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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

INCENDIARY ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE EU: 2nd of 3 Installments

This is the second installment of a mini-series on European anti-Semitism, which was initially prompted by a recent article from The San Francisco Chronicle that Professor X --- an American of British origins --- sent to us. As things have shaped up, there are now 3 installments. Why the change to 3? Easy enough to say: the original buggy article that X's gesture prodded into existence turned out to be unusually long, what with all the analysis and supporting evidence . . . not to forget the three tag-on pieces from the International Herald Tribune and The Observer in London.

Come to that, not to forget either the lengthy sidebar observations about Red-Ken, the Mayor of London and his souped-up hyperbole about President Bush being the greatest threat to humankind in all of history, and how such raw extravagant assaults --- delivered with ex cathedra certainty --- pulsate with zeal throughout Big Green activist circles in the EU and much of the media there. On their shared view, the world's going to the dogs, the sky's about to fall in, and only desperate changes --- plus, of course, regulations galore EU-style, administered by guess who? --- will stave off disaster. Guess something else. This zeal, essentially a religious surrogate for people hungering after radically new meaning and a mission in life, usually leads to Inquisition-like pillorying of anyone who dares to tackle the taken-for-granted dogmas that constitute the hard-core ideology of Extra-Potent Environmentalism in Europe . . . such as Bjorn Lomborg, the noted Danish statistician who was bold enough to publish a justifiably renown book, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, full of general optimism about the dominant trends in environmental, resource, energy, demographic, and developmental matters. Such boldness rankles pious clerics and their true-believing flock. Condemned by a witch-hunting committee within the Danish Ministry of Science earlier in 2003, Lomborg --- given no chance of rebuttal (why bother to let heretics full of devilish sorcery challenge Church-like pieties?) --- was only reversed this last week by the Danish government itself.

The original solo-version of the buggy article sliced up the argument into 8 major parts, PART I, PART II etc. The argument that follows takes up where the first installment left off: at the start of PART IV. ATTENTION: For those of you who have already read the solo-version, you might note an important addition today: an excerpt of a study put out twice yearly by Eurobarometer, an official EU agency that probes European attitudes and sentiments on a recurring basis. It appeared in November 2003, and it documents the growing pessimism and gloom that mark the dominant trends in EU public opinion --- especially about national and EU developments. As you'll see, the survey results --- including comparisons with the contrary trends in the US --- help illuminate the deeper festering causes of the recent surge in European racism and anti-Semitic views. Click on continue below, then click again here to jump to these lengthy added sections.


As you'll see, PART IV is itself a lengthy stand-alone argument, divided into 6 sub-sections --- each clearly demarcated and further sub-divided. Hence the reason for moving PARTS V-VIII to a third and final installment.

PART IV. THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE ARTICLE'S WEAKNESSES

So much for the Chronicle article's virtues. Its main defects were hinted at in the earlier buggy tag-on observations, a few paragraph back --- in the first installment --- to the effect that it's intelligent and generally accurate as far as it goes. Why the italics here? To signal, essentially, that the Chronicle journalists didn't dig deep enough --- either in the use of documented anti-Semitism in the EU or in their analysis of the various causes behind its resurgence. Nor did they apply any comparative perspective: in particular, with the US, where survey evidence going back over a half century is available about anti-Semitism in this country. It too is on the upswing --- though still far below its strength in the EU, where we also have some revealing survey evidence now . . . thanks to the US Anti-Defamation League.

And so, for more depth, we need . . .

 

(i) For a start, To Use Survey Evidence Gathered by ADL-sponsored Surveys

Its analysis would have been strengthened had it referred to the two ADL-sponsored surveys of anti-Semitism in Europe in 2002 that were carried out by well-known EU pollsters, and as you'll see, the ADL's surveys there and over the decades in the US rely on continued academic expertise for tapping racism. [For the ADL summary, go A Potent and Dangerous Mix.] Needless to say, survey data aren't Gospel Truth. Unless carried out in similar ways over years and decades (longitudinal analysis), they usually capture shifting attitudes and sentiments held by respondents at the time of polling, rather than firmly anchored beliefs . . . not that the gap is necessarily great. It all depends. Then, too, the wording of questions can count, and possibly even the personality of the pollster, particularly in face-to-face surveys. There may also be a gap between how someone responds to a set of questions and how he or she actually feels, particularly if the probing questions deal with politically sensitive issues such as racism. (That, by the way, makes the self-reported anti-Semitism all the more convincing; the sentiments on such inflammatory issues usually are more widespread.)



