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Anti-Semitism: a French virus or a European crisis? The spectre of the past returns

From the winds of nationalism blowing across the continent to the increasing violence of the yellow vests, to escalating attacks against the Jewish community. France is afflicted by a resurgence of violence, but no one is free from the risk of “contagion.”

Since past November, thus for the last three months, the “yellow vest” movement has been holding protests and riots across the whole of France. Protests were initially against fuel tax increases, but since its inception far-left and especially far-right extremists had infiltrated the movement with Red-Brown alliances, a sad reminder of the pre-Nazi years.
While the yellow vests’ influence is subsiding – protesters fell to 40/50.000 nationwide – the extremist fringes are present and actively engaged against the French Republic, against democratic institutions as well as against immigrants, against “elite” groups, against intellectuals, against homosexuals, against women, against Europe.

Anger is expressed also with acts of extreme violence and devastation. It is their method.

City centres have become battlefields. The core of this violence is anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews: invectives, insults, provocations, desecration of Jewish cemeteries…
Does this make France an anti-Semitic Country? This is a serious matter. Verbal and physical attacks are escalating. The high level of anti-Semitism in France was reconfirmed in a survey conducted by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights that denounced the gravity of the situations in two EU Countries in particular: France and Hungary.
Why France? Observers ascribe it to the uncertainties brought about by globalization, to its anachronistic welfare state, to a societal crisis that breeds extremism, along with the burden of an endless Middle-Eastern conflict and the presence of a large Muslims community in France that tends to identify with the Palestinian cause and to identify the Jewish community with Israel.
Thus anti-Semitism is hidden behind the mask of anti-Zionism. In this respect social networks and the Internet play a major role with rampant anti-Semitic online activity carried out with the cloak of anonymity.
Similar phenomena occur in many European countries. Almost everywhere, words of hate are voiced against all forms of diversity. Extremist movements and political parties register growing consensus. Europe as an area of exchanges, of the free movement of people, of reception, tolerance, equality, seems to be closing in on its past. In every Country political parties call upon citizens to reject diversity, to recover a nationalistic past, to discard more than 70 years of European peace. Some governments intend to rewrite history for purposes of nationalist propaganda, to the extent of calling into question the freedom of historical research. In this moment in time, France is direly affected by the virus of anti-Semitism.
But it’s not an isolated virus. It spreads very rapidly, regardless of national borders: the whole of Europe is at risk.History never repeats itself exactly, our times are not the early 1930s. But we can’t act as if Auschwitz had never happened, as if the Shoah was not rooted in decades of anti-Semitic propaganda and hate that annihilated human conscience. We can’t act as if the peace that developed after the 1950s were an accomplished goal when the whole of history evidences the fragility of peace when demagogues seize power.
Our present times are a sad confirmation of the topical relevance of the fears expressed by Primo Levi, who said: “The idea of a new Auschwitz is not dead, nothing ever dies.”

Today both France and Europe as a whole, are affected by a new form of hatred, comparable to a disease. One hundreds years after the end of the First World War European Countries rise up against each other, undermined by the resurgence of  nationalism that makes us forget where we came from, the countless massacres of the twentieth century, oblivious to that fact that the period of peace, both at civil and international level, that Europe has known since 1945, is as exceptional as it is fragile.

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