Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Europe's Sad Trendlines

I have never understood antisemitism. Perhaps it is because my high school was about 20% Jewish and the way I was raised to see them as no more funky than Unitarians, but I've just never understood those who hate Jews.

As best I can tell, those who seem the most rabidly anti-Jewish seem to be doing so from a base of envy and jealousy more than anything else. A little bit of the primitive brain-stem distrust of "the other" maybe - but my vote has always been along the same lines as where bullies come from; insecurity and envy. 

In many areas, Jews box way above their weight economically, academically, and culturally - and that is fine. From what I have seen, as a group they got to where they are the old fashioned way - they worked hard and earned it.

Emphasize education, hard work, and success in a culture and what do you get? Ummm ... education and success. Network inside family and social connections and ... you grow your business and influence. Hey, as a people they have survived all that tried to eliminate them - their survival didn't happen by accident.

From the Romans to the Nazis; expulsions from England to Spain and other places to the modern Muslim world - they have prospered. They turned the neglected deserts of Palestine in an island of modernity and prosperity surrounded by retrograde squalor. 

They've been denied full rights, concentrated into ghettos, oppressed, slaughtered at a whim - but they survived and prospered where others would have faded in to squalor.

Hey, stadiums full of PhD's have tried to understand the history and causes of antisemitism - I'm not going to do better. Anyway, as with most hate against "the other" - it is irrational.

I am also a Europhile. I lived there for years and in many ways miss it very much - but there is something rotting around the edges of Europe. As they have been before, Jews are often the canary in the coal mine.

As such, it was with heavy heart that I read this from Mosaic;
A large-scale survey commissioned by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) tells a tale of widespread and persistent anti-Semitism. Although the full study is not due to be released until October, the salient facts have been summarized by EU officials and by researchers like Dov Maimon, a French-born Israeli scholar at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem. Among the findings: more than one in four Jews report experiencing anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the twelve months preceding the survey; one in three have experienced such harassment over the past five years; just under one in ten have experienced a physical attack or threat in the same period; and between two-fifths and one-half in France, Belgium, and Hungary have considered emigrating because they feel unsafe.

Statistics from my native France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, go back farther in time and tell an even darker tale. Since 2000, 7,650 anti-Semitic incidents have been reliably reported to the Jewish Community Security Service and the French ministry of the interior; this figure omits incidents known to have occurred but unreported to the police. The incidents range from hate speech, anti-Semitic graffiti, and verbal threats to defacement of synagogues and other Jewish buildings, to acts of violence and terror including arson, bombings, and murder.

And that is just France. All over Europe, with exceptions here and there, the story is much the same. Nor do the figures take into account the menacing atmosphere created by the incessant spewing of hatred against the people and the state of Israel at every level of society, including the universities and the elite and mass media, to the point where polls show as many as 40 percent of Europeans holding the opinion that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians; or the recent moves to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter; or the intense social pressures created by the rise of radical and often violent Islam of the kind that targeted Samuel Sandler’s son and grandchildren (and of which more below).

Statements by EU officials and others, even while they acknowledge the “frightening” degree of anti-Semitism prevalent in today’s Europe, and even while they promise to “fight against it with all the means at their disposal,” also contend (in the words of the prime minister of Baden-Württemberg) that anti-Semitism is “not present in the heart of society” or in “major political parties.” Such bland reassurances have quite understandably brought little comfort.

Against this backdrop, it is little wonder that even so sober an analyst as Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of definitive works on the history and dynamics of anti-Semitism, has concluded that although the final endpoint of European Jewry may be decades in coming, “any clear-sighted and sensible Jew who has a sense of history would understand that this is the time to get out.”
There are only two places that a Jew can go to and have a chance to prosper, that is the USA and Israel.

Sure, you can point to a few other places and the UK perhaps, but the UK, like most of Europe, is going to have to deal with the demographic nightmare of their own creation that is only going to get worse - and make it so no Jew will feel really at home;
From the 1970s on, everything changed. The European birthrate plummeted, just as immigration from Muslim countries was attaining unprecedented heights. Today, Muslim immigrants and their children amount to 10 percent or more of the population in major countries like Germany and France as well as in Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In the United Kingdom and Denmark, Muslims comprise upward of 5 percent of the population.

Estimates of actual figures vary since most European countries do not allow ethnic or religious census or registration, immigrants are reluctant to give accurate information about themselves or their families, and Muslims in particular resort to taqia (dissimulation about their identity and religious practice) when and as they deem it necessary. What is undeniable is that the proportion of Muslims in European society is rapidly increasing, either naturally or by further immigration or by conversion of non-Muslims, and that the proportion of Muslims in the youngest age brackets is much higher than the proportion overall.

The entire French population, including overseas territories, stands currently at 67 million. Some seven to ten million of these—10 to 15 percent—are non-European, mostly Muslim immigrants or children of immigrants. Among younger cohorts, the figures are much higher: 20 to 25 percent of those under twenty-five are of non-European and Muslim origin. Within the next half-century, unless the ethnic French embark on a new baby boom of their own, or immigration stops, or immigrant fertility falls dramatically, France will become a half-Islamic and half-Islamized nation.

