The rising anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel, particularly in Europe, have led to a change in behavior and attitudes of large segments of the Jewish population there. While this change has taken place over a longer period, much of it occurred in this century. Some of these changes, however, such as thinking about whether to emigrate, are not necessarily linked exclusively to an unattractive national environment for conscious Jews, but also to more general factors such as the economic situation, secularization, new European values, and so on.
As shown previously, much but not all of current European anti-Semitism is closely linked to the demonization of Israel. Other factors are in play as well. The quantitative impact of each of them cannot be ascertained. One of them is classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism. The existence of above-average numbers of aggressive anti-Semites among the Muslim immigrant commu- nity is another one. A further factor is the ineffectiveness of the fight against anti-Semitism by the authorities of various countries. Yet another one is the secularization of Europe, which facilitates public attacks on core Jewish rituals such as circumcision and ritual slaughter.
The impact of anti-Semitism on Jewish attitudes is manifested in many ways. They include increased fear of anti-Semitic attacks, the hiding of Jewish identity in the public domain by many Jews, increased security measures
for Jewish institutions, changes in one’s social contacts, no longer informing authorities or monitoring organizations about anti-Semitic incidents, moving out of certain cities, emigration or considering it, as well as community leaders wondering whether there is a future for “conscious” Jews in Europe. An issue apart is how to react to attempts to prohibit Jewish rituals.
Much anecdotal material on these subjects has been available for many years. The 2013 FRA study provides insight into the quantitative importance of several of the changes in attitudes. The study confirms the impact of anti- Semitism on Jewish communities.1 Yet what is true for one community is not necessarily true for another, even in the same country. In France, for instance, Jews live rather undisturbed in the affluent Paris suburb of Neuilly sur Seine, which has a significant Jewish population. In other suburbs—for instance, some with many Muslim inhabitants—the situation may be very different.
One of those who consider that “normative Jewish life in Europe is unsus- tainable” is European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor. He said so in April 2014 when presenting the results of a study on worldwide anti-Semitism in 2013 by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University. He cited increasing anti-Semitism and “fear and inse- curity” as reasons.2
A month earlier Prasquier said in London, “Today, much more acutely than when I left my position as President of CRIF ten months ago, the question of our lasting presence in France is raised . . . Today in the Jewish community, there is hardly a conversation when the subject of leaving [France] is not brought up.” He added that the Jewish Agency and Israeli authorities expect about forty thousand French Jews to immigrate to Israel in the coming years.3 Wistrich says that the atmosphere in Europe is such that Jews will not be able to stay there much longer: “Any clear-sighted and sensible Jew, who has a sense of history, would understand that this is the time to get out.” He adds that in two to three decades, the Jews’ history in postwar Europe will have come to an end: “It’s finished . . . It’s a slow death . . . The many efforts to counter anti- Semitism are important yet Sisyphean in that there is no chance for them to overcome the ever-strengthening forces of hatred . . . These trends are far more powerful than people even begin to understand.”4
Ira Forman, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, saw the situation somewhat differently. He said, “It’s hard to empty half a million Jews out of France in any short period of time, but I do think the viability of communities is a concern.” He added, “If current trends continue or get worse, I can see some of the smaller communities essentially disappearing.”5
Operation Protective Edge: A Selection of Incidents
The anti-Semitic eruption during Operation Protective Edge evoked additional remarks on the future of Jews in Europe.
The most severe of a limited selection of incidents took place before the campaign started. Four people were killed in an attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum at the end of May. The person charged with this crime is Mehdi Nemmouche, a French volunteer who had spent a year as a jihadi in Syria. The weapons found in his possession were wrapped in a cloth bearing the sign of ISIS.6 He was later identified by a former ISIS captive as his torturer in Syria.7
The most violent attacks during Protective Edge were in France. Two syna- gogues in Paris were attacked by Muslim mobs after an anti-Israeli demonstra- tion. A grocery store owned by Jews in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles was burned.8 In Frankfurt the police succumbed to pressure and lent their megaphone to a leader of a pro-Palestinian crowd. He used it to shout anti-Semitic slogans.9 In
Copenhagen a school was vandalized with the slogans “No peace in Gaza” and “No peace to you Zionist pigs,” in addition to having its windows smashed.10 In Belfast, Northern Ireland, a synagogue was vandalized a number of times.11 Some Jews were attacked. In Amsterdam, a Jewish woman was severely beaten. In some countries there were shops, restaurants, and others who denied entrance to Israelis or to Jews. In the Belgian town of Liege, a shop put a sign in its window that said in Turkish, “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances.”
