Antisemitism in Context
Reporting that leads to a greater understanding of antisemitism
This February the Bulgarian government banned the annual neo-Nazi Lukov March, which was set for February 25 in the capital city Sofia. The cancellation was due to pressure from foreign embassies, international Jewish organizations and several of Bulgaria’s own political ministries and parties.
The parade dates from 2003, when neo-Nazis from around the world began marching in a torchlit parade honoring Hristo Lukov, the former leader of the pro-Nazi Union of Bulgarian National Legions (UBNL) during World War II.
Tunisian President Adopts the “Great Replacement” Theory
On February 21st, Kais Saied, the president of Tunisia, used the “Great Replacement” theory to scapegoat African migrants for violence and crime in the North African country. The “Great Replacement” theory, which often includes the antisemitic idea that Jews are masterminding demographic changes in a society, has already influenced politics in Europe and the United States, where it has been platformed by right-wing populists such as France’s Marine Le Pen, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, former U.S. President Donald Trump and Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson.
Saied came to power in the wake of the Arab Spring protests of 2011, which many hoped would bring democracy to Tunisia. In recent years, however, he has suspended large parts of the country’s constitution and restricted freedom of speech and the press. At a Tunisian National Security Council meeting he blamed “hordes” of African migrants for “violence, crimes and unacceptable practices.” He also accused them of a “criminal enterprise hatched at the beginning of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia.” According to human rights groups, President Saied’s remarks have already led to hate crimes against dozens of African migrants.
Tunisia is part of a larger trend of populist leaders around the world accusing immigrants of replacing the majority and threatening the latter’s political power. While this “replacement” theory can be traced back to 20th-century French nationalism, it echoes and is amplified in 21st-century politics as well. White supremacist movements have adopted and incorporated this theory into their own contentions about the impending “white genocide” —manifested in domestic terrorist attacks such as the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the 2019 shooting in El Paso.
Israel, February 27, 2023
A 17-year-old from the Arab Israeli town of Taybeh reportedly uploaded a video to TikTok in which he threatened to “slaughter” any Jews who visited the Asi Stream at Kibbutz Nir David and praised the terrorist attack in the West Bank town of Huwara on February 26. The police located and arrested the suspect on the kibbutz premises and brought him to a local police station for further questioning.
Poland, February 28, 2023
A group of eleven current and former Wikipedia editors from Poland were accused of revising articles to distort the history of the Holocaust. In an article, “Wikipedia’s Intentional Distortion of the History of the Holocaust,” Jan Grabowski (University of Ottawa) and Shira Klein (Chapman University) analyze how the editors’ distortions minimize Polish antisemitism, exaggerate the Poles’ role in saving Jews, and insinuate that most Jews conspired with Communists to betray Poles.
United States, March 3, 2023
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Representative Samantha Steckloff, a Democrat, say they were among those targeted in a threat to kill Jewish members of the state government. On February 18, someone sent an anonymous tweet saying they were heading to Michigan “to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is Jewish in the Michigan govt.” The FBI traced the Twitter handle to Jack Eugene Carpenter III and arrested him later that day. According to the authorities, at the time of Carpenter’s arrest there were approximately half a dozen firearms and ammunition in his vehicle.
Germany, March 6, 2023
German policymakers discuss blacklisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to mitigate the increase in Iran’s attacks against Jews and the Iranian diaspora in Germany. Western intelligence officers suspect the Revolutionary Guard Corps of orchestrating attacks through Ramin Yektaparast, the leader of the Hells Angels biker gang chapter in Oberhausen. They suspect Yektaparast shot at the Old Synagogue in Essen, Germany last November.
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His supporters in Europe and the U.S. insist that the government of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not antisemitic. But others point to his rhetoric, including a speech he made in Romania that his critics have called “pure Nazi,” and his policies in Hungary. Moment Senior Fellow Ira Forman, former U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and Hungarian-American journalist Kati Marton, founding advisory council chair of Action for Democracy, discussed their concerns about the future of antisemitism in Hungary with Moment Book & Opinion editor Amy E. Schwartz.
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