Monday, December 02, 2002

Here's a piece by Oriana Falacci, the Italian journalist, on Israel and European anti-Semitism. This is a polemic; Falacci is very emotionally involved with this issue, and she exaggerates the level of anti-Semitism in Europe. It exists, though, and I for one am concerned about it. There are very few Jews in Barcelona, a couple of thousand at the very most, and people here simply have had no personal experience with Jews and so don't see them as people like you and me who happen not to eat pork and who get the tips of their willies clipped off. Jews are seen as aliens, not frightening ones, but definitely not just plain Spaniards like everyone else. Many people here still believe that Jews hold a great deal of power, especially financial power, and that Jews are behind-the-scenes manipulators in the Spanish worldview's great conspiracy that is made up of everything. There's a good deal of anti-Israeli feeling around here, and one thing you'll hear a lot is that America supports Israel because of the Jewish lobby in Washington. To be honest, there is an influential, organized Jewish lobby in the States, just as every group from the undertakers to the universities to the underwear manufacturers to the Ugandan refugees has a lobby. This lobby is a factor in the degree of American support for Israel, but it is by no means the main factor. The main factors are that Israel is the only 100% democracy in the Middle East--hell, Israel and Turkey are the only countries in the region that could be called stable--that it is a stalwart American ally, that it is a real military power, and that we all owe the Jews a homeland of their own after so many hundreds of years of brutal abuse culminating in the Holocaust. Spaniards don't usually dislike Jews as individuals, though. They did a survey a couple years back among Madrid university students, and they found that 36.5% had a negative opinion of Gypsies, 35% viewed drug addicts negatively, 30.5% disliked alcoholics, 26.5% are down on Arabs, 26% don't much care for Communists, and 23.5% are not too big on Catalans. Below the Catalans come the French, the Americans, and priests. At the bottom come the Basques, with 11% disfavorable, and Jews, with 6% disfavorable. (Source: Manuel Trallero, Los siete pecados catalanes.)

No comments: