The Washington Post has run an interesting (and perhaps important) piece on the alleged rise of anti-Semitism in France: “A ‘new anti-Semitism’ rising in France.” Perhaps some of what is reported is very real (I assume much of it is; the New York Times ran a similar piece the same day). If so, this has implications for the larger discussion of “where can Jews be safe,” which was the original raison d’être for a Jewish homeland/stand. Can Jews be safe in France? The U.S.? Israel/Palestine? What can Jews do collectively to ensure safety? How is Israel creating safety for Jews, or undermining safety?
However, at least some of what’s in the WaPo report is misleading bordering on mendacious. I specifically refer to the video they run of French comic Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala. He is the anti-semitic poster child of their story, and while I haven’t done any research on his career and stand-up material, I’ll assume the WaPo is right that some of his material is, in fact, anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish).
But the video the Post features of his Palestine stand-up routine (above), which is captioned–
Mbala’s shows have been banned by French authorities for inciting hate. This video, called “Palestine” is from the show “Sandrine” in 2009.
–absolutely is NOT anti-Semitic. Rather, it’s purely anti-Zionist. It’s a heart-wrenching, depressing, raw, and honest account of an archetypal Palestinian who gave up on freedom, equality, and liberation during the Second Intifada and became a suicide bomber. While suicide bombing is deplorable and unforgivable, there is nothing in M’Bala’s routine that portrays negative sentiments against Jews. In contrast, the routine focuses on the impact of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, killing of Palestinian civilians, and so forth.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak famously said “If I were a Palestinian of the right age, I would join, at some point, one of the terrorist groups.” [Link]
Barak’s statement, as well as M’Bala’s in the video, is recognition that Israel’s oppressive policies are the provocative cause of these desperate, deplorable, counter-productive activities. When Barak puts himself in the shoes of Palestinians, he feels empathy for their yearning for liberation and equality. But the WaPo would have you believe that when much the same sentiment is uttered by M’Bala, it’s anti-Semitic. No, it’s anti-Zionist. As usual, the WaPo’s reporting is biased and racist. The WaPo also might consider Sabeel’s considered analysis of suicide bombing: [Link]
One of the big problems we have is the MSM conflating real anti-semitism with criticism of Israel. That’s been around forever. I see a lot of stories that aren’t worth critiquing, because there are so many. But I think this one is worth examining, for the sake of sifting out the real wolves from the cries of wolf, in a very large, front-page headline claiming the wolves are out for the Jews.
Returning to the question of what makes Jews safe, the hard fact is that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is the number one source of Jewish unsafety in the world. By far. If the WaPo had reported this, it would have done us a service. If Israel were to become an equal-rights state, a state of all its citizens from the river to the sea, Jewish safety in the Middle East and around the world would dramatically increase. The WaPo will be the last to report on this fact, many years after Apartheid Israel falls. The headline will be something like “Shockingly, Jews Are Safer Without a Militarily Enforced Jewish Majority State.”
As for the difference between genuine anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Jewish Voice for Peace long ago published this important pamphlet, Reframing Anti-Semitism: [Link]
UPDATE: A brief search of M’Bala’s work indicates he is a Holocaust denier/minimizer, with a track record of anti-Jewish sentiment in his material. But this underlines my point: the WaPo’s reporting should have focused entirely on actual examples of anti-Semitism, as opposed to lumping in a video that contains only anti-Zionism.