Something else to consider too. Even if well-conceived surveys do tap deeply held beliefs, there may still be a gap between what people think they firmly believe and how, in the crunch, they actually behave. Anti-Semitism was rampant in Europe in the 1930s and during the years of Nazi-occupation in WWII, but probably only a certain percentage of anti-Semites actually wanted to exterminate all Jews. Even so, they were generally content to have Jews removed from their midst by the Nazis, whatever the fate happened to be that awaited them: slavery and gas-ovens. Simultaneously, anti-Semitic sentiments were rife enough all over Europe that the Nazis had no trouble getting the support of local authorities in every country except two to help them round up and send Jewish minorities to the death camps. Denmark and Bulgaria were the two exceptions. In both countries, the governments and police refused adamantly to deliver their Jewish citizens to the SS and Gestapo. Denmark, to its great credit, even managed to ferry almost all its tiny Jewish minority --- about 20,000 --- to safety across the straits that separated occupied Denmark from neutral Sweden.

All these problems with survey data are well worth noting. Even so, opinion surveys --- especially two of them like those the ADL carried out in West Europe last year (as opposed to annual surveys the ADL has used in the US for decades now) --- are better indicators than the subjective judgments of journalists or other observers . . . at any rate when it comes to generalizing about how large numbers of people feel about things, whether we're talking about huge national populations or sub-groups within them. That doesn't mean good journalism or non-survey based work by scholars is always misleading. Both vary in quality, and both can be useful. All the same, survey data has to anchor effective social science analysis. In the years to come, as more ADL or similar surveys are administered in Europe, our knowledge of anti-Semitism there will increase and allow for more precise analysis and predictions. Will there be more such surveys? Yes, that's pretty clear. Anti-Semitism, as it's broken out again in Europe, is a serious social pathology of dangerous scope --- something the EU heads now themselves own up to; and there will be an international conference sponsored on the subject by the EU this coming January.

 

The ADL Findings

In clear, concrete language, what the two ADL surveys found were that 30% of West Europeans cling to traditional Anti-Semitic stereotypes, coupled with a high rate of anti-Israeli sentiment. Specifically, of the Europeans surveyed:

 30% harbor traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes.

 45% believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country.

 30% believe that Jews have too much power in the business world.

 19% say Jews don't care about anyone but their own kind.  16% say Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.

 39% of Europeans believe Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust.


"More than one-third of the people in Belgium, Germany, France and Spain hold strongly anti-Semitic views, according to two surveys conducted for the Anti-Defamation League. The figures show that "all of Europe is infected" with anti-Semitism, said Abraham Foxman, the ADL's national director.

Some 39 percent of Belgians and 37 percent of Germans harbor strongly anti-Semitic views, according to the ADL's index of anti-Semitism. In France, 35 percent were strongly anti-Semitic, and in Spain 34 percent. The figure fell to 23 percent in Italy, 22 percent in Switzerland, 21 percent in Denmark, 19 percent in Austria, 18 percent in the United Kingdom and 7 percent in the Netherlands. . . . Anti-Semitic attitudes in France, Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Belgium were surveyed in June 2002. Attitudes in Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands were measured in September and are being released this week.

The ADL calculates attitudes based on an "anti-Semitism index" that monitors responses to 11 statements deemed by University of California researchers in 1964 to indicate anti-Semitism. Respondents who agree with six or more of the statements are considered "most anti-Semitic." It's not a faultless survey, though few survey polls are. They are prone to tap only attitudes, not deep beliefs, and attitudes can alter with changes in dramatic events. All the same, the findings more or less chime with what first-hand observers have noted for years now, with more and more EU citizens convinced, among other things, that Jews control American foreign and security policies."


As a methodological tag-on, note that the ADL surveys found that 23% of Italians last year expressed strong anti-Semitic views. The confidence in those surveys is reinforced by the findings in a recent, Italian-administered survey last month of similar attitudes. As it happened, those findings were 22% --- virtually the same.

