Gerstenfeld on the nature of Muslim Anti-Semitism and its impact in Europe

this paper has very kindly been provided by Dr. Gerstenfeld. I have removed the well over 100 references which were included in the original document, but which can be obtained on demand.

Muslim Antisemitism in Europe

Manfred Gerstenfeld*

The massive, non-selective immigration of Muslims into Western Europe has had a profound impact on European Jewry that is more than any other development in the last 50 years.1 For Jews, the consequences of this influx are almost entirely adverse. Much responsibility for this rests with sizable parts of the Muslim immigrants and their organizations.

At the same time, major responsibility for the negative developments also lies with the authorities in the countries of arrival. They permitted large numbers of immigrants into their countries without investigating their cul- tural and religious backgrounds and assessing how this would affect their integration.2 These authorities should have predicted that Muslim immi- grants, coming from places where antisemitism is widely promoted, would lead to increased attacks on Jews—particularly as hate-mongering against Jews originates in parts of the religious and political segments of the immi- grants’ societies of origin.

After the arrival of large numbers of non-Western immigrants, many authorities in European countries continued to ignore the numerous problems resulting from their own misconceived policies. This has often been the case; there were already problems with non-selective immigration before 2000, as mentioned for instance by several French authors. One example was the attacks on synagogues during the first Gulf War in 1991.4 Anti-Jewish aggression has greatly increased further in this century.

As far as Jews are concerned, the main consequence of this non-selec- tive mass immigration from Muslim countries is its role in the marked increase of antisemitism in Europe. This manifests itself in both the dispro- portionately large number of antisemitic incidents caused by immigrants from these countries and in the more extreme nature of some of them. Active antisemitic attitudes of immigrants also come to the fore in several other ways, for instance in relation to Holocaust commemoration and education.

In addition, the often biased way European societies react to Muslim immigration has also had a mainly negative impact on the Jewish commu- nity. Assessing this problematic issue requires far more than studying the limited statistical data currently available on Muslim antisemitism; it also goes beyond the ample anecdotal information on physical and verbal Mus- lim antisemitism and about antisemitic attitudes among immigrants and their progeny.


Antisemitism is spread much wider among Muslim immigrants than among autochthonous populations. This disproportion, cited for instance in a detailed study edited by Nicole Vettenburg, Mark Elchardus, and Johan Put, is already apparent among many youngsters.5 Furthermore, the most extreme incidents of Muslim antisemitism have gone beyond those of autochthonous antisemitism.

Such phenomena cannot be analyzed without focusing on the many negative characteristics and attitudes that have permeated large parts of the Islamic world. One of these phenomena is extreme anti-Israel and anti-Jew- ish incitement, which often goes hand in hand. This agitation has influenced the prejudiced attitudes against Jews that many Muslim immigrants have brought with them to Europe. These attitudes have sometimes been strengthened further in their countries of arrival by local inciters.

The current and often vicious anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement in parts of the Muslim world also has a continuing influence on part of the immigrants and their descendants—more so as this ongoing incitement is broadcast from the Middle East to Western Muslims via satellite TV and the Internet. Some mosques in Western Europe also promote antisemitic hate themes. For example, in 2001, the radical El Tawheed mosque in Amsterdam was forced by the authorities to remove several statements from its website, including the following: “The Jews possess the weapons indus- try and, on the other hand, they are the ones who make the wars.”

Besides Muslim antisemitism, there are many additional aspects and consequences of this non-selective immigration for both Jews and the status of Israel in Europe. The major issue to be addressed here is: What is the direct and indirect impact of non-selective Muslim immigration on Europe’s Jews? The impact of this immigration on Israel is yet another specific issue. It can only be briefly touched upon below.

Such an analysis requires an assessment of the failure of many West- ern governments to deal responsibly with the negative consequences of this mass immigration. Furthermore, one has to discuss what the attitude of Jew- ish organizations toward Muslims in Europe should be. There are several additional important issues outside of these categories as well. The overall subject is so complex that an article can only address its major points; a book could do more justice to its many interrelated aspects.


Reports on antisemitic attitudes among European Muslims are limited. One is thus largely dependent on news items and other anecdotal data. All of these, however, point in the same direction.

Mark Elchardus, in the book he edited with Vettenburg and Put,7 devotes a chapter to antisemitism in Dutch-language schools in Brussels, based on the attitudes of students from 14 years old.8 Elchardus found that about 50% of the Muslim students could be considered antisemites, as opposed to about 10% of the non-Muslims; he also concluded that practic- ing and believing Christians are more antisemitic than non-believers.9 The disproportion in attitudes between Muslim students and others is thus major.

Among non-Muslims, the main stereotype of the Jew was as an arro- gant, clever, and not very honest businessman. Among Muslims, the main stereotype was that of the warmongering, dominating Jew. Elchardus observed, however, that the importance of this conclusion was secondary compared to the large difference in the degree of antisemitism between Muslims and non-Muslims.

In view of the children’s age, one can assume that they’ve adopted antisemitic feelings from their parents’ homes. This means that antisemitic hate-mongering is being transmitted to the younger generation in many Muslim families.


Another study offers insights into the attitudes of Muslim teenagers. Gu ̈nther Jikeli conducted 117 interviews with Muslim males with an aver- age age of 19 in Berlin, Paris, and London. He concluded that the differ- ences between the youths in the three cities were minor. Most interviewees voiced some or strong antisemitic feelings. They openly expressed their negative attitudes about Jews, often aggressively.

Many Muslim youths whom Jikeli interviewed articulated “classic” antisemitic stereotypes. The most frequently repeated ones were conspiracy theories and beliefs that associate Jews with money. Jews were often con- sidered rich, stingy, and double-faced by these youngsters, who also often perceive Jews as one collective group with a common and “evil Jewish interest.” These archetypal stereotypes strengthen a negative and potentially threatening picture of “The Jews” in the minds of the interviewees.

Jikeli mentions that, while antisemitism is never rational, some Mus- lim youngsters do not even try to justify their antisemitic feelings. For these youths, if someone is Jewish, that is sufficient reason to loathe him or her.

Some interviewees stated that they intended to carry out antisemitic acts, for instance, attacking Jews whenever they encounter them in their neighborhoods. The authorities—and Jewish communities in particular— can ignore these threats only at their own peril.11 Numerical data from research by both Elchardus and Jikeli for different age groups confirm that antisemitism is widespread among young Muslims.

These findings also lead to another conclusion. As antisemitism among Muslims at a young age is already so widespread, this major problem will not disappear by itself in the coming decades.

Further information can be obtained from studies done in the Nether- lands. In April 2004, a pilot project of the program Second World War in Perspective was instituted in which students of Moroccan descent taught students in thirteen Amsterdam trade school classes about the Second World War and the Middle East conflict.12 Its purpose was to fight discrim- ination and, in particular, antisemitic manifestations. An important aim of this project was to promote a common historical consciousness between descendants of immigrants and the native Dutch population.13

A final report on these findings included a measurement of prejudicial attitudes toward Jews.14 Before the project began, only 32% of the Moroc- cans thought Jews were “as nice as other people”; after the project, how- ever, this increased to 50%.15 For other ethnic groups, data were only available after the project—43% for Turkish students, 83% for Dutch stu- dents, and 77% for Suriname students.16 Yet, after the project was over, only 31% of Moroccan students considered it a problem that Jews are dis- criminated against. Forty-three percent of the students of Turkish origin held that opinion; for Dutch students, the figure was 58%, and for Suriname students 72%.17

This study posed the question of prejudice against Jews in a different and more concealed way than did the other studies cited above. The Second World War in Perspective program showed that through education, antisemitism can be reduced, though far from eliminated. After this educa- tion initiative was completed, anti-Jewish prejudice found among Mus- lims—Moroccans and Turks in this case—remained far larger than among other ethnic groups.

