The changing face of antisemitism

There is any number of images you may associate with antisemitism. The Nazis with their rabid hatred of the Jews and the murderous infrastructure they put in place to solve the “Jewish problem”. Or the white supremacist skinhead contingent tagging synagogues with swastikas and chanting anti-Jewish slogans at football games. Both these forms of antisemitism are a crime, pursued by the law enforcement agencies in the West. However, there is another strand of antisemitism which not only enjoys official support but is actually orchestrated by the various governments around the World today. Can this really be happening in these culturally sensitive and politically correct times or is da-boss making things up? Read on to find out.

A while ago I was surprised to find out that there are symphonic orchestras in the World which will not play the works of Jewish composers like Mendelssohn, Mahler, Bizet or Bernstein. Not because these pieces do not fit the artistic profiles of the orchestras but purely based on the fact they were written by Jews. This is an appalling example of expressing racial prejudice through artistic censorship. So, where is this unsavoury procedure going on? Skinheads do not listen to classical music but might the descendants of the German Nazis be guilty of such a reprehensible behaviour? No, it happens in the Muslim countries. In Malaysia for example, not only will the national orchestra not play pieces written by the Jewish composers but even the visiting orchestras will not be allowed to play them:

In August 1984, a visit by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra was canceled when [Mahathir’s] Information Minister demanded that music by composer Ernst Bloch be deleted from the program. His crime? He was a Jew and the selection chosen was based on Hebrew melodies.

Why this has not caused international outrage I will never know. But perhaps this form of institutionalised antisemitism only affects the internal goings-on in the Muslim countries? Surely, the sphere of international relations cannot be influenced by racial prejudice. You may be surprised to learn that unfortunately it is. Passports are the documents facilitating overseas travel. Sometimes however they may prevent someone from visiting a foreign country. Here is the list of countries which deny entry to foreign nationals traveling on an Israeli passport (after Wiki):

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq (except Iraqi Kurdistan), Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates (clearance permit needed from the Ministry of Internal Security), Yemen

Let me clarify here that this is a blanket restriction on all Israeli residents and not just certain individuals who are deemed somehow undesirable. But let us move on – the following countries will not allow in any foreign tourists with visa stamps from Israel in their passports:

Algeria, Iraq (except Iraqi Kurdistan), Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen

There is a bit of cat and mouse here as, to make life easier for the visitors, Israeli border guards used to stamp separate sheets of paper and not the tourists passports. To counter this ploy, the Arab countries on the above list will deny entry to people who for example left Egypt at the Sinai border crossing at Taba, even if they do not have Israeli stamps in their passports. In a further violation of the freedom to travel there are also countries (like Bangladesh and Pakistan) which do not permit their own citizens to visit Israel.

The above mentioned acts of discrimination against Jews or citizens of Israel are appalling but, maybe, they are only driven by the governments and do not have the support of the ordinary Arabs? The issue is tricky as the Arab states tend to be autocratic and their citizens may not have the guts to defy the antisemitic edicts. However, one would expect the Arabs living in the West to be free from this pressure and able to express their true convictions. Let us now find out how  those “free” Arabs/Muslims view antisemitism:

In 2009, a chapel serving the city’s 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshipers were abused on their way home from prayer, and “Hitler” was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men (…) “This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants. The Jewish people are afraid now.”

Antisemitism has gotten so ugly in The Netherlands that Jews walking along Amsterdam’s street are being harassed by young Muslims who yell insults or give Nazi salutes.

Anti-Semitic crimes in Europe have usually been associated with the far right, but Shneur Kesselman, an Orthodox rabbi, says the threat now comes from Muslims. “In the past five years I’ve been here, I think you can count on your hand how many incidents there have been from the extreme right,” he said. “In my personal experience, it’s 99 percent Muslims.”

Looks like the face of antisemitism is changing, indeed.


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