There comes a time when we have to start seeing the pattern, understanding its depth and meaning, and recognizing just how high are the stakes for the world we know.
Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.—Andre Gide
There is a Global Pogrom under way.
This is a terrible truth. And people tend to ignore terrible truths. So it must be said again: There is a Global Pogrom under way.
And another terrible truth must be spoken: The Global Pogrom has been under way for more than a decade. It has taken lives. It has destroyed property. It has injured, brutalized, and terrified Jews and Jewish communities in many nations. And it is creating a silent exodus, a de facto expulsion, an ethnic cleansing in slow motion.
To say again, because it must be said again, this is something almost no one wants to admit. A truth that almost no one, including many Jews, wants to speak or hear. But over the past month, it has become a truth that is impossible to ignore.
Yet even in the face of this, many continue to deny it, or at least to minimize it. And many, one regrets, have chosen to blame it on the Jews themselves.
A mere seven decades after the Holocaust, after the world was supposed to have learned its lesson, this is not only monstrous. It is not only evil. It is also an existential threat to the civilized world. Because the Global Pogrom presents the world with a stark choice: The Global Pogrom or civilization. And a civilization, any civilization, that cannot or will not say no to barbarism, is no longer a civilization at all.
The moment when, at long last, the Global Pogrom became impossible to deny took place in France. This is not surprising, as France has been the epicenter of the phenomenon from the moment it began. But this time, the violence was so savage, its target so public, and the perpetrators so obvious, that no one but the most demented apologists could pretend it did not happen.
On July 13, 2014, as the war between Israel and Hamas intensified, an ostensibly pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris quickly devolved into the pogrom that, perhaps, it was always meant to be. A mob of thugs descended upon the Synagogue de la Roquette, trapped the congregation inside, and tried to break in while brandishing deadly weapons.
One of those trapped was a woman who, perhaps for fear of reprisal, asked to be identified only as Aurélie A. Her testimony, translated in Tablet, describes a horrific scene.
Initially mobbed outside the synagogue, she sees one of the “protesters” “shouting ‘Death to the Yids!’” She quickly realizes “the magnitude of the situation… They’ve surrounded us… We hear cries everywhere… I see firearms fly… I even see a man with an axe.” The outnumbered French police, either terrified or simply uninterested, barely get her safe inside.
But “here we can no longer get out… the pressure inside rises. There are elderly people who feel oppressed, there are women who start to cry, in some places the volume rises. Then the first wounded… EMTs…” She looks through a window and “I saw as in a prison what was happening outside. More cries! They are still there… There are now hundreds!” In an instant, it comes to her: “The synagogue is under siege! The demonstrators want in!” And there is no doubt what they will do if they get in: “We can expect the worst.”
The attack continues, the minutes pass by. The police appear to be unable or unwilling to disperse the attackers. But the police are not the only ones there. Outside the synagogue are members of Jewish defense organizations: The SPCJ, the community’s official antisemitism watchdog organization with their own security force; the Revisionist youth group Beitar; and the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ), the French wing of the Jewish Defense League. To the eternal shame of the French police, Aurélie notes that “Our protectors act with courage, far more so than law enforcement, and rightly so, because there were fewer armed men than Jews securing the synagogue…” [emphasis mine].
The attackers hit the synagogue again. This time “projectiles multiply” and “I foresee wounded.” “Time drags,” she writes, “The children can’t take it anymore… I light a candle…”
At long last, the thugs are brought under control, and the congregants are escorted out by the Jewish defense organizations “in small groups, escorting each of the faithful.”
In perhaps the darkest passage of this very dark tale, Aurélie, who like most French Jews is of Sephardi descent, calls her father, who grew up in Algeria. She asks him if he had ever seen anything like the assault on the synagogue. He says, “Yes… In Algeria, before leaving it all behind… But we were in Algeria, here we’re in metropolitan France!”
“Yesterday,” she notes upon reflection, “a part of my love for France left me.” And she is right to feel that way. France fancies itself a civilized nation, yet what she witnessed is nothing that a civilized nation would allow.
Aurélie is hardly alone in her testimony. Journalist Alain Azria witnessed the incident, and stated simply, “The anti-Israel protesters had murder on their mind.” In another testimony to the shameful conduct of the authorities, he said of the Jewish defense groups, “Thank God they were there.”