The CJO, the umbrella organization of Dutch Jewry, criticized a new Holocaust distortion in this program, however: the organizers’ interconnect- ing of Holocaust education with the Middle-East conflict. The organization wrote: “A government document of 13 September 2010 titled ‘The Propa- gation of Key Values of the Democratic State of Law’ says that a newly planned project of the government is support of the teaching program ‘The Second World War in Perspective.’ In it, Jewish and Muslim youngsters

teach together about the Second World War, the Holocaust and develop- ments in the Middle East. As we have already explained, this is the wrong approach. We object to these associations.”

A study in France found anti-Jewish prejudice to be particularly preva- lent among religious Muslims. Forty-six percent held such sentiments com- pared to 30% of non-practicing Muslims. Only 28% of religious Muslims in France don’t hold anti-Jewish prejudices.


Few detailed figures on the background of perpetrators of antisemitic violence exist. Whatever data there are confirm that the number of Muslim perpetrators of violent antisemitic incidents in most Western European countries is far larger than their proportion in the national population. In the Netherlands over the years 2002-2006, the percentage of North Africans among those who committed violent antisemitic incidents was reported by the CIDI (Center for Information and Documentation on Israel) to vary between 33% and over 40%. North Africans, mainly Moroccans, represent approximately 2% of the population.

In its annual report for 2012, The Community Security Trust, the defense organization of British Jewry, wrote that it had received a physical description of the perpetrators of 169 antisemitic incidents. In about half of these cases, they were white, 8% were black, 31% were South or East Asian, and 11% were Arab or North Africans. Most likely is that almost all, or all in the latter two categories, are Muslims.21 Muslims make up about 5% of the UK population. Their presence among the perpetrators of antisemitic incidents is thus several times that percentage.

Anecdotal information on Muslim antisemitism in Europe is numer- ous. The most worrying category concerns extreme violence. France occu- pies a special place here. Several murders of Jews out of antisemitic motivations by Muslims have taken place there.

Before the turn of the century, such attacks in Europe were mainly caused by Muslim terrorists who came from Arab countries. In Paris in 1982, the Jewish restaurant Goldenberg was attacked. Six people were killed, most probably by the Arab Abu Nadal group.

Sebastien Selam

In this century, there were several murders of Jews by Muslims living in France. Sebastien Selam, a Jewish disc jockey, was killed by his Muslim childhood friend and neighbor Adel Amastaibou in 2003. Medical experts found the murderer mentally insane. When the judges accepted this conclu- sion, the findings prevented a trial in which antisemitism in substantial parts of the French Muslim community might have been discussed. In the absence of a trial, some in the Jewish community saw yet another sign of how delicate a subject Muslim antisemitism is in French public debate.23

In 2006, a young Jewish man named Ilan Halimi was kidnapped and tortured for 24 days before being killed. His kidnappers, led by Youssouf Fofana, called themselves the “Gang of Barbarians.” When his court trial began in 2009, Fofana shouted “Allahu Akbar” and gave his identity as “Arabs African revolt barbarian salafist army.”24

On March 19, 2012, Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian ori- gin, killed a teacher and three children in front of the Toulouse Jewish school Otzar Hatorah. Earlier that month, he had murdered three French soldiers. A few days after the murders at the school, Merah was killed in a shootout with French police.25 Later, Merah’s brother Abdelghani pub- lished a book in which he recounted that their parents had educated them to be fanatic antisemites. His sister Souad and brother Abdelkader are also extreme antisemites, according to Abdelghani.

In the aftermath of the Toulouse murders, antisemitic incidents in France increased rapidly. In this century, major spikes in antisemitic occur- rences in Western Europe have usually been linked to developments in the Middle East, such as the second Intifada, the second Lebanon war in 2006, and Israel’s Cast Lead operation in Gaza in 2008-2009. This time, there was another development: Merah’s murders created a “bandwagon” effect of attacks on French Jews unrelated to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In 2012, France saw an increase of 58% in antisemitic incidents compared to the previous year, according to a report of the Service de Protection de la Com- munaute ́ Juive (SPCJ). The report stated: “2012 has been a year of unprece- dented violence against Jews in France.”

There are also reports on attempted—and prevented—attacks in other European countries. In February 2013, for example, three Muslims from Birmingham were found guilty of planning a major terrorist attack. They had discussed the possibility of charging into a synagogue with guns if they could not build a bomb.

There are also examples of European Muslims succeeding in or trying to carry out murders of Jews in Israel. In April 2003, two British Muslims perpetrated a suicide attack in Tel Aviv near the Mike’s Place cafe ́. Three civilians died and more than fifty were wounded.


The Scandinavian countries are gradually acquiring a particularly bad reputation concerning antisemitism, as well as for anti-Israelism. An impor- tant aspect of this is physical attacks on Jews and occasionally their sup- porters by Muslims in these countries. There are also many other examples of Muslim antisemitism.


Some incidents in Norway illustrate this well:


  • In 2009, during the Cast Lead campaign in Gaza, the largest antisemitic riots in Norwegian history took place in Oslo. A Christian who had walked to a pro-Israel demonstration with an Israeli flag was beaten and severely wounded. Life-threatening projectiles were thrown at pro-Israel demonstrators. All, or almost all, of the perpetra- tors were Muslims. Eirik Eiglad described this in detail in a book, The Anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo.
  • In 2010, in Dagsreveyen, a program on Norwegian state television NRK, journalist Tormod Strand reported on widespread harassment of Jewish schoolchildren by Muslim youngsters. It was mentioned that Jew hatred had become legitimate among large groups of Muslim stu- dents and few of them objected to it. Some Muslims argued that “Jews control everything.” The expression “Fucking Jew” was a common insult. Several Jewish students faced threats that they would be killed if they came to school. One Jewish father said that his son was threatened with being hanged.
  • In October 2012, Ubaydullah Hussain, spokesperson for the Norwe- gian Islamist group The Prophet’s Ummah, threatened to kill Jews. Hussain posted his threat on Facebook as a reply to an article wherein the Jewish community told the press how unsafe they feel. Hussain wrote: “I will give them protection, Inshallah. As soon as I take the hunter’s license and get my hands on an AK4.” The police arrested him. He was released a few weeks later, but it was announced that he will be charged.

    The number of Muslims in Norway is probably around 3% of the country’s population of 5 million. Yet, analyzing Muslim antisemitism there offers many insights. That converts to Islam are sometimes extreme antisemites was highlighted in 2012, when King Harald V decided to award Trond Ali Lindstad the Royal Medal of Honor. Lindstad is a Norwegian ex- Marxist who converted to Islam and has made many antisemitic statements. Even though in Norway there is much anti-Israelism—including at the highest government levels—and to a lesser extent antisemitism, this award

    was considered going too far. After national and international protests, the king took the medal back and later apologized.35

Lindstad, a supporter of Hamas and Palestinian terrorism,36 had made statements such as “Beware of the Jews” and “their special, Jewish inter- ests”;37 “Be critical of Jews in the world, when it comes to the influence they have within newspapers and other media, in many political organs and related to contacts and networks where decisions are being made”; and “The Jewish American lobby misuses historical facts, like for example the Holocaust, to promote the case of Israel,” as well as “All American presi- dents must follow the Jewish American lobby.”38

Another news item that should provide food for thought was cited in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten. Many taxi drivers in Oslo are Muslims, and some of them refuse to drive Jews to synagogues.39 Though a seem- ingly small issue, this reflects a much wider threat of the prospect that Mus- lims in various professions will begin to refuse to serve Jews.


