Saturday, May 04, 2002

This article in the Economist misses the point I think.

Compare this paragraph:

Criticism of Israel’s government
does not, of course, equal
anti-Semitism. But many Jews are
horrified by what they see as a new
and wilfully false moral equivalence
between the Israelis and the
Palestinians and a tone of
anti-Israeli hostility that has
become so strident as to smell of
anti-Semitism. Many are
particularly upset by what they
consider to be the editorial
virulence and one-sided reporting of two quality newspapers
read mainly by leftish Britons, the Guardian and the
Independent, and of a leading left-wing magazine, The New
Statesman, once enthusiastically Zionist.

with the last one:

Growing hostility to Israel is a more complex trait. Anyone
defending Israel’s government nowadays is bound to have a
harder time of it. But that does not itself mean that heavily
anti-Semitic sentiment goes beyond a very small proportion of

[emphasis mine]

While the thuggish anti-Semitic sentiment expressed in crude political rhetoric and in vandalism against synagogues is of course only visibly evident in a small proportion of Europeans, it is the more sophisticated kind that is most disturbing. It is precisely because "elite" opinion betrays its inexplicable bias - devoting more column inches to lamenting uprooted olive trees in Palestinian settlements than to innocent Israeli victims of suicide bombers - that there is cause for alarm.

It is wrong to raise the bar so high that only violent acts or absolutely explicit rhetoric qualifies as anti-Semitsm (or, in differerent contexts racism and homophobia). Just because some anti-Semitic sentiment is expressed in a more sophisticated fashion, either because its purveyors are more skilled at hiding it or even because they are unaware of it themselves, does not make it less a cause for concern. In fact, quite the opposite.

My guess is that Jews in Europe are far more concerned with the disturbing editorial trend in their media than with vanadalism or even violent personal attacks. The former provides the climate that allows the latter to exist.