 

(ii.) Comparisons With The US: About 50% Lower Than In the EU

Compared to a recent ADL survey, Anti-Semitism in America, that was released on June 11, 2002, 17% of Americans were found to hold strong anti-Semitic views, 33% believe Jews are more loyal to Israel, 24% believe Jews have too much power in the business world, 16% say Jews don't care about anyone but themselves, 19% believe Jews are more willing to use shady practices. The question about the Holocaust was not asked of Americans. From the table set out earlier about the Jewish population in various countries, recall that the US --- with 290 million people --- has about four times the number of Jews that West Europe with 380 million has. Since the end of WWII, the ADL has had scholars design and administer surveys of American anti-Semitic attitudes. They showed a sharp drop from 1945 right through the 1990s, down from around 40% of clear anti-Semitic hostility to Jews to around 13%. Then, in the early part of this decade --- as in the EU --- the responses began to show a upward trend.

Note that in 1992, 20% of Americans had expressed strong anti-Semitic attitudes. The figures had dropped to 12% by 1998.

 

What were the specific findings broken down into subgroups as far as strong anti-Semitic sentiments go?

 17% of Americans
 35% of Hispanics
 44% of foreign-born Hispanics
 20% of Hispanic Americans born in U.S.
 35% of African-Americans
 3% of U.S. college and university students


"We are greatly concerned", the ADL reported, that many of the gains we had seen in building a more tolerant and accepting America have not taken hold as firmly as we had hoped, and have to some degree been reversed," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While there are many factors at play, all of the evidence suggests that a strong undercurrent of Jewish hatred persists in America."

"One of the most important findings of ADL's 2002 Survey of Anti-Semitism in America concerns Hispanic Americans, one of the most significant and fastest growing segments of the American population, in which the poll found an extraordinary gap between those born in the United States and those born abroad. The survey revealed that while 44% of foreign-born Hispanics hold hardcore anti-Semitic beliefs, 20% of Hispanic Americans born in the U.S. fall into the same category.

"The anti-Semitic propensities of foreign-born Hispanics were significantly above the national average. Meanwhile, the number of African-Americans with strong anti-Semitic beliefs continued to hold steady at 35%"


A couple of add-on comments by way of clarification. Start with the high level of anti-Semitism among foreign-born Hispanics, whose causes appear two-fold: very poor education, and a largely rural background steeped in traditional, unenlightened Catholic upbringing of the sort that flourishes in the villages and small towns throughout much of Latin America. In particular, whereas 78% speak Spanish at home, the corresponding figure for American-born Hispanics is 20%; about a fifth of the Spanish-speaking immigrants never even attended high school, let alone graduated, only 5% of US-born Hispanics fall into this category; and more than half of the immigrants attend church at least once a week compared to 38% of American-born Hispanics. Not surprisingly, given these differences, Hispanics born in the US display anti-Semitism at less than half the levels found among the immigrant community.

As for the high-level of anti-Semitism in the African-American community, that too seems to be correlated directly with educational levels.



 

One More Big US-EU Difference: Support For Israel

Another striking contrast between American and West European opinion concerns Israel and its role in the Middle East conflicts --- or for that matter, when you think about it, its impact on world peace. For a clear majority in the EU --- 59% --- Israel is the single greatest threat to it: the US in third place around 53%, with both results to be clarified later here. Note that the EU poll was published in November 2003, and it immediately elicited commitments from both the President of the EU Commission, Romano Prodi, and the EU rotating President, Silvo Berlusconi (the Prime Minister of Italy), that they would struggle against the prejudices that, they said, produced this startling result. Remember, this result didn't reflect a balanced judgment as to which parties, the Israelis or the Palestinians and the 20 Arab countries in a condition of war with it, bore the most responsibility. Wrong as it might be, a judgment that finds Israel the more culpable party would not necessarily reflect prejudice at all. What the survey result found was far different: Israel, increasingly the target of almost all the Arab countries and for that matter another 30 Muslim countries that seek to de-legitimize it --- subject to repeated majority-driven criticisms in the UN and for that matter in the EU media whose reporting on the Middle East conflict is hard to distinguish at times from the state-controlled Arab media --- is the single greatest threat to world peace!

