Or, to put it somewhat more clearly: It cannot possibly be that fantastic to be a Jew in France at the moment. Just as, way back when, Jews were seen as rich and thus evil by the poor because they were associated with the aristocracy, and yet were never able to really join the aristocracy because, well, they were Jewish, today's Jews are considered to be at once the enemy of the downtrodden and a part of a Semitic, non-European, anti-Western population invading France. Jews get to be symbols of the West to those such as Halimi's torturers, and of the East to the pork-soup crowd.
In the 19th century, it was well documented that the aristocracy portrayed Jews as rabble-rousing communists, while rabble-rousing communists shouted that Jews were bourgeois. Same thing today: we're simultaneously the privileged Westerners and the barbaric, sub-human Orientals.
Phoebe's post also clarifies a point of contention lodged by Ampersand at Alas, a Blog on my original post on the subject. The Chicago Sun-Times editorial I linked to said that the French government was downplaying the anti-Semitic element to the attack, Amp said that, well hold it, French government folks joined a massive march against the anti-Semitism that motivated the attack. According to Phoebe, the solution to the discrepancy appears to be that universal political attribute: flip-flop. At first, the government minimized the role anti-Semitism played in the assault, but faced with growing outrage in the Jewish community they made an about face. Also, before I forget, nice catch on the issue of Steyn's credibility--though to be fair he's not the only source I've read raising alarm at the rise in anti-Semitism in France.
I will defend Steyn on the point that saying "Israel is the greatest threat to world peace" is an anti-Semitic view to hold. Amp argues that it is plausible to think that "the most likely hotspot to directly or indirectly cause WW3 is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank." Maybe...but I have two objections to that line of argument. First, I don't think most people answer the question in that particular mode, nor do I think that the questioners intend it to come off that way. I could say that America is the greatest threat to world peace simply because we have the most potential to do harm and are the target of a lot of dislike. But to me, that question is more designed to get at "which country is most likely to go out an aggressively start an international conflict," to which I think Iran or North Korea are far and away clearer choices than Israel. That ties in to my second objection, which is that no matter how you cut it, the answer to that question has normative implications for the named country. Let's say that I buy that the West Bank controversy is the conflict most likely to spill over into WW3 (and I'm not sure that I do). That doesn't necessarily make Israel the greatest threat to world peace. To do that, you need to answer two more questions, which I think are progressively more absurd. The first is that the West Bank conflict is unambiguously Israel's fault. If they aren't the blameworthy party, then the peacebreaking effect of the West Bank shouldn't be laid at their feet. Second, I need to agree that the injustice of the occupation is worth sparking an international conflict over. If it isn't, then I should feel more threatened by the radical imams or whomever who are making a particularly stubborn border conflict into the most likely nuclear holocaust scenario.
So really, there are three statements I need to affirm before I can get at that answer, each one a bit harder to plausibly argue than the one before. The first is that the occupation is the most likely hotspot to spark WW3. The second is that this conflict is primarily Israel's fault. The third is that this is an injustice worthy of war. If I answer no to the first statement, then my answer to the survey question shifts to North Korea or something. If I answer yes to the first but no to the second, then my answer becomes Palestine (or, if I feel they're roughly equal at fault, then "Israel and Palestine"). And if I answer yes to one and two, but not three, then my answer becomes "whoever made the crazy decision that the West Bank occupation was worth plunging the world into darkness and despair over," which almost definitely isn't Israel but could easily be Iran or the Arab League. Say what you will about Israel's settlement policy, but the folks who think that Israel harbors global territorial domination ambitions (*cough* Hamas *cough*) have crossed into the realm of paranoia. Put bluntly, even the most anti-Israel interpretation of Israel's interests can't seriously argue that Israel wants the Palestine issue to turn into a global war--and if it does go global, it's going to be some other actor making the push. And since "the Jews [want to] control the world" has a pretty well-developed history as an anti-Semitic myth, I don't feel bad about accusing said paranoids of being anti-Semitic.
Personally, I'm not sure if I buy one, I definitely don't buy two, but to the extent that I do buy one (and assuming arguendo that I buy two, which I don't even think I have to for the purpose of the claim that I have to make), since I don't think that the I/P conflict comes close to justifying another world war (and I do think it's possible to justify one--WWII was a just war, in my view), the "greatest threat to world peace" becomes whatever actor turns said conflict into a global conflagration. The wildly obvious answer to that query is Iran. Which means that, even starting from the premise that "the most likely hotspot to directly or indirectly cause WW3 is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank," the conclusion I'd logically come to is that "therefore, Iran is the greatest threat to world peace."
So to sum up briefly: saying that a country is "the great threat to world peace" is inherently a normative claim. So to say that Israel is said country, you have to believe a) that the West Bank is the hotspot most prone to global escalation b) that Israel is completely or primarily at fault in the region and either c) that those who would push this conflict from local to international are right or d) that Israel is the one making that push. Since this syllogism is illogical bordering on irrational, I think it's fair to question whether or not it's adherents might have adopted some anti-Semitic sentiments from their travels in our lovely (Jewish-controlled) world.