Anti-Semitism unleashed

Published 22.07.2014 15:57

It is very hard for any columnist to focus on any other subject other than what is happening in Gaza. Despite the striking and alarming developments from all around the world, notably in Ukraine, Gaza remains at the center of our anxiety and attention for many reasons.
The situation today shows the impotence and cynicism of the "democratic world," starting with the U.S., but encompassing all the democratic governments and regimes of Europe. Post-war Europe was built upon the understanding that a new "Auschwitz" would never be possible again. That went rather smoothly in Europe, but elsewhere, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish policies of the U.S. and EU from those of other, fundamentally un-democratic, regimes. This is deeply undermining the "role model" dimension of the democratic world. It is therefore undermining the ideology based on participative and pluralistic democratic infrastructure.

It is obvious that Jews have had no responsibility whatsoever concerning the Shoah, they have just not been (along with many others) capable of rumbling the unspeakable tragedy of the genocide. This is deeply felt by the Jewish community, especially in Israel, who consider any threat to their daily existence as a prelude to another Holocaust. Israel retaliates with incredible disproportionate force and insensitivity for civilian losses, not because it feels strong and immune to punishment, but because it feels week and unable to assert itself as a durable entity and polity to its neighbors.

The mass media in its majority and the governments and opinion leaders in Europe have a very mild attitude against Israeli bombings, to say the least. However, there is a large and growing popular outcry as long as the killings continue. This will probably not change their governments' attitudes. The very large and spontaneous street protests did not push EU governments to intervene in Bosnia in 1992, nor did they stop the Iraq war in 2002. This, on the other hand, has a more pernicious and long-term effect – politicians are being alienated from daily lives more and more in democratic countries. Conventional political parties, which tend to resemble more and more are having immense difficulties passing on their messages to voters. Their growing incapacity to convince and mobilize their voters around well-defined, courageous political goals and projects leave the field to radical movements or tendencies.

It is very visible in the case of the Gaza tragedy. In Turkey, the totality of political tendencies wanted the bombings to come to an end and supported the Palestinian cause. This has not prevented every opposition movement to incriminate the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for its policies in the Middle East. However, something much more disturbing happened – an overt anti-Semitic outcry flooded the mass media and, more precisely, social media. A humanitarian aid association chairman has openly threatened Turkish Jews by reminding the infamous Istanbul pogrom of Sept. 6 and 7, 1955 that was waged against the Christian Greek and Armenian minorities of Istanbul. Another popular singer tweeted that all the sons of Israel must be annihilated. Such incredible anti-Semitic rhetoric is not limited to Turkey. In France, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have turned into riots attacking and destroying synagogues. Similar events happened all over European countries, where the authorities started to outlaw anti-Israeli demonstrations in order to contain anti-Semitic attacks.

That will not succeed. Anti-Semitism, once unleashed, can hardly be contained through security measures. By letting Israeli policies turn Gaza and the Palestinians into modern time's human offerings to an unknown "almighty international stability," democratic governments are effectively undermining the perspectives of peaceful coexistence. There is no "Palestinian" issue to really discuss, but everyone should come to terms with the "Israeli" issue and should come to terms with Israel, to devise what kind of state and peace they want to achieve. Obviously present situation, even if it is stopped through a miraculous cease-fire accepted by all, will not be sustainable, either for Palestinians or for Israel. It will be only an interlude before the next conflict. This is not a way to establish a sustainable international order and this does not only concern Israel and the Middle East only.

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