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Living in the past

"Living in the past" Continued...

Issue: "Tiananmen massacre," June 6, 2009

On May 19 a 38-year-old Australian appeared in court after being arrested and charged with "conduct likely to entice animosity or racist harassment," after he posted an anti-Semitic video on YouTube. In it the man describes "the new religion of holocaustianity" and tells Jews: "Your days are numbered," and "I will put you in the camps with the rest of them." YouTube removed the 10-minute video from its website after Jewish groups in Australia complained and one Australian lawmaker described it as "a disgraceful, racist rant inciting violence." The perpetrator was arrested.

In France, with one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe together with one of the fastest-growing Muslim immigrant populations, demonstrations with anti-Semitic overtones are on the rise. Last month a long-anticipated trial of 27 gang members accused of kidnapping, torturing, and killing a 23-year-old cell-phone salesman began. Gang leader Youssouf Fofana has admitted he targeted Ilam Halimi in a gruesome 2006 murder because he was Jewish and, Fofana believed, rich.

Public horror at the anti-Semitic nature of the Halimi killing hasn't kept French readers from making a record-breaking bestseller out of a novel set in World War II and told through the eyes of an SS officer. Reviewers describe the German protagonist in The Kindly Ones as sadistic, "a caricature of moral failure" surrounded by proponents of The Final Solution. But in France the book sold over 1 million copies, and it has just been published in the United States.

Anti-Semitism is also gaining ground along with anger from pro-Palestinian groups over Israel's recent bombardment of Gaza. One video not removed from YouTube shows dozens of members of a group called Palestine Vivra entering a large discount store owned by Carrefour (the No. 2 retailer in the world behind Wal-Mart) in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. As shoppers look on and management does nothing to intervene, the activists seek out items made in Israel, pull them from store shelves, and dump them into shopping carts: orange juice, tomatoes, shampoo, even baby wipes. What the activists call an "action boycott" looks more like a prank with some petty thievery thrown in; the demonstrators certainly don't intend to buy Jewish-made products; they simply empty store shelves and heap shopping carts with them.

Jewish groups labeled the protest "grotesque" when they discovered that it took place less than a mile from Drancy, the site of the deportation holding camp for Jews in occupied France in 1942-44. Over 65,000 Jews passed through Drancy and on to extermination camps in Germany and Eastern Europe. As European resident Martin Anderson noted, the group chose "of all the supermarkets in France, the one closest to France's most important Holocaust memorial site."

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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