At the end of July in Malmö, Sweden, stones were thrown through the windows of the synagogue. A few days later various objects, including a glass bottle, were thrown at the rabbi and a congregant.12
In Antwerp a Flemish doctor broke his Hippocratic Oath. A family member of a ninety-year-old Jewish woman, who had fractured a rib, called a medical hotline. The physician who answered refused to come and attend to the injured woman, and said that she should go to Gaza and after a few hours she would feel no pain.13
In Iceland a caravan company refused to rent to Israelis. Earlier it had called its low season “Jew Season.”14 In Hungary an extreme right-wing mayor hanged effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and of former President Shimon Peres in a mock execution.15
Though many of the incidents took place in Europe, there was also violence in other continents. In Calgary, Canada, peaceful pro-Israeli demonstra- tors who came to protest a pro-Palestinian march were injured and verbally harassed by pro-Palestinian demonstrators. One pro-Israeli demonstrator was punched in the face trying to protect her younger brother, and another was dragged several feet with an Israeli flag tied around his neck while pro-Palestinian demonstrators shouted “Kill the Jews” and “Hitler was right.”16
Anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism increased elsewhere in Canada during Protective Edge. In Montreal a man was punched in the face while walking out of a kosher restaurant, a Hasidic woman was slapped in the face, and a dog was ordered to attack a Jewish boy.17
In Sydney, Australia, during this time a bus full of elementary-aged Jewish children was boarded by drunken teenagers. They spent about forty-five minutes shouting “Heil Hitler” and “Kill the Jews” while threatening the young children.18
Protective Edge: Are Jews Secure?
British Jews, like their conationals, often prefer the understatement to express their opinions. During the Protective Edge campaign journalist Hugo Rifkind of The Times wrote of his discomfort with being a British Jew: “Never before have I felt that attitudes towards Jews in Europe—and even, albeit less so, in Britain—could grow far, far worse before a whole swathe of supposedly progressive thought was even prepared to notice.”19
In a conversation with Israel’s Channel 2, BBC Television Director Danny Cohen said, “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually. Because you feel it. I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before actually.”20
Roger Cukierman, president of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, said regarding the anti-Israeli protests in France during Protective Edge, “They are not screaming ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris. They are screaming ‘Death to Jews.’”21
The only resident chief rabbi in the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs, said on a television program that Jews feel unsafe in the Netherlands and are being threatened and insulted on the streets. He noted that he himself also wonders whether or not it is safe for him to remain in the Netherlands. Jacobs has, however, come to the conclusion that he has to stay—because the captain is the last one to leave the ship.22
David Beesemer is the chairman of Maccabi in the Netherlands. He was quoted by the Jewish weekly NIW as saying, “I am now constantly busy with wondering whether I can offer my children a safe future here. Before the sum- mer of 2014 I did not even think about this.”23
David Serphos, former director of the Ashkenazi community in Amsterdam, wrote:
I don’t dare trust the authorities after the mayor of The Hague, and now even of Amsterdam do not interfere when Jews and Judaism are threatened . . . Often I spoke jocularly with friends about reliable addresses to go into hiding [like in the Second World War] if it would ever be necessary. In recent times I look far more seriously at that very short list.24
Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Organization of Jews in Germany, ob- served, “These are the worst times since the Nazi era.” He continued:
On the streets, you hear things like “the Jews should be gassed,” “the Jews should be burned”—we haven’t had that in Germany for decades. Anyone saying those slogans isn’t criticizing Israeli politics, it’s just pure hatred against Jews: nothing else. And it’s not just a German phenomenon. It’s an outbreak of hatred against Jews so intense that it’s very clear indeed.25
In an interview with the Rheinische Post Graumann noted the solidarity of the churches and political elites with the German Jews. He added, however, that Jewish citizens felt left alone by ordinary citizens. He said that hundreds of Jews had asked his organization whether they should stay in Germany or leave.26
In July 2014, after firebombs were thrown at a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, Graumann’s predecessor Charlotte Knobloch said that Jews should, at least for the moment, hide their identity. Otherwise the risk of an attack would be too great.27
In Frankfurt the Jewish community left the Council of Religions because of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli statements by Muslim representatives. One of the Jewish leaders, Leo Latasch, said that these “people are not the ones we can work with.”28
In an article the German Social Democrat Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed solidarity with the country’s Jews. He wrote—even though it is doubtful that this was true—that in the present situation, the whole country stands behind its Jewish fellow citizens. He added, “We are grateful that after the Shoah so many Jews once again live here.” That is far from self-evident.29
German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed her solidarity with German Jewry in a rally in Berlin where she said that “the hundred thousand Jews living in Germany are a national treasure.” She also noted that there was not a single Jewish institution in the country that did not require police protection in the current climate. She asserted that it was every German’s duty to take a stand.30 As aforementioned, Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, summed it all up: “Normative Jewish life in Europe is unsustainable.”31
At a conference held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, addressed the European problem. She said that the growing number of anti- Semitic acts “are not only a threat to the Jewish community, they are a threat to the larger project of European liberalism and pluralism.” She added that “rising anti-Semitism is rarely the lone or the last expression of intolerance in a society.” In particular, she singled out Merkel as among the political leaders who have stood strongly against anti-Semitism.32
During Protective Edge it also became clear that in many places the police and the authorities simply looked away from anti-Semitic expressions by demonstrators.33
Stephan Kramer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s European Office on anti-Semitism, said in an interview during Protective Edge that it appeared inciters from Hamas and other organizations in Germany were trying to escalate the situation. He added that his impression was that the police were no longer masters of the situation in certain places. In Kramer’s view the deescalation strategies were leading to appeasement, but not to the understanding that violence should not be permitted. When asked about it, he said that he doubted whether the Jewish minority in Europe is secure.34
As early as 2012 Kramer, then secretary-general of the Zentralrat, said that he no longer trusted the Germans. “Only the Jews can save themselves.” He added that he always carried a gun, which he had to show to someone who had harassed him on Yom Kippur so as to frighten him away.35
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, wrote in the Jewish Chronicle: “I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of Jewish history in Europe. What makes the situation in Europe unique in history is the fact that Europe has become very intolerant of identities in a multicultural and post-nationalist environment.”