Small wonder the two major executive heads of the EU were themselves startled and apologetic. Specifically, Romano Prodi "expressed

his concern about the findings, saying that they "point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand" And "To the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical," Mr Prodi said in a statement.

Similarly, Silvio Belusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy who holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said that he was "surprised and indignant" at the findings. And the EU Commission quickly issued a statement that 'said Israel's anger was "legitimate" but refused to get drawn into whether the poll findings were valid?

"I think the (Israeli) reaction was a very legitimate reaction," the spokesman for the EU's executive arm told reporters. But he added: "It is not our task to interpret each and every survey. We don't place excessive emphasis on one poll result."



By contrast, American opinion is markedly pro-Israel and has been for decades now. An ADL-sponsored survey --- carried out by expert pollsters --- was published on December 17th, 2003 --- came up with these results:

* Americans sympathize more with Israel -- 40% --than with the Palestinians – 15%.

* 39% believe the Palestinians are more responsible for the current violence; 16% blame Israel.

* 70% of Americans believe Israel is more serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians; 46% think the Palestinians are serious.

* 75% believe that the U.S.-Israel special relationship is based on shared values of freedom and democracy.

* 57% of the respondents said the U.S. has a moral obligation to combat anti-Semitism throughout the world through its foreign policy.


 

A sidebar clarification: Regarding persistent anti-Israel biases in the vast majority of the EU media, see the buggy article on this topic, complete with a case-study on how the media there, unlike the American equivalents, were in a lather of semi-hysteria about Israeli massacres in the battle with terrorists in Jenin in early April 2002.

The battle raged for several days. The Israelis took great pains to minimize civilian destruction. Initially, the Palestinian Authority claimed there were thousands of dead Palestinians; then 500 --- both claims reported in the EU media, largely uncritically; then admitted days after the battle was over that there were 55 or so dead Palestinians, and 27 Israelis. The moment the EU media reporters were let into the city by the Israeli authorities, they tended overwhelmingly to proclaim that a clear massacre had occurred; the Swedish UN representative shared that view. By contrast, on the scene at the very same time, experienced American reporters were far more cautious: they noted that little evidence of a massacre could be found, but that it would take days before a more accurate judgment could be made. The actual results, when they came, vindicated the American reports. Some EU reporters kept poking for weeks among the ruins, hoping to uncover huge caches of slaughtered Palestinian civilians. None were found.

Note that while Israel forces were battling in Jenin, Arab members of the Israeli Parliament petitioned the Israel Supreme Court to order that the Israel military cease the removal of dead combatants or civilians --- something done in any battle by most militaries. The Supreme Court found in favor of the Arab parliamentarians' petition and issued the order they wanted; the Israeli High Command immediately complied. Here was democracy and a rule-of-law at work in Israel, with the EU media scarcely noting it. It doesn't fit, you see, with the preconceived biases rife in the EU that Israel is a truculent racist country --- the greatest threat to world peace! Meanwhile, the notion that any Arab court anywhere in the Middle East could order its military to do anything --- let alone in the midst of a battle --- is so derisory and beyond conception that it would hardly be credible in a science fiction story.

Every one of the 22 Arab countries except for post-Saddamite Iraq is a tyranny; every one depends for its survival ultimately on the rule of the secret police; in none is there any serious rule of law. Only in Israel is there a large Arab population --- 1 million, roughly a sixth of the total Israeli people --- that lives in a country that is simultaneously solidly democratic and enjoys a rule of law. These are all easily ascertainable facts. Are they known to the EU populations? Not likely, given the media biases that flourish in their countries.

