The “New” Europe

With the exception of the current chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, many of the leaders and many of the people of Europe are fast forgetting events that began in Europe in the early 1930’s. At that time, the hatred of Jews was nothing out of the ordinary, nor was it something new.

Much of Europe’s history is soaked with the blood of Jews, whose only crime was being Jewish.  Bred by a potent mix of ignorance, greed and xenophobia, many in Europe regarded the Jews who lived amongst them as the “other”.  Two significant peaks, the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust presented Europeans with the horrific option of making Europe “Judenrein” or, “Free of Jews”.  I will not belabor this issue.

Nations like Austria, while feeling sorry and expressing contrition, deny much of the pre-Holocaust centuries of Jewish contributions to their development in the fields of industry, literature, music and art.  The good people of Holland, some of whom I had met and conversed with years ago, have forgotten the pride they took in wearing the Star of David on a necklace, pointing out to me that they wore it even though they were not Jews.  Our good friends in France have recently done much to encourage the emigration of Jews to Israel.  Some in Sweden seem intent on forgetting the courage of their neighbor nation, Denmark, and King Christian X.  The King himself wore the yellow star forced upon the Jews of Europe by Hitler and his Nazi murderers.

European people today, and yes, not all European people, are in love with the BDS movement, a movement to boycott Israel, divest from Israel and sanction Israel for its lack of compliance with international law. In reality the movement has quickly developed into something very similar that happened in Germany and Austria from 1933 to 1939, and quickly spread to other nations with the Nazi conquests.  “Kauft Nicht Bei Juden” is one of a multitude of posters encouraging people to “not buy from Jews”.

From the earliest times of Jewish life in Europe, Jews were prohibited from holding positions in the fields of science, medicine, education and commerce.  During the years leading up to the Second World War, Nazis enforced this prohibition again, going a terrible step further: murdering “en masse” any Jewish person who dared to live in Europe.

Under the very thinly veiled disguise of BDS, Europeans are once again making sure that there is no place in European society for Jewish people.  This time around, however, having learned the “lessons” of the Holocaust, those supporters of the BDS movement around the world, and especially in Europe, state that Israel, Israelis, and Zionists are not welcome.  Baseless accusations of apartheid are flung at Israel and at Zionism.  The fact that approximately 20 percent of Israelis are Arabs, some Christians and some Muslims seems to make no difference to these folks.  The fact that Arabic is Israel’s official language along with Hebrew makes even less of a difference.

Further, the fact that in August 2005 Israel withdrew all of its citizens and military personnel from Gaza makes no difference to the supporters of the BDS movement.  I suppose they were outraged when Gilad Shalit was “forced” by his Hamas kidnappers to be the only Jewish person in the Gaza strip from the time of his kidnapping in June 2006 until his return to Israel in 2011.

The fact that the majority of the people of Israel support, and have always supported, living in peace and harmony with all of their Arab neighbors makes little if any difference to the supporters of the BDS movement.  Despite the “rewards” of murder, terrorism, mortars, rockets and missiles from some Palestinians, many in Israel still support דו-קיום or coexistence with a Palestinian neighbor.  Many support living peacefully next to a Palestinian nation that is willing to live peacefully next to Israel.  These facts mean little, if anything to those supporters of the BDS movement.

These supporters, their financial and ideological backers, are now busy spreading their venom on American and Canadian university campuses. Through well-rehearsed and oft-repeated propaganda they prey upon those lacking historical perspective.  It would be as if I were to declare that Americans killed 90,000–166,000 in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, without providing any kind of background and perspective to that terrible statistic.

The supporters of the BDS movement want to make sure that Israel and its people are deligitimized.  Some within that movement long for the destruction of Israel and its people, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and self-defense.

It is the eve of the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot, the very first Thanksgiving, the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths.  We have a great deal to be grateful for as Israelis, as Zionists, as Jews.  Let us work towards educating and enlightening our friends, our children, our students and our neighbors.  Let us work towards the goals of enlightenment, coexistence and peace.  Let us work towards eliminating the dangers of anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

!!חג שמח

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides in Pennsylvania, USA.
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