France / 09-06-2012
Modern Formula for Antisemitism
By Bernard-Henri Lévy
What can be said about that strange French obsession regarding Israel, according to which the Jews again become defendants, and which supplies the old machine of antisemitism with new fuel?
The French Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, chose the right words. The republican, national or regional authorities reacted as was expected of them, and the unanimous condemnation was heard almost across the entire political arena.
And yet, this incident (the attack, last Saturday, in Villeurbanne on three young Jews with the use of iron rods and hammers) is very disturbing. The fact that all this was possible, namely, that there are boroughs in France where three youngsters are in danger if they wear yarmulkes, is simply tragic. And when we read further that this is not the first time, when we find out that a similar incident occurred in the same borough several months ago, but was not reported by the media, when the National Bureau for Protection against Antisemitism tells us that the number of incidents of this type has increased since the murders in Toulouse and Montalba, but the system adapts to it…
Since the details are sometimes hardly recorded, and always end by fading away if the incident is not fatal, as if they are of no importance, one cannot avoid thinking that “something is rotten in the French Republic.” There is something in this adaptation, in the banalization, in the slow but permanent trailing of antisemitic poison, something malodorous that should not be ignored.
Is it just coincidence that this incident occurred on the day following an election campaign, in which we saw a candidate, Mrs. Le Pen, mentioning contemptuously Jewish-sounding names? Is it only by chance that we heard that week, thanks to groups that combat racism (and that have turned to the courts on that issue), that France is one of the few countries in which, after typing a name in the internet search engines, one of the semi-automatic results that may be suggested by the algorithm (which is determined actually by the total number of searches of the previous users) is the link between this name and the name “Jew”?
And what can be said about this strange obsession regarding Israel, which has been attempting for several years to be the alpha and omega, the pillar, the base of an ideological structure that is at the same time delusional and monstrously effective, and in which the Jews again become the defendants. An abstract Israel, and imaginary Israel, a devilish Israel, not to mention Nazi, that by association turns all Jews into Nazis and evil-spirited. Israel, which is expected, in one word, to supply the old antisemitic machine with new fuel?
That is the root of the problem
It exists within all those people, Muslim or not, who imagine the revenge of “the victims of Israel” when they attack people wearing yarmulkes. It exists in all those purporting to be “Partisans for the Palestinians,” who do not react at all to the fate of the residents of Trans-Jordan or the Gaza strip, when their Arab brothers abuse them or butcher them, and all of a sudden they are seen as the salt of the earth when they confront Israel and when Israel reacts in return.
“The friends of Humanity” look upon all this with a kind of double standard. They do not shed tears for the children who have been murdered in Hula, Syria; the don’t bother to say one word about the cruelty of Bashar–al-Assad who bombs his own country with heavy artillery, and they feel sorry that a tyrant like Mouamar Kaddafi, who was responsible for the death of tens of thousands of innocent Arabs, was executed and can do no more harm.
But when Israel acts (or more precisely, when Israel protects itself, in a relatively reasonable manner, i.e., in a manner that can be criticized, more or less), they conclude that the resulting cases of death constitute crimes against humanity, and that all the world Jews are stained with the blood of those killed.
Israel is in principle not a legitimate country… the policy of its leaders is, therefore, criminal at its core… its friends and allies are therefore accomplices to this fundamental crime… this is, more than ever the antisemitic formula today. This is the rule that permits to kill or to beat, in the opinion of the offspring of the Nazis of the thirties, those whose arguments are not heard. This is the new rosary of hatred that has turned the Jews into potential murderers and therefore it is allowed to censure and hurt them.
We must reject this rosary, take it apart and prove its protocols to be false, like those of ancient times. This is the urgent action needed of us following the events in Villeurbanne. It would be madness to undervalue their scope and their meaning.
Bernard-Henri Lévy is a Jewish French intellectual, philosopher, writer, film maker and businessman.