How many EU residents even know --- average people-on-the-street or journalists for that matter --- that in the follow-up talks after Camp David in 2000, shepherded by the US, an accord was signed in December of that year by Prime Minister Barak that gave the Palestinian Authority 97% of the West Bank, all of Gaza, a corridor from inside Israeli territory to create a contiguous Palestinian state, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements save those immediately contiguous to Jerusalem, and $30 billion of payments for compensating Palestinian refugees, not to mention shared rule over part of Jerusalem? To the amazement of Dennis Ross, our chief envoy who mediated the accord --- and who knows Arafat better than any Westerner --- Arafat summarily rejected the accord even though members of the PA delegation urged that he accept it as the best offer the Palestinians would ever get. Not only that, Arafat --- according to Ross, who subsequently left the diplomatic service and has become a prolific writer disgusted with the PA's corruption and authoritarian rule --- never even explained to his people what the terms were of the peace accord that the Israeli government signed. All this, mind you, at a time when public opinion polls showed that the Israeli peace movement enjoyed more than 60% support in the country.

Back to the battle in Jenin. The buggy article that deals with this contains a link to a careful study of the media's coverage of it --- carried out subsequently by the United Press International --- that found systematic distortions and prejudices at work in the EU coverage.


 

(iii.) The Chronicle Article Needs To Fill In More Background.

By the same token, the Chronicle reporters could also have been clearer and more enlightening when they quoted President Jacques Chirac's recent statement in November that whoever engages in anti-Semitism is assaulting France itself. For years until then, Chirac and almost all other major political leaders in France had adamantly denied that anti-Semitism was a problem in the country. Less than a month earlier, some Jewish spokesmen from the US and the EU had met with Chirac for a lengthy discussion about the rampant anti-Semitism in his country. He held to the standard line: they had no need to worry, there was no problem of anti-Semitism in France. Oh? After the meeting at the presidential palace, the Jewish delegates were verbally assaulted on their way back to their hotel. What then precipitated Chirac's public change in November? The burning of a Jewish school a couple of days earlier, that's what . . . only the last in a long series of verbal and physical assaults on Jews and numerous fire-bombings of Jewish centers in that country.

Well, leave the past denials aside. Chirac's statement has to be welcomed by all of us concerned with what's unfolding in that country. What remained uncertain is what action would actually follow. Almost two months later, the uncertainty persists.

Then, too, come to think of it, there have been lots of incidents in Sweden and Norway, and even a fair number in Denmark, traditionally a very tolerant country that saved its Jewish population from Nazi genocide in WWII. There, last summer, a prominent Danish newspaper ran an ad paid for my Muslim residents there that offered to pay $35,000 for each Danish Jew killed (of the 4 million Danes, about 7,000 are Jews). Yes, I know. It sounds improbable, especially in a country that is justifiably renown for its tolerance and respect for human right, but that's the case. The ad didn't appear in a off-the-wall moonbat paper either. It was carried in the widely circulated newspaper Jytland Posten and is documented in the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia study just released. More recently, Danish boy scouts were caught playing "kill the Jew" games. All this, mind you --- without exaggerating --- in a country, to repeat, that was probably the least anti-Semitic in West Europe before WWII.

Are we exaggerating these trends?

Well, take the two other traditionally tolerant Scandinavian countries just mentioned: Sweden and Norway . . . each with very tiny Jewish populations, hardly 1/20th of 1.0% of the total populations. In both, attacks on Jews by Muslim immigrant thugs have repeatedly occurred over the last few years and spread alarm and fear in the Jewish communities. More specifically, in Sweden alone last year, according to a recent article by two Swedish journalists, there were 131 anti-Semitic attacks and crimes against Jews that were reported to the police. Those were bad enough. But, they note quickly,

"Nobody knows how many incidents go unreported but the security police expect the number to be large. Jews in Sweden today are living in the shadow of a very concrete anti-Semitism. Jews in Sweden today often feel compelled to hide their religious identity in public: necklaces with stars of David are carefully hidden under sweaters and orthodox Jewish men change their kippot to more discrete caps or hats when they are outdoors. Jews in Sweden nowadays get secret telephone numbers to avoid harassment. In Sweden. Today."

As we saw in the previous installment about European anti-Semitism --- and as we'll see in detail again --- Sweden is no exception in West Europe.



