The security camera shows a man in a baseball cap take an AK-47 out of a bag and fire rapidly through a door.
Was he another misfit loner, taking out his extreme irrationality on any available targets, as in California last week?
Not this time. This was in one of Europe’s bastions of gun control, where the weapon used was highly illegal. And the four people killed weren’t randomly selected.
The scene was the Jewish Museum of Belgium, and the shooter plainly intended only one thing: to slaughter Jews.
The attack followed the recent firebombing of a synagogue, after which a rabbi advised his fellow Jews not to venture outside wearing any distinguishing marks of their faith. Just hours after the Belgian attack, two men wearing “distinctive Jewish clothing” were beaten in a Parisian street.
While Americans express dismay over random killings, the overall rate of violent crime in the United States is in long-term decline, with the homicide rate half what it was in 1992.
But around the world, and notably in cosmopolitan Europe, one kind of crime is increasing — attacks on people identified as Jewish.
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said this week that “attacks on Jewish targets in Europe do not exist in a vacuum, but are part and parcel of an overall climate of hate and incitement against Jewish communities.”
As Canadian commentator Mark Steyn noted, in the past two years in Toulouse, France, “one synagogue has been firebombed, another set alight when two burning cars were driven into it, a third burgled and â€˜Dirty Jews’ scrawled on the ark housing the Torah, where a kosher butcher’s was strafed with gunfire, and a Jewish sports association attacked with Molotov cocktails, and three Jewish children murdered outside their grade school … .”
In Malmo, Sweden, he said, Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated, the Jewish kindergarten has reinforced steel doors and rocket-proof glass has been installed in the synagogue. In Davis Cup tennis finals held there a few years ago, the Israeli team had to play in a locked gymnasium without any spectators for security reasons.
On May 23, the conservative website FrontPage reported that when an Israeli sports team defeated a Spanish one, Spanish Twitter users posted “17,500 messages of anti-Semitic abuse. … Specific reactions included â€˜Jews to the oven’ and â€˜Jews to the showers.’ “
Under the headline, “Jews In Europe Report A Surge Of Anti-Semitism,” The New York Times said last November that “Fear of rising anti-Semitism in Europe has prompted nearly a third of European Jews to consider emigration because they do not feel safe in their home country, according to a detailed survey of Jewish perceptions … .”
When asked “who they thought was responsible for such harassment, 27 percent of respondents said the perpetrators had â€˜Muslim extremist views,’ 22 percent said they had â€˜left-wing political views’ and 19 percent blamed people with â€˜right-wing views.’ “
While opposition to Israeli governmental policies cannot be called anti-Semitic, demands that the nation be treated as a pariah worse than any of the many Mideast despotisms can fairly be defined that way.
But all across Europe, a leftist “BDS campaign” (for “boycotts, divestments and sanctions”) in support of the Palestinian cause has led to opposition to Israeli scientific, academic, athletic and cultural relationships as well as commercial ones.
No such campaign, of course, exists to punish Iran, which our country calls the world’s principal state sponsor of terrorism.
The head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, which just scored a record showing in local and European Parliament races there, has said, “There is a â€˜strong bias’ against Israel within the European Union and an emergence of â€˜almost a trendy new form of anti-Semitism’ in politics,” according to thejc.com, an English Jewish site.
It quoted the party’s Nigel Farage as saying, “There is a fundamental dislike of Israel, but it’s more than that. And we find that objectionable and worrying.”
U.S. higher education is not immune. At Chicago’s DePaul University campus, JewishPress.com reported this week, a BDS campaign has led some Jewish students to feel “totally unsafe” there.
The report withheld the last names of students it quoted, saying they needed that protection. As one Jewish DePaul student said, “About two months ago when SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) started the â€˜DePaul Divest’ campaign, I no longer felt safe on this campus and I no longer felt I could be a proud Jewish student.”
Last month mock eviction notices were placed under Jewish students’ doors in their dorm at New York University, and “A similar incident at Northeastern University in March led to that SJP chapter being suspended,” the website reported.
Considering what happened 75 years ago in Europe, all this is exceedingly distressing. If the Holocaust is not sufficient to have dealt anti-Semitism a fatal blow, what ever will?
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:[email protected]