European Antisemitism

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Antisemitism is Alive and Thriving, Especially in Europe

A recent letter I received from German acquintances prompts me to write this commentary:

Every time we receive mail from these folks they insert newspaper articles about “righteous Germans” visiting Jewish cemeteries, attending ceremonies connected with Jewish memorials, remembering their erstwhile Jewish neighbors, etc. Apparently there is guilt as well as an inner urge to show their liberality and to attest that they really don’t hate these creatures called “Juden”. They obviously protest too much! They seek to justify the atrocities, and all that which they have done as a nation, as people and as individuals. With all of this attention to dead Jews they are now exonerated from all those heinous crimes that were perpetrated in the not too far distant past. This reminds one of a story which is told about a very important man whose nose is unusually large and misshapen who visits the Rockefellers at tea time. The children of the family are told to be polite, ignore his nose, greet him in a friendly manner and take their leave. When the time comes the children do their thing and go to their rooms. Mrs. Rockefeller turns to the visitor and says: “Mr. Doe, would you like sugar and cream on your nose?” 

An article written by Jeff Jacoby in the April 28th issue of the Boston Globe confirms the still rampant anti-Jewish hatred in countries all over Europe and are quoted here: 

In Belgium thugs beat up the chief rabbi, kicking him in the face and calling him a dirty Jew. Two synagogues in Brussels were firebombed, a third in Charleroi was sprayed with automatic weapons fire. In Britain the cover of the New Statesman, a left wing magazine, depicted a large Star of David stabbing the Union Jack. An Oxford professor Tom Paulin, a noted poet, told an Egyptian interviewer that American Jews who moved to the West Band and Gaza should be shot dead. A Jewish yeshiva student reading the Psalms was stabbed twenty seven times on a London bus. A member of the House of Lords stated that the Jews have been asking for it and now, thank God, we can say what we think at last.

In Italy, the daily paper La Stampa published a cartoon: A tank emblazoned with a Jewish star points its gun at the baby Jesus, who pleads: “Surely they don’t want to kill me again?”

In Germany, a rabbinical student was beaten up in downtown Berlin and a grenade was thrown into a Jewish cemetery. Thousands of neo-Nazis held a rally, marching near a synagogue on the Jewish sabbath. Graffiti appeared on a synagogue in the western town of Herford: “Six million were not enough.”

In Ukraine, skinheads attacked Jewish worshippers and smashed the windows of Kiev’s main synagogue. Ukrainian police denied that the attack was anti-Jewish.

In Greece, Jewish graves were desecrated in Ionnina and vandals hurled paint at the Holocaust memorial in Salonica.

In Holland, an anti-Israel demonstration featured swastikas, photos of Hitler, and chants of “Sieg Heil” and “Jews into the sea.”

In Slovakia, the Jewish cemetery of Kosice was invaded and 135 tombstones destroyed.

Nowhere have the flames of antisemitism burned more furiously than in FRANCE: In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In Montpellier the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseille; so was a Jewish school in Creteil. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails, and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus in Paris, the words “Dirty Jew” were painted. In Bondy, fifteen men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The bus that takes Jewish children to school in Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last fourteen months. According to the police, metropolitan Paris has seen ten to twelve anti-Jewish incidents per day since the Spring. Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogns proclaiming “Jews to the gas chambers and Death to the Jews.” The weekly journal Le Nouvel Observateur published an appaling libel: It said Israeli soldiers rape Palestinian women, so that their relatives will kill them to preserve family honor. The French ambassador to Great Britain was not sacked and did not apologize when it was learned that he had told guests at a London dinner that the world’s troubles were the fault of “that shitty little country, Israel.”

Antisemitism has been a part of European society since time immemorial. It is the oldest bigotry in history. Although there has always been antisemitism in Europe it is again rearing its ugly head, creating havoc for those unfortunate Jews who live there and are its victims. Let us determine not to accept this kind of hatred quietly, thus acquiescing to the libel and atrocities that are taking place. To quote the late Reverend Niemoller’s final sermon before he was sent to Dachau, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” We must stand up with one voice, defend our fellow Jews and never allow these “Rosches” to diminish our people. We must never forget that when one of us is attacked we are all attacked.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (publ. 2002)

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