By Abraham Cooper and Manfred Gerstenfeld*
The refusal of the German-French public TV station Arte to broadcast a movie about European anti-Semitism has sparked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced it would show the film at its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and urged the European Parliament to screen the documentary.
Watching the first two minutes of "Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe" explain the refusal to broadcast. In the film, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority is addressing the European Parliament. He claims that all terrorism, violence and extremism in the world will stop when peace exists between the Palestinians and Israel. Abbas also states that Israeli rabbis have asked the Israeli government to poison Palestinian waters. A few days later Abbas said that he was misinformed.
Abbas’ first claim is lunacy. The second is a modern mutation of the medieval false anti-Semitic accusation of Jews ‘poisoning the well’. Nevertheless, many European parliamentarians rose in a standing ovation for the Palestinian Authority President. Martin Schulz, then the Chairman of the European Parliament and presently the Socialist candidate aiming to become German Prime Minister in upcoming September 2017 elections, tweeted that Abbas speech was ‘inspiring’ and did not distance himself from its anti-Semitism.
This movie was created by German producers Joachim Schröder and Sophie Hafner. It was commissioned by German public TV broadcaster WDR on behalf of Arte. After showing Abbas’ anti-Semitic statement and the European parliamentarians’ appreciation for him, the remaining hour and a half of the documentary exposes many other issues relating to contemporary anti-Semitism. It undermines much of the European self- image and its Middle East narrative.
While in 2017 it is politically correct to expose right wing European anti-Semitism, emphasizing European left wing anti-Semitism is often frowned upon. Negative mention of the BDS campaign is problematic in various European circles. Demonstrating that anti-Israelism is a modern version of anti-Semitism is not particularly welcome either. Nor is mentioning Palestinian incitement, corruption and abuse of Western aid money.
The film goes on to show how the many centuries old Christian tradition of Jew-hatred gets a modern makeover with the World Council of Churches’ financing of anti-Israel incitement. Hate-mongering against Israel in the margins of a national gathering of the German Protestant Church is shown as well.
It is one thing to show a single anti-Semitic murder resulting from extreme Islamist ideology. But the film recounts a number of extreme anti-Semitic crimes committed by Muslims. These include, the 2006 murder of Ilan Halimi, the 2012 Toulouse Jewish school killings, the 2015 Paris hypermarket murders and those in 2014 at the Brussels Jewish museum. The movie further shows the pogrom-like Muslim attacks in 2014 against synagogues in Paris and Sarcelles as well as the 2014 Islam-inspired robbery and rape in another Paris suburb, Creteil.
Many European politicians and media outlets have attempted for more than a decade to dilute or hide mention of extreme Muslim anti-Semitism. The suppression of these facts takes place even as it is the most violent expression of the ancient Jew-hatred in contemporary Europe. During the French socialist Jospin government at the beginning of this century, the huge increase of anti-Semitic incidents – mainly caused by Muslims – was to a large extent hidden by the police and the Ministry of Interior under the general heading “hooliganism.”
The censored movie was initially made available thanks to a – probably illegal -- 24 hour long showing on the internet by the German daily, Bild. The movie was for a time also viewed on You Tube. It is remarkable that it has taken more than fifteen years before a major documentary on European anti-Semitism was produced by a European broadcaster. Due to the Arte censorship the documentary has generated far more publicity than had the broadcasters simply screened it.
The Arte management uses two arguments to explain its suppression of the documentary. Their first argument was that the movie was not professional enough. The German public broadcaster ARD apparently does not share this opinion as it is willing to broadcast the documentary. The second claim was that the documentary did not cover a number of countries that the broadcaster had agreed on with the filmmakers. Arte also claimed that the documentary gave too much attention to the Middle East.
But had the filmmakers done what Arte wished the result would have been even more damning. Including Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries would have meant showing even more Muslim anti-Jewish animus. Muslim perpetrators have turned Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, into the capital of European anti-Semitism. The largest post war anti-Semitic outburst in Norway was the near-pogrom riots in Oslo by Muslims in 2009. The only synagogue in Oslo was shot at by a Muslim in 2006. A Muslim murdered a synagogue guard in Copenhagen in 2015.
The inclusion of additional countries in the film would have meant also exposing the widespread anti-Israel hate mongering by socialists and trade unions. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K Labour party, has a lengthy association with an anti-Israel group headed by a Holocaust denier. He calls anti-Israel terrorists his friends and has appointed anti-Semites to important party positions.
Producers Schröder and Hafner showed Palestinian patients being treated at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital. That would have been news to the more than 150 million adult Europeans out of 400 million who believe that Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians. If that widespread lie were actually true, the Palestinian patients shown in this documentary would have been dead long ago.
Last year, at the height of the mass influx of Arab and Muslim migrants to Germany Wiesenthal Center officials met with German officials to ask if and how they were planning to deal with the fact that many of these people brought with them hateful views of Jews.
If the reaction to this documentary is any indication, many Germans are unprepared to acknowledge let alone honestly deal with the issue.
**This essay was co-authored by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, the former Chairman of the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs.