By Miljan Vešović
In the period following the terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7, a huge increase in anti-Semitic incidents was observed around the world.
In the USA, buildings of Ivy League schools such as Harvard or Cornell have displayed graffiti that Jews are "excrement" as well as "instructions" to students that "if they see Jews on the university campus, they should follow them home and slit their throats." In California today, an elderly Jewish man died after being beaten by pro-Palestinian protesters.
In Great Britain, the Community Security Trust, an NGO that monitors the level of anti-Semitism in society, reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the past four weeks is the highest since 1984, when statistics began to be compiled.
In France, anti-Semitic graffiti appeared in almost all major cities. What is of much greater concern, two days ago in Lyon, a young woman of Jewish origin was stabbed in her apartment. Fortunately, the victim survived, but the police still haven't caught the suspect. At the scene of the crime, the police also noticed a drawing of a swastika on the wall. This led the investigating detectives to conclude that it was an anti-Semitic crime.
A few days ago, the world was astonished to see videos from Russia, where in Dagestan, a crowd briefly occupied the airport in the Capital of the Republic, Makhachkala. While shouting anti-Semitic slogans, the demonstrators surrounded the plane that had just landed from Tel-Aviv and asked the airport workers to show them the Jews among the passengers. Fortunately, law enforcement officials were able to regain control of the airport without casualties.
This situation caused the envoys for the fight against anti-Semitism in 30 countries to jointly ask the countries where they live to protect local Jewish communities. They concluded that "Jews today live in fear and under threat."
In the past, the perpetrators of anti-Semitic activity could usually be found on the far right of the political spectrum. Nazism is, of course, the most striking example of this. However, in recent times, anti-Semitism has been increasingly linked to the activities of the radical left.
For example, one of the members of the so-called of the "progressive" (hard left) wing of the Democratic Party in the USA, Congresswoman Tlaib from Michigan, was criticized after she supported calls for the destruction of Israel on social media.
In France, the strongest left-wing party "France Unbowed", under the leadership of Jean-Luc Melenchon, refused to condemn Hamas for terrorist attacks, and some officials of that party called this terrorist organization "Resistance Movement". Alluding to these statements, representatives of Jewish organizations in France asserted that anti-Semitism in that country is mainly helped by the "Islamist-Left alliance".
Pro-Palestinian activists (mostly leftist) around the world, as well as organizations such as the United Nations, are also facing accusations of more subtle types of anti-Semitism these days. According to the widely accepted definition, authored by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), anti-Semitism includes "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor" and "applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation".
In the negative reactions to the military intervention carried out by Israel in the Gaza Strip as a response to terrorist attacks by Hamas, examples that fall under this definition can be found.
The case of the battle for Mosul (2016-2017) is characteristic. In that battle, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with the direct military support of the US-led Coalition to Defeat (the terrorist organization) ISIS, liberated this Iraqi city from ISIS. The means that Iraqi, Kurdish and Coalition forces used then were very similar to those used by Israel today in the fight against the terrorist organization Hamas. Also, the number of civilian victims was huge, about 40000.
However, during the battle there were no significant demands for a ceasefire, nor widespread condemnation of the airstrikes and ground offensives due to civilian casualties. On that occasion, the UN did not adopt resolutions calling for a "ceasefire". Moreover, the special envoy of the UN Secretary General for Iraq stated on that occasion that "the Battle for Mosul represents the birth of a new Iraq" and "the end of ISIS in Iraq", as well as that "unprecedented activities were undertaken during the battle to protect the civilian population".
Of course, every situation is different and 100% precise comparisons are not possible. Nevertheless, it is not easy to get rid of the impression that double standards are applied by UN and other critics of Israel's intervention in Gaza.
It is not entirely clear where anti-Semitism among left-oriented political forces comes from. Certainly, part of the reason lies in anti-Westernism to which supporters of this political orientation are sometimes prone. Criticism of "Western imperialism" or "neocolonialism" is sometimes enough for them to turn a blind eye to the crimes of authoritarian regimes or terrorist organizations.
Characteristic examples of this are the famous writers Harold Pinter, Ronald Harwood and Peter Handke (Pinter and Handke are Nobel Prize in Literature laureates, and Harwood the Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay) who defended the authoritarian, criminal regime of Slobodan Milošević during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The example of the frontman of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, who is a prominent pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activist, and who also claimed that Putin attacked Ukraine because he was "provoked", is also known worldwide.
On the other hand, it is perhaps not well known that certain key ideologues of the left were also anti-Semites. The following two quotes are characteristic: “We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time, an element which through historical development—to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed—has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily begin to disintegrate. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism” and “Jews. Write an article against this race that poisons everything by sticking its nose into everything without ever mixing with any other people. Abolish synagogues and not admit them to any employment. Demand its expulsion. Finally, pursue the abolition of this religion. It’s not without cause that the Christians called them deicides. The Jew is the enemy of humankind. They must be sent back to Asia or be exterminated.”
These quotes are not taken from "Mein Kampf" or from a SS manual for "hygiene of the Aryan race". The author of the first quote is Karl Marx, and the author of the second quote is one of the first ideologues of socialism and anarchism, Pierre Joseph Proudhon.
In the era when the ideologies of Marxism and socialism were emerging, there was widespread prejudice about Jews as "capitalist fat cats", stock market manipulators and people who had access to large sums of money, and were as such "enemies of the working class". Although socialism and the left have since evolved and taken their place in modern political thought, it might be that traces of anti-Semitism from ideological beginnings have remained. This may partly explain phenomena such as the "Islamist-left alliance" which, according to representatives of the Jewish community in that country, is one of the drivers of anti-Semitism in France.
Regardless of the reasons, the anti-Semitism and support that is coming to Hamas these days from the radical left in Europe and the US show that anti-systemic action does not come only from the right side of the political spectrum. Radicalism and anti-systemic action, aimed at the relativization of crimes and terrorist attacks and the weakening of European and Euro-Atlantic values, are powerful weapons in the hybrid war that Russia, Iran and China are waging against democratic countries. And when the harmful effects of these phenomena are comprehended, it does not matter whether the perpetrators are left-wing or right-wing.
As far as Israel and Palestine are concerned, their conflict is too complex to be viewed in black and white. Also, avoiding civilian casualties, anywhere, should be the duty of not just Israel, but every state at war. However, fight against terrorist organizations such as Hamas, or ISIS, or people who today cause Jews on European soil to feel threatened (because they are Jews) for the first time since the Holocaust should be seen in black and white. This applies to all democratic countries in the world.
This also applies to Montenegro, which is rightfully proud of its heroic struggle against Nazism and fascism. And one of the main characteristics of Nazism and fascism is exactly anti-Semitism.