Chapter Two: The War of a Million Cuts – Postwar Europe, Anti-Semitism, and Anti-Israelism

The history of European anti-Semitism goes back many centuries. Its impact, however, differed from country to country. Although its anti-Israeli mutations are particularly widespread, the hatred and incitement are so frag- mented that also major aspects of European classic anti-Semitism must be analyzed in more detail. This is especially so given the huge criminal acts and attitudes toward its Jewish citizens on the continent in the past.

The overall relationship between Europe and Israel also needs to be assessed in this context. The interaction can be characterized as complex, tense, and historically loaded. Their respective political outlooks are also increasingly di- verging. At the same time, relations in areas such as trade, science, culture, and sports have continued to grow over the decades and have only been somewhat affected by political discordance.

It is frequently claimed that assessing European-Israeli relations requires es- tablishing an average level of the interactions in the various fields. To consider this a balanced approach, however, is mistaken. European political actions can continue to cause Israel such major harm that they may increasingly dominate all other aspects of the relationship in the long run.

The European Union (EU) consists of twenty-eight states with a population of over five hundred million people covering a territory of well over four mil- lion square kilometers. Israel’s population is eight million. It is a small country surrounded by enemies, even if some of these are at peace with it. Israel covers a territory much smaller than one-hundredth of the EU’s size. Twenty-four of the EU member states have a larger territory than Israel. Hence, Europe and Israel are not comparable entities. Given this imbalance in power, populations, and geo- graphic size, an analysis must focus primarily on the much larger European side.

Post-Holocaust Discrimination

European anti-Semitism did not disappear after the Holocaust. In the im- mediate postwar period, reestablished democratic societies such as Norway, the Netherlands, and others discriminated against Jews in various ways and in many domains.1 Often Jews returning home found that they were not welcome. Dutch political scientist Isaac Lipschits said, “Post-war discrimination against the Jews in the Netherlands manifested itself in many ways. Authori- ties belittled the Jews and neglected their interests. Public feeling was that the Jewish community no longer represented anything.”2

Norwegian historian Bjarte Bruland, who played a key role in the country’s restitution investigations of the mid-1990s, said that among the survivors of the small prewar Norwegian Jewish community, there were many “stateless Jews who had fled to Sweden, some of whom had lived in Norway for as long as 50 years, prior to the war. The Norwegian government initially refused to allow them to return to the country, a position which only later changed.”3

Postwar legislation and its implementation in many countries frequently favored those who possessed the Jews’ stolen property while, at the same time, liberated countries embellished their war history. The Netherlands is one of many examples. The Anne Frank story has largely overshadowed many aspects of negative treatment of Jews in the Netherlands.

Johannes Houwink ten Cate, a Dutch Holocaust and genocide expert, notes that the Belgian historian Pieter Lagrou wrote about the Dutch postwar national memory that it was “harsh” toward those who had suffered more than others. “The Jewish survivors of the genocide in particular suffered from a lack of recognition . . ., from a lack of support,” both in material terms and in terms of “their need for integration.”4 Thus, the few Jewish survivors—75% of Dutch Jewry was deported to Eastern Europe in order to be murdered—“struck a bad deal,” according to the impartial Lagrou: “no solidarity for them, no consolation.”5

Houwink ten Cate adds:

It took a long time until Holocaust awareness developed in Western Europe. Academics studying this subject found that much went terribly wrong in these societies during the initial post-war decades. This manifested itself in several ways. One was that prominent European politicians promoted self-images of heroic resistance against the Nazis. Another was that these politicians were unwilling to help Jewish survivors financially.

They shifted responsibility for the persecution and extermination of the Jews as much as possible onto the Germans. This meant ignoring the huge assistance that the Germans received from many members of the occupied nations in their expropriations and deportations of the Jews.

He furthermore remarks:

In France in 1987, eminent historian Henry Rousso coined the neologism “Résistancialisme” to describe the Gaullist effort to lump together Resistance, nation and state, but this effort was not as dominant as its Dutch counterpart. Nevertheless, for 35 years, French historians ignored the co-responsibility of the Vichy government for persecution of the Jews. It was not until 1981 that American historian Robert O. Paxton and his Canadian colleague Michael R. Marrus, fully described this co-responsibility.6

The situation was not fundamentally different in West Germany. It first be- came a habit of the authorities in various states of the Soviet bloc and later of the German left to correctly proclaim that the track record of the German Federal Republic in bringing Holocaust perpetrators to justice was poor.7

It was as poor as the actual performance of the French, Belgian and Dutch states in bringing their bureaucrats who had aided the Germans, to trial. These civil servants went unpunished as a group.8

Latency and Reemergence of Anti-Semitism

 During the decades after World War II, European anti-Semitism became increasingly latent. In the twenty-first century, however, it has become clear that many Europeans hold anti-Semitic opinions of both the new and the classic kind. This widespread resurgence of anti-Semitism, despite the “lessons of the Holocaust” and the proclaimed policy of “never again,” suggests it is an inte- gral part of European culture and its value systems. Much of Europe’s history provides extensive proof of that point. This should not imply that all or most Europeans are anti-Semites, though many are concerning either Jews or Israel. French sociologist Shmuel Trigano was one of the first to analyze the out- break of anti-Israelism in the new century. He focused on the greatly increased violence against Jews in France since 2000. Years later he said:

The situation of the Jews in France was aggravated as various media expressed opinions claiming that the violence and hate was quite understandable in view of events in the Middle East and Israel’s policies. This implied that the destiny of French Jews was determined by Israeli policies and French criticism of them. During the first months of attacks, French Jewry requested help, but no one listened. This led many French Jews to realize that their place and citizenship in the country was now questionable. They understood that the authorities were willing to sacrifice the Jewish community to maintain social peace. This attitude was reinforced by the French pro-Arab policy in the Iraq War.