Another eyewitness described how the crowd threw “stones and bricks at the building, ‘like it was an intifada.’” A Jewish leader made the horrifying statement, “We could have had something like Kristallnacht.” The attackers, he said, “had rocks, glass, axes, knives… they were armed and I made sure that no one would leave the synagogue, in order to protect the lives of our people.”
We have seen the likes of this before. Many times. Far too many times. There is only one word for mob attacks on Jews; attempts to defile and destroy Jewish houses of worship; the rampaging, sadistic, drooling desire to wound and kill defenseless human beings because they are Jewish; and the indifference, incompetence, or collaboration of non-Jewish authorities: Pogrom.
If what happened at the Synagogue de la Roquette is not a pogrom, then nothing is.
And French Jews themselves seem to sense this. That something has changed. That the country they live in, and whose principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity they have embraced as their own, no longer believes in any of these principles. Joel Mergui, a leader of the French Jewish community, put it in stark terms: “In people’s minds,” he said, “there will be a before and after the Synagogue de la Roquette.”
Perhaps most appallingly, the la Roquette pogrom was met with another equally ancient atrocity: Pogrom Denial. Far-Left groups supportive of the demonstration, including the American hate site Mondoweiss, made two claims that have always been made about pogroms: First, it didn’t happen. Second, maybe it might have possibly happened, but it was the Jews’ fault.
They claimed that the pogrom was, in fact, nothing more than a street fight, and was instigated by the LDJ, something blatantly contradicted by eyewitnesses in and outside the synagogue, including Azria, who wrote that the pogromists “splintered off the main protest and headed to the synagogue. The Jewish defenders saw this because they were monitoring the demonstration and followed to put up a defensive fight.”
Every pogrom in history has had its defenders. Slaughters like Kishinev have been called mere peasant uprisings, justified assaults on the Jews who economically exploited others, or attempts to “fight back” against the Jews who supposedly run the world. There have been innumerable other excuses. And indeed, there are just as many this time around.
The French Jews themselves, thankfully, are having none of it. CRIF, the umbrella group for French Jewry, attacked
Said the president of CRIF, “I am shocked when I hear journalists saying if the de la Roquette synagogue was attacked, it is because of the Jews. This is propaganda.”
The la Roquette Pogrom was merely the worst in a series of atrocities. A Haaretz report notes that another Paris synagogue was firebombed the Friday before. In addition, a man pepper-sprayed a Jewish teenager on a Paris street, telling her “Dirty Jewess, inshallah you will die.” The girl in question also would not allow herself to be identified by name. In a Paris suburb, “demonstrators” declared their desire to “slaughter the Jews.”
The Pogrom did not die with the successful defense of la Roquette. Following the attack, the French authorities banned further anti-Israel demonstrations. The pogromists, as is their wont, marched anyway. And, as is again their wont, they went on a rampage, storming through the Jewish neighborhood of Sarcelles, destroying, looting, defacing, and generally acting like what Mayor François Pupponi later called “a horde of savages.”
“We never saw such hatred and violence as we witnessed in Sarcelles,” said the mayor. “This morning people are astonished and the Jewish community is frightened.” The Jerusalem Post interviewed the chief rabbi, Laurent Berros:
The Huffington Post collected reports similar sentiments from other residents.
The horrors have still not ended. At yet another illegal demonstration on July 26 in Paris, protesters gave both the Nazi salute and its now-popular pogromist variation: The so-called “Quenelle,” popularized by a virulently racist comedian in order to skirt France’s laws against racial incitement.
The Pogrom has also spread into the virtual world. One group of self-styled “revolutionaries” created a Facebook page displaying names, photos, and addresses of 32 Jews and called for them to be attacked. The Jewish newspaper Algemeiner reported that “A violent mob of more than a dozen men in France assaulted a Jew at his home in a Paris suburb after confirming that his photograph” was on the page. The victim was beaten with iron bars and saved solely by the coincidental appearance of a neighbor, which caused the assailants to flee.
Hate speech and incitement to violence against Jews are flying at light speed across the Internet. A recent article in the Times of Israel described the travails of those who moderate comments on major French websites. In regard to Israel and the Jews, 90-95 percent of comments have to be blocked due to violent and racist content. “We see racist or antisemitic messages,” said one moderator, “very violent, that also take aim at politicians and the media, sometimes by giving journalists’ contact details.” Another chillingly noted, “Calls for murder are our daily life. It’s sometimes hard psychologically for our moderators.”
