A mass e-mail from the Simon Weisenthal Center is warning of a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in France.  But that's not all.  The comment from Bruce Rattner (producer of the 'Rush Hour' movies) adds a bitter complaint

With all of the hyped details of every luridly tragic event in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict why have the American media from top to bottom not been all over this –" why have they not devoted much more coverage to these disgraceful, anti-Semitic events in France?

Aside from the tracking cookie the e-mail put on my computer, Mr. Rattner's comment got me thinking about the level of rage/selective information/paranoia that agitators on both sides of the i/p issue engage in when stoking up the daily quota of outrage.

Why are the events in Gaza "luridly tragic" to Mr. Rattner, instead of just "tragic"?

We’ve come to a corrupt place in world discourse:  the holocaust is used to justify violence in Gaza;  violence in Gaze is used to justify hate in France;  hate in France becomes a platform for self-styled experts like Rattner to pontificated about anti-semitism.  

Rattner doesn't pull his punches.  He makes clear that he's talking about something that may represent the onset of a second holocaust:

As the youngest and most recently elected member of the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, I feel compelled to share with you a shocking and radically disturbing correspondence I have just received from a well known and well respected journalist friend from Paris. My friend wishes to remain anonymous because of fear for her job and the well being, safety and even life of herself and her family. Why these mortifying circumstances should be true will become obvious as you read her chilling words

Rattner's nameless "friend" goes on to describe a chilling atmosphere in France.

it is impossible for an individual, whether a student or a teacher, to say that you are a Jew. If you say so, you'll end in a hospital.

What's going on?

We had demonstrations every Saturday in every big city in France, and also smaller cities, against the Israeli bombings in Gaza.

But these people aren't just protesting,nameless warns.  They're would-be killers.

The 20.000 people demonstrating in Paris were not in the streets to claim peace but to shout that Israel should be destroyed. Israeli flags were burned, the support was for Hamas...One of the sentences you could hear, repeatedly, was "Death to the Jews and the Zionists"...In Mulhouse, the demonstrators wanted to end the day at the synagogue, and destroy it."

On many sides – American, Arab, Israeli, French – what lurks in the shadows is an ugly, irrational ethnic/religious nationalism, a hatred of others, a deification of a cartoon-like depiction of the past;  in short something not too different from a lot of the European crap of the 19th/20th centuries.

I don’t know much about the French situation;  it seems to me that the deeper problem is between arabs/French – perhaps screaming "death to the jews" is just easier.  

But I was struck by "name withheld’s" comment about "ordinary people, from North Africa who suddenly claim that Allah, Hamas and the destruction of Israel matter more than their French citizenship" – the implication being that here are these dangerous fools, trading the nationality which the French so generously gave them, just to cry death to the Jews.  

My sense is it’s a little more complicated than that, and that this is another instance of an attempt at linking right-wing Zionism to (traditionally anti-semetic) European and American racist and xenophobic themes.  Note also "name withheld’s" concern about Trotskyites and communists.

I think we in America also don’t actually see the "luridly tragic" video feeds coming out of Gaza.  Obviously this doesn’t justify arab ignorance/violence in the least.  But it seems to me that most in America are so drugged on selective propaganda – like the distinguished Mr. Rattner – that arab rage then becomes dismissed as the howlings of people who "have no respect for human life" – as phosphorus rains down on Gaza.  Media outlets that do, like Al Jazerra and the BBC, are dismissed as anti-semitic out of hand.  

Note how many of the same players denounced the BBC’s skepticism about Iraq’s WMD program in 2003, for what I believe were the same reasons.  We had at that time a naked campaign to invade Iraq and establish a client state under Ahmed Chalabi, complete with it’s own stock-market, Cheneyite managers, and presumably military policies coordinated with Benjamin Netanyahu.

On the other hand, anti-Semitism in Europe really isn’t covered in the media I follow, to any extent.  Most of I have heard of things of this kind came from my militant right-wing (Jewish) former friend, who brimmed with anger about anti-Semitic events at universities around the US as well as Europe.  I had to stop talking to him after he told me that he could "sympathize" with Baruch Goldstein, even if he couldn’t defend BG’s actions.

How real is the problem of anti-Semitism in France? Maybe readers of this diary can tell me

But I note the sophistication of the e-mail – which has to link to another server, giving personal information about the reader, when you open it (my antivirus software later deleted a tracking cookie that the e-mail placed on my computer).  I’m not saying that the events in France aren’t disturbing – they are – or that the problem isn’t necessarily as dire as described.  But there are other – possibly equally dangerous -- forces at play here too.

We are in an ugly time.  Facts  become politicized, and an account of a dead child immediately becomes suspect as propaganda of one side or the other – as children die.  My own feeling about this is that the only possibility rational discourse is one that takes into account the real suffering and real needs of all parties.  I find "name withheld" and Mr. Rattner’s  - and almost all  of the anti-Israel whackos – dangerously deficient on this score.

Originally posted to al75 on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 04:02 AM PST.


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