Jewish citizens could not understand that violent acts were being committed against them in the name of developments 3,000 kilometers away. Today, there are those who still remember the words of Hubert Védrine, former Socialist minister of foreign affairs, which have been repeated in different variations by several politicians: “One does not necessarily have to be shocked that young Frenchmen of immigrant origin have compassion for the Palestinians and are very agitated because of what is happening to them.”9

French philosopher, political scientist, and historian Pierre-André Taguieff was also among the first in the new century to discuss in detail that by the end of 2001, anti-Semitism had reached levels unprecedented in post-Nazi periods in both the Arab world and Europe. His insight was enhanced by living in France where, among West European countries, the anti-Semitic attacks were particularly violent.10

Taguieff also exposed the widespread fallacy that Islamophobia was a larger problem than anti-Semitism at the time. The risk for Jews of being attacked in France was and probably remains many tens of times greater than for Muslims. Of the Jewish communities surveyed in eight countries by the 2013 FRA study, French Jews experienced the most anti-Semitism in public space. Seventy-one percent of French Jews surveyed experienced anti-Semitism in the media, 84 percent encountered “Expressions of hostility toward Jews in the street or other public places,” 79 percent had seen anti-Semitic graffiti in France, and 78 percent had seen vandalism of Jewish buildings and institutions. These figures were the highest for the eight countries surveyed.11 Furthermore, 73 percent of French respondents felt that the Arab-Israeli conflict affected their feelings of safety “a great deal.”12

Lastly, of all the eight EU countries, French Jews worried the most about physical and verbal anti-Semitic attacks. Seventy percent of French Jews wor- ried about becoming the victim of a physical attack, and 60 percent worried about becoming the victim of a verbal attack. Additionally, 76 percent worried that a family member or person close to him or her would become a victim of a physical attack, and 71 percent worried that someone close to them would become a victim of a verbal attack.13

In May 2014, Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, gave a lecture at the French consulate in New York. He pointed to three major challenges facing French Jewry: “an increasingly radicalized Muslim immigrant population that scapegoats Jews, the growing popularity of the far-right National Front Party headed by Marine Le Pen and widespread anti-Israel sentiment among French leftists.” He added that in France, 40 percent of violent hate crimes target Jews. Cukierman remarked, “It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews at present.” He also noted that Qatar is in a position to influence France’s economy and, while this has not yet happened, it is a further threat.14

Some of the many attacks get more attention than others. In December 2014 a Jewish couple was attacked in Créteil, a Parisian suburb in which the Jewish population constitutes more than 20 percent of the one hundred thousand residents. Three people assaulted the couple in their home, raping the woman and stealing their belongings. The perpetrators assumed that because the victims were Jewish, they were rich. The names of the three suspects indicate that they are, in great probability, Muslims. Many condemnations followed, including from President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls.15

One has to distinguish between actual incidents and fears. Both have an impact on Jews, as their proliferation leads to further fears. This leads in turn, among other things, to many Jews partially or entirely concealing their identity.

European Anti-Semitism: Alive, Active, and Virulent

In 2002, then-UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks summed up the situation:

Let me state the point as simply as I can: anti-Semitism is alive, active and virulent in the year 2002, after more than half a century of Holocaust educa- tion, interfaith dialogue, United Nations declarations, dozens of museums and memorials, hundreds of films, thousands of courses, and tens of thousands of books dedicated to exposing its evils; after the Stockholm Conference, after the creation of a National Holocaust Memorial Day, after 2,000 religious leaders came together in the United Nations in August 2000 to commit themselves to fight hatred and engender mutual respect. . . . What more could have been done? What more could and can we do to fight anti-Semitism?16

Two years later, Sacks’s ideas had evolved. He asserted that when civilizations clash, Jews die. In his view, within certain European circles, revenge is being taken against the Jews because “nobody will ever forgive the Jews for the Ho- locaust.” Sacks drew attention to the manipulation of words like genocide and ethnic cleansing by Israel’s adversaries. He added that what should have been learned from the Holocaust is: “one, that bad things are preceded by demoniza- tion—and right now Israelis are being demonized—and, two, the early warning sign in culture is when words lose their meaning.”17

The oft-repeated assertion that postwar outbursts of European anti-Semi- tism parallel developments in the Middle East conflict is no longer true. It appears in waves, which may, but do not necessarily, correspond to developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict—with each wave being higher than the previous one.18 In the Arab world, anti-Jewish incitement raged in parallel with the Oslo process. During the 2013-2014 “peace process” the same occurred. In France anti-Semitic incidents increased greatly after Mohammed Merah murdered a Jewish teacher and three children in 2012.19

The use of double standards against Israel is a common practice in Europe. For instance, European Commission guidelines bar the organization from funding Israeli entities in the disputed territories where Israel has ruled since the 1967 war. Yet there are many similar situations where the European Union does provide funding, such as in parts of Cyprus occupied by Turkey.20