Sweden’s third largest city, Malmo ̈, is now often mentioned as “the capital of European antisemitism.” The executors of many physical and ver- bal antisemitic acts are mostly, or perhaps even all, Muslims. Hannah Rosenthal, then the US government special envoy for combating antisemit- ism, visited the town in 2012. She spoke out against antisemitic statements made by Social Democrat mayor Ilmar Reepalu. Rosenthal remarked that Malmo ̈ under this mayor is a “prime example” of “new antisemitism,” as anti-Israel sentiment serves as a guise for Jew-hatred.40 A record number of complaints about hate crimes in the city in 2010 and 2011 did not lead to any convictions, however.41 Nowadays, it is often remarked that Muslims do not only cause problems for Jews and homosexuals, but also for many other Swedes. Holocaust researcher Mikael Tossavainen wrote that in Swe- den, “Ahmed Rami, the man behind Radio Islam, was convicted of hate crimes because of the antisemitic content of his broadcasts, in 1989 and again in a court of appeals. Nevertheless, influential journalists and politi- cians supported him and even denied or exculpated his antisemitism. Jan Bergman, professor of theology at Uppsala University, testified in Rami’s defense and claimed, among other things, that for Jews it was indeed a religious duty to kill Gentiles.”42 This draws attention to yet another subject for analysis: the non-Muslim antisemitic allies of Muslim antisemites. Nowadays, Rami promotes his antisemitism on the Internet.


At the end of 2012, Arthur Avnon, Israeli ambassador to Denmark, was quoted as saying to the French Press Agency (AFP), “We advise Israe- lis who come to Denmark and want to go to the synagogue, to wait to don their skullcaps until they enter the building and not to wear them in the street, irrespective of whether the areas they are visiting are seen as being safe or not.” He also advised visitors not to speak Hebrew loudly or wear visible Star of David jewelry.43 The main assaults against Jews are caused by Arabs. The Jewish community complains in vain about the inaction of the Danish authorities.44


At the beginning of this century, the outburst of violent antisemitic acts—to a disproportionately large extent perpetrated by Muslims—was particularly significant in France. There had been a somewhat similar situa- tion during the first Gulf War.45 In 2000 and following years, much atten- tion was therefore focused on France.

French sociologist Shmuel Trigano said a few years later that the press and public authorities had not reported the antisemitic violence for several months. He remarked:Even the Jewish organizations remained silent, probably at the request of the socialist-led left-wing government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. This silence was yet another example of how the Jewish community felt abandoned by both the French authorities and complacent French society.

The situation of the Jews in France was aggravated as various media expressed opinions claiming that the violence and hate was quite under- standable in view of events in the Middle East and Israel’s policies. This implied that the destiny of French Jews was determined by Israeli poli- cies and French critique on it.

During the first months of attacks, French Jewry called for help, but no one listened. This led many French Jews to realize that their place and citizenship in this country was questionable. They understood that the authorities were willing to sacrifice the Jewish community in order to maintain social peace. This attitude was reinforced by France’s pro-Arab policy during the Iraq War.46

Then-Socialist foreign minister Hubert Ve ́drine suggested that one should understand the Arab violence in France, saying: “One does not nec- essarily have to be shocked that young Frenchmen of immigrant origin have compassion for the Palestinians and are very agitated because of what is happening.47

It was not pointed out that if one legitimizes this attitude, its logical consequence would be that all Muslims in France could be attacked as a reaction to the many crimes in Muslim countries against non-Muslims.”

Trigano was the first to publicly recognize the massive upsurge of antisemitism in the new century in a series of publications titled Observatoire du Monde juif (Observatory of the Jewish World). These pub- lications, which started in 2001, placed much attention on the respective roles of both Muslims and French authorities.48

As France was the hotbed in the new wave of antisemitic incidents in Europe, other French authors were also among the first to address the mas- sive revival of Jew-hatred. In 2002, the French philosopher and political scientist Pierre-Andre ́ Taguieff wrote a book on the new antisemitism in Europe.49 Many aspects of Muslim antisemitism in France were discussed in a book edited by Emmanuel Brenner (pseudonym for Georges Bensoussan).50 Brenner and his colleagues mainly describe and analyze this break- down in one segment of French society—those parts of the school system where antisemitism, racism, and sexual discrimination have appeared and have often not been appropriately dealt with by teachers and authorities. Brenner’s book also refers to the breakdown of law and order in various other spheres of French society. This dissolution manifested itself, for instance, by police fearing to enter certain areas in and around major cities throughout the country. These no-go areas are largely populated by North African immigrants and their descendants. Many are Arabs, others Berbers.


At the Kristallnacht Memorial commemoration in Amsterdam in 2003, former EU commissioner Frits Bolkestein said, “Who had ever thought that about a year ago a man on the Dam Square here, in the heart of our country where a monument stands for our liberation from the Nazi occupation, a man was attacked by a group of Moroccan youngsters only because he was wearing a skullcap? Who had ever dared to think that teachers in the Netherlands would hesitate to teach about the Shoah because of the hostile reactions of their Muslim students?”51

This author’s book Het Verval: Joden in een stuurloos Nederland (The Decay: Jews in a Rudderless Netherlands), had its origins in such an inci- dent. In 2004, the author traveled in an Amsterdam electric tramway car. There, a Mediterranean-looking youth sang loudly without any apparent reason: “Jews one has to kill, but it is prohibited.” No one among the many passengers in the tramway reacted.52

Chief rabbi Binyomin Jacobs of the Dutch provincial rabbinate recounts that he once visited a nursery school where a three-year-old Somalian girl called him “dirty Jew.”53 Charles Dahan, a Jewish wine trader of Moroccan origin in Amsterdam, relates: “One Yom Kippur, I walked out of the beautiful Amsterdam Portuguese synagogue together with a law pro- fessor. In front of the nearby Jewish Historical Museum, some Moroccan boys were singing a melodically pleasing song in Arabic. The professor said, ‘Look at those kids.’ He remarked about how pleasant their singing was. I said, ‘You don’t know what they’re singing! The words are “Here come the Jews, Death to the Jews! We will get them.’”54

During a Dutch television program in early 2013, a number of Turkish youngsters in the Netherlands said that they approved of the murder of mil- lions of Jews in the Second World War. One of them remarked: “What Hitler has done to the Jews is fine with me.”55 Journalist Elma Drayer criti- cized the fact that there was so little reaction to the statements on the pro- gram. She observed that if Dutch youngsters would have said on television that they would have approved if all Muslims had been slaughtered, there would have been huge reactions.56

As far as Muslim antisemitism is concerned in other countries, several Jewish leaders concur that the situation has deteriorated. Antisemitic inci- dents by young Muslim children, youngsters, and adults have been reported. Germany provides an example: in 2012, Stephan J. Kramer, general secre- tary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden), told the weekly Die Zeit that there is “an increasing willingness among many Muslim youngsters to be violent toward Jews.” He added: “This willingness to be violent in the Muslim camp is comparable with that in the extreme right wing camp.”57


Anecdotal information about Muslim antisemitism in European univer- sities is overwhelming. The story of Samar, conducted as an interview, adds perspective and insight into the situation. Samar (a pseudonym) is a young ex-Muslim woman in the Netherlands. During her adolescence, she began to realize how deep the hatred of Jews was among almost all other young Muslims she met. Later, she started to monitor this hatred among Muslim students she was in contact with.

Samar says: “During my years at university, I spoke with an estimated 150-200 Muslims. It struck me that almost all held the same opinions, irre- spective of whether they were Moroccans, Turks, Kurds, or Muslims from Suriname. In all those years, I only met two Muslims who did not hate Jews or Israel.

“Almost all Muslim youths I met at university denied the Holocaust. They did not believe in the so-called ‘two-state solution’ for Israelis and Palestinians. They wanted Israel wiped off the map. They believed Jews had to be driven out of Israel so that it could again become a Muslim state.”58

Samar also found that there was no difference in viewpoints between male and female students. This contradicts frequently heard opinions that such attitudes are held mainly among male Muslim youngsters. In addition, she noted that their antisemitic remarks are mainly limited to discussions where only other Muslims are present. They often hide their opinions in the company of non-Muslims.

Samar’s testimony is particularly important because her experiences are with Muslims studying at universities. She mentions that she had no contact with youths from the streets. Whitewashers of Muslim antisemitism often falsely claim that antisemitism problems among Muslims are limited to poorly educated hooligans.


