What a tragic, evil joke. A drive-by shooter in the beautiful, almost magical, city of Toulouse, France, murders three Jewish children and a teacher in front of their school. Various VIPs issue statements about how terrible this deed is, how unspeakable.
And yet at that very moment, the next round of murders, the next slanderous and inciting antisemitic lies are being perpetrated by respectable people and institutions. There is no real soul-searching, no true effort to do better, no serious examination about how the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hysteria is paving the way to murder and potentially genocide.
The street thugs, fanatics, and mentally-twisted may be pulling the trigger but the distinguished, the powerful, and the honored are providing the ammunition.
Here are three examples of such deeds in nominally democratic countries—not Iran, not Syria, not Pakistan, where such things are even more intense—but in supposedly rational places:
1. The Turkish editor
Meet Mahir Zeynalov, an editor at Today’s Zaman, a Turkish Islamic newspaper that is supposedly moderate. Meet the modern art of tweeting. Here is Zeynalov’s response to the murders:
There are two ways to read this tweet. The more outrageous is this: How can it be wrong for gunmen to murder Jewish children or vandals to attack a Jewish cemetery in Poland if Jews are burning mosques and Qurans in Tunisia. One act balances the other.
The other interpretation is this: What a world in which there is so much hatred! Gunmen murder Jewish children, vandals attack a Jewish cemetery, and Jews desecrate mosques and Muslim holy books.
Yet the second interpretation is almost as inciting as the first. We know from many experiences—including Afghanistan right now—that anyone who burns or does anything to a Koran would set off massive riots and bloody killings. And as for burning a mosque, such a deed might well result in the massacre of every Jew living in Tunisia.
Tunisian Jews today are a couple of thousand terrified people who would run in the other direction if they saw a Koran in front of them lest they be accused of looking at it funny. What Zeyanlov has done is called a “blood libel,” a lie that might lead to the murder of Jews.
Now if some Muslim were to take seriously Zeyanlov’s tweet he would feel justified in murdering Jews, say children standing in front of their school.
2. The Dutch cartoonist
De Volkskrant is one of Holland’s leading newspapers, favored by the intellectual elite. Here is a cartoonthat has just run. It shows Geert Wilders, leader of the conservative party that is very critical of Islam, getting loads of cash from a hidden hand that is clearly referring to Jews or Israel. Yes, the cartoon was written with a Hebrew text balloon, helpfully translated into Dutch as Wilder saying, “Thank you very much.”
So we have here the stereotype of the Jewish money behind the scene conspiring, in this case against Islam and against Holland. And of course it is also designed to discredit Wilders. As with the Turkish editor’s tweet above this is based on a total falsehood. There is hardly any Jewish support for Wilders party, which is by the way a legitimate political force, and there has never been the slightest evidence—even rumor—of Jewish financing for him, or Israeli financing.
Holland is a country where two political leaders have been assassinated and Wilders needs round-the-clock protection against potential assassin.
What is the message here? That Jews and Israel are trying to destroy Islam—as in the Turkish tweet—and are nefarious plotters attacking innocent people. Isn’t it just, therefore, to murder Jews and Israelis in self-defense?
3. Europe’s Foreign Minister
Exhibit three is Catherine Ashton, whose career was originally built on running the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament which favored unilateral Western disarmament in the face off Soviet tyranny. She is now the EU’s foreign minister. In response to the Toulouse shooting she has issued a statement here that spends more time reciting the sufferings of children in the Gaza Strip than about antisemitism and the demonization of Jews and Israel.