One typical case of European anti-Israeli incitement occurred after these guidelines were issued, when a group of former senior European personalities sent a letter to then-EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Calling them- selves, with a certain arrogance, “European Eminent Persons,” they urged the European Commission to fully support the guidelines. Members of the group include former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, former Austrian For- eign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine. Yet nothing is known about actions of the group concerning the many threats to Europe stemming from parts of the Muslim world.21

The Jew as Victim

The Holocaust also led to a gradual modification of the widespread negative image of the Jews in Europe. In part, this slowly mutated into the symbol of the ultimate victim.22 Hence for several decades a taboo on public anti-Semitism emerged in many, though not all, European democracies. This taboo was par- ticularly strong in Germany; there, too, it has been fading in recent years.23 Anti- Semitism, however, remained present in all European countries in its latent form. Beginning mainly during the Six Day War—when the magnitude of the Israeli victory shattered the image of the Jew as a victim—and intensifying after the 1982 Lebanon War, a third category of anti-Semitism developed in Europe from a small base and targeted Israel as a Jewish collective.

In the Muslim world it had been present in extreme forms since Israel’s establishment, combined with classic anti-Semitism. Since anti-Israelism does not encounter the resistance of the previous two types, which many consider po- litically incorrect, it has grown rapidly in recent years. Taguieff also understood early several key aspects of the methods used by the defamers of Israel and the Jews. He exposed the process by which the crimes of the allegedly deprived, to whom the Palestinians claim to belong, are condoned. Taguieff also described the role of the media in justifying violence and portraying criminals as victims. He pointed out that the next step in the distortion process is to declare the criminals—dressed up as victims—not responsible for their acts, because they are molded by their socioeconomic conditions. This is an updated version of Marxist determinism. A further step is that the Islamist version of Islam be- comes the religion of the poor and the victims. Another facet is to declare that Muslims or Arabs behave as they do because they are supposedly humiliated or persecuted.24 What Taguieff said here fits in well with the earlier-mentioned “humanitarian racism.”

The new myth of the “intrinsically good Palestinian” is often linked to ex- treme anti-Zionism aimed at destroying Israel. The Palestinians have become the standard-bearers of democracy’s enemies. This goes hand in hand with the criminalization of Israel and the West.

Taguieff also observed that blind pacifism places the aggressor and his vic- tim at the same level of morality and turns legitimate self-defense into a crimi- nal transgression. Abstract utopianism and “blind angelism” still tend to favor the multinational model, even though multinational states have led to partially ethnically-cleansed states, as became particularly evident in Yugoslavia.25


The late-twentieth and early-twenty-first-century explosion of anti-Israelism, a hate phenomenon that existed for decades at much lower levels, caught the Jew- ish world and Israel by surprise. Some authors, however, had already described much earlier several aspects of the anti-Zionist mutation of anti-Semitism.

In 1979, in the original French version of his book The Anti-Zionist Complex, Jacques Givet wrote: “The anti-Zionist becomes an overt anti-Semite as soon as he goes beyond criticism of the policies of the Jerusalem government (a favorite activity of Israelis themselves) and challenges the very existence of the State of Israel.”26

In France—where new mutations of anti-Semitism are often pioneered— the overlap of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism occurred at an early stage. It was partly linked to the large number of communist intellectuals. This emerged, for instance, during the “doctors’ plot” in 1953. Doctors—most of them Jew- ish—in the Soviet Union were accused of having caused the deaths of leading political figures by incorrect diagnosis and treatment. This was accompanied by a campaign against “cosmopolitanism” and Zionism.

French communist intellectuals organized a major solidarity meeting in Paris. Several speakers explained that it was normal to suspect doctors of poi- soning people, as Mengele had done in Auschwitz. A Jewish physician publicly stated, adducing German behavior during World War II, that one could not rule out that Jews or Zionists had decided to poison Soviet personalities.27 It was yet another mutation of the ancient anti-Semitic accusation that Jews are poisoners.

David Zohar, a retired Israeli diplomat who in the early 1980s was stationed at the Israeli embassy in Oslo, told how he had been invited to speak on Israel’s military strategy at the General Headquarters of the Norwegian army. During question time, one of the generals asked why the Jews had “crucified our Lord.” The Israeli diplomat asked the questioner what that had to do with the topic of his talk. The general replied that he had taken this opportunity to ask the question because the diplomat was the first Jew he had ever met and presum- ably could give an answer, since his ancestors were probably responsible. The diplomat then suggested that he call up the Italian ambassador, as he was likely to be a descendant of the Romans who had pronounced the verdict.28

Complex Societies

The European Union is a prime example of a large, complex system without proper checks and balances. It is in urgent need of drastic revision rather than further uncontrolled integration.

