The May 24, 2014 terrorist attack at the Brussels Jewish Museum that killed four people (including an Israeli couple) has spurred serious discussions about European anti-Semitism in European capitals and at the European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels. The jihadist killer was a French Muslim of Arab North African extraction, named Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, who spent over a year in Syria, and had links with radical Islamists.
Earlier, in 2012, a horrible murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France committed by Mohammad Merah, a jihadist, North-African Arab Muslim, points to a pattern. Both Merah and Nemmouche had a history of petty crime, were radicalized in jail, and both were in touch with jihadists abroad, Merah in Afghanistan, and Nemmouche in Syria.
The leniency in which European authorities treat the radicals among their Muslim minorities has encouraged violence against Jews. Whether it is colonial or white guilt, fear of Islamic terror, or of being accused of Islamophobia, the EU tolerance, learned following the Holocaust, has been misdirected. Instead of protecting the victims of intolerance – the Jews – EU authorities are more interested in cultivating their radicalized jihadist Muslim constituents, regardless of the consequences.
In November, 2003, the European Union’s racism watchdog group, the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, shelved a report on anti-Semitism which it had commissioned earlier from a Berlin-based research group. The center’s staff apparently objected to the study’s definition of anti-Semitism, which included some anti-Israeli rhetoric, and to its conclusion that Muslims and pro-Palestinian activists were largely responsible for anti-Jewish vandalism and violence. Yet the Commission saw nothing wrong with publishing a survey claiming that Israel was seen by Europeans as the greatest threat to world peace.
Gabriel Schoenfeld’s book “The Return of Anti-Semitism” (Encounter Books, 2005) documented the anti-Israel backlash that has often taken the form of physical attacks on Jews, including beatings of Jewish children in schools, assaults on Jews wearing religious garb in the streets, and vandalism against Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. But there is also the question of what Schoenfeld regards as a more “genteel” anti-Semitic bias perpetrated by progressive intellectuals. By depicting Zionism as a racist or imperialist creed, these progressive intellectuals are seeking to undermine the legitimacy of Israel, and holding it responsible not only for Palestinian suffering but also for Islamic terrorist attacks on the West.
The greatest threat to Jews in the West now comes from an unholy alliance of leftists and Islamists. The new anti-Semitism in the West, as Schoenfeld put it, usually begins with hostility toward Israel, but it does not stop there. By identifying prominent Jews as “Zionists,” and casting doubt on their allegiance to their native countries, and by attributing to them disproportionate power and influence, the new anti-Semitism has grown to monstrous proportions while cloaking itself in a mantle of political correctness.
The rise of anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews in Europe, and the simultaneous victories of fascist parties (France’s National Front, Greece’s neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, Hungary’s Jobbik Party, to name a few) in the recent European parliamentary elections, has prompted many European Jews to consider abandoning the continent where Six Million European Jews were murdered during WWII, better known as the Holocaust.
A 2012 survey on anti-Semitism conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) reveals that 66% of Jewish respondents (5847 Jews surveyed) said that anti-Semitism in Europe is increasing, particularly on the Internet. Two thirds of the respondents consider anti-Semitism to be a problem across the eight EU Member States surveyed (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the UK). 76% of the respondents also believe that the situation has become more acute and that anti-Semitism has increased in the country where they live over the past five years. In the 12 months following the survey, close to half of the respondents worry about being verbally insulted or harassed in a public place because they are Jewish. Furthermore, 66% of parents of school-aged children worry that their children could be subjected to anti-Semitic verbal insults or harassment at school or en route, and 52% worry that they could be physically attacked with an anti-Semitic motive while at school or en route. In the past 12 months, over half of the survey’s respondents (57%) heard or saw someone claim that the Holocaust was a myth or that it has been exaggerated.
Simon Heffer, a British journalist who edits the Daily Mail’s RightMinds section, suggested last week (June 6, 2014) that Britain should offer asylum to European Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in continental Europe. He wrote, “Britain may have been shamefully slow in the Thirties to grant asylum to Jews fleeing Hitler, but we should warmly welcome here those who are now seeking a new home.” He added that, “The shocking murder of four people at the Brussels’ Jewish Museum last week by a French Islamic extremist reflects an increase in anti-Semitism in Europe, and above all, in France, where there is a large Muslim population.”
Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, presenting the results of a study on worldwide anti-Semitism in 2013, on April 27, 2014 declared that “Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable.” Kantor asserted that “Jews do not feel safe or secure in certain communities in Europe.”
In a June, 2004 interview with the Jerusalem Post while on a visit to Israel, French-Jewish Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld suggested that French Jews should pack their bags and get out. He pointed out that “One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that even if you want to fight against a wave of anti-Semitism, the best thing is to leave if you can.”
Things are unlikely to get better for Jews living in Europe. High unemployment, the result of economic stagnation, and the continued arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East can only mean the continued scapegoating of the Jewish diminishing minority. The growing electoral power of the Muslim community throughout Europe, and the political bonding between far-left and far-right parties with the Muslim community bodes ill for Jews. The failure of European societies to integrate the Muslim community cannot be ignored as a factor in producing anti-Jewish violence. The EU Member States policies that condemn Israel’s defensive measures against Palestinian terrorism, and the boycott of Israeli products, provide a backwind for both the Islamists and their allies in the far-left and far-right, and an excuse for violent anti-Jewish hate speech that ends up with deadly action. The media in the EU states has likewise been one-sided and biased in its coverage of Israel.
The EU must launch a widespread educational program that will instill the values of tolerance, empathy, and non-violence. Political-correctness is meaningless without a comprehensive coeducational campaign that will explore the common values shared by all religions. School children, both native French and immigrants, must be taught the history of anti-Semitism and the lessons of the Holocaust. And, last but not least, a fair and balanced presentation of Middle East realities is a prerequisite for a behavior change.
While the EU governments and politicians are busy conducting surveys, and at the same time pandering to their radicalized Muslim minorities, normative Jewish life in Europe is slowly disappearing, and for some, it is time to pack up and leave.