Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe
The war in Gaza has been going on for more than a month. But actually far from only there. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon spilled over into Western cities. Anti-Jewish slogans are heard at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, stars of David appear again on Jewish houses, long-standing friendships are falling apart because it is no longer possible to find common ground. In other words: Jews in Europe, but also in the United States, are beginning to fear for their safety. In Shalom, we spoke with an expert on contemporary anti-Semitism, Zbyňek Tarant from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.
Are there any concrete numbers to show how antisemitism has been on the rise since October 7th? “We will have the full numbers at the end of this year or in the spring of next year, but preliminary reports from abroad speak of an increase in the hundreds of percent,” says Tarant.
He further adds: “For example, in Great Britain, there is talk of an increase of up to 320 percent in the first 4 days from October 7. In neighboring Austria, there is also talk of a 300 percent increase in verbal abuse and physical attacks. Similar figures are also reported from Poland, France and other countries. France’s Politico reported at the end of October that police officers in France had recorded more anti-Semitic incidents in the past three weeks than in the entire past year. In total, there were 501 crimes, ranging from verbal abuse and anti-Semitic signs to death threats and physical assault.”
Anti-Jewish slogans appear mainly at pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Can it be said that the latest rise in anti-Semitism is mainly linked to Islam? The Israeli left feels abandoned by its Western counterparts, who they say have often failed to adequately condemn the Hamas attack and do not demand the release of the hostages. So how does the Western Left view the conflict?
Listen to the full interview with by an expert on contemporary anti-Semitism, Zbyňek Tarant from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.
Who is the Slovak liberal rabbi
Fleeing the war marked the life of the liberal rabbi Mikhail Borisovich Kapustin twice. He first left his home in Georgia, and after 2014, in Crimea. Thanks to this, people in Slovakia have been able to see him regularly for almost 10 years. Rabbi Mišo, as he is called not only by community members, shared his life story and attitudes during his visit to this year’s Štetl Fest in Brno. Martin Pouchlá will remember his narration.
In Crimea, Kapustin felt comfortable and, despite the political situation in Ukraine, kept himself aloof: “When there was a revolution, I never spoke publicly about what I thought,” says Kapustin, continuing: “I like politics, but I don’t speak about it publicly . Because it affects people. Imagine that I serve as a rabbi and people come to me who have different beliefs, political beliefs, and if I say something, someone can leave the Jewish community because of me. That’s why I’m careful.’
But the Russian annexation of Crimea changed everything: “I could no longer remain silent.” It was no longer politics for me, but an occupation,” adds Kapustin. He sent a short e-mail with a strong position in Russian and English to all his acquaintances. Someone from the addressees published it. The media frenzy broke out. He had to leave to protect his family and community from the consequences of his public appearance. Now Kapustin’s home is Slovakia, where he is the chief liberal rabbi.
Why did Kapustin choose Judaism? And why did he become a Reform Judaism rabbi? Listen to Martina Pouchlé’s full contribution.
Who invented the shopping cart on wheels?
When we go shopping, we automatically grab a shopping cart and don’t even think about how the idea of a cart on wheels actually came about. Behind him was the American Jew Sylvan Nathan Goldman. November 15 will be 125 years since his birth. The medallion of this entrepreneur is brought by Leo Pavlát.
Goldman was born on November 15, 1898 in the town of Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA, in a family of Jewish immigrants. The family had a hard time with the economic crisis of the 1930s and the subsequent difficulties of Oklahoma farmers.
And then, in 1936, Goldman came up with a simple, yet brilliant idea, as Pavlát explains: “To facilitate self-service sales for customers with a cart that would also be a shopping basket. Sylvan first tried it at home with a basket on the seat of a folding chair with wheels, and in 1937 he patented a pair of wire baskets connected by metal arms with four wheels.
But his idea was not successful at first. “That’s when Goldman proved his business acumen for the second time. He paid several acting convincing men and women enthusiastically shopped with his cart, and the guess that what was new, and therefore fashionable for most, paid off. Goldman’s shopping carts soon became popular throughout the United States and enabled its creator to rise financially even as an investor in banking, real estate, shopping centers and hotels,” adds Pavlát.
What is the family background of this guy who achieved the “American Dream”? And how did he handle his acquired wealth?
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