Had the disadvantages of increasing complexity been understood a few decades ago, European communities would not have allowed the nonselec- tive mass immigration of non-Westerners with radically different cultural backgrounds, the more so as xenophobia is ubiquitous in Europe. To make matters worse, significant percentages of these immigrants are adherents to antidemocratic ideologies, racists, anti-Semites, and proselytizers. Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, and several others have declared—far too late, however—that multiculturalism is a failure.29

In such a complex and opaque situation it is not difficult to apply double standards and other fallacies to Israel. In 2006, British author Frederic Forsyth wondered how European politicians could dare to call the Israeli response to the Hizbullah attacks disproportionate when their own countries had behaved far more fiercely in the Yugoslav Wars:

Why did the accusers not mention Serbia? . . . In 1999 five NATO air forces— US, British, French, Italian and German—began to plaster Yugoslavia, effec- tively the tiny and defenceless province of Serbia. We were not at war with the Serbs, we had no reason to hate them, they had not attacked us and no Serbian rockets were falling on us.30

European Politicians Promote Double Standards

Such double standards against Israel are common among many European politicians.31 To make matters worse, some of them promote the use of double standards against Israel. In December 2014, Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr said at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem, “Europe should apply a double standard to Israel when judging its actions compared to other Middle Eastern nations . . . Israel should insist that we discriminate, that we apply double standards, this is because you are one of us.”32

There is much wrong with what Vahr said, which cannot be discussed in detail here. Cynics might say that for more than a millennium the Jews were discriminated against because “They were not one of us,” and now they should be discriminated against because they are “one of us.” The remark about double standards is, in any case, a recycling of colonial attitudes toward the other Middle Eastern nations where Westerners separated people into two categories, the superior white classes and the lower nonwhite classes.

Vahr is not the only one to propound the distorted concept that Europe should apply double standards against Israel. In a lecture at Tel Aviv University in December 2013, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said, “In the relation between Israel and Europe, double standards are used. Why? Because Europeans consider Israel to be a European country. Israel is judged in the same way as other European countries judge themselves and other European countries.”33


In the context of developments in Europe, Germany requires special analysis. The way its citizens perceive the country’s history in the previous century, and particularly in the World War II period, is a factor influencing its attitude toward Israel and the Jews. This leads to a certain dualism that many authors have analyzed.

German society and many members of its cultural elite display an extremely complex relationship with Israel and the Jews. Nazism was widespread in Ger- man society for more than a decade. The crimes Germany initiated and com- mitted were so extreme and massive that it is unthinkable that, with Germany’s defeat in 1945, this worldview completely disappeared from German society and is totally absent from Germany today.

Many former Nazis never spoke to their children about the crimes they had committed. They did not necessarily remain totally silent about their Nazi ideas, however. This past, which has had so much impact on Germany’s history, must inevitably play some role in current attitudes and beliefs of many Germans.

Today Germany speaks with multiple voices. There has been an increasing trend of seeking to cleanse the country’s past by accusing others of wrongdo- ing. One strong message is that of false moral equivalence between Germany’s World War II crimes and the behavior of others, then and now.

Members of the country’s elite have developed various formulas to whitewash Germany’s dark history. A major one is that while the Germans were in- deed Nazis, how important is this fact if so many others conducted themselves comparably in the past, or are behaving similarly now? If so many others are guilty of such criminality, why single out the Germans?34 This is manifested, for instance, in the evil mindset of half the German population who falsely believe that Israel commits genocide against the Palestinians, or behaves toward them like the Nazis did toward the Jews.35

The most effective approach in trying to sanitize Germany’s immense past crimes is to accuse Israel of acting similarly. Israeli psychologist Nathan Durst remarked:

If the guilty person is bad, the Jewish victim becomes good. The moment it can be shown the latter is bad too, the “other”—that is, the European—is relieved of his guilt feelings. To claim that Israelis behave like Nazis reduces the sin of the grandparents. Then the children of the victims can no longer be the accusers. This equalizes everybody.36

Jeffrey Gedmin, who at the time was director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, said in 2005:

Perhaps the most crucial element in Europe’s increasingly hostile attitude to- ward Israel is the continent’s history. Each time a European editor, intellectual, or politician points out that Palestinians are victims and Israelis are belligerent aggressors, these Europeans unburden themselves of their past. In their dis- criminatory attitude toward Israel, the pathological-psychological elements dominate the ideological one. On top of that, there is much plain anti-Semitism among Europeans, as my experience as a non-Jew proves.37

German historian Susanne Urban says:

Germany erected many memorials and museums at former concentration camps, as well as for the murdered Jews. The extent of the attention given to Holocaust education in schools and other educational institutions is out- standing. At the same time, one also observes an increasing self-perception of Germans as victims—because of the Allied bombings, the flight and expulsion from Eastern Europe and so on. Furthermore, prejudices such as “the Jews still make money off the Holocaust; they use the Holocaust against Germany and Europe for their own benefit,” continue to float around.38

She adds:

Anti-Zionism as one variety of anti-Semitism often manifests itself as “criticism of Israeli politics, strategies and actions.” It is found in all spheres of German society, be it Leftist or Rightist, Muslim or Christian. Anti-Zionism and second- ary anti-Semitism often overlap for instance by making comparisons between Nazis and Israeli politics or between Holocaust victims and the Palestinians. This is also used to deny contemporary responsibility for Germany’s history or commemoration of the victims. Anti-Zionist attitudes do not differ if one is ideologically on the left, right, or a liberal.39

False “Political Correctness”

German journalist Daniel Killy remarks:

The silent tyranny of political correctness often leads to internal censorship when writing about Israel. Th s is combined with the German neurosis of being “just.” With regard to Israel, this means that one must be critical of it. Otherwise one might be considered pro-Israel because of German history. In addition, a widespread leftist anti-Zionism prevails among public broadcasters and other media. This “anti-Zionism” is a synonym for Germany’s glossy and “trendy” anti-Semitism.

