Thursday, December 2, 2021
Thursday, December 2, 2021
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Nathan Elberg: Antisemitism: The Respectable Hatred

The alleged wickedness and ubiquity of “systemic” racism has taken a firm hold in modern Western society.  Every slight manifestation of prejudice, overt or implied, must be rooted out and the party responsible silenced.  Black Lives Matter and its media echo-chamber has hypersensitized Americans to any “microaggression” against blacks and “people of colour” generally, with the media reporting any attack on Asians with horror.

But bigotry against Jews gets a free pass.  Conservative commentator Meghan McCain said that “antisemitism is still the last form of passable bigotry in America.”

In the fourteenth century, fellow-citizens accused Jews of bringing the Black Death to the cities of Europe by poisoning the wells. Jews were offered the choice of conversion to Christianity or being burned alive.  Subsequently, at Strasbourg, Toulon, Basel, Barcelona and other cities, Jewish communities were eradicated, and Jewish property confiscated.  Dan Freedman in Moment Magazine (March 31, 2021) writes, “…The thoroughness of Jewish slaughter in Germany, France, and Switzerland and the preferred method of elimination— burning—now seem like portents of the Holocaust some 600 years later.”

Now, seventy-five years after the Holocaust, six hundred seventy-two years after the Jews of Strasbourg and other cities were torched alive for purportedly causing the plague, Jews are being accused of spreading, or at least accelerating, the contemporary COVID-19 pandemic.

An April 7, 2021 article in US News & World Report featured a December 2019 photo of the Chief Rabbi of Strasbourg visiting a cemetery where Jewish graves have been vandalized.  It was said that “Jews and Israelis created and spread the virus so that they could rescue the world with lucrative vaccines.”  In line with this accusation, anti-Semitic incidents indeed surged in the fall of 2020 in parallel with news of the development of vaccines.

These accusations struck home, here in Quebec, as well. Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the Union representing customs workers, declared that eight thousand Jews had crossed the border from New York and that these Jews weren’t going to quarantine.  TVA, a local French-language television network, headlined the report on this blood libel:  “8,000 JUIFS EN 48 HEURES À LA FRONTIÈRE”/ 8,000 Jews in 48 hours at the border.”  As Honest Reporting Canada described it, “TVA‘s actions exposed Jews, an identifiable religious group, to torrents of online hatred.”  The Montreal Gazette, the only Quebec English-language newspaper, ignored the report:  Evidently, it didn’t consider TVA‘s antisemitic report newsworthy.

The Federal government did respond to these accusations. In truth, seventy-five hundred people (of various ethnicities) had crossed the border in forty-eight hours, most of them essential workers who had no obligation to quarantine.  But because it was the eve of Passover, Fortin and TVAtransformed all the arrivals into uncooperative Jews.

He wasn’t the only one posturing in that way.  While the Canadian government was using facts to alleviate ethnic hatred, over the border both the ‘progressive’ Mayor of New York City and the Governor of New York State put aside the feud between them jointly to stir up hatred, both accusing Orthodox Jews of ignoring all the New York City and State COVID guidelines.

The players in this repeat of the old antisemitic libel are significant.  The TVA television network belongs to the Péladeau family, who built their fortune on a regional media empire.  Pierre Karl Péladeau is the former leader of Quebec’s nationalist Parti Quebecois, which strives to maintain the purity of Quebec culture.  His father, Pierre, was infamous for his 1990 remark that Jews “take up too much space.”

Jean Pierre Fortin is the national president of the Customs and Immigration Union. It represents Canada’s front-line customs and immigration officers, who are in charge of who is and is not allowed into the country. The Union officially represents the views of its members to Parliament.

Will the Union advise the government or its members to protect Canadians by keeping Jews from crossing the border?  It sounds reminiscent of “None is too many,” the infamous answer by a 1939 Federal immigration official in response to the question, How many Jews should Canada let into the country?

It is noteworthy that after the death of George Floyd in the USA, Fortin called on the Canadian government to provide anti-racism training.  It seems that whatever such training he took, it didn’t include Jews and antisemitism.

Another COVID blood libel relates to Israel’s success in vaccinating its population.  Rather than admire and emulate its success, the American “progressive” squad accused Israel of vaccine apartheid, that is, taking care only of Jews.  They refuse to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for its repeated refusals of COVID assistance, whether from Jews or fellow Muslims.  Progressives promoted this libel on venues such as Saturday Night Live, the cutting-edge comedy show created by Lorne Michaels (née Lipowitz).

Antisemitism is the time-tested, acceptable form of racism.  It fell somewhat out of favour after the slaughter of six million by the Nazis, but as the Holocaust fades from memory, Jew-hatred has experienced a powerful resurgence.  The TVA television network barely walked back its plague accusation against Jews; there was no public retraction.  Jean-Pierre Fortin, promoter of an ancient antisemitic libel, remains the National President of his Union.

Antisemitism is also an international phenomenon. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom concluded that in 2020, ten out of eleven European nations failed to deal with this kind of bigotry in their country.  It’s a United States problem, as well.  Supporters of the notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan have been elected to Congress and hold influential Committee positions.  The Anti-Defamation League, established to fight antisemitism, recently supported Kristen Clarke, one of President Joe Biden’s nominees for the Department of Justice, who has been condemned for her many antisemitic connections.

A brief “golden age”, when Jew-hatred was unacceptable, rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. Now that those ashes have cooled and settled, and as “progressives” selectively push a politicized, virtue-signalling “woke” opposition to “systemic racism”, antisemitism is returning to its esteemed place in Western civilization, a position it has held for most of the last two thousand years.

(Nathan Elberg, a writer and blogger, and Chairman of the International Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

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