Monday, February 27, 2006

Assorted links to things you'd never, ever expect WWPD to link to:

The Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein on Israel's existence: Despite what some would have you believe, it's a country, and it exists. If in doubt, read this post, which probably won't convince you of anything, but you never know.

The Wall Street Journal's Matthew Kaminski (via Andrew Sullivan) on Ilan Halimi:

This murder dredges up the ghosts of French anti-Semitism past (Dreyfus, Vichy), but that's more than a trifle unfair. The police and media early on downplayed the racial motive, fearing as is their habit these days a backlash from Muslims, yet soon changed their tune. Now the whole establishment is united in condemning what the government calls an "anti-Semitic hate crime." The French president, prime minister, head of the biggest mainstream Muslim organization, the archbishop of Paris and the leader of the Socialist opposition stood together at a Thursday night memorial ceremony for Ilan at a synagogue in Paris. Hundreds marched in Bagneux, in the words of a banner, "against barbarism, anti-Semitism and racism." Home to 600,000 Jews, the most of any European country, France has succeeded in reducing anti-Semitic violence, which peaked in 2004.

Yet France's bigger worry is its Muslim population of five million, also Europe's largest. So it's not the anti-Semitism but the crime itself and the profile of the perpetrators that best explain the national revulsion. To put it bluntly, Ilan Halimi, many people here figure, could just as easily have been a Christian.

So this is somewhat like what I said, except I don't quite see how anyone would think Ilan Halimi could "just as easily" have been non-Jewish. While the barbarism and racism apparently doing well in France these days don't specifically spare the French-hyphen-French, anti-Semitism was behind what happened in this particular case, and not just by chance. Everything in Europe with nothing specific to do with Jews (car-burning riots, Danish cartoons) ends up somehow turning into a "Jewish" situation. While it's not exactly clear where Jews in Europe should stand politically--on the side of the West, but still lumped together with Muslims as foreigners no matter how many generations in a given place and thus subject to many of the same problems--it's clear that Jews are still considered very central to whatever's going on, whether the latest scandal involves Jews or not. The problem, then, isn't just a generic racism or barbarism or decay, but all of these things ending up channeled to hating Jews. That's where it all seems to lead. Stopping problems before they reach that point would probably be the way to go... But while none of this is especially cheery, Haaretz is the bearer of good news:

Haaretz's Daniel Ben-Simon and Leonie Schultens on French-Israeli relations: The gist of it is, France and Israel get along better than they had been getting along, Jews and Israel don't get quite so screwed over by the French media, and this is, at least in part, why Ilan Halimi's case is not merely referred to as a crime against justice, and so on.

There's a ton more to say on all of this, but sleep...

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