This new antisemitism is very connected to Israel—demonization, delegitimization and double-standards—and is now so deep in the core of European political and intellectual leaders that practically every Jew is being asked to choose between being loyal to Israel and loyal to Europe. That insecurity is due to Muslim immigration and the rise of the classical right, which sees the Jews as the “other.”36
Many European politicians condemned the anti-Semitic demonstrations. A joint statement by Steinmeier, Italy’s Federica Mogherini, and France’s Laurent Fabius declared, “Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies.” Similarly, French President Hollande met with Jewish and Muslim leaders to declare that fighting anti-Semitism would become a “national cause.”37 French Prime
Minister Manuel Valls stated in response to the surge in anti-Semitic violence: “What’s happened in Sarcelles is intolerable: attacking a synagogue or a kosher grocery, is quite simply anti-Semitism, racism.”38
Valls’s attitude was very different from that of the Jospin Socialist govern- ment at the beginning of this century. It, along with the president, Jacques Chi- rac, tried to conceal as much as possible the massive outburst of anti-Semitic incidents in France at that time. Shmuel Trigano said:
The official version propagated by the Jospin Government can be summarized as saying that if Jews were attacked, this was not anti-Semitism, but a reflection of a social problem. The socialist policy aimed to obscure, with this mechanism, the terrorist menace against France. It resulted in the Jews seeing themselves as the country’s scapegoat and safety barrier—as they had received the main blows, which targeted French society at large.39
However many condemnations of anti-Semitism there were in summer 2014, in practice it does not mean that the authorities managed to prevent anti-Semitic incidents.
There is a significant quantity of data about Jews experiencing anti-Semitism. One example is a survey conducted by and for the Norwegian Jewish community (DMT) in 2011. It was based on a questionnaire sent to members in Oslo and Trondheim.40
When asked about the level of anti-Semitism in Norway, 72 percent of respondents from the Jewish community in Oslo and 55 percent from the Trondheim community saw an increase. Half of the respondents said that they had personally experienced anti-Semitism. One-fifth reported having experienced anti-Semitism in 2011.
The hiding of identities by Jews has several aspects. One often hears that many Jews conceal their Jewishness at their workplaces or in public as much as possible. Information about this was mainly anecdotal until the 2013 FRA study was published. In 2011, Islin Abrahamsen and Chava Savosnick conducted a qualitative study for the Norwegian Jewish community of Jewish children and young people’s experiences with anti-Semitism in the country. Twenty-one young Norwegian Jews from school age to twenty-five were interviewed. The study found that young Jews often do not reveal their religious identity and some have even changed schools, or their parents have even changed residences because of the anti-Semitism they have experienced.41
In the earlier-mentioned interview with the Jewish nurse Carla, who worked at an Amsterdam hospital, she said remarks were made to her about Jews such as “You Jews have acquaintances everywhere” or “You Jews are rich.” She observed, “As I publicly expressed my Jewish beliefs, I was seen by many as ‘stereotypically Jewish.’”
Regarding her subsequent job she said:
I do not speak about my religion there and give minimal information about my background. For Jews in the Netherlands, it has become increasingly difficult to openly reveal our religion. There are several factors at play: the increase in the Muslim population, the right-wing turn in society, and increasing intolerance in the Netherlands. Other factors are the decline in knowledge of history and the erosion of Dutch norms and values.42
Another aspect of Jews hiding their identity is avoiding wearing items in public that make one recognizable as a Jew. This also has to be seen in a wider context. Whereas many members of the Muslim community insist on making their identity publicly visible, anti-Semitic incidents lead many Jews to conceal their identity in the public domain. Statistics often show that in these incidents, Muslims are far more involved than their share in the population.
The 2013 FRA study, which was undertaken in France, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Latvia, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, found that on average 20 percent of the Jews in the countries surveyed said they always avoided wearing, carrying, or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews in public. Eighteen percent said they do this frequently; 30 percent said they occasionally avoided religious symbols because of safety concerns.43 The country surveyed with the highest percentage of Jews avoiding being recognizable as Jews is Sweden, with 34 percent of those interviewed stating that they avoided such identification most of the time.44 This cannot solely be explained by the massive anti-Semitic incidents mainly perpetrated by Muslims in Malmö, as the Jewish population in that city represents far less than 10 percent of Swedish Jewry.
