There’s a thought-provoking piece in yesterday’s Guardian regarding the ‘political correctness’ of anti-semitism supposedly spreading throughout Europe.
I’ve read it a couple of times, and I have to say, a lot of the charges I find difficult to accept. Not only that, but I were so inclined, I could easily take some of the anti-gentile sentiments expressed as a personal affront to my own character.
Now don’t get me wrong — it is plainly obvious that anti-semitic sentiments are indeed growing throughout Europe. But to say that they have any sort of ‘politically correct’ justification by way of European governmental attitudes and policies is absurd.
I think that part of the problem could be that most people have a tendency to generalise, which polarises issues and obscures the truth. For example, European animosity towards the United States — sure, George Bush and his cronies are the enemy, but where is the basis for hating the whole nation? It’s the confusion of a specific issue with a more general one. It’s the mob mentality. Thinking along these lines, its easy to see how animosity towards the current Israeli government can be confused en masse with anti-semitism.
That doesn’t make it right, of course. Since when is the firebombing of a school ever right? Or the desecration of a graveyard? It’s really sad that people are so blinded by misguided hatred that they would commit such despicable acts. But to say that this might be an example of how anti-semitism has become politically-correct in Europe shows an obvious lack (or even refusal) of mutual understanding.
“These days,” says Ariel Sharon, “to conduct an anti-semite policy is not a popular thing, so the anti-semites bundle their policies in with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But doesn’t Mr. Sharon seem to be making a dangerous generalisation himself? Why must animosity towards the policies of the current Israeli government always be equated with animosity towards the state of Israel itself? Why must anti-Israeli sentiment always be equated with anti-semitism?
When Sharon and his ilk make statements such as the above, I feel completely misrepresented and untimately insulted. For instance, I have no problem with the existence of Israel — why shouldn’t they have their own country? I just happen to believe that the Palestinians are entitled to their own homeland too, without having to live in fear of Israeli (not Jewish, _Israeli_) persecution. But somehow, in their warped vision, this belief brands me as an anti-semite.
I happen to believe that Ariel Sharon is a despicable man, blatantly racist war criminal. But do I despise him because he is Jewish? Of course not! His religion doesn’t play a part in my equation. But it sure seems he’d like the world to believe that his Jewishness is the sole reason for the world’s hatred towards him and his oppressive, aggressive policies.
Working through the confusions and generalisations and misunderstandings clouding the issues involved is headspinning. There is so much dangerous rhetoric quoted in this article, perpetuating the vicious circle that hides the harsh reality of the situation, that it’s difficult to know where to begin, and practically impossible to see the end.
I could write an essay on all of this. But such a task would be far too frustrating.