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Israel-Hamas Conflict Triggers Antisemitism Wave in Europe Jews Fear Muslim Anger

Oct 16, 2023
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The Israel-Hamas war in Gaza portrays a sudden twist as Jews in Europe fear becoming targets of Muslim anger. The most stricken by the antisemitic threats are Jews residing in Berlin, Germany, citing the chilling discovery of Stars of David to identify their apartment blocks and front doors. 

The Jews living in the German capital recall the 1930s when Nazi stormtroopers would mark out the Jewish-run businesses and direct the public away from the enterprises. As such, the graffiti symbolizes heightened threats of reincarnating the antisemitism for Jews in Germany following the terrorist attack on Saturday October 7 by Hamas militants. 

The horrific attack orchestrated by the Hamas militants led to 1400 deaths of Israeli civilians and forces, with dozens more taken captives. News of the attack invited Palestinian activists in Berlin to celebrate by sharing sweets.

Germany Jews Admit Antisemitic Attacks

As the government commissioner handling Jewish matters, Felix Klein affirmed that Germany’s Jews admitted to being upset following the antisemitic display by Muslim groups supported by pro-palestine entities. 

Klein warned that the inter-ethnic tensions would worsen if the violence became full-blown. The commissioner cited the recent directive by Israel urging over 1 million residents to free the southern strip. 

The directive portrays Israel as likely to stage a full-scale ground invasion besides the continued bombardments on the densely populated strip. The Palestinian health officials warned that further incursion would cause a humanitarian crisis with over 2300 lives lost – mainly women and children.

Klein shares in the concerns raised by the Jews residing in Europe that the deepening Israel-Hamas conflict could ultimately make them a convenient target. The commissioner warned that the pro-Muslims could express anger toward the Jews, alleging Israel’s military activity in the Gaza Strip. 

Jews in France Fear Antisemitism Wave 

The fear of antisemitism is spreading fast in France, which hosts a sizable Muslim population. Tensions are inevitable because it hosts the third-largest Jewish community, trailing Israel and the US

The flare-ups witnessed within the Middle East are triggering antisemitic incidents. The fears prompted the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to convey a statement detailing 189 threats. Darmanin indicated that the enforcement officers executed 65 arrests linked to antisemitic remarks and actions in France. 

The interior minister linked the antisemitic attacks to the upsurge in Israel-Hamas violence within the Gaza Strip. The minister’s statement aligns with the findings by Pharos, operating as an online platform facilitating hate speech reporting of 2449 incidents. 

Darmanin had earlier on Thursday informed France Inter radio that Jews were targeted in graffiti incidents and slogans urging Palestinian uprising. Also, he cited serious incidents involving arrests of individuals armed with weapons near the synagogues and schools frequented by Jews. 

The antisemitism wave spread to the Sarcelles region, given its large Jewish community. The northern suburb region of Paris saw most Jewish children miss school on Friday, October 13. Rabbi René Taieb attributed the absenteeism to the wave of antisemitic threats shared via social media. 

Taieb observed that several schools suffered over 90% absenteeism, particularly the Val-d’Oise, where barely 60 attended from a possible 600 students. The leader of the 40000-member community indicated that the teachers were against bringing the children to the learning facilities.

The antisemitism fear is intensifying following the Friday, October 13 knife attack on a teacher in a school located in the northern France region. President Emmanuel Macron labeled the incident as barbarism of Islamist terror.

While the Friday knife attack failed to identify with the antisemitism, the Jewish leadership in France echoed government officials who linked the incident to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. In particular, Darmanin cited intelligence reports linking the attack to the Middle East incidents. 

Robert Ejnes, in his role as the executive director at Crif, identified as the Jewish Associations Council in France, indicated that past Arab-Israeli conflicts triggered repercussions for Jewish communities in Europe. 

Ejnes admitted difficulty in understanding how pro-Palestinians would attack synagogues. He indicated it was illogical not to attack Israelis but to target the French Jews.

Antisemitism Incidents Spread into the UK and Italy 

The United Kingdom has witnessed antisemitism incidents, with the Metropolitan Police acknowledging 75 reports from September 29 to Thursday, October 12. The cases have risen sevenfold from 14 to 105 in the past 12 months. The surge prompted the temporary closure of three Jewish institutions located in North London.  

The Jewish community living in Italy similarly lives in anxiety following antisemitic graffiti that appears to praise Hamas. A case in Milan hospital involved one terming Jews as murderers.

Ruth Dureghello, who previously headed the Jewish community in Rome, portrayed uncertainty as the situation could worsen as Israel intensifies military action against Hamas. 

Across Europe, all government authorities have devoted financial and human resources to reassure the Jewish people of their safety. France prohibited all pro-Palestinian protests alleging disturbance to the public order. The ban hardly hindered large crowds gathering in Paris on Thursday, October 12. The protesters identified Israeli murderers while Macron was labeled an accomplice, prompting police intervention. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz imposed a ban on the Samidoun, identified as the solidarity network by the Palestinian prisoners, to celebrate Hamas’s attack on Israel. The move to ban the pro-Palestinian protests has been opposed by rights groups, terming the prohibition as infringing free speech rights.

The presence of anti-Israel sentiment in Germany is conspicuous within schools, particularly in Berlin, given the sizeable Muslim population. Klein confirmed cases where children are attending lessons donning Palestinian flags. The minority supporting Israel is facing hostility from colleagues.  

Klein indicates that the pro-Hamas protests’ profiles do not feature Iraqis and Syrians who arrived in the 2015-16 refugee influx. Instead, the supporters have lived in the country and possess German passports. Such incidents portray the emergence of parallel societies aided by failing integration in Germany.