Confronting the Black Tide of New Antisemitism

10/16/2012 03:02 pm ET | Updated Dec 16, 2012

The new antisemitism has arrived.

For a long time now, some of us have seen it coming.

But this time it's here, and in no uncertain terms, with its combat cells, its symbolic figures, its small-time hoods and its heavies who have made the easy transition from gangsterism to jihad, its ideologists and its preachers.

Confronted with this phenomenon, faced with the disgusting image of synagogues, kosher grocery stores, Jewish schools that, not only in Paris but throughout Europe, are beginning to resemble entrenched camps, the only question worth asking now is: What to do?

One must call a spade a spade. Already, to begin with, call it its name. For, naturally, it's true that this anti-Jewish hatred is mixed with a hatred of France, a hatred of the Republic, plus a hatred of America and of the West. ut it is nonetheless true that these are Jewish, not "Western in general" children who are molested in the schools. These are Jewish, not Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim places of worship that are placed under surveillance. And when a cell in the little town of Torcy, near Paris, is taken down, the list of targets discovered there are exclusively Jewish targets. Otherwise put, it's time to stop the preachifying about the hatred-of-Jews-that-is-in-reality-a-hatred-of-France. We can no longer commit the error of those who, when Ilan Halimi* was martyred, twisted themselves into semantic contortions before deciding whether, yes or no, the affair boiled down to antisemitism. To give things their correct name, Albert Camus said, is to put the world right a bit. That is why the first task is that of nomination, of pronouncing the word: Whether one likes it or not, Europe is the stage of a wave of a new kind of antisemitism.

What kind? And what's new about it? Unfortunately, that too must be said and, to fight it, said explicitly. Jihadism, of course. Islamism, obviously. But also, reinforcing this Islamism, the old theme of the "rich Jew" (Ilan Halimi). And once again, reinforcing that, the conspiracy theory of the Jew as master of the world (evident on this or that Internet site, which should be a statutory offense -- and I know what I'm talking about). In short, a return to the major motives of traditional antisemitism, even of this repressed Nazi sentiment that, long ago, did not spare the Arab world any more than it did Europe, but that the former, in contrast to the latter, never really took the trouble to confront and deal with. Mohamed Merah plus Edouard Drumont.* The Muslim Brotherhood plus the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A Muslim heresy plus the somber memory of the European continent. Such is the reality. Such is the explosive cocktail that, if we do not open our eyes, can increase the strength of this madness tenfold.

Whence the pressing need to refuse all forms of the habit of the excuse. First of all because the Merahs and wannabe Jérémie Louis-Sidneys do not have the typical profile of these Zolaesque Misérables the sociologists lament. And then because no "difficult childhood», no «existential malaise», no "premature divorce of the parents" -- these pons asinorums of psycho-sociology -- can justify a grenade attack on a store, or assassinating a little girl with a bullet through the brain, in short, that the murderous persecution of the name Jew be re-established. That the Republic has abandoned its suburbs, it is true and it is shameful. That prison has become a place that encourages criminality is a problem, and one that must be confronted. But to plead this problem as a means of granting the new antisemitism extenuating circumstances is to add ignominy to the ignominy and, perhaps, crime to the crime. Without even mentioning this other inanity -- also offered as an attenuation of the crime -- of the "exportation" of the Israeli-Palestinian problem to Paris.

Worse still is the discourse, no longer of the sociologists but of political leaders who also blow on the embers and who should be met with the same unanimous condemnation. I shall not bother to linger --for it's a surprise to none--on the case of Madame le Pen who, when she equates wearing a kippa to imprisonment beneath a full veil, exonerates in advance the bully who is tempted to beat up a Jewish child. But what of the Communist deputy to the European parliament and director of the newspaper, Humanité, Patrick Le Hyaric? What of this closing ceremony speech at the last Fête de l'Huma, when he labeled the Islamophobe pseudo-film that had provoked the ire of part of the Muslim world as a "film produced by an Israeli fundamentalist"? By so doing, isn't he also designating targets of condemnation? By relaying this information, which he knows to be false, since the author of the scathing attack is an Egyptian Copt, isn't he also participating in the stigmatization that allows angry demonstrators to come to shout "death to the Jews" in front of an embassy in Paris? Fighting the new antisemitism entails demanding an apology from Le Hyaric, the deputy, and beyond him, from the French Communist Party.

One last word. The National Front is one thing. The PC's blunders are another. But the fact of shared responsibility should not exonerate the Muslim community from its own share of lucidity. And the fact that the immense majority of these faithful have nothing to do with the actions of a minority of fascistic extremists should make it all the easier to condemn them irrevocably. So we await the solemn declaration of the Imams of all persuasions, condemning this wave of antisemitism. We are waiting for the great demonstration where republicans of the Muslim confession will march, with the others, behind a banner marked "Stop the hatred of Jews." They should also assume their responsibilities. They as well, and the very first, have a duty to stoke, or to create, their own anti-fascist fires. This is the price of community life. The alternative is barbarism.

*Ilan Halimi was a young French Jew who worked in a cell phone store who, in January 2006, was kidnapped, sequestered, tortured and left for dead by a gang who assumed that, since he was Jewish, he must be wealthy.

*19th century writer who founded the Antisemitic League of France.