Jewish Leaders’ Reactions
Jewish leaders have made various recommendations that Jews hide their identities in public. In a radio interview in 2003, French Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk told French Jews to wear hats rather than kippas so as to avoid being attacked in the streets.45
In 2014, Dutch Chief Rabbi Jacobs reacted to the publication of the 2014 ADL global survey by saying, “Today, if you are a visible Jew in the street, it’s common to be heckled as ‘Dirty Jew’ . . . This was not possible in Holland 40 years ago. Today’s [sic] it’s normal.”46
Several years ago Henri Markens, director-general of the Organization for Jewish Education (JBO) in Amsterdam, said:
For a number of years already we have been telling our students to “put a cap over your kippa.” In principle one shouldn’t have to do this, but the circumstances in Amsterdam leave you no choice. One must draw logical conclusions from one’s experience. In recent years, perceptions in the Netherlands have changed and some people now regard the kippa as a provocation. If one holds such views, a woman wearing a burka is far more provocative. She doesn’t allow any social contact. If I wear a kippa you can look me in the eye and talk to me. This is a major difference.47
Motti Wolf, a young man who left the Netherlands to study at the Hebrew Uni- versity of Jerusalem, told how in 2007 at the Amsterdam South train station, a group of Dutch Moroccans followed him while shouting “Jews to the gas.” He mentioned that one always had to be alert when wearing a kippa in certain parts of Amsterdam. Wolf also noted that when he was a student at the Jewish high school, he preferred not to visit certain areas where many Muslims lived. If he had to go there, he put on a cap instead of a kippa.48
Chaim Nisan, who now lives in Israel, tells about his experiences in an Amsterdam supermarket where he worked:
In the supermarket, most of the anti-Semitic incidents were caused by our Moroccan patrons. They made insulting remarks or called me names. Some- times they were physically intimidating. They shouted a variety of curses such as “cancer Jew” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” Some Moroccans made the Hitler salute at me. Others said nothing, but followed me around annoy- ingly. There were on average two or three such incidents per week. During the less than a year that I worked in the store, these incidents occurred at least 100 times.
The number of incidents increased greatly, in particular during the Sugar Festival (Eid al-Fitr) holiday. That’s when Moroccans came in festive clothing to the store. I was insulted continuously and complained a number of times to my boss. He was always friendly and accommodating and he hired me knowing I wore a yarmulke. When a situation became threatening, he put someone else in the same aisle where I worked. It never came down to physical confrontations, however, because there are security people who immediately intervene when something happens and my attackers knew this.49
Increased security measures have to be employed for Jewish and Israeli institutions. It often also includes institutions other than places of worship and schools. This problem already existed in part before the Second Intifada, which led to a huge outburst of anti-Semitic violence in Europe. There were terrorist attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe well before that time, however. The perpetrators were usually Arabs who came from outside Europe.
The 2013 FRA study asked Jews across the eight European countries surveyed if they were concerned about future encounters with anti-Semitic insults and harassment. Forty-six percent of respondents worried that they would encounter anti-Semitic verbal harassment in the next twelve months. Thirty-three percent were concerned about future physical anti-Semitic attacks. France had the greatest share of respondents who worried about both. Seventy percent of French Jews surveyed worried about future anti-Semitic verbal harassment, and 60 percent worried about future potential physical attacks.
Fifty-two percent, or over half of all respondents across Europe, worried about a family member being a victim of a verbal anti-Semitic attack, and 41 percent expressed fear over the potential of an anti-Semitic physical attack in the next twelve months. The figures in France were the highest, with 76 percent of French Jews surveyed concerned about the potential of a family member being verbally attacked for being a Jew, and 71 percent concerned about physical attacks.50
Another question of the FRA study was presented to parents and grand- parents surveyed in all eight countries. One in ten respondents (11 percent) with at least one child or grandchild thought their children or grandchildren had experienced either anti-Semitic physical or verbal harassment, or an anti- Semitic physical or verbal attack in the past twelve months. Sixty-six percent of respondents were concerned that they would be verbally attacked in the future, and 52 percent were concerned about future physical anti-Semitic attacks. Sixty-one percent of respondents who assessed themselves as being very reli- gious were concerned about future attacks, and 37 percent who self-identified as Jewish but were not religious were worried about anti-Semitic physical and verbal harassment in the next twelve months.51
There is also a direct correlation between respondents who choose not to wear Jewish symbols in public and respondents who fear anti-Semitic attacks.
Of those respondents who are worried (both “very worried” or “fairly wor- ried”) about becoming a victim of antisemitic verbal insults or harassment in the next twelve months, more than three quarters (76%) at least occasionally avoid wearing, carrying or displaying items in public that might identify them as Jewish (“all the time”—27%, “frequently”—22% or “occasionally”—27%). Of those respondents who do not worry (“not very worried” or “not at all wor- ried”) about becoming a victim of antisemitic verbal insults or harassment in that same period, about three in five (59%) at least occasionally avoid wearing, carrying or displaying items in public that might identify them as Jewish. This suggests that some respondents feel compelled to hide their Jewish identity in public in response to safety concerns, limiting the extent to which they are able to live an openly Jewish life.52
This attitude is manifested in other ways, too. Some Jewish organizations do not put identifying signs on the outside of their buildings. During one visit to the Netherlands, I attended synagogue services in a provincial town. That synagogue—where its community office is also located—had existed for many decades. It was in a building that possibly was used as a private home in the past. It would have been appropriate if a text from the Hebrew Bible had been posted to indicate that a synagogue was now housed there. That was not the case, nor was there a nameplate.
The Impact of Violence
The murders in Toulouse in 2012 by Mohammed Merah were the worst acts of violence against Jewish schools anywhere in Europe in past decades.53 Their im- pact went far beyond France. Jewish communities all over Europe implemented increased security measures. Ervin Kohn, head of the Jewish community in Oslo, told the daily Dagbladet, “This could just as easily have happened in Nor- way. We do not feel safe.” He added that the Jewish community is a vulnerable group and would like to see permanent police protection at its institutions.54
Additional security measures for Jewish institutions were put in place in the Netherlands as well. This seemed to end a lengthy conflict between the Jewish community and the Dutch government about the latter’s unwillingness to con- tribute to the community’s large expenses incurred for security.55 In Belgium, Britain, Italy, and other European countries, Jewish communities expressed their fears after the Toulouse murders.56 Even in New York enhanced security measures were put in place.57
Adopting Low-Profile Attitudes
Many Jewish communities try to adopt low-profile attitudes. A major reason—as far as anti-Semitic incidents are concerned—is that it is often assumed that authorities are incapable of protecting Jewish institutions sufficiently. It is hoped, then, that by remaining silent one can at least avoid “copycat” attacks. Some Jewish community leaders, including many British ones, have frequently thought that the way to promote the interests of their organizations’ members and protect the country’s Jews is to have good relations with the authorities. Leaders of the small Oslo Jewish community told me in 2010 that the community must have good relations with whatever government is in power.
This may be true, but it is rarely enough.
For a number of years until 2013, Norway had a left-of-center government that included the extreme Socialist Left Party, and this caused substantial dif- ficulties. When I first drew attention in 2008 to the fact that in Norway there were pioneering acts of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli behavior, the then head of the Jewish community told a newspaper that I had greatly exaggerated the situation and there were very few problems.
When I published my book Anti-Semitism in Norway in Norwegian at the beginning of 2010, the Jewish community was already much less critical of my positions. In the following years they had no choice but to confirm all of my earlier claims to the newspapers. They did so without mentioning that I had stated the same much earlier.
In Morocco a number of years ago, Jews told me that they keep as low a profile as possible whenever there are important negative news items about Israel. This is more understandable because Morocco is not a democracy.
Rifat Bali, an expert on Turkish Jewry, says:
If one examines the manner in which Turkey’s Chief Rabbinate and the community’s only remaining press organ, Şalom, have responded to the series of crises that have beset the community over the past half-century, two things are readily apparent. First, the community’s leaders have regularly had only limited options both socially and politically. Second, the only solution they have found is simply to continue their traditional low-profile policy and wait for the various storms to pass.58
Sometimes there are very good reasons for Jews who live in democracies to keep a low profile. During the autumn 2005 riots in France, the government lost control of the situation. It later emerged that the authorities had advised the Jewish community to maintain a low profile because the French government could not protect them.59
The low-profile policy is problematic, however, because problems ultimately rise to the surface and in the meantime increase. To understand this better, one only has to look at how some segments of Muslim societies behave in Europe and how problems with them have intensified over the years. One sees Muslim women walking around in head scarves and sometimes even hiding their faces.
One sees men with beards and jalabas, all indicating that they want to express their personal identity in public.
One can also see Muslim prayer services in the public square in European countries. One can sum all this up by saying that some Muslims are a major cause of Jews avoiding self-identification in public, while many Muslims in gen- eral have become more visible. Mainly since the summer of 2014, in some countries that also includes adherents and supporters of Islamo-Nazi movements.
The one Jewish movement that intentionally tries to create a Jewish presence in the European public square is the Chabad Hasidic organization. For decades after the war, it was unthinkable that Jews would publicly light the candelabrum at Chanukah festivities in Dutch towns. Nowadays there are many towns where it is lit publicly in central locations. The same occurs in many other countries.
“Salon anti-Israelism” is a widespread European phenomenon. In 2004, Trigano mentioned that he frequently heard French Jews say things like: “We don’t go to dinner with our non-Jewish friends anymore, nor do we see them.” He explained that at many dinners, people would talk aggressively about Israel and, thus, about Jews—who then felt the need to defend Israel against the excessive criticism. They were then accused, however, of being supporters of Sharon and violence. Hence, Jews would decide to avoid such meetings and discussions.60 Around the same time, U.S. journalism professor Ari Goldman wrote about his visit to Greece:
As an American Jewish academic traveling in Europe, I expected that I would get angry questions about U.S. foreign policy, especially the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush’s support for the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon. But I didn’t expect the anger would be directed toward Jews.
“Don’t you think that American Jews have too much power?” one well- dressed man challenged me at a university-sponsored dinner in Athens. “They control everything. They control Bush. They control America. It’s got to be stopped.”
Goldman added that when he was in Salonika, “another professor called the Christian Zionists hypocrites for their support of Israeli policies. ‘How can they profess a religion of love and at the same time support “targeted killings” of Palestinians?’ he asked.”61
This question gains ironic force if one considers that Greece’s primarily Greek Orthodox population overwhelmingly supported the Serbs in the murderous Yugoslav wars; the Serbs probably carried out even more mass murders than the other parties to the conflict. The Greek viewpoint appears even more ironic if one considers the multiple atrocities committed by government units and the communist revolutionaries in the Greek civil war of the mid-1940s.
In the new century there has been significant Jewish emigration from Europe. The French Jewish community is by far the largest in the continent, and it has seen the most significant emigration. Part of French Jewish emigrants leave for the Western Hemisphere where Montreal, for instance, has gained a sizable French-speaking community. Other emigrants have left for Israel.
One should not only attribute this emigration to the increased anti- Semitism in France. The economic situation in the country also plays a role in such decisions. In 2013, emigration from France to Israel increased by 63 percent, from 1,916 in 2012 to 3,120.62 In 2014, the figure rose further to over seven thousand.63
The Jewish Future in Europe
France was the country in which the new century’s outbreak of anti-Semitism began the earliest and most massively. Many conscious Jews started to view their future in France as uncertain. Th s later spread to other countries in Europe.
It should be noted that in the large-scale autumn 2005 riots in France, almost all or all rioters were Muslims. Although religion did not play a role in these riots, many Frenchmen wondered what their future was. They feel un- comfortable with parts of the non-Western immigrant communities. A poll in 2005 showed that 45 percent of Frenchmen no longer feel entirely at home in
France.64 In some cases this has led to bizarre remarks that Jews have heard in some other Western countries as well: “You at least have Israel to emigrate to.” The FRA study proves that the uncertainty about the future is Europe- wide among many Jews. The situation could radically change, for instance, if in some countries circumcision is forbidden. Those who advocate such a ban come from various circles such as members of the medical profession, child- protection agencies, and anti-Islam politicians. Some Jews also play a role in this campaign.65 Various Jewish organizations are fighting the trend.66
For these various reasons, the future of Jews in Europe has once again become an important topic of discussion in a number of European Jewish communities.
Of the Jews surveyed in the FRA study, 4 percent have moved from their neighborhood because of anti-Semitism and 7 percent have considered doing so. Most surprisingly, 29 percent of those surveyed have considered moving in the past five years because they did not feel safe as a Jew in the country where they live. In three of the eight countries surveyed, France, Hungary, and Bel- gium, 40–48 percent of Jews have considered emigrating to somewhere more secure because they did not feel safe as Jews in their current residence.67
Of the Jews in the eight surveyed nations who have experienced prior anti- Semitic harassment, both physical and verbal over the past five years, 34 percent stated that the most serious form of harassment they have encountered has led them to consider emigrating.68
In the Netherlands much public discussion took place in 2010 when this author quoted senior Dutch liberal politician Frits Bolkestein, who said that Jews have to realize “that there is no future for them in the Netherlands, and they can best advise their children to emigrate to the United States or Israel.” He supported this statement by pointing to the unsuccessful integration mainly of many Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands and the problems this would pose for conscious Jews in the future.69
Several of those Jewishly active in the Netherlands share this view, yet few say so publicly. In 2003, psychologist and Auschwitz survivor Bloeme Evers- Emden wrote in the Jewish weekly NIW: “I strongly advise my children to leave the Netherlands.”70 Seven years later she made a similar statement and added her grandchildren to those she advised to leave.71
There are many other aspects of the current reality of Jews in Europe. Jews often do not complain about anti-Semitic incidents because they expect the authorities to do little or nothing. Jewish communities attempt to avoid conflict with authorities who take discriminatory positions against Israel. Sometimes there is also whitewashing of anti-Semitic events by Jewish leaders.
Anti-Israelis—often but not always Muslims—have attempted to change the content of Holocaust Memorial Day, for instance, by trying to include mention of the nonexistent Palestinian genocide. Holocaust Memorial Day plays an im- portant role in Jewish communities and such actions have an impact on them. Some Jews try to become acceptable to anti-Israeli elites by attacking Is- rael. They remain silent about the massive extreme crimes in many Arab and Muslim countries. In other cases they will claim that hatred of Muslims in the Jewish community is similar to hatred of Jews in Muslim communities.
To avoid exposing the truth they remain silent about the violent anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated by Muslims.72
Some Jewish leaders are in the forefront of fighting against public cam- paigns aiming at Muslims, without making demands on Muslim leaders to fight the major anti-Semitism found among Muslims.
