The return of the anti-Jewish mob – this time in the West

Ben Cohen experiences a sense of déjà vu when he sees bands of Muslim youths harassing Jews. It is a reminder of the time when Jews were pushed to leave Arab countries by mob violence – a symptom of their failure to defeat Israel on the battlefield. He writes in JNS News:

A pro-Palestinian demonstration in London

The mutation of antisemitism that the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas has given us a glimpse of hasn’t been seen in almost a century. It is one of the most disturbing forms that Jew-hatred takes: semi-organized mobs of mainly young men deliberately targeting individual Jews or Jewish-owned businesses with verbal abuse and physical violence. 

We associate such images with the Nazis most of all, but there are slightly more recent instances of such antisemitic violence. Throughout the Arab world in the late 1940s and ’50s, Jews were subjected to pogroms and other atrocities as a prelude to their mass expulsion and expropriation by these countries. 

 History is full of horrible ironies, and this is one of them. The mobs we have witnessed attacking Jews in cities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are overwhelmingly composed of members of the various Arab and wider Muslim communities. 

In European demonstrations, for example, Turkish and Algerian flags can be spotted alongside Palestinian ones. The same impulse that drove the eventual expulsion of nearly 800,000 Jews from the Arab world is now coming back to haunt us in the very countries where we sought our freedom.

The impulse that I am referring to is failure.

 In the Arab countries during the first decade of Israel’s existence, persecution of local Jews was one feat that could be accomplished, and indeed relished, amid the humiliating battlefield defeats inflicted by the nascent Israel Defense Forces on the Arab armies. 

The legacy of that domestic campaign of antisemitism has traveled with us to different continents and vastly different political contexts. What remains the same is the conviction that Arabs are being disempowered, robbed, and murdered by Jewish conspiracies, and that ordinary Arabs are therefore justified in taking their anger out on ordinary Jews in response.

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