The war in Gaza continues to rage. Hamas fires rockets into Israel while Israel in turn is destroying Hamas weapons and the ungodly tunnels that have turned Gaza into a virtual underground warren of bunkers of death.
War inflames passions and it comes as no surprise that supporters of both sides have taken to the streets to demonstrate and protest. But this time around there is a new dimension to the protests. The streets of major European cities have seen sights and heard sounds that have lain dormant since the defeat of Nazism. It has been ugly and shrill. Jews have been cursed, threatened and beaten, and in many places where we had thought that Jewish life after the Holocaust had returned to normalcy and civility, Jews no longer feel safe and for the first time in decades wonder about the feasibility of continuing to live among their non-Jewish neighbors.
Pro-Palestinian riots have resulted in what French politicians have called “intolerable” violence. Although the catalyst of these riots has been the conflict in Gaza, the rage was not limited to anti-Zionist targets. Chants of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews” were accompanied by vandalism, looting and car burnings in the Sarcelles district of Paris where synagogues and kosher stores have been targeted. Pictures of the sidewalks covered in shards of glass from Jewish storefronts conjure up jarring images of a Europe that once succumbed to the hatred of the Jew. Across France eight synagogues have been targeted! France’s Prime Minister Manual Vals said, “Nothing in France can justify this violence.” The Mayor of Sarcelles blamed a “horde of savages” for the violence. This begs the question – is there anything that French authorities can, and are willing, to do to prevent this anti-Semitic violence and protect their Jewish citizens. Words of condemnation and condolence are appreciated but, after the fact, not enough to guarantee safety for the Jewish population.
Similar incidents have occurred in other European cities. In Germany Jewish community leader Dieter Graumann asserted that “Never in our lives did we believe it possible that anti-Semitism of the most primitive kind would be heard on the streets of Germany.” Yet we cannot forget that in recent history Germany plunged Europe into a paroxysm of anti-Semitic hatred that resulted in the barbaric slaughter of six million precious souls. Today, the violence is aimed at the remnants! In Berlin pro-Palestinian demonstrators yelled the slogans “Israel is murder” and “Israel bombs, Germany finances.” Meanwhile imam Abu Bilal Ismail delivered a sermon at Berlin’s Al-Nur mosque in which he said Jews should be killed. Will Germany imprison or expel the Imam? Demonstrators in front of the Israeli Embassy in Berlin called Jews (Jews, mind you, not Israelis) cowardly pigs. To the credit of the German authorities, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders condemned the anti-Semitic outbursts. The question for Germany, as for France, is what can they do to prevent this behavior and protect their Jews. And, more importantly are they willing to do it?
France and Germany are not alone in hosting malicious anti-Semitic protests. In Antwerp, Belgium, one of the speakers chanted, “Slaughter the Jews.” In Dublin Ireland, my birthplace, there have been raucous street protests, involving Israeli flag burning. An organizer of the event bragged that the march had brought out a “really wide cross-section of Irish society”. Meanwhile Dublin City Council has called for sanctions against Israel and the expulsion of Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai. Belfast too, has been the scene of anti-Semitic violence. The list goes on!
Israel is busily uncovering tunnels and destroying arms caches in Gaza. In spite of its tragic casualties, Israel forges ahead because the alternative of not destroying the Hamas terrorist infrastructure is unthinkable. Citizens of Israel, no less than any other country, must be able to live in their communities without the threat of constant rocket fire.
This war will end and Israel will get back to its vibrant and energetic life!
But Europe, after the war, will have to do some serious introspection. What has happened during these last few weeks, and continues unabated, is no doubt a shock to the European psyche. The mask has come off and we have all seen the ugliness underneath! France, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and other countries have seen this upswing in ghastly hatred of the Jew and they will have to look to their own societies to ask themselves some searing questions. While it is evident that much of the hatred and vitriolic language directed at the Jews is orchestrated by European Muslims, it is equally clear that there has been strong support for this vicious behavior among the non-Muslim segment of societies in European cities. Who are these people? Are they the remnants of the Nazi scourge of Europe? Are they Christians who continue to harbor age-old church-driven hatred of the Jew? Or maybe they are just, to use Lenin’s phrase, merely a bunch of well meaning, largely ignorant, “useful idiots” who have blindly (and I might add willingly) bought into the Arab propaganda campaign against Israel and Jews. The fact that this propaganda has become the stock-in-trade for the Leftist Western media has aided and abetted this blind hatred of Israel and Jews.
The impact on European civilization cannot be ignored or diminished. It cannot simply be swept under the rug as, no doubt, the leaders who so vocally condemn the violence would like to do. Because, make no mistake about it, it will not simply disappear. The Muslim giant in Europe is just starting to stir! The next provocation that awakens it may be a reprise of the Danish cartoon fiasco, or the burning of a Koran, or simple some perceived slight to the prophet. It will not necessarily have anything to do with Gaza, or Israel, or Jews. But the savagery in the streets of European cities will be no less belligerent. Cars will burn, windows will be smashed, and citizens – any infidels will suffice be they Christians, Atheists, or Pagans – will be threatened and beaten. If Jews happen to be caught in the crossfire they will make convenient targets, but even with a complete absence of the Jew, Europe will still have to decide how to deal with the threat to its soul, and its very existence.