Some Muslim organizations and individual Muslims have aimed at distorting or disturbing Holocaust commemorations. There are also reports from various countries about the disruption of Holocaust teachings by some students. Denial of the Holocaust is frequent in many of the Muslim coun- tries where immigrants in Europe come from.59

In various places, World War II or Holocaust commemorations have been disrupted. On May 4, 2003—the Netherlands’ National Memorial Day for the victims of World War II—several ceremonies in Amsterdam were interrupted. In one area of the city, during two minutes of silence in honor of those who were murdered, youths shouted, “Jews have to be killed!” about twenty times. The perpetrators were young Dutchmen of Moroccan descent. In another part of town, Moroccan youngsters played soccer with wreaths that had been laid on the memorial.60

On November 9, 2003, a commemoration meeting for Kristallnacht in Vienna was disrupted by the Sedunia group, who shouted through loudspeakers. Sedunia is an organization of Muslim immigrants and their prog- eny, as well as Austrian converts to Islam.61

There have also been attempts by Muslims to distort the meaning of Holocaust commemorations. In January 2005, Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, wrote to British minister Charles Clarke, informing Clarke that his organization would not attend the com- memoration of the liberation of Auschwitz unless it included the “holo- caust” of the Palestinian intifada.62

In September of that year, a committee of Muslim advisers to prime minister Tony Blair suggested that Holocaust Memorial Day be abolished and replaced by a “Genocide Day” that would also commemorate the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya, and Bosnia.63

For six years, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the largest Mus- lim organization in the country, continued to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day. British minister Ruth Kelly condemned the MCB for this when she held the position of communities’ secretary. Finally, at the end of 2007, the MCB changed its position on attending the ceremony. Even then, however, the organization said they would have preferred to have the day replaced by a “genocide memorial day.”64

After pressure from Muslim organizations, the Bolton (UK) local council replaced Holocaust Memorial Day in 2007 with a Genocide Memo- rial Day. There was much opposition. The following year, they marked both.65 In later years, Holocaust Memorial Day was fully reinstated.66

Kristallnacht memorial meetings in some European cities are being abused as political instruments rather than to memorialize Jewish victims. This is mainly—but not only—done by left-wing organizations. In Helsingborg, Sweden, the Jewish community refused to participate in the 2012 Kristallnacht memorial meeting. The local paper, Helsingborgs Dag- blad, noted that the community’s leader, Jussi Tyger, said that the memorial

meeting was organized by left-wing parties and Muslims, who are known to be the most racist against Jews.67


Reports on disruption of Holocaust lectures come from various coun- tries. Mikael Tossavainen wrote about Sweden, “One Holocaust survivor, who gives talks at schools all over the country about his experiences during the Shoah, tells of Arab and Muslim pupils who stay away from his lec- tures, sometimes at their parents’ request. He notes, “Students who attend rarely express hostility, but those who do are exclusively ‘of Middle East- ern origin.’ ” In some cases, he explains, Muslim youngsters also say that they view the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jews as a positive act.68

On the Norwegian state television program Dagsreveyen mentioned earlier, the journalist Tormod Strand also reported on interruptions during Holocaust education. Muslim students in Norway, he said, are laughing about the Holocaust and praising Hitler for killing Jews.69

Yet another issue is how the Holocaust is taught at Muslim schools in Europe. Little is known about this beyond anecdotal information. In 2005, Fenny Brinkman, who for some time was a teacher at an Amsterdam Mus- lim school, published a book, Haram (Impure), on her experiences there. She tells how a colleague taught about the Holocaust in one of the classes. The next day, several fathers complained. The head of the school then decided that in the future, focus would only be on the persecution of Gyp- sies because Jews were evil people.70

In Norway in 2013, Kristoffer Gaarder Dannevig, a journalist from the daily Dagsavisen, interviewed Ghulam Sarwar, chairman of the Central Jamaat-e Ahl-e Sunnat mosque, the largest in Oslo. Dannevig asked him why the Germans killed the Jews during the Holocaust. Sarwar answered, “One reason is that they are a troublesome people in the world.”71


The problems with Muslim antisemitism are exacerbated because Muslim leaders and organizations often remain silent about such attacks, which contributes to the impression that “whoever remains silent agrees.” It also means that there is little public Muslim counterweight to the many antisemites in that community.

Richard Prasquier, chairman of CRIF, the umbrella body of French Jewish organizations, says: “We told the leaders from representative Mus- lim bodies that they should condemn the Merah murders. They did con- demn them, but mainly in order to try to prove that Muslims were also victims of Mohamed Merah, because his deeds had fueled Islamophobia.”72

The Netherlands is one of the countries where Muslim organizations have helped organize anti-Israel demonstrations. When participants rioted afterward and were involved in antisemitic incidents, these organizations rarely condemned them. This avoidance shed additional light on their func- tioning. They are capable of co-organizing hate manifestations, yet do not take responsibility for their consequences.

Problems concerning Muslim antisemitism in Europe thus have an additional component—the silence of many of its leaders and representative organizations in condemning antisemitism and hate crimes committed by Muslims in the name of their religion or culture. This is the more severe behavior, as incitement and defamation are so easy to promote while fight- ing against them is far more difficult.

A Few Exceptions

Yet, there are exceptions to this silence in Muslim circles, even if they are few and far between compared to the many Muslim antisemites and those who remain silent about hate crimes. Richard Prasquier relates that in 2012, eighteen French imams traveled to Israel. “Their willingness to visit was a courageous act, since many of them were subjected to major criticism from other Muslims,” Prasquier said.73 As mentioned before, Abdelghani Merah, in spite of his antisemitic education, discarded the antisemitic atti- tudes he had been taught by his parents, and even exposed them in a book.

Gu ̈nther Jikeli states that during his interviews of young Muslim males, he found “some Muslim youngsters who distance themselves from antisemitism. This happens even if they were initially influenced by

antisemitic views from their friends, family and the media.”74 Such a find- ing is even more remarkable, because from statements made by some inter- viewees, it emerges that negative beliefs about Jews are the norm in their societal environment.

Selami Yuksel, the spokesman of the Contact Organization of Muslims and Government (CMO), spoke at the 2003 Kristallnacht commemoration in Amsterdam. In his remarks, he stated that it was the Muslim commu- nity’s responsibility to “regain a grip on our youngsters, whom we lost from a social point of view.”75

In Oslo in 2011, the former general secretary of the Islamic Council, Shoaib Sultan, said: “Antisemitism is a problem in the Muslim community in Norway. There is also a lack of understanding when it comes to the Holocaust. We need more people [among the Muslims] that dare to stand up and say that antisemitism is wrong.” He added that some of it can be changed with education, noting that “People that have visited the concentra- tion camps do not make jokes when they get back home.”76

There are similar exceptions in many other places. Much publicity is often given to Muslims who oppose antisemitism and even fight it. They merit the praise, yet one has to point out that their number is small com- pared with that of Muslim antisemites and community leaders who are passive.


There is also a substantial indirect influence on Jews from the Muslim immigration. Sizable anti-Muslim feelings have developed in Western European countries. A poll taken in 2008 found that 56% of the Dutch peo- ple see Islam as a threat to the Netherlands.77 Such feelings have led to the establishment of anti-Islam parties in a number of countries. They are dif- ferent in character, depending on the country. Some, such as the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, are careful not to have any neo-Nazis within their ranks. Others could not care less. Greece now has the antisemitic and anti-Muslim neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in its parliament.78

Anti-Muslim feelings are partly responsible for increased public oppo- sition to unstunned (unparalyzed) ritual slaughter and male circumcision. A combination of factors plays a role here. In secularized societies, pseudo- religious ideologies enter the vacuum created by the disappearance of relig- ious values and norms. Among these is the “humanization” of certain ani- mals. The populist Dutch Party for the Animals only has a few parliamentarians, yet it has been the main promoter in the campaign against unstunned ritual slaughter. One of its main supporters was the Freedom Party.