To their credit, since the la Roquette and Sarcelles pogroms, French politicians and officials have been outspoken in their condemnation of the attacks. Although, given the ongoing violence, one must wonder at the sincerity of their words. Nonetheless, they have finally begun to acknowledge that the Pogrom exists, and something must be done about it.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, for example, stated unequivocally, “To attack a synagogue and a kosher grocery store is quite simply antisemitism and racism.” The French interior minister visited Sarcelles, and said, “When you threaten synagogues and when you burn a grocery because it is Jewish-owned then you are committing antisemitic acts.” While asserting the legitimacy of demonstrating against Israel, he nonetheless acknowledged, “Nothing can justify such violence.”
Although the French Socialist Party has been traditionally ambivalent toward Israel, its president went so far as to call the pogromists “rampaging hordes.” And he acknowledged the essential truth that “Nobody participates or supports an attack on a Jewish business without being part of a movement that threatens above all to lead civilization into barbarity.”
In addition, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is no particular friend of Israel, publicly stated that “Jews in France should not be afraid, but many of them are afraid.” His government, he said, “will be extremely firm” in dealing with the problem.
But this is, as the saying goes, far too little and far, far too late.
This is because the la Roquette and Sarcelles pogroms are not isolated incidents. They are outbreaks in a pogrom that has been ongoing for 14 years. This ongoing series of racist atrocities has killed, impoverished, exiled, and terrified many, while the authorities, for the most part, did nothing.
It began in late 2000, when the Palestinian Arabs rejected peace and embarked on a terrorist war against Israel. Simultaneously, pro-Palestinian Muslims and non-Muslims rose up around the world to support the terror war, and their tactics quickly turned from non-violent protest to pogromist campaigns of violent intimidation and destruction.
This occurred all over Europe, but France quickly became its epicenter. This was perhaps inevitable, since France has both the largest Jewish and the largest Muslim populations in Europe. But the Jews number only 500,000. While no one is quite certain of the Muslim population, it certainly numbers well into the millions. Faced with both the electoral power of its Muslim minority and the threat of social unrest and violence from this often restive community, French authorities have found it convenient to react to pogroms by simply ignoring them. This has held true even in the face of some of the most appalling atrocities to take place in France in decades.
In the Facebook assault mentioned above, the attackers apparently told their victim that they would do “the same as Ilan Halimi” to him. There is a reason for that. For many French Jews, the kidnapping, torture, and slaughter of the young Ilan Halimi in 2006 was a breaking point. The point at which, however much the French authorities might deny the ongoing progrom, the Jews no longer could or would.
Taken captive by a largely Muslim gang who appropriately named themselves “The Barbarians,” Halimi was held prisoner for weeks and brutally tortured. He was finally dumped on a roadside by the killers, “naked and bleeding from at least four stab wounds to his throat, his hands bound and adhesive tape covering his mouth and eyes. According to the initial autopsy report, burns, apparently from the acid, covered 60 percent of his body.” As The New York Times reported, “His captors told his family that if they did not have” ransom money, “they should ‘go and get it from your synagogue,’ and later contacted a rabbi, telling him, ‘We have a Jew.’”
Police later ascertained that “at least 20 people participated” in Halimi’s “abduction and the subsequent, amateurish negotiations for ransom.” None of them did anything to save Halimi’s life. Worse still, Pogrom Denialists quickly jumped on the ransom demands, claiming that the atrocity was linked to money and not antisemitism. The authorities, finding this excuse convenient, followed suit.
But the gang had apparently stalked four other Jewish men beforehand, and “The police found Islamist literature and documents supporting a Palestinian aid group in the home of at least one of the people arrested.” When the Times asked a young French-Arab man what he thought of the gang leader, the man responded, “If the police bring him back here, the guys in the neighborhood will liberate him.”
It is debatable as to whether something could be objectively “worse” than what was done to Ilan Halimi. But if such a thing exists, it would be the Toulouse Massacre. In early 2012, a demented racist named Mohammed Merah went on a killing spree. After shooting several French soldiers, he descended on the Ozar HaTorah children’s school, where he killed a rabbi and his two sons before chasing down an 8-year-old and shooting her in the head. Another child was seriously injured.
Following Merah’s death at the hands of the French police, the Denialists went into overdrive, attempting to blame Merah’s act on economic deprivation, parental negligence, social alienation, etc., etc. Anything except antisemitism. Perhaps Europe’s most prominent Denialist was the celebrated intellectual Tariq Ramadan, who said, “[Merah’s] political thought is that of a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, or driven by racism and antisemitism.”