The clandestine code of politically correct conduct begins far from the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In Germany Jews are usually called “Jewish co-citizens” (Jüdische Mitbürger). This expression of “co-citizen” is used only to describe people who don’t really belong to society. One also hears “Turkish co-citizens.” No one ever speaks about “Lutheran co-citizens.”40

Journalist Benjamin Weinthal has pointed out that various anti-Israeli inciters are bestowed with high honors by senior German bodies. He observes:

There is growing indifference in the Federal Republic toward Jew hatred and at- tacks on Israel. One of the many indicators of this is the awarding of prizes throughout the last decade by German organizations and politicians to Israel bashers, among them Jews. Some recipients have made statements which are within the definition of run-of-the-mill anti-Semitism.41

One of those is a former Israeli, Felicia Langer, who compared Israeli military detention centers with concentration camps. German President Horst Köhler presented her with the Federal Cross of Merit for her civil and humanitarian work. Weinthal remarks, “Her promoting the equivalence of Israel with Nazi Germany helps alleviate German guilt over the Holocaust. Market demand for her ‘services’ is significant.”42

In 2012 the Adorno Award was given to Judith Butler, a Jewish anti-Israeli professor of rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley. She has claimed that Hamas and Hizbullah are progressive left-wing organizations. Further- more, former German President Roman Herzog presented Lutheran Palestin- ian Reverend Mitri Raheb with the German Media Prize in 2012. Raheb is one of the authors of the Kairos Document, which calls for a boycott of Israel.43

Then-Christian Democrat Mayor Petra Roth of Frankfurt invited German- born French Jewish intellectual Alfred Grosser to deliver the 2010 Kristallnacht speech in the St. Paul’s Church. There, Grosser drew parallels between the conduct of the Nazis and Israel.44

Funding  Anti-Israelism

Of a somewhat similar nature is the fact that Germany’s political parties fund anti-Israeli NGOs and organizations in the disputed territories through their foundations. Professor Gerald Steinberg of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, who heads NGO Monitor, says a detailed report by his organization shows that “while German political foundations claim a mandate for promoting democracy, peace and human rights, a significant portion of their activities related to Israel are immoral.”45

Germany’s relationship with Israel and the Jews will remain fraught with problems for a long time to come. Its basic elements are relatively simple. A huge, widely supported criminal movement such as Nazism leaves residues in a society for many generations. Major crimes also induce feelings of guilt. Contemporary Germans are not guilty of what their ancestors did. Nor are they responsible for it, because one can only be held responsible for one’s own deeds. Yet contemporary Germans must see to it that their country’s history is not falsified, and they must oppose its frequent whitewashing.

At the same time, there are also many positive German attitudes toward Jews and Israel, including a desire to expose the crimes of that period. Some German researchers attempt to uncover more and more of the crimes that were committed. A number of major businesses have given historians a free hand to document what took place within their firms during the war.


France is another country that requires special attention. One reason is that the wave of anti-Semitism that erupted there from autumn 2000 onward was more intense than elsewhere in Europe. The Socialist government then in office attempted to deny or minimize the anti-Semitic nature of severe verbal and physical attacks on Jews, even though anti-Semitism continued on a large scale. After the electoral defeat of the Socialist government, attitudes changed.

In June 2002, Nicolas Sarkozy, the then right-wing interior minister, called for an all-out struggle against anti-Semitism. President Jacques Chirac, however, maintained his stance of denial that anti-Semitism existed in France, until in November 2003 a Jewish institution of the Chabad movement was burned in Gagny. By the time Chirac finally admitted the truth, attacks on Jews had already been taking place for three years. From then on, French anti-Semitism was acknowledged publicly by most French authorities.

Murders of Jews by Muslims in France

A second reason for paying attention to France is that several brutal murders of Jews by Muslims, motivated by anti-Semitism, have taken place there. As aforementioned, on March 19, 2012 Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, killed a teacher and three children in front of the Jewish school in Toulouse, Otzar Hatorah. Earlier that month he had murdered three French soldiers. A few days after the murders at the school, Merah was killed in a shootout with French police.46 Later his brother Abdelghani published a book in which he recounted that their parents had educated them to be fanatic anti-Semites. His sister Souad and brother Abdelkader are also extreme anti- Semites.47

Merah’s murders created a bandwagon effect of attacks on French Jews. In 2012 France saw an increase of 58 percent in anti-Semitic incidents compared to the previous year, according to a report of the Jewish defense organization Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive (SPCJ.) It stated: “2012 has been a year of unprecedented violence against Jews in France.”48

Another reason France occupies a special place is that the 2013 FRA study shows that, as aforementioned, the percentage of French Jews who fear under- going anti-Semitic incidents is higher than in any other nation surveyed.49 The same study found that 88 percent of French Jews thought anti-Semitism had increased in the country over the past five years. Fifty-one percent of French Jews “frequently” or “all the time” avoid wearing things that might help people identify them as Jews in public.