The misconduct of certain Muslims, which is emphasized by the media, is a further aspect of an anti-Muslim view. If newspapers report that a sheep has been ritually slaughtered outside of regular slaughterhouses, this draws negative attention upon ritual slaughter. It gets worse if a news- paper titles an article “Stolen Sheep Ritually Slaughtered.” Even if it is not explicitly stated that the dead sheep found in a garden was slaughtered by a Muslim, the readers understand it as such.79 Jews suffer collateral damage from the anti-Muslim campaigns because their ritual slaughter and circum- cision also come under attack. Much-discussed female circumcision among segments of the Muslim population has been a major catalyst in this issue. Many Westerners now consider all forms of circumcision as “mutilation.”

The tendency in secularizing societies to become more opposed to religion is strengthened further by hostility toward other Muslims. This also affects Christians and Jews. It would have been advisable to carry out stud- ies and polls on these subjects, yet it is somewhat taboo, like so many other Muslim-related issues in Western Europe.

Due to rising nationalist and anti-Islam forces in many Western socie- ties, there is also more hostility toward minorities. This has an impact not only upon immigrant communities, but also often on the well-established and well-integrated Jewish minority. This perception goes beyond the antisemites in autochthonous populations. The viewpoint of the Jew as a foreigner is ingrained in large sections of European societies.

Yet another factor is that authorities become less agreeable to specific demands from Jews due to the fear that Muslims will make similar ones. For instance, various educational institutions in France are not willing to give Jews vacation time to observe Jewish holidays because they don’t want this to become a precedent for Muslims and their holidays.

Partly due to threats made by Muslims, security measures have been greatly enhanced at Jewish institutions in many European countries. After the Merah murders, Jewish communities all over Europe implemented further increased security measures.80 Authorities are reluctant to provide funding for this. One reason is that it may encourage Muslims to ask for protection for the much larger number of their mosques and institutions.

One of the few positive aspects of the mass immigration is that author- ities have to pay more attention to minority cultures. In some countries, this has also has made things easier for Jewish cultural activities.


The analysis of the impact on Israel of non-selective Muslim integra- tion into Europe is a major subject largely outside of the scope of this essay. For many Muslims, however, there is no difference between Jews and Israel. Since anti-Israel sentiments and acts of hatred against Israelis often have an impact on European Jews as well, the topic needs to be discussed here to some extent.

A major aspect of the impact on Israel of the Muslim integration into Europe is that the anti-Israel demonstrations that have taken place in many cities have led to hatred or violence against Jews and Jewish or pro-Israeli targets. Shouts of “Death to the Jews” have returned to European streets. They are sometimes complemented or substituted by shouts of “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” mainly by Muslims. It should be mentioned that in the Netherlands, for instance, the origin of this slogan is not in the Muslim community but among autochthonous Dutchmen on the tribunes of soccer stadiums. From there it has moved into society at large.81

The summer 2006 war in Lebanon brought further proof that antisemitism and anti-Israelism go hand in hand among Muslims. At an anti-Israeli demonstration in Amsterdam that was attended by many Moroc- can youngsters, one could see texts like: “Jews, the army of the Prophet Mohammed is marching.”82 This is a reference to the prophet Mohammed being involved in the killing of Jews.

Many Muslim organizations and individuals in Western countries incite against Israel. Muslims are involved in boycott campaigns against Israel; some Muslim parliamentarians in European countries also incite against Israel. Several non-Muslims do this as well, yet without the involve- ment of Muslims, there would be far less incitement.

There is also an indirect impact on Israel. This comes clearly to the fore during elections. In tight elections, a sizable one-sided Muslim vote can make a difference. Parties market their anti-Israel policies to Muslims in order to get their votes by rewarding them with something that costs them nothing. A few years ago in Rotterdam, there was a large minority on the left in the municipal council to “twin” Rotterdam with the city of Gaza. It was a cheap gesture toward the Muslims at Israel’s expense.83

According to Israeli antisemitism scholar Simon Epstein, “These developments occur against the background of the discovery by the political parties of the electoral strength of the Arab and Muslim population. For instance, Pascal Boniface, a Socialist strategist, wrote a study for his party stressing that there are ten times more Muslims in France than Jews. He suggested that they should consequently shift to a more pro-Palestinian position.84 He also published an article in Le Monde on this subject, which created much controversy.”85

In Norway during parliamentary elections in 2009, the Christian Dem- ocrats obtained the lowest number of votes since World War II. The liberal wing of the party and then-second deputy leader Inger Lise Hansen pro- posed a change in strategy in order to attract new voters: the unilateral sup- port for Israel should be changed, the Norwegian embassy should not be moved to “the occupied Jerusalem,” and the party should be against the “Israeli Wall.” This proposal attracted much criticism, and Hansen was not re-elected to parliament in 2011.86


It would be a mistake to blame the deterioration of the situation of the Jews and Jewish communities in Europe exclusively on large parts of Mus- lim immigrant communities. Several other factors, such as incitement from the extreme left and the extreme right of the political spectrum, also play a role.

The origins of this deterioration lie largely with European govern- ments. They began with a major flawed policy when they allowed a large non-selective mass immigration from Muslim countries into their own. In the Netherlands, 57% of the population considers the large waves of immi- gration—not specifically of Muslims—the greatest mistake in the country’s history.87

European governments were unaware about whether and how these immigrants could be entirely integrated into Western democratic societies. The problem resulted from the fact that authorities in European countries had no understanding of the religion and related culture of the countries these immigrants came from. They often even lacked much understanding of key elements of their own culture. That made it even more difficult to assess whether that culture would be adopted by the immigrants or meshed with it. In practice, the question was not even asked.

Yet Western democracy and Islam, as interpreted by many in the coun- tries of origin of the immigrants, may collide on crucial societal issues. The result of this Western ignorance was that what is generally referred to as “the Muslim problem” became a multifaceted issue Europe will have to live with for many years to come.

Out of this lack of insight, the authorities created a far bigger problem for the Jewish communities. This resulted from the fact that the Muslim immigrants came from countries where antisemitism is widespread and often related to religion. In these cultures, Jews and Christians are consid- ered by many as dhimmis, protected citizens inferior to Muslims. In several of these countries, there is major incitement against Jews and Israel. The problem in the European countries of arrival was exacerbated because the number of Muslims usually grew to be many times as numerous as that of Jews. This only added to the vulnerability of the latter.


Governments must assure the well-being of all of their citizens, includ- ing taking measures to prevent discrimination against their citizens and minority groups. In this new century, many European governments have often failed in this duty with respect to individual Jews and the Jewish community.

The classic definition of state antisemitism is that a state discriminates against Jews via its laws. In post-modern societies, there are several other modes of behavior that can be defined as state antisemitism. A major one is letting in immigrants who are disproportionately antisemitic and whose antisemitism is more extremely violent compared to that of the resident population. European non-selective immigration policies might thus be called “indirect” or “involuntary” state antisemitism.

The resultant poor integration of many immigrants has further aggra- vated the problem. Numerous European authorities and citizens are con- vinced that sizable percentages of the Muslim immigrants and their progeny cannot be integrated. They would probably be satisfied if there were “peaceful coexistence,” with segments of immigrant society that cannot be integrated adequately.

European governments often avoid exposing Muslim antisemitism. In colonial times, Western racism far exceeded any other form of discrimina- tion. This has engendered guilt feelings in parts of Western populations. While true, it is still politically incorrect to accuse an immigrant minority group of having a high percentage of people who hate another minority, i.e., Muslims about Jews. This becomes even more difficult as there is also sub- stantial discrimination against Muslims in European societies.

Furthermore, accusing large parts of the Muslim community of antisemitism could “upset” the social peace. Fear over this was an impor- tant factor in the negligent attitude of the French Socialist government toward antisemitic incidents in the first years of this century.88

In 2003, the EU-sponsored European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia was accused by the authors that it had shelved a report on antisemitism for political reasons. The report had been assigned to the Center for Antisemitism Research at the Technical University in Berlin. One author, Werner Bergman, said that EUMC officials had expressed con- cern about accusing Muslim perpetrators.89 This turned out to be a futile effort to withhold knowledge from the public. There was and is so much Muslim antisemitism that information about it had to come out in the open in many places. So it did.


