Does Human Rights Watch Understand the Nature of Prejudice? – Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic)
A few days ago, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, tweeted: “Germans rally against anti-Semitism that flared in Europe in response to Israel’s conduct in Gaza war.” Roth’s framing of this issue is very odd and obtuse.
Anti-Semitism in Europe did not flare “in response to Israel’s conduct in Gaza,” or anywhere else. This is for the simple reason that Jews do not cause anti-Semitism.
The targets of prejudice are not the cause of prejudice. Anti-Semitism is not a rational response to observable events; it is a manifestation of irrational hatred.
The demonstration in Berlin was meant to protest the rough treatment of Jews, and Jewish institutions, across Europe, mainly at the hands of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. These events included the sacking of synagogues; the desecration of Jewish cemeteries; arson attacks on Jewish-owned stores; and physical attacks on people who dress in an identifiably Jewish manner.
The people who perpetrated these violent acts, and who made these genocidal statements, were not protesting Israeli army policy. They were giving vent to sharp and negative feelings about Jews, feelings that obviously predated this summer’s war.
Jews were victims of hate crimes in Europe before the latest round of fighting in the Middle East; the massacre of Jewish children at a school in Toulouse, and the fatal attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, are two examples.