The Belgian political class is perhaps more characterised than any other in Europe by its denial of what is currently happening in the Middle East. This has been particularly true since the pogrom of 7 October, which seems to have moved people far less than Israel’s response. In recent weeks, there has been one appalling and revolting comment after another:
If it is true that old age is a shipwreck, in the case of the Palestinian raïs Mahmoud Abbas (84 years old), it is more like a long and lamentable drowning that drags in its wake Palestine and its just cause. Physically worn out, isolated and politically challenged, Abbas has been multiplying blunders and aberrations for many years. Ultimate slippage, speaking on August 24 before the “revolutionary council” of his party, Fatah, he uttered extremely serious anti-Semitic remarks: “Hitler did not kill the Jews because Jews […] but only because of their social status as usurers,” he asserted.
The Palestinian raïs took up here a hazy theory that he had already developed during a “History lesson” delivered before the Palestinian National Council, in Ramallah, on April 30, 2018, according to which “the reason for the Holocaust is not the anti-Semitism of the Nazis, but the “social behavior” of the Jews”! But in his lucubrations of last August 24, he enriched this infamous theory with a new argument tinged with conspiracy: in a delirious attempt to prove that the ‘‘Nazis were not anti-Semites’’, he advanced the strange argument according to which ‘‘Ashkenazi Jews are not Semites”, because “they are the descendants of the Khazars [ancient Turkish people] who have nothing to do with Semitism”. Which, of course, has no historical basis!
In early March, Tariq Ramadan demanded the dismissal of a court-appointed expert to analyse the control he could exercise over young women with whom he had violent sexual relations. The preacher’s defence for the dismissal of Dr Daniel Zagury refers to “manipulation”. In fact, the main reproach levelled at this doctor is that he is… Jewish!
67 swastikas, discovered on December 28, desecrating the graves of a municipal cemetery in Fontainebleau; a torrent of anti-Semitic insults lashing out against Miss Provence 2020, April Benayoum, for claiming her Israeli ancestry on December 19, when she was elected as Miss France 2021’s first runner-up; anti-Semitic death threats against TV columnist Valérie Benaim on December 29; a delivery man from a big name in the new digital economy, boasting that he does not agree to deliver to Jews, on January 7 in Strasbourg; and to top it all off, an odious letter of anti-Semitic (and homophobic) insults, addressed to the government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, on January 8… The phenomenon is not new, but in the space of a few weeks, it is a veritable surge of anti-Semitic acts which have descended on France, often in general indifference. And more worrying still, to the old anti-Semitic evil, that of hatred and (in)human stupidity, is added a new anti-Semitism, which tries to cover itself with political justifications, like that of the icon of the Indigènes de la République movement, Houria Bouteldja, justifying the anti-Semitic insults against April Benayoum with a mind-blowing argument according to which “one cannot be innocently Israeli”!
In rapid succession, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Britain’s leading Muslim NGO, was forced to get rid of two of its key leaders. The first for antisemitic writings, the next for singing the praises of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Highlights of the heartbreaking book of our colleague Jean-Marie Montali ‘We are the voices of the dead, the last deportees testify’, which has just been published by Le Cherche Midi. 75 years after the liberation of the camps, these testimonies from survivors, which resound like voices from beyond the grave, describe the unspeakable and name with singular sobriety the absolute horror of the Holocaust.
Qatari students learn that the Jews, by “manipulating economic markets and accumulating immense wealth”, ruined Germany after World War I. It was therefore logical that the Führer made them pay dearly for their infamous betrayal. Or how to be brought up in antisemitism from childhood to adolescence.
Back in Libya, nine years after the uprising that put an end to the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, Bernard-Henry Lévy (BHL) raised a lively controversy within the pro-Sarraj clan, the leader of the ill-named “Government of National Accord”, which the author of « La barbarie à visage humain » nevertheless came to support, in particular through a report on mass graves attributed to the forces of Marshal Haftar in Tarhouna, a city taken over by the pro-Sarraj forces last June.
Some time ago, I stopped buying Nutella. Because of palm oil, deforestation and orangutans which are primates from the Hominidae family. No one ever told me “Strange, you’re not an orangutan, are you?”. I also worry about polar bears, which are marine mammals from the Ursidae family, which splash around on ice packs, and for whales, those marine mammals from the Cetacea infraorder, which are harpooned day and night by the Japanese and (I think) the Norwegians, and for elephants which are mammals from Proboscidean order… Yet, no one ever told me: “That’s odd, you’re neither a whale, nor a bear, nor an elephant, are you?”.
The world is going through a turbulent period. One of these grey areas of history which Antonio Gramsci described, with the foresight for which he is known, as those moments of twilight from which monsters emerge, when the old world is dying and the new world is slow to be born. And one of the appalling symptoms of this gestation is the perversion of humanist values, to the benefit of hate speech that resurfaces under a new guise which does not in any way change its abject nature: racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, ethnic and religious extremism.