antisemitism is part of the identity crisis in Europe
CNN poll had nothing new to say. This is the same continent that is wading through the ruins of 1945. What Europeans do not like about themselves they project on the black person, the immigrant or the Jew
By Adi Kantor
Last week, a survey by the American CNN network was published, revealing serious findings about the spread of antisemitism in Europe. There is no need to repeat the numbers presented in the survey, however important, for two reasons. Firstly, these data have been published by all major media outlets, both Israeli and international, and since they repeat themselves every year – they are known to all. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, such surveys have a tendency – even if one may not intend so or may even be aware of it (in a sort of “upside-down” logic) – to spread this raging hatred to even wider circles, primarily to promote “sensational news” or “scoops”. I have therefore no intention of supporting it.
I will say, of course, that these surveys are important, especially in order to help see a complex and extremely serious reality, although not entirely surprising. The sad fact is that even after revelation of the horrific scale of the Holocaust and the unprecedented manner of extermination of the Jews of Europe and North Africa by the Germans and their accomplices (including crimes against humanity committed against other demographic groups such as Gypsies, disabled persons, Russian POWs, etc.), never before seen in human history. Even after all this, the burning flames of hatred toward Jews wherever they may be still rage in the hearts of many European citizens. Yes, even today.
We, as Israelis and as Jews, must express primarily sorrow and disappointment at the fact that this is the sad reality in Europe today, and especially to learn to relate to it. We must not cooperate with anti-democratic and racist elements who call themselves “friends” – who seek to establish ties with Jews and the State of Israel in order to enter the center of European social-political discourse and to impose fear and terror on entire populations. There is no place for surprise or shock on our parts. This is the time to act, denounce and ban them from within our midst
Even in 2018, the peoples of Europe are still trapped in a deep and complex identity crisis, whose origins are still rooted in the post-war ruins of 1945. antisemitism is not, and has never been, connected to Jews. This is a malignant mental illness that has not yet been found a cure, which is entirely linked to the internal identity code of the peoples of Europe. It has nothing to do with the Jews who live among them. Therefore, as CNN’s survey shows, there is no need to recognize Jews in order to entertain prejudices against them.
It is no secret, and perhaps even a well-known psychoanalyst from the late nineteenth century in Vienna would agree with me that antisemitism is the disease of the European “projection”: what we hate within ourselves and cannot cope with – we project on the “Jew”, “the black”, “the immigrant” or the “gypsy”. Nothing easier.
However, dealing with the past and with unpleasant memories requires great effort and courage. At least, this confrontation has not yet fully taken place in Europe. This is evidenced by the resurgence of the extreme right, the populist, racist and antisemitic parties that have been sweeping the streets of Europe in recent years. Ostensibly, the “friends” of the State of Israel.
To a large extent, this is the same Europe that we have always known. Europe, which likes to forget that which is “unpleasant,” which seeks to make a “180-degree change in historical memory,” Europe where the Holocaust memorial in Berlin is now called by many in Germany “the monument of shame.”
At this point it is worth asking another question: Why does Europe need so many monuments and references from the past that atone to its crimes? What will happen on the day when all the stumbling blocks and memorial boards that scream the names of the murdered will disappear? What will remain of that memory?
Perhaps all that will remain will be a small traffic sign located in the western part of Galicia, in southern Poland, which points to a small town called Oświęcim.
Adi Kantor is a researcher in the European Research Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).