 

(iv.) The Nature of New of European and Arab Anti-Semitism

In many respects, the resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe draws on 2000 years of hostility to Jews, which became part and parcel of Christian Europe in the Middle Ages and was essentially religious in nature. The persecutions, witch-hunts, massacres, and forced ghettos of the small European Jewish communities were instituted in the 11th and 12th centuries, and intensified elsewhere over the next three centuries. Jews were also expelled from practically every West European country at one time or another in the Middle Ages and early modern era, save Holland and parts of Scandinavia. When the first crusade began in 1095, the crusaders practiced their martial arts as they moved toward the Mediterranean by slaughtering thousands of the Jews in their way. Starting in the 14th century, a new form of Jew-hatred emerged --- racism. It began in Spain.

There, the frenzied witch-hunts of the Inquisition --- even as it burned tens of thousands of Jews and Jews-who-had-converted-to-Catholicism at the stake, only to drive out the Jewish population in 1492 --- initiated what would become racist Jew-hatred: a paranoid blood-mania, limpieza de sangre . On this precursor of Nazi racism, Jews were reprobate and evil ---, a menace to Spanish Catholicism and the purity of its people --- not because of their stubborn refusal to convert to Judaism, but rather because they were monstrous for biological reasons. It was the start of what would eventually spread into Nazi genocidal racism. Ultimately, by the late 19th century, pseudo-Darwinian abuses led to a widespread racist view of the world's people, with of course West Europeans at the top, especially the French and the rapidly industrializing rest of Northern Europe and Britain --- a racism that also infected much of white American outlooks, without the same virulence nor fertile soil in which to nurture the mass-murder horrors that occurred in Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII.

 

What Else Is New About European Anti-Semitism?

That's easy to answer: the impact of growing, alienated Muslim populations around the EU, full of racist anti-Semitism now. To clarify briefly, recall from four earlier buggy articles published last month on the new Arab and Muslim Jew-Hatred that much of the Muslim world --- which had never been influenced by this sort of European racism --- has been energetically absorbing and expanding on it for decades now . . . complete with the blatantly widespread diffusion of Nazi-like propaganda by the state-controlled Arab media across the whole of the Middle East. In the upshot, it's now part and parcel of popular Arab culture and street-life; and the links to it and the Muslim communities in the EU are easy to document. Specifically, the more the EU Muslim minority populations have swelled in number, the more they have become full of resentful and increasingly alienated young men drawn to fundamentalism, violent crime, and support for Islamist terrorism. The swing toward open attacks on Jews has been aggravated by the biased nature of the EU media in reporting on the Middle East conflicts, another subject the buggy professor has dealt with at length.

The outcome?

That's also easy enough to say, given what evidence we have. Specifically, together with the eruptive hate and hostility to Israel found everywhere in the Muslim world and on both the left and the right among more and more native Europeans --- faced as we'll see with the shock of repeated economic dislocations and social strains (including backlashes against violent crime in large proportion caused by Muslim youth) --- a new, openly vented anti-Semitic vitriol has become commonplace in the EU . . . whether in polite society or, more raucously on the extreme right and left, both energized now, or even more desperately and with crackling violence in the alienated Muslim communities there. That doesn't mean Muslim fundamentalism or bigotry are the only driving forces behind European anti-Semitism; they are at most a reinforcing influence and, as far as hit-men types physically assaulting Jews or firebombing Jewish sites, the avant-garde of anti-Semitic shock-and-terrorize tactics.

More generally, what is new in European anti-Semitism as we noted is the heady, incoherent mix of various bogeymen malefactors of a concocted, wholly imagined sort, an ugly brew of:

  • Paranoid fantasies and resentments;
  • Conspiratorial projections as a focus for the paranoia, with most personal and national failures evaded or denied and externalized instead onto personified Boo-Hobgoblins;


  • Crude Anti-Americanism that singles out one giant Hobgoblin, a reckless menacing USA --- George Bush a nightmare in himself so monstrous and frightening that the very act of visualizing him is calculated to keep little European boys and girls from going to sleep. No surprise, then, that in a recent EU-commissioned opinion survey, Israel was ranked as the world's greatest threat by 59% of EU residents, and the US as the third greatest at 53%;


  • Anti-globalizing fervor and alarm: with MacDonald's, in the activists' lexicon of evil, a Boo-symbol almost as terrifying as Mickey Mouse himself . . . the vicious little rat;


  • And, as a topper, a swarm of blame-the-Jews stereotypes that find Jews responsible, one way or another, for the troubles of both the EU native populations and the swelling numbers of alienated Muslim communities there.


