Anti-Semitism in Hitler’s birthplace and the college campus

How Europe’s Jew-hate problem was reborn on American campuses.

A sign for "Israeli Apartheid Week," the annual international anti-Israel showcase, on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, in May 2010. Credit: AMCHA Initiative.
A sign for "Israeli Apartheid Week," the annual international anti-Israel showcase, on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, in May 2010. Credit: AMCHA Initiative.
Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born journalist who writes for conservative publications.

Burkay, an unemployed Muslim Turk, wearing a stained white “Miami Beach” shirt attacked three Jewish people in Vienna, Austria.

It was just another day in a city where Muslim terrorists had once thrown grenades into a synagogue during a bar mitzvah, killing a woman who threw herself onto the grenade to save the children. The attack had taken place with the complicity of a government notorious for its friendliness to terrorism.

Last year, Austria had 503 anti-Semitic incidents.

That’s impressive considering that the country only has around 9,000 Jews. There has been one anti-Semitic incident to every 18 Jews in Austria.

That same year, Germany had 1,453 anti-Semitic incidents to approximately 100,000 Jews.

In Bonn, a Jewish professor from Baltimore was assaulted by a Muslim yelling, “No Jew in Germany!” When the police arrived, they assaulted the professor. There was a protest march. A videotaped attack by a Syrian Muslim refugee in Berlin had led to another protest march and a slap on the wrist for the assailant. Ten Syrians attacked a man wearing a Star of David while screaming anti-Semitic slurs. A Jewish teen was assaulted in a Berlin train station. “I’ll slit your throat, you f***ing Jew.”

One statistical survey listed the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany rising by 60 percent in 2017.

In the United Kingdom, there were 1,382 incidents to 263,346 Jews. In Italy, there were 109 incidents to some 28,000 Jews. In the Netherlands, there were 113 incidents to 29,900 Jews.

Austria’s extreme proportion of anti-Semitic incidents to Jews is not so much an outlier as a signifier. The number of anti-Semitic incidents can have an inverse relationship to the Jewish population of a country.

Or of an area in the country.

While the vast majority of British Jews live in Greater London, there were 773 anti-Semitic incidents in London and 261 incidents in Manchester which is home to only 30,000 Jews. Manchester has a proportionately larger Muslim population and a smaller Jewish one. While a smaller Jewish population may make anti-Semitic Islamic attacks more challenging, it can also leave Jews more vulnerable.

These statistics suggest that the combination of a high Muslim population and a small Jewish population are the highest risk factors for anti-Semitic attacks. European countries like France and the United Kingdom that have both a large Jewish and large Muslim population may have a lower proportion of overall incidents, but the Jewish population will also experience more personally damaging violent anti-Semitic attacks.

Violent anti-Semitic attacks in France rose by 28 percent to 92 in 2017. British Jews saw a 25 percent rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks—from 77 to 97. Meanwhile, overall incidents in the United Kingdom had only increased by 3 percent.

A larger Jewish population creates more opportunities for violent attacks, while smaller Jewish populations require the attackers to operate on the Internet or limit themselves to vandalism.

In the United States, anti-Semitic incidents in general increased by 43 percent, while violent attacks declined by 47 percent. The total number of anti-Semitic assaults in the United States is listed at 19. That’s in a country whose Jewish population is numbered between 4 million and 5 million. At the same time, the largest European Jewish population centers have seen four or five times the number of violent assaults with a fraction of the Jewish population.

What accounts for these fundamental differences between the United States and Europe? The Jewish population is less urbanized in the United States than in parts of Europe. (Though much of it is still concentrated in the New York area.) There is, as a result, far less contact between Jewish and Muslim population centers in the United States than there is in the United Kingdom and France.

And, most significantly, there is little covert or overt approval for Muslim anti-Semitic violence.

One place where that is not the case is the college campus. And so anti-Semitic incidents on campuses have actually doubled for two years in a row. The fact that anti-Semitism on campus is increasing faster than in the general society should be deeply troubling to Jewish organizations and the educational system. Yet the problem continues to be ignored for the same reason that it is ignored in Europe.

There were 457 anti-Semitic incidents on school and college campuses in 2017. That would account for over a quarter of the total anti-Semitic incidents in America. And rising anti-Semitic incidents on campus also account for more than a quarter of the 2017 increase in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide.

Just as in Austria, a small percentage of the Jewish population experiences a disproportionate number of anti-Semitic incidents. That’s what the college campus has in common with Hitler’s birthplace.

College campuses are unique because unlike most of the United States, they offer political sanction for anti-Semitism and for anti-Semitic political movements. Extremism thrives on modern campuses. Harassment of Jewish students by hate groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine is often covered up by their campus allies on the left. Debates over whether the attacks on Jewish facilities, cultural events, Holocaust commemorations and individual students are anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist cloud the issue. These are the same conditions under which anti-Semitism in Europe was nightmarishly reborn.

Campuses more closely resemble Europe than they do America. Like European countries, campuses have left-wing governments, are ruled by political correctness and ignore individual rights. When their growing Muslim populations collide with their large Jewish student populations, the outcome much more closely resembles European Jewish life than the way that American Jews expect life to be.

The campus is the canary in the coal mine. It’s where American Jews are beginning to experience a European style of anti-Semitism where the complicity of the authorities in the harassment perpetrated by a growing Muslim population and its left-wing allies leaves Jewish students uniquely vulnerable.

American anti-Semitism is taking off on campus, but it won’t stay there. School and college campuses are the places where a new generation learns what it means to be an adult member of society. The tolerance for campus anti-Semitism won’t remain an aberration. Instead a generation of students will carry those lessons into their workplaces, into the government and the private sector.

The administrators, managers, elected officials, judges and thinkers of tomorrow are being shaped on the campuses of today. Their experience will shape what life will be like for all of us decades from now.

A campus environment that normalizes anti-Semitism will turn life for American Jews into Europe.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a journalist focusing on Islam and the radical left. This column was used with permission from FrontPage Magazine, where it originally appeared. 

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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