TEL AVIV – Israel’s latest war in Gaza has echoed through Europe’s capitals in a powerful and destructive way. In Berlin, London, Paris, Rome, and elsewhere, Israel is being denounced as a “terrorist state.” Angry demonstrators burned synagogues in France and, of all places, Germany, with some even chanting “Jews to the gas!” The grotesque coupling of legitimate solidarity with Palestine and anti-Jewish invective seems to have forged a politically correct form of anti-Semitism – one that, 70 years after the Holocaust, is raising the specter of Kristallnacht over Europe’s Jewish communities.
Israelis are struggling to comprehend why five million refugees and 200,000 deaths in Syria mean so much less to the Western conscience than the 2,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza. They cannot quite grasp how European demonstrators can denounce Israel’s wars as “genocide” – a term that has never been applied to the Syrian hecatomb, the obliteration of Grozny by Russia, the 500,000 casualties in Iraq since the United States-led invasion in 2003, or US airstrikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In fact, the answer is simple: Defining Israel’s sins in terms borrowed from the Holocaust is Europe’s righteous way to rid itself of its Jewish complex. “The Holocaust,” as Thomas Keneally wrote in Schindler’s Ark, “is a Gentile problem, not a Jewish one.” Or, as the psychiatrist Zvi Rex famously quipped, “Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”
There is no denying that Gaza’s agony is a humanitarian disaster. But it does not even approach other humanitarian crises of recent decades, including those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In fact, since 1882, the entire Arab-Jewish/Israeli conflict has produced barely half the number of casualties that Syria has in just three years. Since 1950, the Arab-Israeli conflict ranks 49th in terms of fatalities.