But Merah’s own words and those of his brother proved otherwise. Shortly before his death, Merah reportedly told police he had committed his atrocity to “avenge Palestinian children.” And his brother, Abdelghani, presented the most damning evidence, stating that radical Islam and antisemitism, stemming from their parents, had made Mohammed kill. “My parents raised you in an atmosphere of racism and hate,” he said. “My mother always said: ‘We, the Arabs, we were born to hate Jews.’ This speech, I heard it all throughout my childhood.”
The Toulouse slaughter was echoed on July 28, 2014, when in a thoroughly heinous act, a pogromist hurled three firebombs at the city’s Jewish community center. Once again, the attack originated in an anti-Israel demonstration.
Until the la Roquette and Sarcelles pogroms, the Halimi atrocity and the Toulouse massacre were merely the worst incidents of anti-Jewish violence in recent years. For the most part, however, this has been a pogrom in slow motion, an accumulation of thousands of smaller atrocities: Incidents of violence, intimidation, vandalism, indignity, and the cultivation of fear that have had their inevitable—and no doubt intended—effect.
As a BBC report indicated earlier this year, large numbers of French Jews are now “‘afraid to be Jewish’ in France” due to “a rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the country.” The report might have been very tardy, but it is telling.
For 2013, it notes 423 antisemitic incidents. And one must assume that many more go unreported as a result of the intimidation that led the aforementioned witnesses to conceal their names. Even more startling is the news that “40 percent of all racist violence perpetrated in France targeted Jews.” In the networks’ typically understated style, the BBC noted, “antisemitic attacks in France are reported with some regularity.”
The results, for an ostensibly civilized 21st century nation, are appalling: “French Jews often fear outwardly appearing Jewish. A European Union survey published recently suggested that 40 percent of Jews in France will avoid wearing clothing that identifies them as being Jewish.” Looking at the three examples of antisemitic incidents provided, one quickly understands why.
One of my own personal friends experienced such an incident. She was surrounded and threatened by a gang of Muslim youths on the Paris Métro, escaping only by the skin of her teeth. As she ran from the attackers, she begged a shop owner to hide her and call the police. He refused. He didn’t want to get involved. Thankfully, she escaped unharmed despite his indifference. It was, she told me, the last straw. A few months later she moved to Israel. Permanently.
And all of this mayhem, it must be noted, happened long before a gang of thugs attacked a synagogue and sacked a “little Jerusalem.” Throughout most of it, the French authorities acted like the shop owner who abandoned my friend to a gang of thugs. They said little and did less. As always, it was not just that evil men were willing to do evil, but that good men were too cowardly or too indifferent to lift a finger to stop them.
The growing desperation of France’s beleaguered Jews seems to be illustrated more than anything else by their growing embrace of self-defense groups like the LDJ. One older member of the community, Victor Sofer, seems to personify this shift. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
One community leader simply said, “The cops are here now, but it’ll be just us and the Arabs tomorrow.” Into this vacuum, it seems, is flowing the LDJ.
Were the Global Pogrom confined to France, it would not be necessary to call it “Global.” It would simply be the “French Pogrom,” which would be quite appalling enough. But France, due to its large Jewish and Muslim populations, as well as its longtime cultural propensity for mob violence, is simply the most prominent example. Over the last 14 years, it has become clear that this pogrom is Europe-wide.
Even before the latest explosion of anti-Jewish violence and hatred, Jews all over Europe were neither comfortable nor secure. A poll taken in 2013 showed that “Fear of rising anti-Semitism in Europe has prompted nearly a third of European Jews to consider emigration because they do not feel safe in their home country.” To avoid distorting the data, the poll “focused on eight countries that account for more than 90 percent of Europe’s Jewish population.”
The reasons for these sentiments were amply on display over the past week, as a series of anti-Israel demonstrations across Europe promptly degenerated—or showed their true selves, depending on how you look at it—into open antisemitism.
In Antwerp, Haaretz reported, 500 people “protested” Israel’s war in Gaza by listening to a speaker who used “a loudspeaker to chant a call in Arabic that means ‘slaughter the Jews.’” Attendees “also called out ‘Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,’ referencing a seventh-century slaughter against Jews in Saudi Arabia.”
