“When we held a pro-Israel demonstration in the Old Town Square a few days ago, a car drove by from which someone shouted Allah Akbar towards us. Which, in the context of those shots, affects how you feel,” answers the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Rozstrěl when asked how much the life of Jews in our country has changed after the terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7.
According to him, for a long time, Jews in the Czech Republic have always felt safer than in other European countries. “The Czech Republic is still in a very good position compared to some Western countries. It is also because the Muslim community is not large here, so anti-Semitism and other problems are not like in, for example, Germany, France or Great Britain,” says the man who came to the studio of the show Shooting with a yarmulke and immediately admitted that in Berlin he wouldn’t dare go out with her on the street anymore. According to him, however, some Jews no longer feel comfortable even here. In addition, the situation is also escalating between Israeli and Arab students on campus.
“For example, a few days ago, the sign Fuck IDF (The Israel Defense Forces) appeared on one of the dormitories, which could certainly be survived. But underneath it was a swastika, so the classic demonization of Israel, when you associate the actions of Israel with the Nazis. The situation is not easy, but still better than in other countries to the west.”
When asked whether a joint intervention of representatives of Czech Jewish and Muslim communities would not help solve similar situations in our country, the guest of Rozstřel answers that the organizations used to have contact with each other, but nowadays they do not communicate with each other.
Social media is not helping the situation
Papoušek partly attributes the intensity of the wave of anti-Israel protests that swept the world to social networks. “The new anti-Semitism that is associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with the Muslim community around the world identifying with the Palestinians. The interconnectedness of today’s world, the shorthand pressure of social networks, when a complex problem is not explained and only affects emotions, the use of propaganda and the fulfillment of a certain degree of frustration, all of this, in my opinion, leads to attacks on Jews and their symbols even outside the immediate conflict. Because otherwise I don’t know what the synagogue in Berlin has to do with what happened,” says the guest of Rozstřel.
According to the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities, the increase in anti-Semitism in the online environment has increased by up to 400 percent. “I don’t remember such an enormous increase. This is dangerous because the social media environment can direct individuals to a specific attack. Which, after all, experience from the past confirms”.
Israel is where it should be
According to the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities, the reason why even communities at some American universities take the anti-Israel side is related to the environment in which these organizations operate. “Some liberal left-wing organizations have long accused Israel of colonialism. He sees a point in it that has nothing to do in that space. According to them, by being there, it causes the things that happen to happen. But Israel is supposed to be there. If you just read the Old Testament and think about it, it’s obvious. In addition, there is also the decision of the United Nations from 1948, when Israel accepted the partition of the territory and the Arab states, unfortunately, did not.”
Despite this, according to Papousek, Jerusalem, for example, has always been an example of a cosmopolitan city. “I lived in Jerusalem for ten months and I return there every year. I always saw it as a complicated but on the other hand a very cosmopolitan city where you see an Orthodox Jew walking down one side of the street, next to a girl wearing a miniskirt and behind her a veiled Muslim woman. It’s a very special place and has a cosmopolitan feel to it.”
Hamas is a tragedy for both sides
According to Papousek, the shock experienced by Israelis after the October attacks by Hamas is very difficult to describe. “For example, we were with a delegation of heads of Jewish communities a few months ago in one of the kibbutzim, which was reduced to ashes during the attack. We were there for lunch, we ate together with people who are no longer with us today. We all know someone who had relatives among the victims of this rampage,” he says, but at the same time adds that the civilian casualties on the part of the Gazans are also a huge tragedy.
“I am very sorry for them, but it is unfortunately necessary to emphasize again that the terrorist movement Hamas is responsible for all civilian casualties. That triggered this tragedy. Israel has no choice but to respond in such a way that Hamas ceases to exist. Everyone is aware of that.”
I don’t understand the BBC
According to his own words, the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities does not understand the position of the BBC television station, which refused to report on the massacre in the south of Israel as terrorism. “What we in the media see today from the rampage of Hamas are only filtered reports. I had the opportunity to see the video, but I was not able to watch it. That was absolute dehumanization of those people, those victims, it was obviously a terrorist act and the people who committed it are terrorists.”
Humanitarian aid must be under control
According to Papousek, extensive networks of tunnels, as well as the fact that Hamas is still able to fire rockets and terrorize the civilian population, are evidence of long-term abuse of financial support intended for the Palestinian population.
“International institutions have their own rules. But the question is how it was observed. Money flows there from Iran, Qatar, the United Nations and the European Union. In the future, it will be important to improve these control mechanisms. Financial aid will be the basis for the reconstruction of Gaza because once, and hopefully soon, it will end and Gaza will have to be rebuilt. That help will be needed for people and to build infrastructure. It will be all the more necessary for her to be under clear control.”
In Rozstřel, Petr Papoušek also talks about how he perceives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, describes how Jewish and non-Jewish society in Israel collapsed after the attacks, and explains that the surrounding Arab states will need to be involved in the peace process.