalent, violent and murderous. In Britain, antisemitic incidents more than doubled in 2014 from the 2013 figures. In France, Jews comprise only 1% of the population, yet 50% of racist attacks are against Jews. In the USA, for the past ten-year period, attacks against Jews comprise 60-70% in the religious hate category. Even in Australia, there was a 35% increase in antisemitic incidents, including harassment and assault, during the 2014 period compared to the previous year.
Denying or minimising antisemitism, does not help Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Israelis, or Palestinians. The end result is the undermining of all genuine efforts at countering acts of bigotry and hatred of any kind.
Julie Nathan, Research Officer,
Executive Council of Australian Jewry