The problem of obfuscation of facts goes beyond the authorities. On several occasions, British journalists have told this author that their papers conceal problems with domestic Muslims. Intimidation plays a major role here.

The absurdity of this situation was evident when in 2012, Israeli TV Channel 10 broadcast a four-part documentary titled Allah-Islam, the Spread of Islam in Europe. An undercover Israeli journalist, Zvi Yehezkeli, posed as a Palestinian in order to make this material accessible. The docu- mentary filmed no-go areas in Muslim ghettos in various European coun- tries. It gave attention to the violence, drug peddling, weapons possession, and other crimes among Muslim immigrants, expressions of justification of Muslim terror, intimidation of dissenters, discrimination against and some- times honor killings of Muslim women, as well as religious fanaticism and the widespread antisemitism. It would have been normal practice had Israeli TV bought such a documentary from a European broadcaster, instead of producing it itself, with substantial risks to the journalist. Yet such a wide- spread program does not seem to exist.

Some European stations have broadcast programs with a much nar- rower scope. For instance, in 2007 British Channel 4 broadcast a program titled Undercover Mosque. The producers summarized it as “An extensive investigation into a number of British mosques to reveal how a message of hatred and segregation is being spread throughout the UK.”90

The West Midlands police thereupon accused the filmmakers of dis- torting the truth in their documentary and that it “had selectively edited quotes from preachers in mosques around the country to make them appear more extreme.” After these police claims were found to be false, Channel 4 and the program makers were paid about 100,000 pound sterling compensation.91


The huge problems of integrating many non-Western immigrants, mainly Muslims, also involved ideological challenges for European socie- ties. One of the results was the promotion of a vague concept of a “mul- ticultural society.” This often entailed looking away from society’s own leading culture. In this context, some would even promote the nonsensical claim that there is no hierarchy of cultures or civilizations.

To accept this fallacy would mean, for instance, that Nazi Germany’s civilization was equivalent to that of the democratic civilizations of the Allies. One result of accepting this viewpoint is indirect support of geno- cide. Murdering six million Jews in the Holocaust fit well into German culture of the time.

By 2011, senior European politicians such as German chancellor Angela Merkel, British prime minister David Cameron, and French presi- dent Nicolas Sarkozy declared—far too late—that multiculturalism was deeply flawed or dead. Sarkozy said: “We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the iden- tity of the country that was receiving him.”92


Another de facto ideological concept that developed was what one can call “humanitarian racism.” These undeclared racists believe or act accord- ing to the conviction that people of color are only victims and thus are not responsible for their own fate. Humanitarian racists thus also often ignore minority racism. “They are a weak community. We should not publicly mention the antisemitism among them,” is one of the ways this racism might be phrased. This expression is also a typical example of a sentimental fallacy. Those who employ it seek to persuade the public to ignore certain crimes because the criminal is poor, or belongs to a non-Western commu- nity. Sometimes this is even done by Jews in cases of antisemitic incidents, which gives it a masochistic twist.

Former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali exposed the ignoring of minority racism when she said, “I studied social work for a year in the Netherlands. Our teachers taught us to look with different eyes at the immi- grant and the foreigner. They thought racism was a phenomenon that only appears among whites. My family in Somalia, however, educated me as a racist and told me that we Muslims were very superior to the Christian Kenyans. My mother thinks they are half-monkeys.”93

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience.” This statement implies that antisemitic or racist Muslims are responsible for their acts, like any other antisemite or racist.

The humanitarian racist’s approach, which effectively states that non- whites can only be victims, leads to many other distorted concepts. The false impression was created that society fails if it doesn’t make major efforts to integrate immigrants. However, the responsibility of a person who comes to a new country to find his way and integrate into society should be entirely his or hers. This is largely the case in the United States, for instance. When Jews came in large numbers from Eastern Europe to Western Europe before the First and Second World Wars, they did not expect gov- ernments to assist them; they knew that it was their own responsibility to succeed and integrate in the society into which they immigrated. Their immigration was largely successful without government assistance. Before the Second World War, for instance, the Dutch Jewish community had to pay for Westerbork—the barracks camp for German Jewish refugees who fled to the Netherlands.

Humanitarian racism also leads to a distortion of the Islamophobia issue. “Phobia” means an irrational fear. The term Islamophobia can be rightfully used when Muslims are discriminated against in Western socie- ties; it is often more difficult to obtain employment if one is named Mohammed or Ahmed than if one has a European name. Skin color is another discriminatory factor. There are many further examples of discrimi- nation of Muslims in Western societies. There have also been attacks on mosques. These come under the heading of Islamophobia.

Yet, Islamophobia is not comparable to antisemitism, which has deep religious, ideological, and cultural roots in European societies and goes back more than a thousand years. In addition, there is nothing irrational about the Western fear of the many Muslims who promote jihad and want to convert the Western world to Islam through violent means or otherwise. From a Pew study in 2009, it was found that there are far more than 100 million jihadists in the world.94 In these cases, the term “Islamophobia” is falsely used to silence critics.

Furthermore, Westerners who fight against Islamophobia very often ignore the massive antisemitism among Muslims in Europe. This disregard of a rather common attitude fits their humanitarian racist approach. Many of these racists wrongly claim that they belong to the anti-racist camp.


One can illustrate with many examples to what distortions multicul- turalism and humanitarian racism lead concerning attitudes toward Mus- lims. Pierre-Andre Taguieff has exposed the process by which crimes by the disadvantaged are condoned, including the media’s role in justifying violence and turning criminals into victims. The next step is to declare the latter not responsible because their acts are fueled by their socioeconomic conditions. This is nothing but an updated version of Marxist determinism. A further step, then, is that the Islamist version of Islam becomes the relig- ion of the poor and the victims. This thinking also involves claiming that Muslims or Arabs are being humiliated or attacked.95

Dutch journalists Margalith Kleijwegt and Max van Weezel recount that in a public Amsterdam school with many Muslim students, these stu- dents prepared a home-made book for their teachers as a present for Christ- mas. It contained some pictures of Osama bin Laden. A number of teachers, one of them Jewish, did not accept the present.

The school’s director considered this refusal excessive and said: “I think: just walk through our school building and look at what the pupils stick up in the canteen: pictures of Bin Laden and swastikas. We have many youngsters in the school who are fascinated by Osama bin Laden. I can imagine that our Jewish teachers are shocked. But the fact is that many of our pupils think this way. We have to learn to live with it.”96

Journalist Elma Drayer recalls, “September 11, 2001, was a turning point in the Netherlands. In the weeks following, there was unrest in Amsterdam West, where many Muslims live. A few weeks later, Moroccan youngsters threw stones at Jews who came out of the synagogue. I called the police to check what was happening. The police spokesman said, ‘I would prefer if you don’t place too much attention on this. These people are already in a disadvantaged position.’ He wasn’t speaking about the Jews at whom the stones were thrown, but about the Muslims who threw the stones! Perpetrators thus became victims and victims became perpetrators.”97

Tariq Ramadan, Geneva-born professor of contemporary Islamic stud- ies at Oxford, falsely transformed Mohammed Merah, educated as a rabid antisemite at home, into a non-racist, non-antisemitic “victim of society.” He claimed that Merah’s ideas had nothing to do with the beliefs of any contemporary currents in Islam.98 As has been noted above, Merah’s brother has exposed how antisemitic their parents’ home was.

Many in Europe do not wish to be confronted with problems concern- ing the integration of so many Muslim immigrants. In this framework, addi- tional distortions are promoted. It is convenient for many Westerners to differentiate between Islamism and Islam—thus, they can be against Islamism or radical Islam, and even expose it. At the same time, they can turn away from the many problems among non-Islamist Muslims.

Problematic elements related to Islam are much wider spread than only among so-called Islamists. The Muslim perpetrators of violent antisemitic acts in Europe are far from being all radical Muslims.


