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The Belgian politician Karel De Gucht: Claimed Jews have a “belief that they are right” (photo: European Union)

Anti-Semitism is a very ancient and a thoroughly modern phenomenon: it was as common among ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as it is among their present-day successor states. It constantly mutates: Christian anti-Judaism became right-wing anti-Semitism and now left-wing anti-Zionism. Those who wish to resist and if possible destroy its roots must also adapt to the moving target.

Take, for example, the case of Karel De Gucht. He is a leading Belgian liberal politician, who served as foreign minister and then as a European Union commissioner from 2009 to 2014, responsible for aid and trade. Two of the Belgian prime ministers under whom he served, Guy Verhofstadt and Herman Van Rompuy, also became high EU officials and it is fair to assume that De Gucht’s outlook is typical of the European political elite.

Yet in 2010, this supposedly liberal representative of this supposedly liberal union of supposedly liberal nations told Belgian radio: “Don’t underestimate the opinion . . . of the average Jew outside Israel. There is indeed a belief — it’s difficult to describe it otherwise — among most Jews that they are right. And a belief is something that’s difficult to counter with rational arguments. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.” Washington was controlled by Jews, De Gucht declared, even in the Obama era: “Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill. That is the best organised lobby, you shouldn’t underestimate the grip it has on American politics — no matter whether it’s Republicans or Democrats.”

It is revealing that De Gucht not only got away with this public outburst, but that it is not even mentioned in his Wikipedia entry under the heading “Controversies”. Such views are indeed seen as uncontroversial by many Europeans who consider themselves liberal. To utter them in public is a breach of diplomatic etiquette, but certainly not a resigning matter, and De Gucht in fact faced no serious consequences. At a public event just after the De Gucht incident I asked Peter Mandelson, a former EU commissioner who happens to be Jewish on his father’s side, what he thought about it. Lord Mandelson looked uncomfortable with the question and gave a non-committal reply, but later in private he made it clear that he was indeed disgusted by De Gucht’s conduct. Should the commissioner resign? “That is for him to decide,” was the reply. The fact that De Gucht came under no pressure to resign suggests that his brand of “soft” anti-Semitism is ubiquitous in Continental corridors of power.

Yet the greatest danger to Jews today comes from a different quarter. Anti-Semitism has mutated again and is now a particular problem among Muslim communities in Western Europe. According to the study by Günther Jikeli, “Antisemitic Attitudes among Muslims in Europe”, Muslims show consistently higher levels of anti-Semitism than the general population in every country that has been surveyed. In the UK, for example, a Pew survey in 2006 showed that 46 per cent of the Muslim population had an unfavourable view of Jews compared to 7 per cent of the population as a whole. A 2008 survey comparing Christians and Muslims found that in Austria — historically one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe — 10.7 per cent of Christians agreed with the statement: “Jews cannot be trusted.” Among Muslims, the figure was 64.1 per cent.

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Carolyn Barnett-Goldstein
November 2nd, 2016
6:11 AM
The most odd aspect of this recurring anti-semitism is the blind denial of its consequences for the haters, who are members of other religious groups, such as the Catholics and other Christians. Included are those who are a societies' intellectuals, doctors, professors, lawyers, judges, office holders, business owners, etc. , former military, and teachers. The Jewish people are the initial targets of organized hate, but always, others have their place in the darkness. Hate precludes thinking, of course.

Empress Trudy
June 25th, 2015
11:06 AM
I suspect we're at or past the tipping point. This time it will be a slower motion ethnic cleansing of Jews from Europe and one by one, each country will pass a law formalizing it on the day the last Jew leaves.

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