Europe has a shameful history of burning of Jewish books. The first event in the Western world was ordered by Pope Gregory IX, who in 1239 consigned the Talmud to the flames. In Toulouse, the Catholic Inquisition burned the books of Rashi in 1319. In Venice 1,000 copies of the Talmud were destroyed in the fire.
Throughout the German spring of 1933, students, professors and librarians worked on a list of “degenerate” Jewish books. The list included Stefan Zweig, Erich Maria Remarque, Thomas Mann and Heinrich Heine, whose conversion to Christianity didn’t wipe off the stain of the Jew. In the largest event outside Berlin, 18,000 Jewish books were destroyed.
The orgiastic hatred against Israeli intellectualism has recently raised its ugly head in the placid Scotland, in the form of banning Israeli books from public libraries. A provincial council near Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, where the trade union has already pursued a policy of boycotting Israel, will ban Israeli books from local libraries.
A spokesman for West Dunbartonshire says that the ban will “only” affect books printed in Israel. Ten more Scottish councils may join the boycott next.
Throughout Europe, there’s a river of oily, bloody money that feeds those who incite for anti-Jewish boycotts, while spreading anti-Israel lies under guise of “objective journalism” and “academic research.” There are careers to be made through the betrayal of intellectual standards and by making the Jewish State the object of an unremitting demonology.
Just a few examples: The new pro-Hamas flotilla had its first conference in the building of the Journalists Association in Rome. In Oslo, hundreds of cultural figures just promoted the boycott of Israel. Indeed, it’s impossible to make an exhaustive list of the economic actions against Israel, with radical anti-Jewish venom spreading through the West.
The process of Israel’s de-legitimization, which began with the Soviets’ pathological assault on its legitimacy, has penetrated mainstream media and intellectual circles. The British Guardian ran an editorial titled “Israel Has No Right to Exist.” Last week, acclaimed Danish director Lars von Trier defined Israel “a pain in the ass.”
However, the Scottish decision marks the first time that a European region has been officially cleansed of the presence of Israeli books. Book burning and banning is aiming to cut off cultural transmission from generation to generation. Anyone familiar with the history of books under the Holocaust can easily understand how abominable is Scottish decision is.
The judenrein libraries in Scotland are a new example of Heinrich Heine’s dictum that “where they burn books, in the end it is men that they will burn.”
This past winter, terrorists from Gaza launched phosphorous shells on Israeli civilians. These are chemical weapons able to burn the human skin. International newspapers and television stations didn’t report the news. Indeed, the burned skin of the Jews was never of much interest to the West. It's time for European intellectuals to stand for truth because the worst of all anti-Jewish persecutions, that of Hitler, almost marked the end of European history. Now, it may happen again.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism
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