Such genocidal rhetoric was not confined to Belgium. It also appeared in, of all places, Germany. One would have thought that, in the post-Shoah age, Germany had lost the right to allow such things to occur. But this was not the case. A report from the Times of Israel states, “In Dortmund and Frankfurt anti-Israel protesters chanted, ‘Hamas, Hamas, Juden ins gas!’ (‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!’). On Friday, a 200-strong mob in Essen chimed in, ‘Scheiss Juden!’ (‘Jewish shit’).”
In Berlin, once the seat of the Nazi regime, “An angry mob gathered” to spew language that would have enchanted the late Fuhrer. “Draped in Palestinian flags and shaking their fists in rage, they chanted in German, ‘Jude, Jude feiges Schwein! Komm heraus und kämpf allein!’ (‘Jew, Jew, cowardly swine, come out and fight on your own!’).”
Most importantly, we should not make the common mistake of presuming that this pogromist rhetoric stems only from radical Muslim immigrants. A Global Pogrom does not discriminate. People of all races and creeds are happily invited. The mobs that gathered to spew genocidal hatred across Germany were “largely young, with both immigrants and native Germans…. Politically they span the spectrum, from German neo-Nazis to Marxist anti-Imperialists, from secular Palestinian nationalists to Islamic fundamentalists.”
The role of Islam cannot be ignored, however. An imam was recently filmed in Berlin calling on God himself to commit genocide, asking him “not to spare a single one” of the Jews.
As in France, this constant incitement to violence and genocide has had its intended effect—the legitimization of pogromist behavior. Recently, according to the Times of Israel, a Jewish man “was attacked in Berlin for wearing a Star of David. A similar episode occurred in April when six youths surrounded an Israeli and his wife as they left their apartment building and physically assaulted the Israeli in the face.”
In nearby Austria, the pogrom invaded one of Europe’s last truly sacred places: The soccer field. During a friendly match between Lille and Maccabi Haifa, a group of thugs stormed the field and “tried to attack Yossi Benayoun, the national team captain, as well as other members of the squad. One player was spat on, while the coach entered the pitch to protect his players.” Samuel Scheimann, another team member, “claimed at least one of the rioters was armed with a pocket knife.”
In London, home to a large Muslim minority, a series of protests were, at least, fairly peaceful, but the rhetoric remained one of unrelenting incitement and defamation. One popular talking point is that Israel is guilty of genocide. Another is “Hitler, you were right.” Such rhetoric is clearly intended to cause maximum pain and offense to Jews. A protest that uses such rhetoric is not a protest. It is an attack. At least one observer found the sight repulsive enough to write, “Thousands of anti-Semites have today succeeded in bringing central London to an almost total standstill.”
This seems to be an understatement. The British Jewish community is now under siege as well. Death and bomb threats are flowing in by the dozen. Hate crimes are skyrocketing. A Jewish boy was the target of stone thrown by a Muslim woman. A rabbi was the target of a gang attack. Chants of “Heil Hitler” are defiling Jewish neighborhoods.
In a strange way, however one of the most disturbing stories to emerge from this Europe of the Global Pogrom is also one of the least violent. When Swedish pro-Israel activist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, perhaps Sweden’s most prominent pro-Israel activist, arrived to Israel a week ago to express her solidarity, she found that her suitcase had been vandalized, likely due to the horrendous crime of bearing a small Israeli flag.
“I opened my bag,” she said in an online interview,
Perhaps this incident sticks in the mind for a simple reason: If this hatred is so low, so cowardly and petty, as to motivate such a violent attack on an inanimate object, what more would it be capable of inflicting on a human being? Unfortunately, we already know the answer.
In recent days, it has become increasingly clear that the Global Pogrom does not end at the borders of Europe. It is easy for the Jews of North America, long inured to societies that do not share Europe and the Middle East’s long histories of antisemitism, to pretend that it will not or cannot happen to them. That the Pogrom will not or cannot reach them.
Recent days have proven this sadly false. The Pogrom has reached North America, like the first symptoms of a terminal disease. As in Europe, the Pogrom is based in ostensibly anti-Israel protests and demonstrations that traffic in racist and defamatory rhetoric, and ultimately erupt into mob violence.
The problem is already serious enough to force the Anti-Defamation League to issue a security warning to Jewish institutions across the United States. A spokesman told the Times of Israel,
He was not talking about the European Pogroms. He was talking about demonstrations in places like Boston, which prides itself on being a city that embodies American liberalism, tolerance, and multiculturalism.
