Europe Today: by Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Shimon Samuels

July 24, 2014

In my three decades as Director of International Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in our Paris office, I thought I had seen every form of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism across the spectrum of right to left, of radical churches to mosques, to NGOs.
What has changed?
Until recently, I have never seen the coming together of so many anti-Semitic and anti-Israel groups, coupled with one-sided media hostility in effect demonizing Jews, Israel and their supporters.
I am seeing an unprecedented explosion across Europe of thousands of young Muslims, turned on by the call to Jihad. Many of these young men have been fighting in Syria, and return to their home countries poisoned even further and ready to take out their hostilities on the Jews of Europe.
Although European governments express solidarity with Jews when synagogues and Jewish institutions are rampaged and attacked, that solidarity means little when extremist demonstrations lead to violence and the perpetrators arrested are routinely released by judges with a warning or suspended sentence.
Yesterday, in Paris, I attended a rally (pictured above) of 15,000 Hamas supporters made up of ordinary French people - bank tellers, supermarket assistants and, even neighbors. 
A recent Gaza solidarity rally of 300 in the southern French provincial town of Gap, ended with a dozen hooded Islamists attacking a handicapped woman in the presence of witnesses. The reason for the assault, according to the local press: the perpetrators had seen, through the window of her apartment, what appeared to be crosses and Stars of David on the wall.
Have we forgotten the lessons we took with us from the Nazi period of how ordinary people turn into petty tyrants with unimaginable consequences? 

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