Israel still a place of refuge

Barry Rubin published a piece about Jew-hatred in Holland yesterday. He made the point that

Traditionally, the Netherlands was friendly to Israel and while it has always had its anti-Semites and even, historically, fascists, it had far less proportionately than other European countries during the last half-century. In other words, if things are bad in the Netherlands, they’re really bad.

Today they are, he said, and he added,

Last year, the chief rabbi of the Netherlands spoke in a published interview in which he spoke extensively about his love for the country, the good treatment of Jews there, and other such points. Asked at the end, however, whether there was any future for Jews in the country he said, “No,” and advised the community to move to Israel.

A lot has to with the increase in the number of Muslims there, who are strongly anti-Israel and increasingly antisemitic. But it’s not an accident that antisemitism is often compared to a virus, and in Europe the immunity conferred by the Holocaust appears to be wearing off, and it is spreading in the general population.

In a few countries, including some whose Jewish population was almost entirely wiped out, anti-Jewish banners are routinely in evidence at soccer games. In Greece, Golden Dawn party leaders and activists routinely blame Jews for Greece’s economic problems, deny the holocaust, etc. There are only a few thousand Jews left in Greece (from a pre-WW2 population of about 77,000).

The 1,500 Jewish residents of Malmo, Sweden (pop. 300,000) are fleeing because of a combination of violent anti-Jewish acts by Muslims and an official attitude that it is the Jews’ fault. In Norway, with a tiny Jewish contingent of about 1,000 people, ‘Jew’ is a popular insult among high school students.

New figures put the Jewish population of the world at 13,800,000. 6 million of them are in Israel, 5.5 million in the US, 680,000 in Canada, 500,000 in France, and 290,000 in the UK. Jews in Europe are feeling more and more uncomfortable as a result of increasing antisemitism, from Muslim immigrants, the extreme Left, and of course the old-fashioned fascist Right. In France, it has taken a particularly violent form, and many French Jews feel that the authorities are not capable of protecting them.

Although its practitioners are at pains to deny it, the irrational and extreme hatred of Israel evident in many segments of European society has long since become substantially indistinguishable from Jew-hatred. There are similar trends in other places — in South America, where Hugo Chavez exploited anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes in the traditional way, and even to a smaller extent in Australia where there has recently been an influx of  Lebanese Muslims.

All this raises the question, “what about the US?”

On the one hand, in the US there is a very strong taboo against anything perceived as a form of racism — sometimes to the point of silliness. As I’ve written before, the trauma of institutionalized anti-black racism has created a reaction not dissimilar to the European one that followed the Holocaust (which was felt in the US to a lesser extent). Ethnic jokes and stereotypes are not acceptable in polite society or media here — far less so than in the UK, for example — even though our laws about what can be said in public are more permissive.

On the other, extreme anti-Zionism (what one blogger called “misoziony” and Judea Pearl referred to as “Zionophobia“), irrational hatred of the Jewish state, flourishes here on the Left and in academia. It does not trigger the antibodies of the anti-racism taboo, and indeed receives cover as an expression of free speech and academic freedom — the practitioners thereof understand this very well and push it to the limit.

The fact that anti-Zionism has become part of the conventional wisdom in universities is bad, because what happens there is what economists call a ‘leading indicator’ — a measure that has predictive value for the future. Today’s students are tomorrow’s business and political leaders, and we can already see the effects of this in the attitude toward Israel found among officials in the left-leaning Obama Administration (including the President himself).

Although we cannot predict for certain what will happen in the US, the experience of much of the rest of the world is not encouraging. So even American Jews can be excused if they return to the ‘outdated’ idea that the Jewish state exists in part to be a place of refuge for persecuted Jews.

It’s ironic to note that some of the extremists of the Israeli Left might not exist if their parents or grandparents hadn’t found refuge in the ‘Zionist entity’ that they love to revile!

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One Response to “Israel still a place of refuge”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    In most European countries there is a growing Muslim population and a declining Jewish one. The Jewish future in these particular countries is not promising.
    The U.S. is a special case but I believe the situation worrisome precisely for the reason you suggest. The University world produces the leaders of the future, and the Middle East Studies Departments there are dominated by Anti- Israel elements. The Islamic students contribute often to the hatred of Israel.
    Israel remains a highly popular country for the general American public. But if one looks more closely at the figures one discovers the anti- Israel element is greater among those with ‘higher educations’ than not. The campus is a true combat area here and there are Jewish groups working against the Unholy alliance of the Radical Left and the Islamic Right.

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