This problematic situation raises major questions for Jewish communi- ties in Western Europe. Its leaders rarely have answers to these challenges, and, in fact, often fail to even try to find them. The most far-reaching ques- tion is: “What is the future for Jews in Europe?” At times it is phrased differently: “Is there a future for Jews in Europe?”

In 2003, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said that European gov- ernments were not doing enough to fight antisemitism because of “an ever stronger Muslim presence in Europe.” He added that this “is certainly endangering the life of Jewish people.”99

In 2010, Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein was even clearer. He stated, “Jews have to realize that there is no future for them in the Netherlands and that they should advise their children to leave for the United States or Israel.” Bolkestein arrived at this conclusion due to problems he foresaw for the Netherlands, specifically resulting from the unsuccessful integration of many Muslim immigrants, and the problems this would create for many declared Jews.100

Jewish leaders tend to be more circumspect, yet at the annual confer- ence of the CRIF in January 2013, Richard Prasquier said: “Not long ago, the notion that resurgent antisemitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd.” He added that this had changed due to “parties and groups which are racist at times and at other times ultra-secular [and in opposition to] ritual slaughter and circumcision . . . There is a new antisemitism and it complements the old.”

In this context, Prasquier did not specifically mention Muslim antisemitism. Yet he did say that the murders by Mohammed Merah and the subsequent outbreak of antisemitism made the emphasis of CRIF’s 2013 annual general meeting be on the growing threat of antisemitism. There are other more operational issues. Attacks on rituals raise the question for Jewish communities to determine to what extent they should collaborate with Muslim organizations on these questions. There is com- mon ground as far as the fight for freedom of religion is concerned, but little common ground as far as practice is concerned. Kosher slaughter is carried out by certified slaughterers who have undergone lengthy training. This is not the case with halal slaughter.

A difference in practice also exists as far as male circumcision is con- cerned. This Jewish ritual takes place eight days after birth. It is hardly traumatic at that age. Circumcision of Muslim boys is often done at later ages. In Western Europe, there are also cases of female circumcision by Muslims, which is illegal.

Another important question concerns whether Jews should enter into dialogue with Muslims, and why? If the answer is yes, then the next ques- tion is, with which Muslims? One must also ask: How representative are the Muslims we dialogue with? Do some Muslim groups use the dialogue with Jews to make them acceptable to the authorities? The underlying motive thus becomes, “If our Muslim group is acceptable even for the Jews to speak with, it should certainly be acceptable for the authorities.” For these Muslims, the dialogue serves as self-promotion targeted toward the authori- ties and the press.

Experience shows that Jewish-Muslim dialogue often leads to the emergence of Jewish whitewashers. They ignore the incitement against Israel from their Muslim dialogue partners.

In a meeting of the Dutch Jewish-Moroccan network in Amsterdam at the end of 2012, Mostafa Hilali, a major in the Dutch army, accused Israel of war crimes. He said thereafter that the Middle East conflict should not influence co-existence in Amsterdam. During that meeting, a Moroccan woman shouted that Israel should not exist. Her outburst was applauded. Apparently none of the few Jews present retorted that the hate mongering, violence, and criminality coming out of segments of the Islamic world far exceeds that emerging from any other world religion. This is a good exam- ple of the highly problematic nature of some of these dialogues.102

A necessary and detailed analysis of the Jewish-Moroccan network in the Netherlands would give insights into whether its overall impact is nega- tive or positive. One of its Jewish supporters, Rabbi Lody van de Kamp, in an interview compared Muslim antisemitism to the Islamophobia in the Jewish community. He left out that while there are a significant number of cases of Muslim physical and verbal attacks on Jews in the Netherlands, Jews do not attack Muslims. Nor did he mention that recognizable Jews have to hide their identity because of harassment that is mainly from Moroccans.103 There is at least one more article, by a Jewish and a Muslim member of this network, that distorts the facts on this issue.104


When discussing Muslim antisemitism in Europe, one cannot ignore the extreme hate mongering and incitement coming out of the Muslim world. In Muslim countries, hardly anyone holds a favorable opinion of Jews. In Turkey, for instance, the figure is 4%; in Egypt, Jordan, and Paki- stan it is 2%.105 This is only one aspect of what antisemitic hate mongering has led to. When people from these and similar countries immigrate to Europe, they bring these views with them.

The incitement also influences certain European Muslims. We do not know their numbers, but, due to the demonic character of the hate monger- ing, it may lead to physical attacks.

Some of those comparing attitudes of movements in the Islamic world to those of the Nazis present compelling arguments. Holocaust expert Yehuda Bauer points out: “Today for the first time since 1945, Jews are once again threatened openly by a radical Islamic genocidal ideology whose murderous rantings must be taken more seriously than the Nazi ones were two and more generations ago. The direct connection between World War II, the Shoah, and present-day genocidal events and threats is more than obvious. The Shoah was unprecedented; but it was a precedent, and that precedent is being followed.”106

Historian Robert Wistrich writes that hard-core antisemitism in the Arab and Muslim world is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany. Wis- trich explains that Muslim hatred for Israel and Jews is “an eliminatory antisemitism with a genocidal dimension.” Regarding common elements between Muslim and Nazi antisemitism, Wistrich lists fanaticism, the cult of death, the nihilistic wish for destruction, and the mad lust for world hegemony.107

In an article, Richard Prasquier compared radical Islam to Nazism. He notes two important common features. The first is that Jews are the prime enemy for both movements and antisemitism is an essential component of their ideology. The other is that both Nazism and radical Islam dehumanize Jews.108 Historian Richard Landes posited that “future historians will prob- ably find that present antisemitism in Arab and Muslim societies reached an even higher fever pitch than that of the Nazis.”109


In October 2005, major riots broke out in France that lasted three weeks. They started when two youths in Clichy sous Bois were electrocuted when they accidentally entered a transformer shack of the national electric- ity company there; their friends claimed they were fleeing the police. These riots affected hundreds of towns. About 10,000 cars were burned as well as many institutions.

Since late 2000, and for five years afterward, parts of the Jewish com- munity who lived close to Muslim communities had already gone through what France experienced in 2005. Numerous Jewish institutions and hun- dreds of Jews had been attacked physically; many of the perpetrators were Muslims. One could remark that the rioters had taken note of the weak reaction by French authorities in response to the antisemitic attacks. Thus, they could now focus on their desired target: French society.110 The anti- Western Muslim attitude alongside the antisemitic attitude had already been detailed in the book edited by Emmanuel Brenner, cited earlier.111

Religion was not mentioned by the rioters. Yet, they all came from North and West African Muslim communities. These riots were presented as “social unrest,” falsely linked entirely to the “difficult economic condi- tions of the rioters.” French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut invalidated this narrative by observing that: “In France there are other immigrants whose situation is also difficult—Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese—and they are not taking part in the riots.”112

The physical impact of the riots on the Jewish community was not much greater than on others living in the nearby areas.113 Two synagogues, however, were attacked with Molotov cocktails—one in Pierefitte and the other in Garges les Gonesse.114 Jewish shops were not specifically singled out, but in areas where shops were burned down, theirs were also burnt. This violence should not be confused with the many targeted anti-Jewish attacks of previous years.


Even though statistical data are limited, a number of conclusions can be drawn. As stated above, Muslim antisemitism is a major problem in Western European countries. In a number of cases, it expresses itself in antisemitic acts that are sometimes far more extreme than those committed by members of the autochthonous population.

It also expresses itself in a disproportionately large number of antisemites among the Muslim community when compared to the autoch- thonous community. This seems true from early childhood onward. There are indications that it exists both at an academic level and among the poorly educated; there also seem to be few differences, except for the violence involved, between males and females. At the same time, however, one should avoid generalizations by accusing all European Muslims of being antisemites. This is evident from all statistical data, which show that this is far from being the case.115

In view of the large number of young Muslim antisemites, the problem of Muslim antisemitism will not disappear in the coming decades; it may well become even stronger. The Muslim presence in Europe and the failure of the authorities to solve the many problematic aspects of it have affected many other matters of importance to the Jewish community. Some concern Holocaust education and commemoration; others involve the need for security measures for Jews and Jewish organizations. Another relevant issue is that many Jews must hide their identity in the public domain while many Muslims flaunt theirs.