I grew up in Boston, and know from personal experience that this belief has always been marred by a measure of hypocrisy. And indeed, as has occurred so often in the past, none of these principles now appear to apply to the Jews. At one demonstration in Boston, several pro-Israel students were “surrounded by pro-Palestinian activists chanting ‘Jesus killers’ and ‘drop dead’” before being physically attacked. Said one witness, “Some phones were knocked out of our hands, Israeli flags were yanked, and a whole lot of disgusting things were shouted at us.” Another stated, “They said some nasty things, like calling us Jesus killers, asking how many babies we had each murdered, telling us we would burn.”
And as in Europe, there appeared to be a disturbing indifference on the part of the authorities. Chloé Valdary, a prominent pro-Israel activist at the University of New Orleans, testified, “There were several cops who literally did nothing.”
Perhaps the most disturbing thing, however, was the testimony of Californian activist Bea Lieberman:
If the standard of decency in Boston has now been lowered to simply being kind enough to refrain from outright genocidal rhetoric and intent to murder, then one wonders how much further one of America’s most ostensibly liberal cities has to fall. Perhaps it will fall as far as Berlin, or Antwerp, or Paris.
Or perhaps it will fall as far as Calgary, where an entire family was assaulted by a mob of anti-Israel pogromists, sending several of them to the hospital.
“The victims,” wrote the Washington Free Beacon,
The “antisemitic slogans” included “baby killers,” “kill Jews,” and “Hitler should finish you off.” Which are, of course, not simply slogans, but also death threats. One of the victims describes the pogromists attacking her 19-year-old brother. “He had a Star of David on his shirt,” she testified, “and they were ripping it off, biting him, and scratching him, and stomping on him on the ground.”
Her mother, “who had recently gotten out of surgery for a hernia, was spit on, ‘punched in the stomach, and knocked down as well.’”
It appears that, unsatisfied with beating up a woman, the pogromists then attempted to murder her cousin: “They grabbed me by my Israeli flag and pinned it around my neck and pulled me to the ground and kept kicking me,” he said. “Then they even drug me down the street very briefly, dragging me by the neck by my Israeli flag.” He was ultimately chased through traffic by over two dozen pogromists.
That a family of defenseless people had been attacked by a group of thugs over ten times as large did not appear to bother the Calgary police. Instead, they blamed the family for coming to the demonstration with an Israeli flag. The local media did more or less the same. That several of them could have been killed—as in France, as in Berlin, as in Antwerp, as in Austria, as in any place a pogrom occurs—did not matter either.
Indeed, another victim of the Pogrom, this time in Montreal, drew a chilling parallel to the situation in France. The victim, a French Orthodox Jew, was attacked in the street by what was described as “a young Arab man.” The man who came to his aid said, “He kept saying ‘this is Paris all over again. Quebec is going to be the new France.’”
Even in New York, a city of a million Jews, this “new France,” the France of the Global Pogrom, is threatening. A branch of the Israel Discount Bank was attacked and vandalized by pogromists who “defaced the front windows and sidewalk with fake blood.” One witness stated, “The employees were holed up inside and the doors were locked. No police presence beforehand.”
Another employee described people “with flags basically screaming about the bank funding terrorists and some other nonsense.”
As far as can be ascertained, just as in Boston, Calgary, Montreal, and places like L.A. and Seattle where other incidents have been reported, no one has been arrested or charged in the incident.
And the Pogrom is still expanding. It has already spread as far as Australia, which has long called itself “the lucky country,” due to its avoidance of most of the world’s upheavals. Thanks to the Global Pogrom, this is no longer the case. Anti-Israel protests have sparked pogromist activity there as well. The Times of Israel reports that “a Melbourne man was attacked for wearing a shirt with the IDF logo and Hebrew writing” by two “Arabic speaking men” who shrieked “Jewish dog!” and “Allahu Akbar,” as well as “something about Gaza in Arabic.”
And shortly after the Gaza ground operation began, the blood libel found itself resurrected in the “lucky country.” A billboard was unfurled showing a horrendous caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adorned with fangs that dripped blood. He was bent over a child, and above were the words “can’t get enough.” The irony is palpable, as it appears to be the Global Pogrom that “can’t get enough” of another people’s blood.