The anti-Semitism in France sharply accelerated in 2014 with a huge in- crease in incidents, some of them of an extreme character. In the summer months there were massive attacks on synagogues, of which the one on the La Roquette synagogue in Paris was the most severe, and on Jewish shops.50 This was followed in January 2015 by the murder of four Jews in a kosher su- permarket in Paris.51

On the day of these killings, a Friday, the authorities closed the Great Syna- gogue of Paris. Its last closure by the authorities on a Friday night occurred during the German occupation, and many noticed the symbolism.52 The only vaguely similar precedent of synagogues closing on the Sabbath due to threats is a canceled synagogue service in 2010 at the small Conservative synagogue of the Dutch town of Weesp. In this case the decision was taken by the com- munity leaders after they received a threat.53 In 2006, on one occasion, the Jewish community of Malmö, Sweden moved the service from the synagogue to a secret location.54


The Scandinavian countries, in particular Sweden and Norway, also merit special attention. A broad range of cases of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism show how these countries are falsely regarded as “model democratic societies.” This is partly due to the fact that they did not have colonies. In 2009 during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, the largest anti-Semitic riots in Norway’s history took place in Oslo. A Christian who walked to a pro-Israeli demonstration with an Israeli flag was beaten and severely injured. Projectiles that could have killed people were thrown at pro-Israeli demonstrators. All or almost all of the perpetrators were Muslims. Eirik Eiglad has described this in detail in his book The Anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo.55

Norway’s Labour Party was in office from 2005 until 2013 and usually ignored foreign criticism of anti-Semitism and the widespread, extreme anti-Israelism in the country. It was assisted in this by the leading media, which usually do not report on such criticism. This stonewalling became impossible, however, when a three-member OSCE delegation visited Norway in summer 2012.

After their visit, the delegation published a report criticizing Norway for intolerant attitudes toward both Jews and Muslims. The authors stated that the police did not monitor hate crimes or fight them in any measurable way. The report also recommended increased security for the Norwegian Jewish com- munity. The OSCE delegation further commented on the Norwegian govern- ment’s attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, warning that a “strong anti-Israeli attitude can develop into anti-Semitism.”

The delegation urged the foreign minister to encourage a discourse that would promote a less biased view of the conflict and would not lead to de- monizing the Israeli state. It also remarked that the continued ban on kosher slaughter was seen as having negative implications for Norway’s reputation of tolerance and inclusion.56 The OSCE report and its multifaceted criticism of Norway received some attention in the Norwegian press.57, 58

In any history of postwar European anti-Semitism, Norway will have a substantial place because of extreme writings, incidents, and hate cartoons. In a societal environment where civil society and most media are deeply im- mersed in what at best may be called moral relativism—if not racist bias—the most extreme anti-Semitic views, disguised as anti-Israelism, can also be voiced in the mainstream. One example of this occurred when the major daily

Aftenposten published an article by the internationally known author Jostein Gaarder during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Gaarder wrote: “Israel is history. We do not recognize the state of Israel. There is no way back. The state of Israel has raped the recognition of the world and does not get peace before it lays down its weapons. The state of Israel in its present form is history.”59 Gaarder also attacked the Jews in general.

Mona Levin, a Norwegian cultural journalist, was one of the most high- profile critics of Gaarder’s article: “This is the worst piece I have read since Mein Kampf. . . He proceeds from talking about Israel in one paragraph to attacking the Jewish people in the next paragraph.”60

Yet another Norwegian scandal, among several that attracted international attention, occurred toward the end of 2008. The comedian Otto Jespersen said in a program on TV2, the country’s largest commercial station: “I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers, without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background.”61

Two years earlier the same comedian had burned pages from the Old Testa- ment on live television. Although there was criticism, the television company did not see this as a reason to terminate his employment. Jespersen then also explained that he would not burn the Koran, as he wanted to live longer than a week.62

During the 2014 Protective Edge campaign there was much anti-Israeli incitement in Norway. The Norwegian physician Erik Fosse, who was in Gaza during the campaign, claimed that: “The people are cheering when rockets hit Tel Aviv . . . the people around here are sitting around the television cheering, and I think that’s because they have no longer anything to lose, they are going to be killed slowly by starvation, or quickly by the [air] strikes. So that’s their choice.”63 Yet starvation has not been a problem in Gaza, and aid flowed into it at a greater pace during the operation.64


Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, is often mentioned as the capital of Eu- ropean anti-Semitism. The perpetrators of the many anti-Semitic acts there are mostly Muslims. Hannah Rosenthal, U.S. government special envoy for combating anti-Semitism, visited the town in 2012. She spoke out about anti- Semitic statements made by Social Democrat Mayor Ilmar Reepalu. Rosenthal also remarked that under this mayor Malmö was a “prime example” of “new anti-Semitism,” as anti-Israeli sentiment serves as a guise for Jew-hatred.65 A record number of complaints about hate crimes in the city in 2010 and 2011 did not lead to any convictions.66

It is not surprising that the 2013 FRA study found that 51 percent of Swedish Jews considered hostility to Jews in the streets and public spaces to be a fairly large or very large problem. Thirty-four percent of Swedish Jews always avoid wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help identify them as Jews in public places; another 26 percent avoid this frequently. These are the high- est figures for any country covered by the study. Twenty-two percent feel that they are constantly being accused or blamed for what Israel does; 27 percent said that this occurs frequently. Twenty-five percent say that anti-Semitism is a major problem.67


Because of the many problems for Jews and the Israel-hatred in Norway and Sweden, little public attention is given to Denmark. This may well be mistaken. An indication of that occurred when in early 2014 Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, broke off its relations with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim.68

In 2012, Israel’s ambassador to Denmark, Arthur Avnon, was quoted telling the French news agency AFP: “We advise Israelis who come to Denmark and want to go to the synagogue, to wait to don their skullcaps until they enter the building and not to wear them in the street, irrespective of whether the areas they are visiting are seen as being safe.” He also advised visitors not to speak Hebrew loudly or wear visible jewelry with Stars of David.69 The main assaults against Jews are perpetrated by Arabs. The Jewish community has complained in vain about the authorities’ inaction.70

Finn Schwarz, president of Mosaisk Troessamfund, the Danish Jewish community, said in a 2013 interview that the organized community had lost 25 percent of its registered members over the past fifteen years and was down to 1,899 members. He said this was partly due to anti-Semitism.71

In early 2014, Denmark outlawed ritual slaughter. At the same time, the country continues to allow sex with animals. Bestiality is promoted by the owners of animal brothels.