Concerning matters of religion specifically, the Muslim presence also has an impact on the Jews. Anti-Muslim opposition, which is now major in many European countries, will encourage further attacks on rituals such as religious slaughter and male circumcision.

Jewish communities should evaluate whether it is worthwhile for them to give more publicity to the many antisemitic incidents caused by Mus- lims. They should insist that statistical data on Muslim antisemitism be recorded and published by all Western European countries. Avoiding col- lecting these data is a tool for the authorities to dodge proper handling of the hate-mongering. The problem of Muslim antisemitism is sufficiently severe to justify this request.

Percentages of antisemitic viewpoints should be collected from all age groups among the Muslims, and compared to those of the native population. The roots of this antisemitism and those who promote it should be studied as well. Additional detailed studies should be undertaken to obtain a better insight into this widespread hate-mongering. Attention should also be placed on to what extent Muslim leaders and Muslim organizations con- demn antisemitic and other crimes coming from their own communities. After these data haven been obtained, programs should be developed to alleviate the problem. This should include how certain Muslims play a major role in trying to reduce a Jewish presence in the public square, while many Muslims accentuate the Muslim presence.

Antisemitism is a worrisome societal issue, going beyond the major hostility toward a vulnerable minority group by a large number of members of another minority group. A further component is that what happens to the Jews is also a gauge of the attitude of large parts of the Muslim minority toward Western society in general. Beyond their inherent responsibility toward a minority experiencing maltreatment, this makes it an important issue as well for authorities to investigate the problem and find ways to mitigate it. It is clear, though, that major problems coming out of segments of Muslim communities will not be eliminated for many years to come. As historian Raphael Israeli put it: “Muslim hatred groups within Western soci- eties, though they are not totally out of place in view of the many extreme right and left parties that infest those countries, add nevertheless a novel dimension of social disturbance in the heart of the West.”116 This means that ethnic and cultural tensions will continue to be a regular phenomenon in many Western societies.


*Manfred Gerstenfeld is an Israeli expert on antisemitism, emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and a recipient of the JSA Lifetime Achieve- ment award. This essay is an extended version of the presentation that Gerstenfeld gave at the JSA conference this year in London.

5 comments for “Gerstenfeld on the nature of Muslim Anti-Semitism and its impact in Europe

  1. November 13, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Thanks for this article! Please send me the references also, will you? Best greetings from Jonny

  2. November 13, 2013 at 1:06 am

    The term “Muslims” is used throughout this text, also for people who consider themselves Muslims by religion or culture.
    “Immigrants” throughout this text also includes their descendants.
    Emmanuel Brenner (Ed.), Les territoires perdus de la République, Second Edition, (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2004). [French] See also Manfred Gerstenfeld’s interview with Shmuel Trigano, “French anti-Semitism: A Barometer for Gauging Society’s Perverseness,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 26, 1 November 2004.
    Sammy Ghozlan. “Les relations judéo-arabes en France,” Observatoire du Monde Juif 1, November 2001. [French]
    Nicole Vettenburg, Mark Elchardus, and Johan Put, eds., Jong in Brussel (Leuven, The Hague: Acco, 2011). [Dutch]

    “De ongrijpbare islamitische school,” NRC Handelsblad, 20 October 2001. [Dutch]
    Vettenburg, Elchardus, and Put.
    Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Mark Elchardus, “Muslimischer Antisemitismus in Belgien,“ Heplev 6 May 2013. [German]
    Vettenburg, Elchardus, and Put. 278.
    Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Günther Jikeli, “Myths and Truths About Muslim Anti-Semitism in Europe,” Israel National News, 14 February 2013. His detailed research can be found in Günther Jikeli, Antisemitismus und Diskriminierungswahrnehmungen junger Muslime in Europa, (Essen: Klartext, 2012). [German]

    Gemeente Amsterdam, Eindrapport project Tweede Wereldoorlog in Perspectief, 23 September 2004. [Dutch]
    Ibid., 5.
    Ibid., 35.
    Ibid., 31
    CJO aan Tweede Kamer, “Pak antisemitisme aan,” 27 January 2011. [Dutch]–Pak-antisemitisme-aan.html?lang=en.
    Cécilia Gabison, “Les musulmans pratiquants ont plus de préjugés,” Le Figaro, 7 December 2005. [French]
    Meïr Villegas Henríquez, “Antisemitische incidenten in Nederland : Overzicht 2006 en 1 januari – 5 mei 2007,” Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israel, 51. [Dutch]
    Community Security Trust, Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2012.
    New York Times Service, “Terrorist Abu Nidal Reportedly Found Dead,” Baltimore Sun, 20 August 2012.
    Brett Kline, “Two Sons of France,” Jerusalem Post, 21 January 2010.
    “Trial Begins of French ‘Gang of Barbarians’ Accused of Killing Young Jew after 24-Day Torture,” Daily Mail, 30 April 2009.
    Murray Wardrop, Chris Irvine, Raf Sanchez, and Amy Willis, “Toulouse Siege as It Happened,” Telegraph, 22 March 2012.
    John Lichfield, “How my hate-filled family spawned Merah the Monster,” The Independent, 12 November 2012.
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    The first issue of the Observatoire du Monde juif was published in November 2001. The last one, number 12 carries no date but probably came out in the second half of 2004.
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    Elma Drayer, “Het taboe op jodenhaat is verdwenen,“ Trouw 26 February 2013. {Dutch}}
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    Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory, Distortions and Responses. (Jerusalem; Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and ADL, 2009), 132.
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    Reuters, “Sharon: Muslim presence in Europe is endangering the life of Jewish people,” Haaretz, 24 November 2003.
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    Yehuda Bauer, “Reviewing the Holocaust Anew in Multiple Contexts,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism 80, 1 May 2009., accessed 27 December 2012.
    Robert S. Wistrich, Muslimischer Antisemitismus, Eine aktuelle Gefahr (Berlin: Edition Critic, 2011), 101 [German].
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    Manfred Gerstenfeld, “The Autumn 2005 Riots in France: Their Possible Impact on Israel and the Jews,” The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2005.
    Emmanuel Brenner (Ed.), Les territoires perdus de la République, Second Edition, (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2004). [French]
    Dror Mishani and Aurelia Smotriez, “What Sort of Frenchmen Are They?” Haaretz, 17 November 2005.
    Hilary Leila Kriegler, “French Jews Remain Largely Untargeted,” Jerusalem Post, 8 November 2005.
    “Un cocktail Molotov lancé vendredi sur la synagogue de Garges-les-Gonesse,” AFP, 6 November 2005. [French]

    See for instance Vettenburg, Elchardus, and Put.

  3. November 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks a lot! :-) Jonny

  4. martin
    November 14, 2013 at 5:22 am

    I know this will be heavy going for you Norwegian and the fact that you may not care for this man. However, please try and take this opportunity and time to read and absorb what is written in this article. I do hope that it will give you some understanding of the realities of Jewhate.

    Have a happy……

  5. martin
    November 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

    The European authorities who should know better are even more to blame because they have never stood up to the threat and curse of Islam. When the two religions, Islam and Christianity can show such hate towards he Jew and ally themselves wit he extreme left both international and national socialists, there really is no hope for Europe.

    Let alone for he Jews in Europe. Leaders make fine speeches but their lack of action show the fear they all have in combating the Islamic conquest od Europe.
    It is laughable yet very sad that in almost every part of the world where strife is causing loss of life, the Muslim religion part and parcel of the problem What is Europe’s answer? Belly up capitulation.. That is why I have mentioned before now, Europe is finished and western thought and practice will be eradicated. Even when the Jews are no longer in this blood ridden semi continent, they will still be blamed.

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