CBNNews.com - If you don't think anti-Semitism is rising in Europe, look at the political cartoons.
A Greek cartoon suggests Israelis kill Christians on Easter. An Italian cartoon shows the baby Jesus worried that the Israelis are going to kill him again.
And then there are the cartoons that compare the Jews to the Nazis. It reminds Jews of another period: the 1930s, the time before the Holocaust.
In Europe today, most Jews are at least anxious. Some are scared, and many have already left for Israel or the United States. Because even though many European governments have condemned the new rise in anti-Semitism, there is a clear perception among many Jews that Europe's terrible history is somehow coming back to life.
"Jewish communities around the world are under more pressure now than at any time since 1945," says Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University in Israel. Wistrich is the son of Polish Jews who fled the Holocaust. "Here we are 60 years after that and what lessons have been learned? Not enough."
A survey last year by the Anti-Defamation League of five European countries found that half of those questioned believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than the countries in which they live. That was what the Nazis believed.
And almost half of Europeans surveyed also said Jews "probably" have too much control of international finance. That was another Nazi view.
Almost half also believe that Jews control U.S. Middle East policy. The Nazis would have agreed.
The editor of Der Sturmer, Julius Streicher wrote in 1944: "The Jews have made America what it is today: a nation…forced into helping the Jews achieve world domination!"
Manfred Gerstenfeld, a leading Holocaust expert, says the constant demonization of Israel by the European media and the European left has helped create what he calls a "new anti-Semitism" against the "collective Jew"; that is, Israel and Zionism.
"All studies show that Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism almost entirely overlap," he said. "Now, of course, it is very bad to say you are against the Jews after the Holocaust, so you have a found an escape clause to be against the Jews without saying you are against the Jews. And you say I am against Israel, applying standards to Israel that you do not apply to any other nation."
University of Michigan Professor Andrei Markovits, author of Uncouth Nation adds: "Criticizing Israel, Israeli policy, certainly is not Anti-Semitic. Criticizing Israel the State is not Anti-Semitic. But when you bring in old anti-Semitic tropes to criticize Israel or to depict Israel as the murderer of God, as the blood libel, showing them as Nazis; that is anti-Semitic."
And Markovits, a self-described progressive or leftist, says hatred of Israel is now a core principle for many on the Left. At anti-Israel protests, you'll see radical Muslims and Leftists both expressing, not only anti-Israel messages, but anti-Semitic messages, too.
This political cartoon from the London Independent newspaper, showing what Jews claimed was an imitation of the ancient blood libel, won best political cartoon award in Britain. The same cartoon later showed up in a rally by radical Muslims in the Middle East.
"The terrorists have allies in European society," Gerstenfeld said. "In the media. In the NGO's, on academia, among leftwing politicians."
The leftist mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said he's against anti-Semitism. But he has also said that anyone who goes to kill Israeli soldiers is not a terrorist. And a onetime member of the British parliament, Jenny Tonge, said if she were a Palestinian, she would consider being a suicide bomber.
Distorted Media Coverage
Throughout Europe, distorted and one-sided news coverage has created an Israel that is aggressive and evil.
"It's a demonization based on a radical detextualization, de-legitimization that's been going on," Melanie Phillips, a British conservative, says. "And if you're the averagely ignorant Brit, watching your TV, listening to your radio, you believe it. That's your world view."
In France, a court is deciding whether a government TV channel, France2, showed faked footage of the supposed death of a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Durah, during the second intifada in 2000, to make it look like he was killed by Israeli solders. When the judge ordered France2 to turn over all of its footage of the incident, it also showed the boy moving his arms and peering through his fingers after he was supposed to be dead.
But Muslim rage at the original France2 news story led to countless reprisals against Jews around the world. It was even mentioned by terrorists as a reason for the beheading Daniel Pearl.
Scott Jacobs at DemocracyBroadcastingNews.com says the France2 story "globally defames the Jewish nation, Israel, with a fabricated icon of hypocritical brutality and immorality; and criminalizes Jews and their State to justify pariah-punishment."
The EU says Muslims are responsible for half of all attacks on Jews in Europe. In France, Muslims outnumber Jews 10 to 1. Nidra Poller, an American writer and commentator in Paris, says the government and media are afraid of the Muslims.
"The French are using the Muslims, allowing the Muslims, to express this vicious and violent, murderous Jews hatred, and they get a free ride on their old fashioned anti-Semitism," Poller said. "The whole Lebanon war was shown from the Hezbollah point of view. Israel was the villain. And Hezbollah were the innocents who were suffering. So all the Muslims in France got another dose of Jew hatred."
And when Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, anti-Semitic violence in Europe surged.
Surpising, But Not Unique
Anti-Semitism is by no means just a European phenomenon. But it is in Europe, the place of the Holocaust, where the return of anti-semitism is so surprising.
As a boy in the Netherlands, Manfred Gerstenfeld hid from the Nazis in an upstairs apartment. He may have never believed it could happen again. But he now believes Europe is re-living the 1930s.
"A senior Dutch politician told me a few months ago, 'Look, the Jews have to understand that in the Netherlands, they have no future,' he said.
In large part because Israel lost the media war in Europe long ago, and the Jews are still paying for it.
*Originally aired on March 6, 2008.