I never liked the word “anti-Semitism”. As a European Jew, I always heard this word as the label “you Jews like to attribute to anyone who doesn’t like one of you”. Moreover, it was the word used to describe the thought that fueled the hatred of the Holocaust, which we survived, wounded but strong.
The word “anti-Semitism” symbolizes something we should have overcome, as a Jewish people and as a humanity as well. My grand-parents fled Europe during the War and came to this land to build on it one of the fastest growing states of this earth, Israel. They built a home so that I could live without ever hearing about anti-Semitism again, so that this notion would be forever part of a long lost past.
Today, we witness across Europe a movement that has taken the name of “anti-Zionism”. Demonstrations across Paris and Brussels in the name of human rights protection and defense of the oppressed strangely turn into the throwing of molotov cocktails at synagogues and the burning of businesses owned by Jews. And so we hear, again, the observing jewish crowd denounce: anti-Zionism is just a more politically correct version of a hardly hidden anti-Semitism.
And again, my ear hurts at the sound of this word. This word we have survived to erase.
When zooming out to see a wider picture of the reality we live in today, we see this hatred bathe among so many others, that should concern us just as much. The rise of Isis in Iraq, its hunt of Christians in Mosul and the slaughtering of those who attempted to resist or failed to run fast enough, is nothing other than the result of an ideology of racism and intolerance. The demonstrations which we can see, if we look closely enough, across the big cities of Europe, against gay marriage and adoption is yet again the demonstration of a fear of the unknown, but most importantly a deeply rooted intolerance towards what doesn’t fit the small box we define as normality. The speeches always more concerning of movements promoting the demise of democracy and the establishment of Sharia law in Belgium and England, defining all non-Muslim as an “infidel”, yet again another word for racism against all that doesn’t fit the model of “good” defined by some.
The European society has failed. We have failed. We have stayed idle while racism has grown like a desease, spreading deeper into our society in such way that we have reached a point of no-return. The desease has grown and transformed our society in its very essence, to the point that even in my short 23 years, today I no longer recognize the Europe I was born in. Lost in the intolerence of the unusual and the different, determined to forget the lessons our bloody history should have tought us, we have participated through our silence and passivity to the creation of this creature of hatred that now lives in the old continent.
Many believe that the time to react and prevent the spread of racism is over. That now, it is a reality we must live with and time will tell whether the desease will heal itself. I am among those who believe that times like the ones we have lived through this past month, during which demonstrations increase and hatred shouts as a podium appears, should be the trigger of a new struggle. A fight to push back the teachings of intolerence that take place all around us, a time to start building the groups and efforts that will prevent the beast from ever growing.
Now that we all start to slowly recover from the hatred we so bluntly witnessed, the time is best to start fighting back. In the struggle for the strengthening of democracy and the weakening of all movements attempting to reverse it, we shall find hope. Hope for a future where our children won’t recognize Europe as the place you want to stay away from, if you don’t fit a box defined by a minority we let shout louder than a fearing and idle majority.
As we all write less, with the hope for a period of calm to come again with Gaza and the terrorist groups that rule it, we must not forget: the battle continues, and quiet times do not justify returning to the silence. These times are just as important for us to fight intolerence, racism, and misinformation.