This is quite problematic in itself, and all the more problematic to the degree that Islam overlaps with radical Islam: a philosophy and a way of life that reject democracy, the open society, and, needless to add, Jews. Islamists see Europe as an Islamic-society-in-the-making; attempts by ethnic Europeans or by democratically-minded Muslims to reverse that process, or to reconcile Islam with European and democratic values, are regarded prima facie as “Islamophobia”: i.e., a Western war on Islam. Indeed, in the radical Islamic view, any objection or opposition to Islam or to the transformation of Western secular democracy into Islamic theocracy vindicates jihadism as a legitimate form of self-defense.

In Islam: The French Test, the veteran French journalist Elisabeth Schemla, formerly an editor at the leftwing magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, conservatively estimates Muslims in France at seven million. In her judgment, based on survey data, one third of that community—fully two million people—already embrace radical Islam, and the proportion is steadily growing. She quotes Marwan Muhamad, secretary-general of the ominously named Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF): “By what right can anyone say that, 30 years from now, France will not be a Muslim country? . . . No one in this country can wrest from us . . . our right to hope for an entire society faithful to Islam. . . . No one in this country can decide French national identity for us.” The Committee’s logo features the capital letters “CCIF” arranged so as to suggest an alternative reading: çaif, the Arabic word for sword.

Mohamed Merah, the murderer of Samuel Sandler’s son and grandchildren, started his killing spree last year by slaying a lone French soldier in Toulouse on March 11. Four days later he shot three more soldiers in the nearby town of Montauban: two died on the spot; the third, severely wounded, is now a quadriplegic. Merah selected his eight victims in order to “avenge” Islam, as he boasted shortly before being gunned down by security forces. Presumably the four soldiers, either of North African or West Indian origin, were guilty of betraying their Muslim brethren by joining an “enemy” army that has been fighting in Afghanistan, the Sahara, and the Sahel, and that defends the (by definition) Islamophobic French state. As for his Jewish victims, are not all Jews the enemies of Palestinians in particular and the worldwide Muslim umma in general?

Manuel Valls, the French interior minister, has warned that the growing radicalization of the Islamic milieu in France is producing “dozens of new Merahs” every year. And France is hardly alone: one need only recall the slaughter of the film director Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands in 2004; the Madrid train bombings in the same year; the London suicide bombings in 2005; or the beheading in London this year of the British soldier Lee Rigby.

Islamist violence is not only a matter of murder or terror—often, as we have seen, directed at Jews. Most frequently it manifests itself in intimidation, taking the form of petty crime and racketeering, threatening behavior on trains and buses, or full-fledged rioting and looting. While not always openly Islamic in character, these acts primarily involve Muslim youths, as was the case in the French riots this year and earlier in 2005, and in this year’s Swedish riots. The implicit message they convey is clear enough: any perceived slight to the Muslim “nation within the nation” is liable to trigger mob violence or even urban warfare. They thereby strengthen the bargaining power of Muslim organizations, especially the radical ones, vis-à-vis the government and the political class.
In America, we really have no idea how big of a problem this is. Our immigration challenges are mostly of Latin Catholics - which isn't really a crisis - ... culturally not even close to Arab Muslims.
For years, some Jewish leaders entertained delusory expectations concerning the rise of Islam in Europe. Some believed that a more religiously diverse Europe would conduce to an even more secure place for Judaism in the long term. Others thought that by joining the fight against such conventionally defined evils as “anti-immigration bigotry,” “anti-Arab racism,” and “anti-Islamic prejudice,” European Jews would earn the affection and gratitude of Islam at large and perhaps even contribute to peace between Israel and its neighbors. Still others were of the view that Muslims would gradually become integrated and assimilated into the European mainstream, just like Jews in the past.

Such hopes are long gone. The sad fact is that many European Muslims subscribe to the unreconstructed forms of anti-Semitism that are prevalent in the Muslim world at large, and are impervious to any kind of Holocaust-related education. In today’s Europe, hard-core anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity, from harassment in the street or at school to arson and murder, is mostly the doing of Muslims.
Survivors if nothing else - the wise among them can see where things are going.
For many European Jews, there is indeed a déjà vu quality to the present situation. Like Israelis, but unlike most American Jews, today’s European Jews are survivors, or children of survivors, either of the Holocaust or of the near-complete expulsion of Jews from Islamic countries that took place in the second half of the 20th century. They know, from personal experience or from the testimony of direct and irrefutable witnesses, how things unfolded in the not too distant past, and how a seemingly normal Jewish life could be destroyed overnight. When anti-Semitic incidents or other problems accumulate, they can’t help asking whether history is repeating itself.

