“For the violence done to thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” (Obadiah 1:10)
Lawmakers at a Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs session stated Monday that anti-Semitism in Europe may turn violent. The meeting comes at a time when a popular salute, called the quenelle, invented by anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonne M’balla M’balla and bearing Nazi overtones, is rising in popularity.
Anti-Semitism in Europe is a growing concern. A recent survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights showed that a quarter of European Jews fear wearing overt Jewish symbols in public. 20% of respondents reported experiencing an anti-Semitic encounter in the past 12 months, with 29% considering leaving Europe as a result of the atmosphere. The survey, which included more than 5,100 Jews from nine European countries, was conducted between September 2012 and September 2013. Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein called the results “alarming.”
In France, although French lawmakers are considering banning M’balla M’balla for repeated violations of hate crimes, his salute, a downward, straight-armed gesture seen as a reverse of Hitler’s salute, can be seen in use around the world, from sporting events to concentration camps. French soccer player Nicolas Anelka was castigated for using the gesture and has since agreed to stop. San Antonio Spurs player Tony Parker, also of French origin, was photographed several years ago making the salute alongside M’balla M’balla, but says he was not aware of the implications at the time. Two soldiers guarding a synagogue in Paris were sanctioned in September for performing the gesture. M’balla M’balla is expected to be tried for an eighth time of charges of racial incitement when for slurs against a Jewish journalist: “When I hear about Patrick Cohen, I say to myself: You see, the gas chambers… It’s a shame.” French immigration to Israel has increased 63% in the past year.
In Sweden, one activist applied for asylum to draw attention to increasingly uncomfortable circumstances including a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, an ongoing ban on kosher slaughter, and discussions to outright ban circumcision and the importation of kosher meat. Back in October, an Irish journalist donned a kippah and wandered the streets of the Swedish city of Malmo just to see how the other half lives. He reported being stared at and in one case, having profanities mouthed in his direction.
According to MK Reuven Rivlin, while anti-Semitism may not be a problem for Israel per se, “Anti-Semitism is dangerous to the world, as it has been shown in the past. Therefore,” he concluded, “the duty [to combat it] rests primarily on the countries themselves and on leadership in the Christian world.”
Committee chairman MK Yoel Razbozov spoke of the need to “suppress” such hatred. Without decisive action, he stated, anti-Semitic sentiment “might develop into violent action.”