Anti-Semitism in Europe: The Hate that Never Goes Away

“Demonizing Jews while embracing their murderers—keeps European anti-Semitism thriving.”

The latest appeal letter by the World Jewish Congress (WJC), written by its President, Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, headlined “Is it Time for Jews to Leave Europe?” Lauder cited recent violent attacks against Jews.  Current polls indicate moreover, that a majority of European Jews do not feel comfortable wearing clothing or jewelry that identifies them as Jews.  Lauder added, “Make no mistake…the safety and security of European Jewry is in Jeopardy.”

The Manchester Evening News reported on September 8, 2015 that, “Moshe Fuerst, 17, from Prestwich was brutally assaulted and suffered a fractured skull at Bowker Vale Metrolink station (in Manchester, England). He was one of four Orthodox Jewish boys beaten up by a gang of three youths.”  In another case of an anti-Semitic hate crime occurring in August, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, two elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors were brutally attacked by two thugs.  The attackers called Shmuel and Diane Blog, 87 and 86, respectively, “Dirty Jews.” The beating left them wheelchair-bound, and cost Shmuel his sight.  The Dutch foreign minister issued a statement before his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he expressed concern about the rising wave of anti-Semitism in Europe.

What is abundantly clear is that the self-imposed moratorium on anti-Semitism that was kept in Europe immediately following the Holocaust is long gone.  The influx of Muslim immigrants into Europe, many of them radicalized by intolerant imams, preaching anti-Semitic sermons and violence. The radical-leftist parties have solicited their votes, and use the Jewish state as the collective Jew.  This has created a climate, which makes Jewish life in Europe less than safe.  In addition, the rise of ultra-right parties with their traditional anti-Semitism add to the mix of European Jewry anxieties. The Jews have once again become convenient scape-goats in a continent that 72-years ago witnessed the murder of Six Million Jews.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, in a speech before the European Parliament in Brussels (9/27/2016) explained that “Anti-Semitism is not about Jews. It is about anti-Semites.  It is about people who cannot accept responsibility for their own failures and have instead to blame someone else.”

Quoting figures from the European Union (EU) Agency for Fundamental Rights, according to Rabbi Sacks, almost a third of Europe’s Jews were considering emigrating because of anti-Semitism.  In France the figure was 46 percent; in Hungary 48 percent.  Crime was a major problem for Jews in Europe.  In France, 83 percent cited it as a problem; 82 percent in Belgium; 77% in Hungary; and 59% in the United Kingdom (UK).  The average EU response was 62 percent.

Rabbi Sacks asked rhetorically, “Would you stay in a country where you need armed police to guard you while you prayed? Where your children needed armed guards to protect them at school? Where, if you wear a sign of your faith in public, you risk being abused or attacked? Where, when your children go to university, they are insulted and intimidated because of what is happening in some other part of the world (The Middle East-JP)? Where, when they present their own view of the situation, they are howled down and silenced?”  It is an obvious reference to the climate in European universities, where the BDS campaigns are violent and supported by faculties, and at times by the administrations.

The virus of anti-Semitism has defeated the immune system time and again by mutating from one geographic center to another.  In the Middle Ages, and into the last 20th Century, Europe was the epicenter.  Today, Europe shares this “honor” with the Muslim Middle East.  To justify Jew-hatred or anti-Semitism, the haters always employed the highest source of authority in a given era.  In the Middle Ages in was religion, in the post-Enlightenment Europe it was science, and today it is human rights.  This is the current “justification” for the anti-Israel bias against the only free democracy in the Middle East.  The Jewish state has been falsely and maliciously accused of the worst kind of sins against human rights, including racism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing. 

Today’s anti-Semites find subterfuge in claiming that they are merely anti-Zionist, and not racist. They maintain that they have no problem with Jews or Judaism, and only have a problem with the Jewish state.  The irony is that there are 57 Muslim nations, 103 Christian ones, and only one Jewish state. That Jewish state constitutes one quarter of one percent of the Middle East landmass, and 1.58% of the population of the region.  Of the 193 member-states of the UN, Israel’s is the only country whose right to exist is regularly challenged.  Moreover, with notorious human rights abuses in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, etc., the double standards are quite apparent. To pick on Israel’s inclusive democracy is absurd as it is outrageous.  Former Soviet dissident, Nathan Sharansky, came out with a definition of the new anti-Semitism.  He called it the 3D Test of anti-Semitism: Demonization of Israel, Double Standard, and Delegitimization of Israel.

Sharansky writes, “When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz - this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel. When Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, are ignored – this is anti-Semitism. When Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied - alone among all peoples in the world - this too is anti-Semitism.”

Michael Oren, noted author, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and current Knesset member, in a CNN commentary (February 17, 2016) said: “Whether by Sweden’s foreign minister condemning Israel merely for defending its citizens from terror, or France’s foreign minister threatening to recognize Palestine unless Israel participated in the conference to recognize Palestine, Europe seems obsessed with Jews.  Unfortunately, that obsession—characterized by singling out and demonizing Jews while embracing their murderers—keeps European anti-Semitism thriving.”

U.S. Senate Bill 198 aimed at “continued and enhanced annual reporting to Congress in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom on anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, the safety and security of European Jewish communities, and the efforts of the U.S. to partner with European governments, the European Union, and civil society groups, to combat anti-Semitism…” In paragraph 2 in the same report, Congress made the following findings: According to reporting by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) between 2005 and 2014, anti-Semitic incidents increased in France from 508 to 851; in Germany from 60 to 173; in Belgium from 58 to 130; in Italy from 49 to 86; and in the UK from 459 to 1168.

A recent visit to Sweden by this reporter put things into perspective.  A synagogue in Stockholm, boarded up to give the appearance of an ordinary house, where one must call in advance and provide a name in order to enter for security reasons, reflects the fear the local Jews feel.  Young Jewish Swedes affirmed to this writer that there is no place for them in Sweden or Europe.  Another, a veteran of the Swedish army said he planned to move to Israel or the U.S.  It is apparent that in Europe hatred of Jews has never gone away.