“Call it the yogurt’s-expiration-date syndrome,” an elderly, Moroccan-born Frenchman recently said to me. He elaborated:
Right after Morocco won its independence from France in 1956, my family joined the country’s ruling elite. My father, a close friend of King Mohammed V, had access to everybody in the government. It went on like that for two or three years. Then one day, out of the blue, Father told us we were leaving. We children asked why. “We’ve passed the yogurt’s expiration date,” he said. “We have no future in Morocco; as long as we’re free to go, we must go.” So we left, leaving behind most of our money and belongings. Ever since then, wherever I’ve lived, I’ve been on the lookout for the yogurt’s expiration date. In France, I think it’s close.
To contemporary European Jews like this one, today’s anxieties thus also recall the crucial choice they or their parents made some 30 or 50 or 70 years ago when, having survived the Holocaust, they resolved to stay in Europe—more accurately, in Western Europe, under the American umbrella—or, having been forced out of Islamic countries, to flee to Europe. Was this the right choice, after all? Hadn’t a majority both of the surviving European Jews and of the refugees from the Arab world decided otherwise?

Yes, they had; and here too a little history is helpful. Back in the early 1930s, there were about 10 million self-identified Jews in Europe (including the USSR). There were also others—estimates range from one to three million—who for one reason or another had converted to Christianity but retained a consciousness of their Jewish identity or who had intermarried or otherwise assimilated into Gentile society without converting.

Half of this prewar European population perished in the Holocaust. Of the five to seven million survivors, about 1.5 million emigrated to the newborn state of Israel throughout the late 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Another half-million made it to the United States—a number that would surely have been higher had the restrictive quota system introduced in the 1920’s not still been in place. About 200,000 wound up in Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America, South Africa, and Australia/ New Zealand. As for the roughly 2.5 million locked up in the Soviet Union and Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, most made their way to Israel or the United States whenever the opportunity presented itself.
A great irony would be this; in a large measure, Europeans let in large groups of Arab, North African - and in the UK's case South Asian - Muslims largely as atonement for the large-scale slaughter of Jews in Europe during WWII. Any attempt for the better part of half a century to bring up that this might not be a good idea, was immediately shouted down with cries of, "racist, fascist, Nazi, bigot!" etc. 

Only until recently can you raise the topic, but even now you still get called names. 2-5% of a population that is unassimilated but benign - such as Amish or Buddhist Thai - is fine to a culture at large. 20-50% of a population that is hostile and unassimilated, well then you have Malmo, Sweden and other garden spots of multiculturalism.
Can it really be that European Jewry was reborn after the Holocaust only in order to die again? Can it be that, even as Jews, you only live twice? History, of course, is unpredictable except in retrospect. But it would be irresponsible in the extreme to brush off the possibility of demise; “unthinkable” is no longer a word in the Jewish vocabulary. The sober assessment of Robert Wistrich, the instincts of Samuel Sandler and so many other European Jews—these rest on firm foundations. The expiration date looms nearer, however slowly and by whatever intermediate stages it may finally arrive.

A mitigating view of today’s situation might have it that, at the very least, divine providence did beneficently afford to about two million European Jews a brief golden age, a true rebirth, which in turn brought fresh luster to European civilization as well as encouragement and inspiration to millions of their fellow Jews around the world, most especially in the Jewish state. True enough; but what is no less certain is that the end of European Jewry, a millennia-old civilization and a crowning achievement of the human spirit, will deliver a lasting blow to the collective psyche of the Jewish people. That it will also render a shattering judgment on the so-called European idea, exposed as a deadly travesty for anyone with eyes to see, is cold comfort indeed.
What is the direction for Europe?

Well, as its Jews shrink, something else it taking its place.
From her deckchair on a beach in southern Italy, Gina Bova watched with interest as the small, rickety fishing boat was pushed by the waves closer to the shore. It was a windy Saturday afternoon in August, and the beach was packed with holidaying families, picnicking on tubs of home made pasta and fresh figs.

But suddenly, as the boat hit the shallow sandbank, the passengers sprung overboard and made a dash to the shore, with police in hot pursuit.

"But there were lots more migrants than police," said Mrs Bova, 63. "The police grabbed a few of them, but most ran up the beach and off into the hills. There wasn't a lot anyone could do."

Her feeling of inevitability is one shared by the Italian authorities – and their counterparts across Europe.

Around 1,000 migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa have landed in Italy in the last week alone, and the waves of migrants show no sign of decreasing.

On Friday another 140 Egyptians and Syrians arrived – this time further west along the coast, in Sicily. A further 200 migrants landed on Saturday. The United Nations Refugee Agency says that the number of Egyptians arriving in Italy has doubled, from 836 in 2012, to 1,641 so far this year.
They come, they get benefits, they have many times more children than their native neighbors.

The future belongs to those who show up. Europe will not be a calm place in the second half of this century. No, not even close. Less Luxemburg - more Lebanon - and unquestionably fewer Jews.

Net gain for us. If there is one group who produces more than takes - it is the Jews.

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