Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

The American Jewish Committee’s latest press notes include the following item:

July 3, 2009 - New York - AJC condemned the Spanish newspaper El Pais for publishing a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon accusing Jews of using their financial power to enable Israel to “violate...all human and international laws.”

The cartoon, which features a stereotypical Orthodox Jew, was drawn by the cartoonist Romeu. In December 2008, AJC vociferously protested a similar cartoon by the same artist.

“Once again, El Pais has provided Romeu with a platform for his odious anti-Semitism,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “It is deeply disturbing that a leading European newspaper apparently has no problem with recycling the grotesque stereotypes more commonly associated with  a Nazi propaganda sheet.”

The Romeu cartoon, published on June 29, shows a character who asks: “But how is Israel able to violate with total impunity all human and international laws?” The Orthodox Jew answers: “It costs us a good amount of money.”

“Will El Pais publish Romeu’s anti-Semitism again? Or will the paper do the right thing by apologizing and guaranteeing that such appalling bigotry will not be permitted in future?” Harris said. “If El Pais is to retain its dignity and credibility, there is no place for the Romeu’s of this world.”

Concern over anti-Semitism in Spain has been particularly acute over the last year, following a Pew Research Survey in which 46 per cent of Spanish respondents  - the highest number in Europe - said they had negative views about Jews.  

The Spanish numbers are scary, all right—the percentage of Spaniards holding a negative few of Jews jumped from 21% in 2004 to 46% in 2008—but that’s not the only thing to be scared about. If you dig into the whole report, it isn’t just Jews that the Spanish hate, but Christians, too. 24% of Spaniards hold a negative view of Christians now, compared to 10% in 2004. In France, 19% hold a negative view of Christians, against 9% in 2004.

What should surprise us is not that post-Christian Europe hates the Jews. Neo-pagans always have hated Jews. Europe’s guilt over the Holocaust easily tips over into compensatory hatred (if the Israelis are portrayed as Nazis, then what Europe did to the Jews wasn’t really so bad). And the State of Israel seems like an inconvenience to Europeans who want nothing more than to die out in quiet dhimmitude. 

The surprising thing is how fast things have shifted in only five years. Continental Europe appears to be in a spiritual tailspin. The Anglo-Saxon countries are different. Only 7% of Americans have a negative opinion of Jews and 9% of Britons, according to the Pew Survey.





Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles