Recent developments signal that the prospect of Europe sliding into a new Dark Age is now a horrifying reality. It is as though all the elements negating the open society have been blended into a witches’ brew to undermine Europe’s liberal cultural ethos.
First in line to suffer are the Jews, attacked from all sides, isolated, friendless and unable to adequately defend themselves. Their greatest threat is the rabidly anti-Semitic Muslims supported by anti-Semites from the far Left. This unholy alliance of religious and secular extremists employs radical anti-Israelism as a surrogate for traditional anti-Semitism and is now a fixture at Hezbollah and anti-Israeli demonstrations, where they wave placards and shamelessly accuse Israelis of emulating Nazis.
In contrast to the post-Vatican ll Catholics, most Protestant denominations (other than the evangelicals) have revived their vicious efforts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. Spearheaded by the radical World Council of Churches, many are vigorously pressing charges of deicide against the Jewish people and resurrecting replacement theology asserting that by rejecting Christ, Jews are no longer the Chosen People. They also collaborate with the Palestinians in promoting Jesus as a Palestinian rather than a Jew. Some even deny the historical link of Jews with the land of Israel, claiming that Jews are descendants of the Eurasian Khazars who converted to Judaism in the eighth century C.E., and that Palestinians are the truly indigenous people of the region.
Even non-governmental organizations promoting human rights have been hijacked by the radicals to demonize and delegitimize Israel, focusing far more attention on the construction of homes in exclusively Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem than on the carnage and murder of tens of thousands in Syria and other Muslim-ruled countries.
Officially, most European governments condemn anti-Semitism but, because of a combination of cowardice in facing Islamic violence and fear of losing Muslim electoral support, they abstain from taking the tough action required to turn the tide.
Multiculturalism and diversity are admirable qualities for a democracy but can only apply if all parties are committed to an open society.
European governments failed to integrate Muslim migrants, enabling radical Islamists to create separatist educational and religious institutions. Their schools and mosques are directed by jihadists and frequently financed by Saudi Wahhabi fanatics who brainwash the second generation of migrants into becoming more radical in Europe than their parents had been in their countries of origin.
It is from such incubators that children raised in Europe become engaged in hate crimes, with some graduating into jihadi terrorists.
Now there is a frightening additional development with the massive infusion of youngsters volunteering to fight in Syria with al-Qaida and who return to their countries as hardened killers. It is estimated that thousands of European Muslims are, or at one time were, engaged in the fighting in Syria. Most will return home as seasoned killers imbued with jihadi hatred and seeking new targets, primarily Jews.
Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people, including three Jewish children and their teacher, in Toulouse in 2012 and Mehdi Nemmouche, who murdered four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum, both had jihadi experience.
Regrettably, the culture of political correctness and fear of accusations of Islamophobia for criticizing any aspect of Islam or Muslim behavior prevents appropriate response. Neither the EU nor individual European governments are willing to take tough decisive action, which must include closing extremist Islamic schools, ruthlessly excluding jihadi mullahs from the mosques and aggressively prosecuting Muslim elements engaged in hate crimes, riots or law infringement.
An example of the pernicious extent of Islamic influence was the speech delivered by EU Middle East policy chief Catherine Ashton on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, when, to avoid offending Muslims, she omitted any mention of the Jews – the primary victims of the Nazi genocide.
The recent mushrooming of popular support for radical right political parties has intensified the problem.
Some Jews instinctively feel that the strengthening of the enemies of our enemies is to our benefit. They are wrong. The far Right has indeed been galvanized by those who feel threatened by Muslims. But many (not all) are equally anti-Semitic. Yet, while most individual Jewish voters are likely to avoid extremist parties – both Left and Right – Jewish community policy should be highly selective before officially confronting Right-wing parties.
These range from the British U.K. Independence Party, which shuns anti-Semitism, to France’s National Front, which ”softly” distances itself from its anti-Semitic past, to Greece’s blatantly neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, the Hungarian Jobbik party, and the National Democratic Party of Germany, whose anti-Jewish paranoia Hitler would have eagerly endorsed.
Golden Dawn and Jobbik must be confronted. However, Jews should be officially neutral about the U.K. Independence Party which has assiduously dissociated itself from any anti-Semitism and refused to associate with parties tainted with Jew-hatred.
The National Front is more problematic. Officially, Marine Le Pen has dissociated her party from its former anti-Semitic past and condemned Holocaust denial. Although most of the party’s supporters are not hostile to Jews it still carries some of its former anti-Semitic baggage and Le Pen’s father, a notorious and unrepentant Holocaust denier, remains the honorary chairman and an EU parliamentarian.
So long as leadership elements genuinely strive to discard former anti-Semitic associations and unless the party formally adopts anti-Jewish policies, it would be counterproductive to officially designate the largest political party in France as anti-Semitic. The challenge for Jewish leaders is to identify and expose the anti-Semites who are obsessed with insane theories about a global American–Zionist conspiracy, such as Aymeric Chauprade, one of Marine Le Pen’s foreign policy advisers.
It should also be noted that although 70 percent of the French population fear Islamic domination, that has not stemmed the tide of traditional anti-Semitism, as evidenced by the popular support enjoyed by comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala with his “quenelle,” the inverted Nazi salute.
The writing is clearly on the wall. Hostility is intensifying with renewed efforts to ban circumcision and shechita (kosher slaughter) by hypocritical societies that respect hunting as a sport.
In a sense, it is even worse for Jews today than during the 1930s when at least the liberals and the Left combatted anti-Semitism. What is more depressing is that, as a rule, the public is even more anti-Semitic than the government and perceives Israel as the principal source of global evil – no different to the Middle Ages when the Jews were regarded as the source of all natural disasters such as plagues and famine.
Despite the hullaballoo surrounding Islamophobia, it is Jews and not Muslims, who require armed guards at their schools and houses of worship. And the hate crimes, now including murder, perpetrated against Jews are infinitely more acute than those suffered by Muslim minorities. Indeed it is preponderantly Muslims who are engaged in violence against Jews.
The two major European Jewish communities react differently. The vast majority of French Jews are under no illusion about their future and many are planning to leave. Their leaders speak out, courageously protest against anti-Semitism and defend Israel.
In contrast, much of Anglo Jewry remains in denial, deluding themselves that their lives are unaffected by anti-Semitism despite what they read and see in the media and what their children endure at the university campus. Their leaders, the traditional “trembling Israelites,” believe primarily in “silent diplomacy” and seem to have only marginal influence in the corridors of power.
Most Jews cannot be expected to live like pariahs. To continue to live a Jewish life in which anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism occupy such dominant roles is soul-destroying, especially for youngsters.
There are today about 1.5 million Jews in Europe – just one-seventh of the prewar numbers. There will always be Jews in Europe, but the communities will shrink to tiny enclaves unless the tide is turned. Those in a financial position to do so will voluntarily leave or at least encourage their children to leave. Many will come to Israel.
In this highly depressing European environment, we can begin to visualize how Jews felt in the 1930s, unable to obtain entry visas from any country to escape the Nazis as the Holocaust approached. It should make us appreciate more than ever how blessed we are to have a Jewish state powerful enough to defend us from the barbarians at our gates and able to provide a haven and assistance to Jews in need.
The writer may be contacted at [email protected].
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom