Europe has an obsession with Jews – I
by Michael Brenner on 12 Dec 2023 1 Comment

Europe has an obsession with Jews. For nearly two millennia, it shunned them, despised them and persecuted them. Now, after a respite of a few decades, it condemns and abuses Muslims in a similar way – all in the name of supporting Jews. Israel’s inhuman treatment of the Palestinians – culminating in their massacre and mass eviction from Gaza – leaves Europeans unmoved. European political elites above all.


Instead, they cheer on the Israelis, outdo themselves in effusive displays of solidarity, in the quick dispatch of weapons so that the IDF can better carry out their odious campaign, in providing instant validation for the most outrageous lies in the wake of the most outrageous atrocities. Propinquity has accentuated their moral support. Leaders scurry to Tel Aviv to get as close to the action as possible and to steal a photo of themselves embracing Bibi Netanyahu – a copy for the evening news, a copy for the next campaign brochure, a copy for the eventual memoir.


The West generally clearly has a big problem with matters of religion, race and ethnicity. It is multiform, it mutates, it waxes and wanes, it shifts focus and fixation - but it remains lodged in the collective psyche. While this obviously is not universal among Europe’s population of 400 million, it is manifestly prevalent and deep-seated. When the stimulus is strong and acute, it flares like a gas field when the drill hits paydirt.


The entire panoply of institutions - public and private - rise up as if choreographed to vent the same emotions, make the same harsh, unqualified judgments, use the same crude slogans, drape themselves in the same banners of self-righteousness and self-proclaimed moralism. Government leaders, politicos, media, pundits, make the same cacophonous noises, aggressively impose the same uniformity of opinion, and punish the few dissenters.   


Thus, the exaltation of the Jews of Israel - honoured and cosseted - is matched by the dehumanization of Palestine’s Muslims. Of course, it is not just the long-suffering Palestinians who are at once denied - in principle - the right to the privileged status of victimhood and collectively are condemned as guilty of the most heinous crimes committed by al-Qaeda, the Islamic State or Hamas. Men, women, children - without exception. It is all Muslim communities – Islamophobia.


What are the sources of this psychopathology? Some are immediately identifiable. 1) The residual, latent desire to absolve Europe of the sins committed against the Jews ever since they were stigmatized as the killers of the Christians’ Lord & Saviour. It took roughly 1,900 years for the truest Jew-haters to take the final, macabre act of revenge. Volunteers from sixteen European countries formed SS divisions that participated - directly or indirectly (the largest contingents made up of Ukrainians). That holocaust had a powerful sobering effect on the contemporary soul of European Christians whether believers, practicing or nominal.


The fears, wounds and pangs of conscience associated with it gradually have faded into the background and discrimination against Jews largely has gone away - despite the attempts in recent years to inflate every minor incident as part of a campaign to conflate criticism of Israel with old-fashioned anti-Semitism. As a consequence of the campaign’s success, antipathy toward Israel aroused by its actions in Gaza, the number of those incidents has risen. The confected identity of Judaism with a rogue Israeli state is a boon for the die-hard anti-Semites.  However, that maelstrom of tangled feelings evidently didn’t dissipate entirely.


The very words ‘Jewish’ and ‘Israel’ have the power to paralyze European minds and consciences. Again, most strikingly among the political class. Hence, Britain’s most erudite commentator renowned for his frankness and rare skill at cutting through official cant and mendacity, declares himself unable to pronounce on who destroyed the hospital in Gaza - hiding behind the weasel words ‘we should await the outcome of an impartial United Nations investigation.’


Who did the evil deed? The people who already had dropped 1,500 bombs on Gaza city or Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves? Make your choice - personal preference. Hence, French President Emmanuel Macron bans all protests that express sympathy for the Palestinians on the grounds that they cause Jews /Israel emotional distress. He then makes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to urge the Israelis to pursue Hamas “without mercy” – adding, for the record, “within the law.” (His recent conversion ‘On The Road To Damascus /Berlaymont /Turtle Bay’ lifts the ban only on himself).  One is reminded of Peter O’Toole (aka T.E. Lawrence) shouting the command “no prisoners!” as he drives his Arab army to throw themselves on a retreating Turkish column. Without the hypocrisy of adding “within the law”. 