Some Jews distance themselves as much as possible from the Jewish com- munity, saying that identifying as a Jew today only has negative consequences in the circles they frequent. Close to a quarter (23 percent) of the Jewish re- spondents in the FRA survey stated that they avoid attending Jewish events, visiting Jewish sites or certain parts of their neighborhood because they do not feel safe there as Jews. The highest percentages of respondents who avoid these places were found in Belgium (42 percent), Hungary (41 percent), and France (35 percent).73
A very different issue is that Jews abroad are being held responsible by vari- ous societal actors for Israel’s acts. This phenomenon manifests itself in various ways. In the summer of 2014, during demonstrations against Israel in several places, “Kill the Jews” and similar expressions were heard.74
In Turkey Yeni Akit, a paper affiliated with Erdogan’s party, wrote an open
letter to Turkey’s chief rabbi accusing Turkish Jews of killing Muslims in Gaza. According to the letter, written by Akit correspondent Faruk Köse, “You have lived comfortably among us for 500 years and gotten rich at our expense. Is this your gratitude—killing Muslims? Erdogan, demand that the community leader apologize!”75
1 “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013.
2 Sam Sokol, “European Jewish Congress: Amid rising anti-Semitism, Jewish life in Europe unsustainable,” The Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2014.
3 “Chairman of Keren Hayesod in France, Richard Prasquier, sounds the alarm about anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli hostility,” Keren Hayesod, March 27, 2014.
4 Quoted in Raphael Ahren, “Jewish life in Europe ‘dying a slow death’?,” The Times of Israel, July 8, 2013.
5 Nathan Guttman, “U.S. Anti-Semitism Chief Warns Future of Europe Jewry in Danger,” Jewish Daily Forward, November 14, 2014.
6 Scott Sayare, “Suspect Held in Jewish Museum Killings,” The New York Times, June 1, 2014.
7 Kevin Rawlinson, “Jewish museum shooting suspect ‘is Islamic State torturer,’”
The Guardian, September 6, 2014.
8 Adam Thomson, “Anti-Semitic attacks rise in France as Gaza conflict stirs tensions,” Financial Times, August 15, 2014.
9 Adam Withnall, “Israel-Gaza conflict: Frankfurt police agree to let anti-Israel protesters use their megaphone ‘to help calm down crowds,’” The Independent, July 13, 2014.
10 “Vandals target Jewish school in Denmark,” JTA, August 22, 2014.
11 “Windows smashed at Belfast synagogue on Somerton Road,” BBC, July 22, 2014.
12 “Rabbi, congregant attacked in Malmo days after synagogue vandalized,” JTA, August 4, 2014.
13 “Belgian doctor refuses to treat Jewish woman, citing Gaza conflict,” JTA, July 31, 2014.
14 “Iceland’s one-man BDS campaign,” Haaretz, July 16, 2014.
15 Kashmira Gander, “Far-right Hungarian mayor, Mihaly Zoltan Orosz, filmed hanging effigy of Benjamin Netanyahu in protest against Gaza war,” The Independent, August 4, 2014.
16 Jen Gerson, “Pro-Gaza protests worldwide tainted by anti-Semitism; Calgary organizer to apologize for violence,” National Post, July 21, 2014.
17 Joanne Hill, “Anti-Israel, anti-Semitic incidents rising in Canada,” Jewish Tribune, July 29, 2014.
18 Kisa Mlela Santiago, “Bus ride was terror trip of anti-Semitic threats, say Jewish students in Australia,” CNN, August 8, 2014.
19 Hugo Rifkind, “Suddenly it feels uncomfortable to be a Jew,” The Times, August 12, 2014.
20 “BBC chief: Anti-Semitism makes me question Jews’ future in UK,” The Times of Israel, December 21, 2014.
21 Jon Henley, “Antisemitism on rise across Europe ‘in worst times since the Nazis,’”
The Guardian, August 7, 2014.
22 “Joodse gezinnen willen weg uit Nederland,” EenVandaag, August 1, 2014. (Dutch)
23 Annet Röst, “Nieuw-Mokum in Israel,” NIW, December 19, 2014. (Dutch)
24 David Serphos, “‘De overheid vertrouw ik niet meer in de strijd tegen Joden- haat,’” de Volkskrant, August 29, 2014. (Dutch)
25 Jon Henley, “Antisemitism on rise across Europe ‘in worst times since the Nazis,’”
The Guardian, August 7, 2014.
26 “Warum gibt es keine Welle der Sympathie mit uns Juden?,” RP Online, July 31, 2014 (German). See also: Zlatan Alihodzic, “Ihre Zeilen haben uns bewegt,” Jüdische Allgemeine, August 7, 2014. (German)
27 “Knobloch rät deutschen Juden, nicht erkennbar zu sein,” Zeit Online, July 29, 2014. (German)
28 Philipp Peyman Engel, “Jüdische Gemeinde verlässt Rat der Religionen,” Jüdische Allgemeine, August 4, 2014. (German)
29 Frank-Walter Steinmeier, “Gemeinsame Sache,” Jüdische Allgemeine, July 31, 2014.
30 “Angela Merkel: Fighting anti-Semitism is German duty,” BBC, September 14, 2014.
