I have just caught up with a three-part documentary – The Primates. This excellent BBC series shows us many monkeys from the very smallest pygmy marmosets to the mountain gorillas and orangutans. The programme emphasises that most, if not all, of these primates are in danger of extinction and tells of the efforts to save them.
While we do not underestimate the importance of this task, there was one important primate that did not get a mention – the Jews.
The Hominidae, known as great apes, are divided into a number of species, including Homo, of which only modern humans remain. So, yes, we Jews are definitely primates. And, in common with the orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee and the bonobo we are also in danger of extinction
In 1933, approximately 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe, some 60 percent of the world’s Jewish population at that time, estimated at 15.3 million. Just before the start of World War II, there were 16.6 million Jews in the world.
As of today, there are perhaps 14.7 million Jews worldwide mainly in the United States, France Canada, and the United Kingdom. Unbelievably, there are some 118,000 Jews who have chosen to live in Germany. Perhaps they believe that they will be Second Time Lucky.
There are 6.8 million Jews living in the Jewish homeland. This we can take as a fact. We are less sure about the numbers for Jews living in exile. Many do not identify themselves as Jews, some for lack of interest and some out of fear.
In the US, over the past few years, there has been a wave of anti-Semitic violence across the country. In 2014, the FBI received some 600 reports of hate crimes against Jews. Four years later, in 2018, there were 835 incidents, an increase of 40 percent.
A survey by the American Jewish Committee has found that 35 percent of American Jews had experienced some form of Antisemitism in the past five years. Many reported hiding outward signs of their being Jewish. Just think of that, Jews, afraid to wear a kippa in public in the land of the free!
Last year, in New York City, more than half of reported hate crimes were attacks on Jewish people. Easily identified orthodox Jews were at especially high risk.
In the UK, the BBC, not always a lover of Zion, has reported the Community Security Trust statement that the number of known anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK is at a record high. There were 1,805 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, an increase of 7% from 2018. While 2020 is still not over, it is not looking good (just Google “attacks on Jews 2020” to get the picture).
In 2019, following a long tradition, a 27-year-old German neo-Nazi, tried to enter the synagogue in Halle, Germany, during the Yom Kippur service. Failing to get in, he shot dead two bystanders. Federal investigators called the attack antisemitic terrorism.
Sweden, which proudly trumpets its “phenomenal human right’s record” and tolerance for immigrants, does not come off well in its treatment of Jews. Anti-Semitic hate crimes in Sweden are at an all-time high. In 2018 Swedish Jews suffered 280 attacks; that’s an increase of 53% since 2016. But what can we expect from a country that criticised Israel for stopping a boat attempting to smuggle weapons to the terrorists in Gaza?
So, what can we do to save the Jews from extinction? There are two possible solutions to the Jewish Problem. One is to keep Jews in their own protective enclosures, where, like the orangutans and the gorillas, they can make believe that they are free. Or, they could return to Israel, their homeland, that has been waiting for them, patiently, for the last 2,000 years.