Hence, German authorities ruthlessly enforce their own ban on Gaza-sympathy protests and threaten criminal prosecution of participants. Foreign Minister Braebock uses a Tel Aviv platform to inform the world that “Israel cares about the welfare of Gazans.” Hence, UK Labour leader, Keir Starmer, conducts Stalinist-style purges from the Labour ranks of anyone who utters a word critical of Israel - that includes Corbyn, now obliterated from party annals. No surprise that he now demands explicitly, and in a public interview, that the party’s official position is to give license to the Israelis to continue their bombing; to cut off all food, water, electricity; to expel the Gazans into the Sinai desert where Qatar is pressed to finance a tent city for a million or two.


Hence, this Monday, November 11, the EU Foreign Ministers issue an official statement that “[the] EU condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields in Gaza” – in what amounts to an eerie resemblance to the holocaust deniers. Hence, Joe Biden strikes the same note in declaring that civilian casualties have been exaggerated by Hamas. This is the starkest evidence to date that we have left the realm of reasoned and reasonable discourse for the nether world of psychopathology.


2) Relations between Europeans and Muslim communities have become increasingly fraught. Above all, the growth of large immigrant communities settled mainly in Western Europe, has generated a host of social problems arising from the complications of imperfect cultural assimilation and the intrusions of influences from the external Muslim world. They are all too familiar: the rapid spread of intolerant, fundamentalist Islam; the threats posed by violent jihadist groups whose tentacles have reached into European cities; the turbulent state of politics across the Middle East; the periodic oil crises that made the region a tense arena for great power politics; and - by no means least - the lingering effects of Western colonialism that never have been expunged.


The two most striking features of that 450-year experience are: 1) the profound superior-inferior relationship on which it was grounded and which it entrenched in European minds; and 2) it was the ‘whites’ who were dominant and the ‘coloured’ peoples who were subordinate. That too readily devolved into the racist belief that the latter were inherently inferior - somehow not quite fully human. The enduring psychic scars never have entirely faded - on both sides.


Let’s recall that it is within our lifetime that the imperial dependents liberated themselves from thralldom - with much blood-shedding - in North Africa, Indo-China, Kenya, Angola, Indonesia, Mozambique, Iraq. More recently, wars between the West and Muslim societies have been fought in several places: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, the Sahel. All on Muslim soil. Domestic terrorists across Western Europe cite as their immediate motivation those attacks on Muslims – rather than their devotion to a Quranic jihadist creed per se.


That brings our attention to the biggest external factor: the United States. More specifically, Europeans’ enduring dominant /subordinate relationship. European countries have been denatured by America, in the sense that they are shed of sovereign status and its attendant political will. That perverse trans-Atlantic bond has been cultivated by both sides.


Its significance for understanding the European attitude towards Israel /Palestine is two-fold. One, there is an eerie inversion of roles for European polities who participate in dominant-subordinate relations with both America and Arab Muslims. It matches the classic profile of the “Authoritarian Personality.” Toward the superior one is docile, obedient, obsequious; toward the inferior one is arrogant, demanding and patronizing. The latter compensates for the former in terms of maintaining a positive sense of self.


A variation of this psychological pattern is visible in the attitude of Western government leaders toward their own populace. In effect, they assume the dominant role in treating their citizens as subordinates from whom deference is expected on matters of state. Strikingly, today we see overwhelming and growing popular advocacy of a ceasefire in Gaza while the political elites – those holding official positions, the media and the punditry – vigorously suppress the dissent.


Example: London has seen an unprecedented demonstration of half a million [Nov 11-ed], a reflection of public opinion that favours the ceasefire by a 3:1 margin (roughly the same in the US.) That in the face of bitter, slanderous denunciation from both Prime Minister Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer who vies to surpass him in passionate embrace of Bibi Netanyahu and who ruthlessly purges anybody who is disobedient to his hard line. Hence, not a single Labour or Tory MP joined Saturday’s historic march at the risk of losing access to the Members’ Bar at Westminster. [The dramatic event was all but ignored by the Establishment print media. By Sunday, all had airbrushed the story out of existence; no photo showing the massive crowd].


(To be concluded…)

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