Is There Anything Unique about French Anti-Semitism?

In a video with the title "10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew," which has gone “viral” as they say, an Israeli reporter dressed as an Orthodox Jew (the saddest part of the story is that it is a costume for him) and strolled through Paris, randomly being insulted and even spat upon by certain passers-by.

Welcome to my world.

Anti-Semitic Violence Has Increased throughout the World

I do not wish to minimize the extent or severity of anti-Semitic incidents in France, or anywhere else in Europe. The kidnapping and torture murder of Ilan Halimi by a gang of evil barbarians as his poor mother listened on the telephone last year; the subsequent murder of a rabbi and three children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse; and most recently the murder of three innocent people in a Parisian kosher supermarket certainly must be taken seriously. There is no question that, over the last couple of decades, the number and severity of anti-Semitic incidents has seen a dramatic increase everywhere in the world.

I emphasize, everywhere.

Are things really that much better here, for instance? Remember that the reporter was subjected to occasional insults and spitting in his presence; he was not assaulted, thank   G-d, and in a few cases, passers-by merely called out, Juif (“Jew!”). That, he should have taken as a compliment.

There's More Anti-Semitism in the United States than You Might Think

According to a recent study by the Anti-Defamation League, “only” nine percent of Americans harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. Consider, however, that that means 21,000,000 individuals in our rather large country, far larger than the estimated Jewish population of 5-6,000,000. Here are a few of the low-lights of 2014 in the United States, that bastion of religious freedom:

■ In the 2013-2014 academic year, an eighth-grade Jewish student in the Ogden International School in Chicago, IL, was subjected to weeks of anti-Semitic harassment, culminating in a group of students creating a team in the online game “Clash of Clans": which they named “Jew Incinerator Clan,” described as: “Heil! Throw Jews into ovens for a cause. We are a friendly group of racists with one goal -- put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of. Sieg Heil!” The student perpetrators received only brief suspensions for their actions.

■ Steven Salaita, an instructor at the University of Illinois in Champaign, disgraced himself by his anti-Semitic rants in class and on social media, calling for the “de-colonization of America” by Jews, and saying that “every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a murderous colonial regime.”

■ Just before Passover last year, a deranged gunman, who subsequently told a reporter that he “wanted to make damn’ sure that [he] killed some Jews before [he] died,” shot and killed three people outside the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City, MO. Ironically, none of the people killed were actually Jews, but that was hardly the assailant’s fault.

■ During the Gaza campaign, the president of the student body at Ohio University, Megan Marzec, in imitation of the “ice bucket challenge,” created the “blood bucket challenge” on social media, ranting for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” of Israel, only one of very many cases of anti-Semitic harassment and incitement on American college campuses.

■ In August, 2014, a 45-year-old-woman was assaulted and injured by a “youth” in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, who was shouting anti-Semitic abuse at her.

■ Also in August, 60-year-old Rabbi Joseph Raksin was shot to death as he walked to a synagogue on the sabbath in Miami, FL.

■ In September, a yeshiva in Lakewood, NJ, was broken into by vandals, who defaced the study hall with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

■ In northern Kentucky, a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate tried to appeal to voters with such signs as “With Jews We Lose,” an example of increasingly acceptable political rhetoric in this country.

■ In December, garages and synagogues were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti in West Rogers Park, a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Chicago, IL, home to the Chicago branch of a world-renowned yeshiva, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars in property damage.

■ Also in December, an Israeli yeshiva student visiting the world Lubavitcher headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was stabbed in the face by a man screaming, “I want to kill the Jew!,” before police arrived and shot the assailant.

Not to mention the recent incident in which some 30 homes were defaced in the capital of my own state, Wisconsin, with anti-Semitic and other obscene graffiti, reported here.

Forgive me if some of these seem trivial compared to murder; they are no less so than the slights directed at that reporter in Paris.

Next page: Would European Jews Be Safer in Israel?

The very impressive solidarity march that followed the murder of the three people in the Parisian kosher supermarket featured a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, imploring European Jews to come home to Israel, where they could be safe. How safe would they be? Consider the same time-frame, 2014 to the present:

■ In April, Baruch Mizrachi, an off-duty police officer, was shot and killed as he was on his way to a Passover seder.

■ In May, 19-year-old Shelly Dadon was found stabbed to death in a parking lot in Migdal HaEmek, killed “for nationalistic reasons,” as determined by police.

■ In June, three teenaged yeshiva students were kidnapped and murdered by terrorist thugs in Gush Etzion.

■ In October, a three-month-old baby girl was killed and eight other people wounded (one of whom subsequently died) when an Arab rammed a car into a crowd standing at a tram station in Jerusalem.

■ In November, a similar attack on another light-rail station in Jerusalem left a border policeman dead and 14 others wounded.

■ On one other day in November, a young woman was stabbed to death and three others injured in separate attacks in Israel.

■ And of course, that same month saw the infamous attack on the synagogue in Har Nof in Jerusalem, in which five men were killed and six injured for the crime of having gathered for morning prayers.

The above list is not exhaustive, and leaves out numerous non-lethal attacks in Israel in 2014 and since the first of this year, including this most recent one.

Shortly after the incident in Paris, Rabbi Ya’akov Katz, a French rosh yeshiva, asked Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman of Bnei Brak, considered the dean of Israeli rashei yeshiva, whether he thought it was time to leave France and return to Israel. Rabbi Shteinman replied that he did not understand what the rush was; the Messiah had not yet been revealed. When Rabbi Katz’s intermediary pressed the point that “they are killing us” in France, Rabbi Shteinman replied, “They are killing us here, too.”

As you can see, he wasn’t kidding.