viewpoint: ben cohen

Global war against anti-Semitism lacks a strategy, any strategy


Another week, another litany of ugly incidents targeting Jews, along with expressions of concern about rising anti-Semitism around the globe, and even the odd solution offered up. But as we’ve been slowly learning since the turn of this century, not much really changes.

Let’s start with France, where in the last four years Islamist terrorists have executed two massacres at Jewish sites—first at a school in Toulouse in 2012, which resulted in the murders of a teacher and three children, and then at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris in January 2015, where four people lost their lives. 

On Jan. 11, 2016, a Jewish studies teacher in Marseille was brutally attacked with a machete. What identified him as a Jew to his Muslim assailant was his yarmulke. Consequently, French Jewish leaders have been passionately debating the wisdom of Jewish men covering their heads in public. 

They have good reason to feel insecure; a poll conducted by the magazine Paris Match revealed that 71 percent of French citizens believe that anti-Semitism is rising. Perhaps encouragingly, 70 percent feel that Jews should not refrain from donning yarmulkes if they wish. But that does not allay the community’s fear that wearing a yarmulke has become an invitation to assault.

Then there is Germany. It was only a year ago that Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed genuine shock at the notion that Jews were, yet again, doubting their future in the land that served as the Holocaust’s cauldron. Her reassurance that she was “glad and grateful” to have a Jewish community was duly noted and appreciated, but the nerves have only increased with the mass influx of refugees from Syria and other Muslim-majority countries over the last few months. Recently, Jewish leaders in Hamburg and Wuppertal have underlined the insecurity prevailing in those two communities. 

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