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Rupert Murdoch on Anti-Semitism and Israel

11:40 AM, Oct 14, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Mr. Summers was speaking mostly about our university campuses.  Like me, however, he was also struck by alarming developments in Europe. 

Far from being dismissed out of hand, anti-Semitism today enjoys support at both the highest and lowest reaches of European society – from its most elite politicians to its largely Muslim ghettoes.  European Jews find themselves caught in this pincer.

We saw a recent outbreak when a European Commissioner trade minister declared that peace in the Middle East is impossible because of the Jewish lobby in America.  Here’s how he put it:

“There is indeed a belief—it’s difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.”

This minister did not suggest the problem was any specific Israeli policy.  The problem, as he defined it, is the nature of the Jews. 

Adding to the absurdity, this man then responded to his critics this way:  Anti-Semitism, he asserted, “has no place in today’s world and is fundamentally against our European values.”

Of course, he has kept his job.

Unfortunately, we see examples like this one all across Europe.

Sweden, for example, has long been a synonym for liberal tolerance.  Yet in one of Sweden’s largest cities, Jews report increasing examples of harassment. When an Israeli tennis team visited for a competition, it was greeted with riots. 

So how did the mayor respond?  By equating Zionism with anti-Semitism – and suggesting that Swedish Jews would be safer in his town if they distanced themselves from Israeli actions in Gaza.

You don’t have to look far for other danger signs:

·      The Norwegian government forbids a Norwegian-based, German shipbuilder from using its waters to test a submarine being built for the Israeli navy.

·      Britain and Spain are boycotting an OECD tourism meeting in Jerusalem.

·      In the Netherlands, police report a 50% increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by these things.  According to one infamous European poll a few years back, Europeans listed Israel ahead of Iran and North Korea as the greatest threat to world peace.

In Europe today, some of the most egregious attacks on Jewish people, Jewish symbols, and Jewish houses of worship have come from the Muslim population.

Unfortunately, far from making clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, too often the official response is what we’ve seen from the Swedish mayor – who suggested Jews and Israel were partly to blame themselves.

When Europe’s political leaders do not stand up to the thugs, they lend credence to the idea that Israel is the source of all the world’s problems – and they guarantee more ugliness.

If that is not anti-Semitism, I don’t know what is. 

That brings me to my second point:  the importance of good relations between Israel and the United States.

Some believe that if America wants to gain credibility in the Muslim world and advance the cause of peace, Washington needs to put some distance between itself and Israel.

My view is the opposite.

Far from making peace more possible, we are making hostilities more certain.

Far from making things better for the Palestinian people, sour relations between the United States and Israel guarantees that ordinary Palestinians will continue to suffer.

The peace we all want will come when Israel feels secure – not when Washington feels distant.

Right now we have war.

There are many people waging this war. Some blow up cafes.  Some fire rockets into civilian areas. Some are pursuing nuclear arms.  Some are fighting the soft war, through international boycotts and resolutions condemning Israel.

All these people are watching the U.S.-Israeli relationship closely.

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