The Volokh Conspiracy

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The BBC's Tim Willcox projects the last two hundred years of European anti-Jewish ideology on an elderly French woman


Willcox was interviewing a French Jewish woman with limited English skills at yesterday's anti-terrorism rally. The rally, of course, came in the wake of the murder of four French Jews at a kosher supermarket, in the broader context of widespread violence against Jews in France by Islamists. When she noted that Jews are being targeted in France, Willcox interjected that "many critics though of Israel's policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well." The woman tried to object, but Willcox added that surely she understands that people see such things from different perspectives.

My friend Hill Wellford commented on Facebook with a brief but extremely insightful analysis, which aptly sums up how Willcox's interjection reflects a strain of European thought that helped lead to the Holocaust, and which the Holocaust obviously did not extinguish: "Interesting that there are two contradictory assumptions made at the same time. First, that Jews aren't really Europeans even when they live in Europe; instead, they are Israelis or at least some form of collectively non-European other. Second, that Jews in Israel/Palestine are not really from there, either, but are some sort of colonizers that is oppressing the natives. The assumption seems to be that Jews are a stateless people, deserving to call nowhere home, but a coherent one that must answer for its collective guilt." Yes, that about sums up modern European anti-Semitism, which undoubtedly infects the consciousness even of those who don't consciously harbor ill-will toward Jews, and which we saw in the U.S. reflected recently in the remarks of (thankfully now former) Yale Episcopal chaplain Bruce Shipman.

You can watch the interview on Youtube here.