“Will Europe’s Jews stop wearing kippahs [skullcaps]? Most already have,” was the lead article in the Times of Israel internet newspaper on April 26. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to believe the above statement.
Times have certainly changed since the 1950s, when as a youngster I first learned about WWII and the Holocaust. I had no experience of antisemitism in my hometown area, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Nor did it seem possible – after the Holocaust – that it would ever emerge again.
That, of course, was a fallacy. It turns out that the cessation of Jew hatred was just of short duration, a mere interruption of a popular and traditional past time: vilifying and blaming the Jews for all the misfortunes of life. (Of course, thanking Jews for their wonderful ethical, scientific, medical, technological, cultural, and philanthropic accomplishments never occurs to the Jew haters.)
Institutionalized Jew hatred probably started with the adoption of Christianity by Constantine during the early 4th century CE in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Martin Luther, the 16th century Protestant reformer, was a vociferous Jew hater. In his sprawling treatise, On the Jews and Their Lies, he proclaimed, “Set fire to their synagogues or schools;” Jewish houses should “be razed and destroyed;” Jewish “prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, [should] be taken from them;” “their rabbis [should] be forbidden to teach on pain of loss of life and limb;” “safe-conduct on the highways [should] be abolished completely for the Jews,” and that “all cash and treasure of silver and gold [should] be taken from them.” Jews should have “a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade” put into their hands, so “young, strong Jews and Jewesses” could “earn their bread in the sweat of their brow.” (christianitytoday.com)
(It should be noted that Luther was reacting partially against the Roman Catholic prohibition of Jewish employment in most areas, leaving money lending as the common vocation.)
Luther resented the Jews’ intellectual ability to prosper by other than “the sweat of their brow.” I believe that gentile envy of Jews’ innate talents has a lot to do with the perennial hatred which has dogged the Jews since the advent of organized Christianity. That, plus the Jews’ persistent rejection of Jesus Christ as their savior and the false charge that the Jews, not the Romans, crucified Christ.
Modern antisemitism emerged in the late 19th century. “The term ‘anti-Semitism’ was coined in 1873 by Wilhelm Marr, a German political agitator in his work, Victory of Judaism over Germanism. His thesis was that Jews were conspiring to run the state and should be excluded from citizenship. In Russia, the Czarist secret police published a forged collection of documents that became known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It told of a secret plot by rabbis to take over the world. Racism and anti-Semitism were also facilitated by the development of Social Darwinism and pseudo-scientific notions based on theories of racial superiority and inferiority.” (adl.org)
This hatred culminated in the rise of National Socialism in Germany and Hitler’s plan to annihilate all of Europe’s Jews (if not all of the world’s Jews). But Nazi Germany was defeated, Hitler committed suicide, America and the Allies saved the world, and Jews would be scorned, vilified, and hunted no more.
We can’t ignore the rise of Islam in the 7th century CE. Its prophet, Muhammed, at first tried to coax the Jews to follow him, even specifying that Muslims pray towards the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where the Jews’ holy Temples had stood. When the Jews rejected his entreaties, they and the Christians in the Middle East were conquered by the sword in the Muslim invasion following Muhammed’s death.
While Islam appropriated the Jewish patriarchs and Christian saints, turning them into Muslims (even Adam was a Muslim), the adherents of these two “false” religions living under Muslim rule were relegated to “dhimmi” status, living as a “protected” underclass. As such, the Jews were tolerated but severely constricted, taxed, and sometimes killed in pogroms.
Islam has become the dominant force behind Jew hatred in the 21st century. Since the defeat of National Socialism, right wing antisemitism, while still a problem, has been superseded by the institutionalization of Jew hatred in the Muslim world, accompanied by virulent hatred of Israel – which I call “the Jew among nations.”
With this upheaval (Islamic Jew hatred replacing nationalist, right wing Jew hatred) in antisemitism, left wing Jew hatred has become a prominent force in the West, as left wingers identify with Arab “victims of Western imperialism/colonization.” Left wing antisemitism is often disguised as anti-Zionism or “criticism” of Israel, but what it comes down to, pure and simple, is hatred of Jews and of the Jewish State, accompanied by an undeserved devotion to the “rights” of the “Palestinian” people. Nor can we ignore the rise of xenophobic right wing parties, which are a reaction against the flood of Muslim migrants. Most are not overtly antisemitic, but many of their members are.
Today, Europe is undergoing a demographic revolution. A number of countries have opened their borders to Muslim migrants from the Middle East and Africa (others have closed their borders to avoid the onslaught). The fertility rate of these immigrant groups varies, mostly by educational level, but nevertheless their fertility rate is very high. It is far higher than the indigenous European rate, which is generally below the level to maintain their majority status in their home countries. After two generations of Europe welcoming Muslims, primary school students are mostly Muslim and numerous cities are approaching or have reached majority Muslim status in total or in part. “No go” zones for the police have become common in urban areas, where Shariah law is prevalent and any Jews who remain there are in mortal danger, i.e. two elderly Jewish women were brutally murdered in the last year in their Paris apartments by antisemitic Arabs.
In the Times of Israel article cited in the introduction, it is noted that, “… debates [about the danger of being identified on the streets as a Jew] featuring high-profile figures, politicians and Jewish community leaders have little bearing on their own [Orthodox Jews] personal choice. Not waiting for anyone’s invitation, hundreds of thousands of them [Orthodox Jews] have been hiding their kippahs and other Jewish symbols for years now in Paris, Marseille, Brussels, London, Amsterdam and many other European cities with a large population of Muslim immigrants.
… In France, 40 percent of the approximately 1,200 Jews polled said they avoided wearing such items in public.”
The majority of the Muslim immigrants are antisemitic, the natural outcome of being raised in cultures which teach them hatred of Jews and Israel from an early age. Jews are being beaten up and even murdered for being Jewish. At the same time, the left wing voters side predominantly with the Muslim voters, catering to their needs and demands. I ask myself, what would I do if I were living in a society where living as a proud Jew is dangerous? What would I have done if I lived in Germany in the 1930s? What would I do in France now?
I like to think that I would leave at the first sign of Jews becoming targets for murderous racists, which usually coincides with the government either constricting rights for Jewish citizens, like in the 1920-30s, or the government having to go to extreme lengths to protect Jewish schools, synagogues, and other institutions with armed police and soldiers, like in Europe today.
The question is: What are Europe’s Jews waiting for?