Can We Please Just Stop Hating Each Other, or is That Too Much to Ask?
I’m not the only American living in Paris bombarded by emails from our families and friends in the U.S. concerned over the ‘anti-semitic’ activities in France. The letters started the moment we arrived in France — the kind that get passed on to friends asking to pass them on to more friends like a snowball rolling down a hill that tell tales of aggression toward Jews in France and all over Europe — the kind that have now been circulating over and over again for all twenty of these years or more. They are the same letters that with each one, I beg the sender to stop sending me such ‘propaganda.’
I am moved to open up this ‘can of worms’ today because one of my relatives who is very attached to her Jewish heritage, if not overly religious, and who is and always has been a Zionist and supporter of the State of Israel, sends me something almost daily, if not weekly, about the rise of anti-semitism in Europe, the exodus of the European Jews from Europe and other related stories. It’s as if I don’t have a clue about what’s going on here. It feels like a put-down to France and Europe, and of course, the stories come from media that is supported by the Jewish community such as The Birmingham Jewish Foundation and the Israel Video Network.
It’s not that we have ‘our heads in the sand’ or don’t wish to see the truth, it’s just that any information that comes out of a source with a cause is a one-sided view on reality and not the kind of information I’d choose to believe…and neither should she, or anyone for that matter. That goes for any media with a cause, as unfortunately, most do have a bias and a message to relate…even this one — as clearly I am also filled with opinion!
With the exception of media that prides itself on giving ‘just the facts, ma’am, just the facts,’ you can never be sure you’re getting the whole picture. Instead, you’re getting the story you want to hear and believe.
But are the stories she reports true and how can or would we see these stories differently? While the Israel National News ran a story this past January about “hundreds of anti-Semites on the march in Paris, illustrating the frightening rise of anti-Semitism in France” supporting her ranting about the rise of anti-semitism in France, the New York Daily News ran an article just yesterday that “New York City attacks on Jews tripled in 2013, Anti-Defamation League says.” So, you see, it’s happening in her own ‘back yard,’ but no one sends me that story. Nor does anyone in the U.S. bother to send me anti-semitic messages from David Duke’s Web site. Remember him? He used to be the congressman representing my own mother’s district!
On the Web site interpretermag.com, an article from MIG News was republished touting that the “All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress says: Antisemitism is Not on the Rise.” “Vadim Rabinovich, president of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress (VEK), co-founder of the European Jewish Parliament (EJP) “categorically refutes the statements appearing in a number of foreign media outlets of facts of massive anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine that do not correspond to reality!”
Just today, the Jerusalem Post ran an article that “Anti-Semitic incidents were down nearly 20% in US in 2013.” But it further claims that “Despite an overall drop in anti-Semitism, states with the largest Jewish populations experienced increase in incidents, according to an ADL survey.”
I’m confused. Aren’t you?
There are numerous articles about Jews fleeing France citing the rise in anti-semitism as “the strongest driver” but an article in the Huffington Post says there is a “mix of factors,” mostly economic, since French unemployment is at an all time record high. And as we all know, there is an exodus from France by the young who are seeking opportunity and the wealthy who are escaping high taxation, mixed among them surely there are Jews. And just so you know, this story has been going around for at least 10 years. CBS reported it in 2004.
Believe what you want, or believe what you read, or don’t. Anti-semitism is a story that’s been on the burner for as many years as I’ve been alive and at least for 5,774 years — as many years as we believe we’ve been alive according to the Old Testament. As long as there is hate, there will be someone hating someone else. Since “one of the most fundamental Mitzvahs of the Torah is the imperative to love your fellow as yourself, Jews are taught not to hate (at least that’s what I recall from my Sunday School teacher), it’s natural that those who are taught to hate, hate those that don’t. “N’est-ce pas?”
If you want to consider hate and discrimination on a more global scale, just Google “the Arab problem in France” and witness the results that come up about who hates who. In an online poll about who the French hate most, one commentator wrote, “Everyone knows that the French hate the Arabs most.” Then, check out all the articles about who hates the French…especially a book listing 50 reasons!
So, can we please just stop hating each other, or is that too much to ask? Or at least, can we just stop passing around information about how we hate each other, or is that too much to ask, too?
And just for the record, I’ve never personally witnessed nor been a party to any anti-semitic act or verbal attack here in France, nor have I ever felt any disdain or disapproval because of my religious or ethnic background by the French or anyone else for that matter. But of course, I live in central Paris where there is a broad mixture of ethnic and religious backgrounds, where there is more tolerance than in other parts of Paris, France or the world and where it seems perfectly okay to just be who you are.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris & Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(in Israel last year)
P.S. The popular Paris Poetry Workshop with Cecilia Woloch & Friends is back June 14-20, 2014. Cecilia Woloch is inviting twelve poets to join her this summer in Paris, a city that loves writers, and that nourishes the imagination and the creative spirit. The Paris Poetry Workshop offers English-speaking poets the opportunity to come together for intensive workshops, intimate talks and public readings. For more information and details on how to apply, visit our Conferences and Workshops page.