US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman gave a speech last weekend saying that Israeli actions are fostering anti-Semitism in Muslim communities in Europe. Many rightwingers are now calling for his head, including Bill Kristol, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Below are two great responses to the speech. First, Yossi Gurvitz, “Yes Israel is a source of anti-Semitism,” points out the old If it’s the Jewish state, then how can you then complain when people blame the Jews issue –
See, we have a problem with this deceptively simple logic. Israel is a country which claims most of its citizens-to-be to reside outside its borders. Israel claims that a. It is a “Jewish country,” b. That all Jews are its potential citizens, c. That it is OK for her to meddle in the affairs of other countries on behalf of what it thinks are Jewish interests, and, finally, d. That any opprobrium gained by its actions, resulting in hatred or actual violence directed at those it claims to represent, is derived from racial and irrational causes. This, alas, does not make sense.
This is without even without mentioning the hidden point e., rarely mentioned, which says that Israel thinks it is perfectly acceptable to use Jews living in other countries as its agents.
Then Justin Elliott at Salon says that there is rigorous research by a British org that studies anti-Semitism to back up what Gutman is saying:
As it turns out, there is rigorous research that backs up Gutman’s point – that of, in his words, “tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews … largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.”
The Community Service Trust is thoroughly mainstream British organization that specializes in the study of anti-Semitism and providing security for Jews. The group publishes an annual survey on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, and its most recent study (.pdf) would seem to vindicate Gutman.
It notes what happened after the IDF killed nine pro-Palestinian activists on a flotilla to break the Gaza blockade in May 2010:
“The only significant trigger event in 2010 occurred when Israeli forces boarded a flotilla of ships bearing pro-Palestinian activists who were trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza; nine activists were killed during the subsequent on-board clashes. Reactions to this episode led to a monthly total of 81 antisemitic incidents in the UK in June 2010, compared to 49 in June 2009, when there was no comparable trigger event.”
And it also discusses the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009, the year of the Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza:
“The record total [of anti-Semitic incidents] in 2009 was triggered by reactions to the Gaza conflict in January of that year, which led to record numbers of incidents in January and February 2009.”
Those two points show a correlation between flare-ups in the Middle East and anti-Semitism. But what about causation?
The report explores this complicated question:
“Clearly, it would not be acceptable to define all anti-Israel activity as antisemitic; but it cannot be ignored that much contemporary antisemitism takes place in the context of, or is motivated by, extreme feelings over the Israel/Palestine issue. Drawing out these distinctions, and deciding on where the dividing lines lie, is one of the most difficult areas of CST’s work in recording and analysing hate crime.”
This point by Community Service Trust echoes Gutman’s sentiments almost exactly.