J’accuse

06.10.14

Naming Europe’s New Anti-Semitism

Europeans are reluctant to describe the Brussels museum shooting as an anti-Semitic hate crime. It’s time to end this dangerous state of denial.

The Belgian and French police did their job.

As a result, we know that it was a French citizen from Roubaix, one Mehdi Nemmouche, who was probably the author of the killings on May 24 at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

Belgium’s Jews are afraid.

The Jews of Marseille, where the suspect was detained, are afraid.

Not a Jew in Europe does not feel fear at the similarities between the itinerary of Mohamed Merah in 2012 and Mehdi Nemmouche two weeks ago. There is not a single believer in democracy to whom the terrifying idea has not occurred that just one Merah might have been an isolated case, an exception, a monstrous event about which one might say, by way of reassurance, that it was without pattern, precedent, or future, but that two Merahs—a Merah followed by a Nemmouche, a Merah renamed Nemmouche and mimicking his model down to the modus operandi, well, that is one too many—that is the beginning of a series and constitutes, with the help of buzz and viral propagation, the outline of a paradigm.

How is this possible, one wonders?

How can it be that France and Belgium (and thus Europe) have become a place where children are slain one day in cold blood at the doorway of their school in Toulouse for the sole offense of being Jewish; where, in 2006, a young man, Ilan Halimi, the personification of innocence, was tortured and killed; and where now four people who believed that a museum was a sanctuary are dead?

Will our societies bear up under the lightning that is crashing down on them?

Have we taken the measure, are we taking full measure, of an event that makes no sense at all unless it is seen as one that is likely to occur again and again?

Why has it taken all this time for the Belgian and French authorities to call the crime by its right name and so depart from denial?

Have we taken the measure of the link, not only with Syria—which the nonintervention of the United Nations, as predicted, has turned into the homeland of the jihadists—but also of the climate of political, social, and moral decay that is eating Europe itself?

Have we considered what links the crimes of 2006, 2012, and two weeks ago with the school of hate and—it must be said—crime that is too often the Internet?

Is it reasonable to rejoice when Google recognizes its users’ fundamental right to anonymity and yet not be equally dismayed that the same Google stores, indexes, and, in so doing, propagates hundreds of videos and thousands of “comments” that are little more than calls for the murder of Jews?

Was it reasonable, when France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, brought the force of democratic law to bear against the pathetic agitator who, in solidarity (yes! in solidarity) with the assassin of Ilan Halimi, ended his meetings with shouts to “Free Fofana”—was it reasonable then to pontificate about “tolerance in peril,” “freedom of expression under siege,” and the “agreement to disagree” that we are supposed to have with French neo-Nazis?

And where are the imams?

Where are the young Muslims of whom we never tire of saying that they have nothing to do with this nasty business?

What do the imams need to happen before forcefully condemning, once and for all, the insult to the Koran, the blasphemy, that is the act attributed to Nemmouche?

And what do young Muslims need to hear before organizing, rising up in protest, and, one would hope, chanting with one voice, “We are all Brussels Jews in danger of being killed”?

And what is any of them waiting for before disavowing Tariq Ramadan, who, several hours after the killing, while the world was reeling, could manage no more than write that “the two tourists targeted in Brussels were working for the Israeli secret police” and that the attack was a “diversionary tactic” the true purpose of which was to “take for imbeciles” the good people who consume the wisdom of the philosopher of the Muslim Brotherhood?

You read that right.

Mira and Emmanuel Riva have been converted, because they were civil servants, into Mossad agents.

The massacre has been transformed, without a shred of proof or evidence, into a shady skirmish in a murky secret war. The full idiocy of conspiricism at its dreariest has thus been summoned to relativize the crime and, in so doing, deny it.

And no one, or hardly anyone, objects.

No one, with the exception of my friend Bernard Schalscha. Writing in La Règle du Jeu, he points out the commonalities between this “reasoning” and the worst rhetoric of the extreme right.

Which brings us to the word anti-Semitism.

We know that words kill but that they can also save. From Camus, we know that calling something by the wrong name can multiply the misery in the world, whereas doing the converse, calling things by their right name, weighing them on the scale of good Nietzschean nominalism, is an act of resistance.

Why is it that we have had so much trouble uttering one simple word: “anti-Semitism”?

Why has it taken all this time for the Belgian authorities, in the most recent case, as it did the French authorities in the Halimi case, to call the crime by its right name and so depart from denial?

And how long must we tolerate the incendiary posturing of souls—perhaps just soulless morons—who, when things are called by their right names, when we call a spade a spade and the murder of Jews for being Jews an anti-Semitic crime, yelp about the “new political correctness” and the return of the “thought police,” threats transformed, in their eyes, not just into a justification for the crime but into the very image of unacceptability?

Those are questions.

It will be necessary to answer them, and quickly, if we wish to avoid watching hate for the Jew become once again the blind spot, the accursed share, of a depressed Europe.

Translated by Steven Kennedy