 

(v.) Gloom and Pessimism in the EU As An Underpinning

If you look over this list of edgy, pulsating ingredients, the references to projections, externalizations, and blame-the-Jews scapegoating --- along with blame-the-US and blame-globalizing forces --- stand out immediately. The common thread here is the scapegoating tendencies, all adding up to externalizing personal, group, and national problems and failures onto personified malefactors . . . with groups here referring to left-wing socialist utopians, right-wing haters like the French National Front, ardent Greens for whom the fervor of environmental transformations has become a surrogate religion, small and big uncompetitive businesses, displaced workers (not to forget the unemployed), Islamist-infected Muslim communities, and anyone generally unhappy with the drift of social, economic, and political tendencies in European life.

Why this externalization in the EU, quite apart from links with historical anti-Semitism? We've already hinted at it, and Part V of this article we'll pin down and clarify the root causes in a moment or two. It's enough for the time being to underscore the frustrations, fears, and gloom about the dominant thrusts in European life, caused by swarms of dislocating, unwelcome changes that are just gathering extra-potent force in most EU countries --- starting with France and Germany, but hardly confined to them.

The growing gloom and pessimism in the EU are captured in recent surveys carried out by Eurobarometer twice a year. In its preliminary report published in November 2003, Eurobarometer 60: Public Opinion in the European Union --- the final finished version with charts and so on not out yet --- it notes forthrightly in its first paragraph that:



. . . public opinion in Europe is evolving in a gloomy climate, marked by a lack of confidence regarding institutions [both EU and national].

That's in the short preface. In the very first section, we read:

Citizens' expectations for the year 2004

Citizens' expectations are going down a path that is marked by pessimism which increases rather than decreases with time Confidence indicators for the year 2004 continue to decline in a marked fashion in the public domain but in a more moderate way in the private sphere.

The number of people who believe that the new year will be worse in terms of employment in their country continue to grow. 42% of them shared this view in autumn 2001, 44% in autumn 2002, and now 47% of them think so. The countries where this lack of confidence as regards employment prospects manifests itself most strongly are: Denmark (+24), Belgium (+20), and Sweden (+12). The new German Länder belong to this same group, with an increase of 13 points for pessimistic predictions. As far as the proportion of optimists goes, this remains stable (16%, =), and the proportion of persons for whom 2004 will not bring any change in the employment market has gone down by three points (29%).

The same scenario holds true concerning the economic situation in different countries. From autumn 2001 to autumn 2003 the citizens who predict a decline have increased from 39% to 46% of the total while the number of those who expect things to stay the same has fallen by 5 points (36% to 31%) The optimists remain limited to 16%. Expectations for a deterioration in the national economic situation have grown most strongly in Belgium (+16), then in France (+11) and in Germany1 (+8).

As in the past, pessimistic predictions seem to affect the private sphere less. The most marked reduction can be seen in the area of family finances. In fact, one-fifth of opinions foresee a deterioration in this area (+4 compared with 2002, +9 compared with 2001), 53% no change (-2, -6), and 23% an improvement (-1, -2). German and Dutch predictions are the most affected by the general gloom (+12, 'worse').

As far as the professional situation of those questioned goes, 9% think that things are going to get worse (+1, +3), 60% that their situation will remain exactly the same (-1, -2), and 21% that it is going to improve (-2, -2).


For those who prefer charts, much of the same information shows up in that format:

source: Eurobarometer 60, p. 5.

As for institutions, less than 50% of the EU populations now believe that the EU is itself a good thing --- the results varying markedly across countries. More to the point, the declining confidence of the EU citizenry in their political institutions and economic prospects --- which are connected, as we've argued, with the search for scapegoats onto which these and personal troubles can be externalized --- are brought out in this section of the Eurobarometer report:

source: Eurobarometer 60, p.5.


 

American Public Opinion: Robust Optimism

American opinion, according to a variety of polls, is a marked contrast with EU pessimism and gloom. Last year, for instance --- even with worries about unemployment and jobs at a height, given the slow recovery from the 2001 recession --- a survey run by Gallup and two other polling groups found that

"eight in 10 Americans say they are optimistic about the future of this country and even more are optimistic about their own futures. More than eight in 10 said it was essential to spend time with their families, up from six in 10 who felt that way two years ago. Seven in 10 said they were "extremely proud" to be Americans; just over half said that in January 2001."

