Krauthammer Op-ed: "Anti-Semitism Has Returned to Europe"

Posted: Jan 31, 2015 9:00 AM
Krauthammer Op-ed: "Anti-Semitism Has Returned to Europe"

The horrors of the Holocaust are hardly a distant memory; after all, the survivors present and who paid their respects this past week at Auschwitz prove it was less than a lifetime ago.

But the reprieve of open and unabashed Jew-hating following the Shoah, according to syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, has finally ended. In Europe, he argues, it is once again fashionable and socially tolerable to hate Jewish people:

Amid the ritual expressions of regret and the pledges of “never again” on Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a bitter irony was noted: Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe. With a vengeance.

It has become routine. If the kosher-grocery massacre in Paris hadn’t happened in conjunction with Charlie Hebdo, how much worldwide notice would it have received? As little as did the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. As little as did the terror attack that killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

The rise of European anti-Semitism is in reality just a return to the norm. For a millennium, virulent Jew-hatred — persecution, expulsions, massacres — was the norm in Europe until the shame of the Holocaust created a temporary anomaly wherein anti-Semitism became socially unacceptable.

The hiatus is over. Jew-hatred is back, recapitulating the past with impressive zeal. Italians protesting Gaza handed out leaflets calling for a boycott of Jewish merchants. As in the 1930s. A widely popular French comedian has introduced a variant of the Nazi salute. In Berlin, Gaza brought out a mob chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone!” Berlin, mind you.

Read it all here.

Anti-Semitism is a bigoted and ugly ideology that sleeps but will not be silenced. Elie Wiesel and other survivors of the death camps have tried -- in vain, it seems -- to shake the world of its apathy and amnesia. The gravest sin of all, witnesses argue, is not necessarily shying away from the suffering of the Jewish people -- but erasing it. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, built in 1993, and others like it, are important institutions because they (among other things) recover and preserve the history of this terrible period in human history.

And with the rise of anti-Semitism not only in Europe, but across the globe, this history cannot and must not be forgotten. As my colleague Cortney O’Brien wrote in the November issue of Townhall Magazine:

When it was his turn to speak, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stalked right up to the microphone at the 2012 United Nations General Assembly in New York City and proudly declared that the state of Israel should be “eliminated.” It was a sentiment common in the Arab world, common enough that Ahmadinejad knew there would be no retaliation for openly questioning and attacking Israel’s legitimacy.

Anti-Semitism, the hatred and prejudice of Jewish people, is a centuries-old evil, but it appears to be on the rise in recent years. “Death to the Jews” is being chanted in France, teenagers are threatening to slit the throats of Jewish children in Australia, rabbis are being attacked in Great Britain, and Jewish students are being ostracized and attacked even here in the United States. These are just a few incidents of anti-Jewish hatred that escalated in conjunction with the Israel and Hamas conflict this past summer, and it seems to be spreading like an infection around the globe.

It takes an enormous amount of hubris to stand on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly and call for the open destruction of the only Jewish state. It is also rather ironic. But obviously, Ahmadinejad didn't care and felt entitled to express his opinions.

Hopefully, however, anti-Semitism and its growing appeal will be critically examined and addressed when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Washington in March.

It will be a missed opportunity if he doesn't.