Nowhere is the hatred, racism, and violence that drives the Global Pogrom more powerful than in the Muslim world. There, antisemitism appears in its most vulgar and debased form. It publicly embraces such demented myths as the blood libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which are usually only whispered in polite circles in the West. Though not, perhaps, for much longer, should the pogromists have their way.
Fortunately, but also tragically, however, the Muslim world has few targets for its hatred besides Israel. Its own Jewish communities, particularly in the Arab nations, were summarily ethnically cleansed following Israel’s creation.
Only in one place in the Muslim world does a substantial Jewish community survive: Turkey. And it is they who have become the favored target of the Global Pogrom in the Muslim world itself.
They number only 17,300, but they are a strong and ancient community. In fact, the Jewish presence in Anatolia precedes Islam by at least 1,000 years, if not more. Yet the Global Pogrom has struck them too, particularly after the rise of the Islamist AKP party to power, and the resultant reawakening of publically expressed antisemitism.
Their awakening to the Global Pogrom came early, and it was notably brutal. In 2003, two synagogues in Istanbul—home to what is by far the largest Jewish community in the country—were hit by truck bombs. 27 people were killed.
The situation has only grown worse. And in recent weeks, it has reached a fever pitch, with the AKP and its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spewing antisemitic rhetoric against Israel and, by implication, his own Jewish community.
In one particularly vicious speech, Erdogan sounded the Nazi libel, saying that the Israeli offensive against Hamas “surpassed what Hitler did to them,” meaning, of course, to all Jews. “Those who condemn Hitler day and night,” he howled murderously, “have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.” Israel, he said, was “spitting death, spitting blood,” awakening again the blood libel that Jews drink the blood of gentiles.
In tandem, a newspaper described as “affiliated” with Erdogan and his party spat antisemitism at Turkey’s Jewish community. One journalist penned an “open letter” to the country’s chief rabbi. In one hideous passage, he shrieked, “You have lived comfortably among us for 500 years and gotten rich at our expense. Is this your gratitude—killing Muslims? Erdogan, demand that the community leader apologize!”
In addition, the chief of the IHH, a terrorist-associated NGO, openly threatened the Jewish community, saying “Turkish Jews will pay dearly” and “Tonight and tomorrow we are going to hold a different kind of protest, we do not have patience anymore.”
And, of course, there was mob violence, this time directed against the Israeli consulate and the ambassador’s residence. There was the usual stone-throwing, attempts at infiltration, and genocidal racism. One piece of graffiti left by the pogromists read “Die out murderer Jew!” and demanded Israelis “get out of Palestine,” a frequent reference to the desire for the Jewish state’s extermination.
There is another intended result of all this violence and murderous rhetoric: Turkish Jews are leaving. I know from talking with some of those who have made aliyah to Israel that the general attitude is a simple one: The younger generation no longer feels it has a future in Turkey. Within a generation, this ancient community will likely no longer exist.
In Turkey, in other words, the Global Pogrom has become an act of expulsion and ethnic cleansing.
And Turkey is not alone. The remains of another ancient community are also in the sights of the pogromists. The Jerusalem Post recently reported that in Morocco, regarded as one of the more tolerant nations in the Arab world, a rabbi was assaulted and beaten “over Gaza.” Few Jews remain in North Africa, and soon—one imagines—the cleansing will be complete.
But to see the real implications of this slow ethnic cleansing, we must again look the epicenter of the Global Pogrom: To France. Seven decades after it handed most of its Jews over to extermination, it is now acquiescing to their expulsion.
As the Los Angeles Times recently reported,
French Jews are quite open about their reasons for aliyah. One new olah, arriving in the midst of the Gaza war, told the Huffington Post that “I came because of anti-Semitism. You see it in the eyes of people. I see it in everything.”
One of the world’s most impressive men has weighed in on the implications of this act of ethnic cleansing. In an interview with the writer Liam Hoare published just a few days ago, in the wake of the French pogroms, legendary Russian dissident Natan Sharansky, current head of the Jewish Agency, pronounced a terrible judgment on a continent that appears to have both betrayed its Jews once again and forfeited its right to be called a civilization.
“I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of Jewish history in Europe,” Sharansky said.
He described this as “an impossible situation for Jews,” creating a “feeling of non-belonging and disengagement.”
Sharansky also openly acknowledged—perhaps the first time a public figure has done so—what this really means: Expulsion and ethnic cleansing. Europe, in other words, has returned to the Middle Ages, when Jews were routinely expelled from one region to another.
