Flourishing

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Make no mistake about it: anti-Semitism is flourishing.
 
Up until fairly recently, the European nations had been more or less low-key when it came to expressing their feelings about Jews. Sure, many had still harbored the usual ill feelings towards Jews, but it had not been acceptable to voice them.
 
Once Israel bashing became acceptable, the gloves have slowly came off and now everyone can join in the free-for-all. I would use the analogy of a naughty child warned by his parents not to misbehave. For a while, the child listens, with the memory of his last punishment still firmly imprinted in his mind. After a while, the child starts testing the parents, with some mildly naughty behavior. The parents turn a blind eye to the behavior. Gradually, the child acts out more, with the parents still not reacting. The child takes his parent’s indifference to signal an implicit acceptance of his behavior. Soon, the child is back to his old tricks.
 
In similar fashion, some Europeans are now not even pretending that they are criticizing Israel. They are going straight for the Jewish jugular – with pride.
 
Take this latest manifestation of anti-Semitism:
A commercial with a blatant anti-Semitic motif that is being broadcast on Czech public television has come under fire from Israelis and Jews in the republic. Following protests, the advertisers announced they would stop broadcasting the ad as of tomorrow. The ad was produced by Mountfield, a company marketing home and garden products. Broadcast on both Czech public TV channels, the ad shows a customer wishing to buy a saw for less than its listed price. When the vendor refuses, the customer dresses up as an ultra-Orthodox Jew and manages to bargain with the vendor until he gives him an 80 percent discount. At the end of the scene, the “ultra-Orthodox” customer leaves mumbling to himself “80 percent off … that’s not such a big deal.”
 
The Israeli ambassador in the Czech Republic, Arthur Avnon, and the curator of the Jewish Museum in Prague, Leo Pavlat, demanded that Mountfield pull the ad. A company spokesman said over the weekend “at the request of Israel’s ambassador, the ad will not be broadcast as of Monday this week.”
 
The spokesman refused to apologize, saying the ad was intended to describe the “positive aspects” of a skillful Jewish merchant – a figure frequently described in literature, the company said – “to show customers how to best take advantage of company reductions.”
“Frequently described in literature”? You mean like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or The Merchant of Venice. This is unbelievable stuff. And to think that the Europeans want an integral role in the Middle East peace process.

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An Aussie immigrant to Israel, David Lange is founder and managing editor of Israellycool. He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and single malt whisky.