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Anti-Semitism Without Anti-Semites

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from the magazine

Anti-Semitism Without Anti-Semites

Britain’s leading paper omits a key detail about attacks on French Jews. Spring 2006
Arts and Culture
The Social Order

Britain has only one important newspaper: the left-wing Guardian. Not only is it the sole remaining daily newspaper in the country whose content is mostly devoted to serious matters, but it is the only one that the unacknowledged legislators of the world, the intelligentsia, take seriously.

And this is a disaster for the country. Though it occasionally allows a dissenting voice, the Guardian has consistently advocated a demoralization of the population, followed by increased state intervention and, of course, public spending to alleviate the consequences of that demoralization. No wonder the BBC advertises for personnel exclusively in its pages.

An aura of dishonesty and evasiveness often surrounds its content. A recent article on the rise of anti-Semitism in France illustrates this mendacity perfectly. Not surprisingly, the article mentioned the case of Ilan Halimi. This is how the piece summarized it: “Last month, a Jewish telephone salesman, Ilan Halimi, was tortured to death in an apartment block south of Paris by a large multi-racial gang who kidnapped him for ransom. They allegedly singled him out because he was Jewish and ‘Jews were rich.’ ”

And that is all.

The article also cites other cases. One young man tells the newspaper why he has not traveled on the city or suburban trains for four years:

“I look very Jewish. I have a beard, I wear a hat and a black suit. It’s not worth it.” The newspaper adds that he had faced verbal abuse in the street for being Jewish. Another story: “Raphael Taieb, 26, was wearing a cloth skullcap on his way to synagogue but usually removed it in public. ‘I’ve been stoned by children from apartment block windows for wearing it before.’ ”

What happened after the demonstration that followed the discovery of Ilan Halimi’s tortured and murdered body? This is what the Guardian reports: “It was then that the attacks on young Jewish men in Sarcelles began—three in 24 hours, including a rabbi’s son who had his nose broken, and two other men wearing cloth skullcaps who were reportedly called ‘Dirty Jews.’ ”

We learn that the Jewish community in Sarcelles “is made up largely of second-generation North African Jews,” many of whose “relations speak Arabic and are used to living in mixed societies, but in France they feel singled out for their religion.”

And that is about all. The article treats anti-Semitism in France (which, of course, has a very long history) as if it were a meteorological condition now affecting the entire country, an impersonal force.

Because of this abstraction, the newspaper does not need to inform us who, exactly, threw the stones out of the window—and are stones normally found in apartment buildings?—or who broke the rabbi’s son’s nose. The information about the gang that killed Halimi is scanty, to say the least. If the body of a young black man tortured to death had turned up in Britain, and the white thugs who had done it were discovered, you may be sure that the Guardian would report it in full (and rightly so).

We are to believe, it seems, that the troubles of the North African Jews began when they came to France—and that, of course, raises the interesting but unasked question of why they came in the first place. Could it be, moreover, that having fled North Africa for France, North Africa then followed them to France? Heaven forbid that we should even let such a thought cross our mind, let alone ask it. Best, then, to keep silent.

The startling incuriosity about the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic attacks—were they French postmen, perhaps, or farmers or bankers or schoolteachers or simply a random sample of the French population?—suggests that both the writer of the article and the editors are avoiding something they had rather not acknowledge: the need to think, in particular about the unrealistic presuppositions of their entire worldview.

Not “All the news that’s fit to print,” but “None of the news that disturbs our liberal smugness and sense of moral superiority,” is the motto of the Guardian.

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