The time has come for European Jews to pull their heads out of the sand, face reality and ask themselves honestly whether there can be any meaningful prospects for their children to remain proud Jews in societies which have reverted to treating them as pariahs.
Less than seventy years ago the soil of Europe was drenched in Jewish blood. Orchestrated by Germany, considered the most cultured country in Europe, six million Jews were brutally murdered in a meticulously planned genocidal campaign. The vast majority of Germans and citizens of Nazi-occupied territories either collaborated or closed their eyes as millions of their Jewish neighbors were deported and systematically exterminated.
After that terrible era the call went out “Never Again”. Yet just a few decades later, the evil winds of visceral anti-Semitism are again raging throughout Europe with the addition of the nation state of the Jews acting as surrogate to the conventional demonization of individual Jews. For many Jews, it now directly impacts on the fundamental quality of their daily secular and interpersonal lives.
The great source of concern is the extent to which indigenous Europeans have revived the hostility and prejudice deeply embedded in their religion and culture, which many mistakenly believed had been permanently excised after the horrors of the Holocaust.
Additionally, in most European countries, Muslim immigrants in escalating numbers are assuming an increasingly more powerful role in society and politics. They have imported vile concepts originating from their former anti- Semitic society and culture, imitating and even exceeding obscene Nazi propaganda. This is exemplified by the portrayal of Jews killing Muslim children in order to obtain their blood to bake Matzot, or Mullahs calling on the faithful to murder the Jewish descendants of apes and pigs. Not surprisingly, Muslim immigrants are thus also disproportionately involved in the upsurge of physical violence directed against Jews.
European opinion polls express a contemporary version of this approach when they explicitly regard Israel as the greatest threat to global peace and stability – exceeding North Korea, Iran or Syria. What is this if not a 21st century rendition of the medieval hatred in which Jews were viewed as Satan’s representatives on earth and blamed for natural disasters such as earthquakes, plagues and poisoned wells?
The more sophisticated indigenous European version targets the nation state of the Jews, defaming Israel’s army – the most humane military force in the world – accusing it of war crimes, of deliberately killing children, and even behaving like Nazis. Holocaust inversion has now penetrated the mainstream and become a major vehicle promoting hatred of Jews and diverting European guilt for the Holocaust by obscenely accusing its survivors of engaging in similar genocidal activities.
The anti-Semitic attacks affect all Diaspora Jews other than those masking their Jewish identity or currying favor by collaborating with Israel’s enemies. The concentration of venom directed against the Jewish state is particularly grotesque when one takes into account that Israel is the only democratic state in a region where Muslim fundamentalism reigns supreme, imposes barbaric practices, denies elementary human rights and freedom of worship and shamelessly indulges in violence and murder of minorities and state-sanctioned persecution. Whilst Arab states like Syria blatantly butcher their citizens en masse, the spotlight remains centered on condemning Israel’s efforts to defend itself from neighbors seeking its destruction.
It is no exaggeration to describe the situation as worse than the 1930s. Then Jews could at least rely on liberals or segments of the left to support them against the Nazis. Alas, today, these groups frequently lead the anti-Semitic pack.
One need only observe the European media and the vicious talkbacks endorsing anti-Jewish attacks to appreciate how the levels of anti-Semitic paranoia now directly impact on the fundamental quality of their daily lives.
In “polite” society and amongst the so-called enlightened intelligentsia it is rationalized as postmodernism combined with extraordinary guilt about Europe’s colonial past. These concepts have assumed a crucial role in European thinking and are frequently employed as a rationale for demonizing Israel as a colonial implant.
What is particularly shocking is the extraordinary growth of popular anti-Semitism amongst the Left and Right, even in Germany, a country which obviously has a special obligation to distance itself from any vestige of anti-Semitism. Gunter Grass’s extraordinarily crude outburst against Israel merited a huge groundswell of popular support. The German government attempted to resist these elements but when one observes the state-funded Jewish Museum inviting as its guest a woman who justifies Hezbollah and Hamas and promotes BDS against Israel, the impact of the radical anti-Jewish currents on institutions is only too evident.
European Jews today do not merely confront a hostile anti-Jewish media. They face increasing violence and even murder. The French Toulouse massacre, in lieu of acting as a wake-up call, generated greater violence against Jews and led to the exposure of terrorist cells preparing to murder Jews. There are ongoing anti-Israeli demonstrations in which signs and chants of “Gas the Jews”, “Hitler was right” or “Slit the throats of Jews” are everyday events and anti-Semitism is escalating not only in France but in the UK, Sweden, Hungary, Germany and throughout most of Europe.
It is not merely that Jewish children increasingly encounter anti-Semitism in schools and that Jews are becoming progressively regarded as detestable pariahs. Today, in many European countries, there is ever growing agitation to ban circumcision and Shechita – Jewish ritual slaughter. In some areas Jews even feel obliged to remove their skullcaps to avoid being attacked on the street.
The most chilling feature of the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Europe is that it does not emanate from governments or leaders but has infected the masses and is growing at the grassroots level and thus likely to intensify.
Surely these awful developments represent clear signals that Jews are no longer welcome. How is it possible to bring up children to proudly maintain their Jewish identity in such a climate?
Jews have a weakness of denying the reality and toxicity of anti-Semitism until it reaches unbearable levels. But now the time has arrived for Jews to take stock of themselves and consider aliya as a response to the growing hatred that threatens to engulf them.
Unlike their predecessors in the 1930s who were denied entry visas and had nowhere to flee, today Israel, with its law of return, provides a haven and welcomes Jewish immigrants – young or old. Understandably, many may find it economically prohibitive to make aliya but they can at least ensure that their children not remain trapped in societies which hold them in contempt.
Committed Jews living in a Jewish state will not merely find a refuge. They will discover that it will enhance the quality of their lives and ensure that their children grow up to be proud Jews, able to absorb their Jewish religious and cultural heritage to the maximum.
The writer may be contacted at [email protected]
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post