He calls this a potential “exodus” of Europe’s Jews as a whole. And he pointed out a terrible truth: “The leaders of Europe,” he claimed, “have to think how they came to the point where Europe was once willing to give away millions of its citizens—its Jews—and now when the remnants of these Jews are willing to give away Europe.”
And with terrible irony, he notes something else: That if and when this happens, “Europe will die here and survive in Israel.”
There is a Global Pogrom under way. I say the terrible truth once again because it must be said again. It is a Pogrom undertaken by Muslims, Christians, atheists, and all those in between, all across the world. It is aided and abetted by the collaboration, indifference, and silence of the authorities—and of the world. It operates with impunity. It has murdered, it has maimed, it has destroyed lives and property, it has made life impossible for Jews in numerous countries, and it is now committing a crime against humanity: Expulsion and ethnic cleansing.
So the terrible truth must be spoken: Things must be called what they are—groups and individuals that commit violence against Jews, whatever they may call themselves, are not “activists,” “protesters,” or “demonstrators.” They are pogromists. The movement that enables them is not pro-human rights, it is not anti-war, and it is not pro-Palestinian. It is a Global Pogrom. Groups that deny or engage in apologetics for their violence are hate groups.
So the terrible truth must be spoken: There is now, for all practical purposes, no distinction between hatred of Israel, hatred of Zionism, and hatred of the Jews. There may once have been a distinction. It is possible. But there is no longer, because the pogromists themselves have destroyed it.
So the terrible truth must be spoken: The Global Pogromists’ motives are obvious—to intimidate Israel’s supporters into silence; to partake in the inherent pleasure of violence and barbarism that exists in all of us; and the most simple and obvious motive of all, to brutalize, slaughter, and expel a people against whom they have ignited an inferno of racist hatred.
So the terrible truth must be spoken: If it is not stopped, the Global Pogrom will spread. It will spread to wherever there are large Muslim populations that embrace a culture of genocidal racist hatred. It will spread to wherever there are Leftists whose hatred of Israel has led them to the inevitable embrace of antisemitism. And it will spread to wherever the neo-Nazi and neo-fascist Right is once again ascending to power on a wave of discontent. And most of all, it will spread to wherever there are Jews to serve as targets.
So the terrible truth must be spoken: The Global Pogrom is an existential threat to the Jews. But not only the Jews. It is an existential threat to democracy, to civil society, and to civilization itself. Should Europe, the Muslim world, North America, and wherever else the Global Pogrom has spread wish to retain their status as civilizations, they must say no to the barbarism that is the Global Pogrom.
Because, as David Ben-Gurion once said, this is not a question of the Jews and the Arabs. It is a question of the Jews and the world. The world’s responsibility to one of its smallest minorities is clear. And the fulfillment of such responsibilities is a mark of a true civilization. The question now is whether or not it will choose to forsake it entirely.
Yet amidst all of this horror, this return to a medieval barbarism we once hoped humanity had transcended; this realization that the world has still not, and perhaps never will learn its lesson; we are permitted to appreciate a transcendent irony.
Despite the prodigious horrors it has already committed, the Global Pogrom has also proved stunningly self-defeating. In its savage violence and hatred, it has served to confirm the Zionist case, create more aliyah to Israel, and drive the Jews of the Diaspora to once more take up arms in their own defense. It has, in other words, strengthened the country and the people it loathes with such a murderous passion.
But this small consolation is still a small one. And it is no substitute for justice. For the Global Pogrom to be defeated, justice must be demanded. Justice must be demanded for its victims and its targets. And justice must at long last be done upon its perpetrators.
So the final, most terrible truth must be spoken: This justice is the real test. If the world cannot or will not resist the Global Pogrom, then it cannot do justice. And if it cannot do justice, then it has forfeited its right to call itself a civilization. It has said yes to barbarism, and so has become barbaric itself. Because the essence of civilization, the one true justification for its existence, is to say no to barbarism. If the civilizations that have thus far said yes to the Global Pogrom will not decide, at long last, to say no; if they will not decide, at long last, to become civilizations again; then we must speak the terrible truth that Chaim Nahman Bialik spoke in the wake of a different but no less terrible pogrom: “Let the throne be hurled down forever.”
Banner Photo: Xavier de Fenoyl / EPA The Global Pogrom / Benjamin Kerstein