A poll in Denmark in autumn 2014 found that 74 percent of its citizens be- lieve that male circumcision should be banned. Only 10 percent of those polled believed that the decision should be left to parents. Hans Christian Schmidt, a former health minister and current parliamentarian, claimed that circumci- sion contravenes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.72 An overwhelming majority of the circumcisions carried out in Denmark are done by Muslims.

In the book Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel

and the Jews, this author provides a much more detailed analysis of the anti- Israelism and anti-Semitism in Europe’s Nordic countries.73 A new book claims that Danish Nazis actively participated in the murder of 1,400 Jews at a prison camp in the Belarus town of Bobruisk during World War II. This greatly dam- ages the wartime image of Denmark.74

Toward a New Criminal Europe?

The European Union’s attitude toward anti-Semitism is double-edged. With its discriminatory anti-Israeli declarations, the EU plays the role of arsonist, fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. It also serves as fireman by trying, at the same time, to quench the flames of classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism. Besides change, political dynamics often create confusion. For many years,

a key Israeli claim against Europe has concerned the latter’s frequent political double standards toward Israel. This accusation is based on comparisons be- tween how Europe judges itself, how it acts toward Israel’s enemies, and how it regards third parties.

The statistics from various polls about widespread European criminal beliefs about Israel, and about the lack of security that European Jews feel, are indicators of a developing ideologically criminal Europe. All in all, these data remove the mask from the new “humanitarian” postwar Europe.

A French non-Jewish philosopher took these negative judgments of Europe a step further. Jean-Claude Milner titled one of his books The Criminal Incli- nations of Democratic Europe. In an interview, he referred to anti-Semitism —other than Muslim—in Europe:

I think there is a homegrown anti-Semitism in Europe that doesn’t find its roots in the past, but from the future . . . Today we see an anti-Semitism that doesn’t originate from old people, but from youth, and thus is not likely to disappear but instead will become stronger . . . This is a real problem. We are dealing with a modern anti-Semitism.75

If 150 million adult EU citizens out of 400 million have unjustified opinions about Israel that are evil in the extreme, it means that they have a criminal mindset. The EU should investigate how they arrived at these beliefs. Who has encouraged them? Which media, politicians, leading civil-society figures, and so on are responsible? The next question, then, is what is the EU going to do about it? This becomes a Pandora’s box that Europe does not want to open. Somewhat surprisingly, Israeli officialdom does not want to challenge the EU on this issue, an attitude that harms Israel’s interests.

Politicians Seeing Israelis as Nazis

The anti-Semitic motif of seeing Israelis as Nazis has appeared in the European mainstream for decades already. Leading European politicians such as the late Swedish Socialist Prime Minister Olof Palme76 and the late Greek Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou have accused Israel of using Nazi practices.77

Rather similar remarks have been made by other politicians. Franco Cavalli, then parliamentary leader of the Swiss Social Democrats, said at a meeting in 2002 where Israeli flags were burned that Israel “very purposefully mas- sacres an entire people” and undertakes “the systematic extermination of the Palestinians.”78

Political scientist Efraim Karsh noted that in 2001 in an interview to the news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti, the Socialist foreign minister of Finland Erkki Tuomioja denounced Israel’s attempts to protect its citizens from the terror war launched by Arafat’s Palestinian Authority in September 2000.

Tuomioja, who is currently again Finland’s foreign minister, compared Israeli defensive measures to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry: “It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of in the 1930s.”79

In March 2002, Greek Socialist parliamentary speaker Apostolos Kaklama- nis referred to the Israeli “genocide” of the Palestinians, after which government spokesman Christos Protopapas said he had expressed the sentiments of the parliament and the Greek people.80

The political elite’s anti-Semitic views on Israel also filter down to lower levels. Indications of this anti-Israeli attitude are widespread in Europe. In 2004, on the municipal information board in Oleiros, a small town in northern Spain, a bright red illuminated sign stated: “Let’s stop the animal, Sharon the assassin, stop the neo-Nazis.” When the Israeli ambassador called the mayor of Oleiros, Angel Garcia Seoane, to discuss this incident, the mayor told him that he fully stood behind the message. The municipality was also selling T-shirts with anti-Sharon slogans on its website.81

This happened in a country where in March of the same year, Muslim sup- porters of an international Islamist organization murdered almost two hundred people in Madrid and wounded many more.82 Why did the mayor decide to devote this billboard to Sharon? Why not to Bin Laden or another Islamist terror leader who had laid the ideological infrastructure for the murder and wounding of so many Spaniards?