Similar surveys have found more or less the same things, particularly about American confidence in our institutions and country generally. What has changed since the original poll was first the decline in George Bush's standing after the war with Saddamite Iraq finished and the troubles on the ground began, followed by further reductions in public opinion regarding his handling of the economy. That has changed again. [Remember, public opinion polls capture fluctuating attitudes and sentiments that change with events . . . though deeper beliefs like patriotism and confidence in our institutions have been tracked for decades, with marked improvement since the early 1980s after the divisions in American politics caused by the Vietnam war, Watergate, the New Left radical surge culminating in the McGovern campaign of 1972, and President Carter's mishandling of our economy.] The improved situation in Iraq since Saddam's death, plus the more offensive military operations in that country starting in late November that have reduced daily attacks by half (with US casualties reduced by 2/3 compared to all of that month), have raised Bush's standing again. More to the point, the booming economy has restored most Americans' confidence in his economic programs. Whereas only 46% of the country approved of Bush's handling of the economy in early November, 55% were found this week in a new AP poll to express confidence in it. And 59% of Americans overall have a favorable opinion of his overall behavior as President.

Can we probe US opinion further as a comparison with the EU population's sentiments, especially in matters of optimism and confidence in national institutions --- in the EU, the European Union's institutions too --- and in economic prospects? Yes, but a confession has to be set out here. The best source would be the annual Gallup Poll, which surveys the general mood of Americans at the end of each year. To my surprise, the Gallup Poll organization has decided for the time being to limit access to the poll's results to its subscribers, and as it happens, a subscription is close to a $100. So --- unless one of you does subscribe and would be kind enough to send the results (or a link) --- we'll have to wait until I can find a way to get out to the university and access their data bases. Almost certainly, they'll contain the Gallup Poll's surveys, one and all.



 

(vi.) Finally, Anti-Semitism Isn't Confined To Just 1/3 of EU Citizens

Remember, even though about a third of the EU population holds strongly anti-Semitic attitudes, that doesn't mean milder anti-Semitism isn't at work elsewhere in European life. Small wonder that the new mental hodgepodge here is vented by more and more of the EU media: sometimes in semi-disguised manner as morally outraged anti-Zionism, Israel the world's greatest threat; sometimes as attacks on American foreign policy that is supposedly controlled by Jews ---- not least in the latest Jewish neo-conservative conspiracy these days; and other times as attacks on American culture, globalizing tendencies, big business, big finance, Hollywood dominance, and what have you. Yes, it's incoherent and often contradictory---this odious psychic brew; that doesn't keep it from being gobbled up --- just the contrary. It's precisely the wide-swinging emotional appeal in the incoherent slop that energizes people's beliefs. Its appeal has other reinforcing influences too: above all --- for all the up-to-date twists like anti-Americanism and anti-globalizing fears --- there's the links to the age-old boilerplate imbecilities of traditional European Jew-hatred, a mixture of paranoid fantasies, chronic religious hostility, and pseudo-Darwinian racism that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

At bottom, whether in the new or older versions, the core ingredient of all anti-Semitism emerges with clarity: Jews are fantasized as having enormous power.

Alien figures, they loom as endless trouble-makers if not outright menaces: to social stability, sound religion, healthy morality, or national unity. They are, as a German general just dismissed for his anti-Semitism put it recently, a Taetervolk: a perpetrator people. It is in their interest to cause social instability, threaten sound religion, undermine traditional morality, and work against national unity If need be, as the recently retired head of Malaysia,
Mahathir Mohamad, put it at the last global Muslim Summit Conference two months ago --- to the applause of all the heads of governments there --- Jews will invent democracy, human rights, women's rights, socialism, capitalism, and communism in order to bewitch others and subject them to their rule. That's the way Jews are. And to that end, furtively and in diabolically conspiratorial ways, they will and do use their overweening power --- financial, cultural, business, and political --- for malevolent purposes to control and dominate others.

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN THE 3RD AND FINAL INSTALLMENT