Everywhere Walter Russell Mead turns his gaze — and that is many, many places — he enlightens. Since the tragic murders in Toulouse, his laser focus has been on contemporary anti-Semitism. Last week, he drew attention to Norwegian academic Johan Galtung, one of Europe’s most respected academics and the “principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies.” In an e-mail exchange with Ha’aretz, the esteemed liberal academic “hinted at links between Anders Behring Brevik’s attack on civilians in Norway and the Mossad ... suggested there was some truth behind the Protocols of the Elders of Zion … [and] said that Jews share some of the blame for what happened at Auschwitz — they had provoked the poor Germans under the Weimar Republic.” Galtung is not an isolated voice. Last summer Professor Alan Dershowitz was unofficially boycotted by every major Norwegian university, even when he waived his normal high fee entirely. The first signatory of a widely circulated academic boycott petition wrote “there is something immensely self-satisfied and self-centered about the tribe mentality that is so prevalent among Jews.” After the Toulouse massacre, Mead wrote an essay at The American Interest website, entitled “History Repeats: In Europe They Want Jewish Blood,” attacking all those who saw the event as an event to be “explained, whitewashed, or even celebrated” rather than one inspiring collective horror and serious societal soul-searching. Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford and the grandson of the founder of the leading ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, deplored the “strange logic” that distinguished Mohamed Merah’s victims by religion. For him, Merah was simply “a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, or driven by racism and anti-Semitism.” Ramadan, writes Mead, “seems almost willfully naïve about hate; hate doesn’t appear in a vacuum ... [T]his young man did not invent or discover Jew hatred on his own.” Nor did Mead cut any slack to “these philanthropic and liberal souls [who] worry more about the hypothetical possibility of future aggression against Muslims than about the factual aggression against Jews — not only in this attack but in the general climate of fear in which many French Jews now live.” He compared that response to expressing concern that news of anti-apartheid hero Steven Biko’s murder in a South African prison would be cause perfectly innocent white South Africans to receive a frosty welcome on their international travels. Or “as if the primary response to the Irish potato famine [of 1842] was to worry about the pain and sorrow that innocent members of the English public would suffer as a result of the unfavorable publicity.” Former British home secretary Jacqui Smith betrayed precisely that mindset when she ordered all acts of Islamic terrorism to be referred to by official government bodies as “anti-Islamic terrorism” because of the negative perceptions about Islam that result. In another essay, Mead praised Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad for responding to the Toulouse tragedy with a forthright condemnation: “It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children.” But, wrote Mead, “it is an ugly fact that violence against Jews today, whether in France or elsewhere, is too often justified or explained away as if not a legitimate then at least an understandable response to Israeli policies … [and] this depraved rationale ... is offered not only by the perpetrators of such crimes, but sometimes by European officials and intellectual elites.” Mead compares this response to a white man in Seattle shooting African-Americans because his mother had been mugged by some African-American teenagers in Miami. “The whole concept of ‘hate crime’ is that it is more odious to attack people because they belong to a group with whom you are angry,” he writes. “But when it comes to Jews, the fact that a crime is a ‘hate crime’ is taken as some kind of exculpatory or even extenuating circumstance.” Mead’s frightening conclusion: “Seventy years after Hitler, anti-Semitism of the worst and most violent kind walks the streets of Europe once more. And once again the educational, religious, cultural, and political institutions and leaders of Europe are ineffective and paralyzed.” Food for Thought for Times Editors A recent article on Israel in the New York Times Travel section provides an object lesson in just how far the alienation of a certain segment of American Jewry has gone. The author, Matt Gross, writes, “of all the world’s roughly 200 nations, there was only one — besides Afghanistan and Iraq — that I had absolutely zero interest in ever visiting: Israel ... [T]o me, a deeply secular Jew, Israel has always felt less like a country than a politically iffy burden.” Not only does he have no interest in Israel, but he admits to not being “much affected” by reminders of the Holocaust — the Berlin memorial, the killing pits outside Vilnius. Yad Vashem does even less for him. He finds it “hellaciously detailed.” But he does find compensation for the boredom of Yad Vashem in the form of a “lively restaurant” nearby (described in the same paragraph). He dwells in loving detail on the cuisine: “I had my mind blown by a platter of seared veal sweetbreads with artichokes, cherry tomatoes and cauliflower cream. It hit every mark: lush and crusty, vegetal and tart, smooth and filling.” Clifford May, a former Times man himself and head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is appalled. “Imagine a Cambodian-American briefly dismissing a memorial to the [2 million] victims of the Khmer Rouge, then gushing over peppered chicken with julienned ginger root in Phnom Penh. Or an African-American giving the back of his hand to Rwandan genocide, then raving about the nouvelle Franco-African cuisine in Kigali ... Surely the Times editors would ask the writer to rethink such moral obtuseness.” May’s target is only tangentially Matt Gross. Rather it is the paper viewed as a quasi-Bible by a large swath of American Jewry. How many Jewish editors, one wonders, reviewed Gross’s piece, oblivious to its casual treatment of the Holocaust? And even more disturbing, how many American Jews calmly read his piece without being sufficiently revolted to express their outrage to the Times? Simple Solutions A recent Mishpacha feature article, “Top Flight,” detailing the work of Rabbi Yisrael Noach Guttmann of Zurich teaching European airlines about the special needs of chareidi passengers, dwelt at length on the recurring points of tension on long-distance flights, including davening in a minyan and being seated next to a person of the opposite gender. Rabbi Guttmann made a number of well-taken suggestions about ways in which Torah Jews could reduce some of those tensions and a general point that has application to many areas outside of air travel. In dealing with the outside world, he said, Torah Jews have to learn to take into account the perceptions and needs of those on the other side of the fence, and try to view matters from their perspective as well: “Instead of screaming anti-Semitism, maybe we should go for some sensitivity training ourselves.” (Trying to view matters from the point of view of one’s bar plugta is good advice in almost every conflict situation.) The feature generated more than the usual amount of comment, both from readers who have obviously experienced acute embarrassment from their brethren on airplanes and those who noted that kiddush Hashem is not measured by what “they” think but by the ratzon Hashem. With respect to the latter, Rabbi Guttmann never suggested that seeking to daven in a minyan or refusing to sit next to a passenger of the opposite gender constitutes a chillul Hashem, but that the way we go about actualizing those goals might be. And quite apart from the question of chillul Hashem, he emphasized the reality that angering the flight crew will affect the way other Torah Jews are treated in the future. It strikes me that those sources of greatest tension would be at least partially solved, especially on El Al, if some determined askan put his mind to it. Computer programs to calculate the proper the proper times for davening on long flights are readily available. And the times for serving meals and the like are also well-known. Has anyone ever approached El Al and suggested that they calculate the best time for minyanim around their service schedule, and then announce at the beginning of each flight that space will be made at the back of the plane for minyanim at the specified times? Similarly, why shouldn’t passengers be able to request at the time of their reservation that they only be placed next to another man or another woman, in the same way that today one can request a variety of special meals? El Al would soon be able to develop a database about how many such seats to set aside on their flights, and then expand those sections according to demand. Perhaps they could also find a way to turn off the screens in those separate sections. It would certainly be a plus for El Al to be able to advertise these services in the chareidi press and to demonstrate their sensitivity to a large percentage of their repeat customers.