31 Sam Sokol, “European Jewish Congress: Amid rising anti-Semitism, Jewish life in Europe unsustainable,” The Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2014.
32 Alison Smale, “Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador, Issues Warning on Anti- Semitism in Europe,” The New York Times, November 13, 2014.
33 Fillip Piatov, “Kann man sich mit Kippa noch auf die Straße trauen?,” Die Welt, July 20, 2014. (German)
34 Miriam Hollstein, ““Eine Bankrotterklärung von Polizei und Politik,” Die Welt, July 22, 2014. (German)
35 Ofer Aderet, “German Jewish leader tells Haaretz: Anti-Semitism mounting in my country,” Haaretz, September 30, 2012.
36 Natan Sharansky, “European idea will die here and survive in Israel,” Jewish Chronicle, July 24, 2014.
37 Kirsten Grieshaber, “Germany, France, Italy Condemn Anti-Semitic Demos,” AP, July 22, 2014.
38 “Gaza conflict: France criticises ‘anti-Semitic’ riot,” BBC, July 21, 2014.
39 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, “French anti-Semitism: A Barometer for Gauging Society’s Perverseness,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 26, November 1, 2004.
40 “Norske barn tør ikke stå fram som jøder,” Dagen (Norwegian) (retrieved July 31, 2013.)
42 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Carla, “Jewish and Cautious in Amsterdam,” Israel National News, February 24, 2014.
43 “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013, 36.
45 Philip Carmel, “Proposals on yarmulkes, Yom Kippur given mixed reaction by French Jews,” JTA, December 14, 2003.
46 Yossi Lempkowicz, “After release of ADL survey, Jewish leader urges each EU member county to set up special body to deal with anti-Semitism,” European Jewish Press, May 15, 2014.
47 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Henri Markens, “Insights into the Situation of the Jews in the Netherlands,” Changing Jewish Communities, 50, November 15, 2009.
48 Motti Wolf, personal communication, published in Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Muslim-Jewish Interaction in the Netherlands,” Changing Jewish Communities, 26, November 15, 2007.
49 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Chaim Nisan, “The Anti-Semitic Experiences of a Religious Jew in the Netherlands,” Tundra Tabloids, September 25, 2013.
50 “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013, 33.
51 Ibid., 34.
52 Ibid., 35.
53 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism in Western Schools,”
Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 112, November 1, 2011.
54 “Hakekors, flaskekasting og drapstrusler,” Dagbladet, March 20, 2012. (Norwegian)
55 Brief van het CJO aan de leden van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, June 24, 2010. (Dutch)
56 Revital Blumenfeld, “European Jewish communities ramp up security following Toulouse attack,” Haaretz, March 21, 2012.
57 AP, “Security up at NY Jewish Sites after France Attack,” ABC News, March 20, 2012.
58 Rifat Bali, “Present-Day Anti-Semitism in Turkey,” Post-Holocaust and Anti- Semitism, 84, August 16, 2009.
59 Manfred Gerstenfeld, The Autumn 2005 Riots in France: Their Possible Impact on Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2006).
60 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, “French Anti-Semitism: A Barometer for Gauging Society’s Perverseness,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 26, November 1, 2004.
61 Ari L. Goldman, “Meanwhile: The Jewish Ghosts of Salonika,” International Herald Tribune, May 6, 2004.
62 Liam Hoare, “Rising Number of French Jews Making Aliyah,” Tablet, December 30, 2012.
63 “Founder of French anti-Semitism watchdog moving to Israel,” JTA, January 5, 2014.
64 “Les idées du Front national s’imposent dans l’opinion,” Le Monde, December 14, 2005. (French)
65 Victor S. Schonfeld, “Circumcision—defending the indefensible,” The Jerusalem Post, January 22, 2014.
66 “Wiesenthal Center Denounces Scandinavian Medical Groups Seeking Ban on Jewish Ritual Circumcision,” Simon Wiesenthal Center, January 27, 2014.
67 “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013.
68 Ibid., 37.
69 Manfred Gerstenfeld, Het Verval, Joden in een Stuurloos Nederland (Amsterdam: Van Praag, 2010), 109. (Dutch)
70 Bloeme Evers-Emden, “Burgemeester Cohen moet stelling nemen,” NIW, May 30, 2003. (Dutch)
71 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Bloeme Evers-Emden, “Ik raad mijn kin- deren aan Nederland te verlaten,” in Manfred Gerstenfeld, Het Verval, Joden in een Stuurloos Nederland (Amsterdam: Van Praag, 2010), 241-248. (Dutch)
72 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Rabbijn wast antisemitisme zo wit mogelijk,” De Dagelijkse Standaard, October 4, 2013. (Dutch)
73 “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013, 35.
74 “Cops wounded, dozens arrested at Paris anti-Israel rally,” JTA, July 19, 2014.
75 Roy Yerushalmi, “Turkish Jews urged to apologize for ‘Israeli killing of Muslims,’” Ynetnews, July 17, 2014.