There are other political aspects as well. In July 2004, Egyptian Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar, visited London. There he praised Palestinian suicide bombings, and was given a cordial welcome by the then Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who appeared jointly with him. Before his arrival, the Board of Deputies of British Jews gave the police a dos- sier containing the texts of interviews with the cleric. The British authorities decided that there was “insufficient evidence” of a criminal offense to prevent this visit to the UK.83

Cartoonists: Israelis as Nazis

From time to time hate cartoons appear in mainstream European papers. Several of these cartoons from Norway well expose the overlap between anti- Semitism and anti-Israelism. In 2002 the Norwegian German-born cartoonist Finn Graff published a cartoon of Ariel Sharon as a Nazi in Dagbladet, Norway’s third largest daily.84

In one of his later cartoons, Graff portrayed then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as the Nazi camp commander from the movie Schindlers List. The cartoon was published by Dagbladet in 2006.85 In 2011, the same cartoon- ist drew a cartoon about the prisoner swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad

Shalit. The illustration hints at Palestinian prisoners being released into another “prison”—Gaza—with the inscription from Buchenwald: Jedem das Seine (To each what he deserves).86

In 2007, King Harald V of Norway awarded the country’s highest honor, the Medal of Knight in the Order of St. Olav, to Graff for his work.87 Haakon Lie, retired secretary-general of the Norwegian Labour Party, wrote in his autobi- ography: “The Labour Party conducted serious attacks against Israel; it used caricatures of Finn Graff, which evoked in detail the anti-Semitic illustrations of Der Stürmer in Hitler’s days and of The Crocodile in Moscow.”88


  1. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Yad Vashem, World Jewish Congress, 2003).
  2. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Isaac Lipschits, “The Dutch Government: Discriminating against the Survivors through a So-Called Egalitarian Approach,” in Europes Crumbling Myths.
  3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Bjarte Bruland and Irene Levin, “Norway: The Courage of a Small Jewish Community; Holocaust Restitution and Anti- Semitism,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 10, July 1, 200
  4. Pieter Lagrou, The Legacy of Nazi Occupation: Patriotic Memory and National Recovery in Western Europe, 1945-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 29 As quoted by Johannes Houwink ten Cate in interview with Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Holocaust Awareness Arrived Late in Western Europe,” Israel Na- tional News, January 26, 2014.
  5. Ib, 303. See also Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Johannes Houwink ten Cate, “Holocaust Awareness Arrived Late in Western Europe,” Israel National News, January 26, 2014.
  6. Michael Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (New York: Basic Books, 1981).
  7. Dick de Mildt, In the Name of the People: Perpetrators of Genocide in the Reflection of Their Post-War Prosecution in West Germany: The “Euthanasia” and “Aktion Reinhard” Trial Cases (The Hague/London/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996), 18-40.
  8. Gerstenfeld, interview with Houwink ten Ca
  9. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, “Contemporary French Anti-Semitism: A Barometer for Gauging Problems in Society,” in Demonizing Israel and the Jews (New York: RVP Press, 2013).
  10. Pierre-André Taguieff, Rising from the Muck: The New Anti-Semitism in Europe (Chicago: Ivan Dee, 2004). The original French version was published under the title La Nouvelle judéophobie (Paris: Fayard/Mille et Une Nuits, 2002).
  11. “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013,
  12. Ibid., 38.
  13. Ibid., 33.
  14. Julie Wiener, “French Jewish leader: It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews,” The Jerusalem Post, May 14,
  15. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “What Should French Jews Do?” Israel National News, December 11,
  16. Jonathan Sacks, “The New Anti-Semitism,” Haaretz, September 8, 200
  17. Douglas Davis, “Sacks: Nobody Will Ever Forgive the Jews for Holocaust,” The Jerusalem Post, June 16, 200
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    The Times of Israel, September 16, 2013.
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  27. David Zohar, personal communica
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  29. Frederic Forsyth, Daily Express, August 11,
  30. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Double Standards for Israel,” Journal for the Study of Antisemitism 4, 2 (2012): 613-6
  31. Tovah Lazaroff, “Danish ambassador, JPost’s Caroline Glick exchange verbal blows over EU attitude toward Israel,” The Jerusalem Post, December 12,
  32. Speech of Frans Timmermans, Tel Aviv University, December 9,
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  38. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Daniel Killy, “The Tyranny of Political Correctness,” Israel National News, July 30,
  39. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Benjamin Weinthal, “Germany Bestows Awards upon Anti-Israel Inciters,” in Demonizing Israel and the Jews,
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  41. Ibid., 124.
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  43. Benjamin Weinthal, “Study: Main German political party foundations fund anti- Israel activity,” The Jerusalem Post, October 26,
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  54. Andrew Baker, Adil Akhmetov, and Catherine McGuinness, “Report of the Personal Representatives of the OSCE Chair-in-Office on tolerance and non- discrimination issues [on the country visit to] Norway,” June 11-15, 2012, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Information System, published by OSCE, Vienna, December 14,
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  60. Nina Berglund, “Comedian burns Bible as cameras roll,” Aftenposten, March 28,
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  67. JTA, “Israeli envoy warns against wearing skullcaps in Copenhagen,” The Times of Israel, December 13,
  68. Hannes Gamillscheg, “Dänemark: Juden fühlen sich unter Druck,” Die Presse, January 1, (German)
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  84. Jan-Erik Smilden, “Århundrets fangebytte,” Dagbladet, October 19, (Norwegian)
  85. “St. Olavs Orden til Finn Graff,” Dagbladet, March 7, 200 (Norwegian)
  86. Haakon Lie, Slik jeg ser det, Part 2 (Oslo: Tiden Norsk forlag, 1983), 132 (Norwe- gian), quoted in Uriely, “Jew-Hatred.”

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