The only dignified response to post-Holocaust anti-Semitism.
The Anti-Defamation League created a stir last week by releasing the results of a global survey of antisemitism, the most comprehensive ever.
These results are considered shocking by many. Actually, for those who bother to keep up with reality, they contain no surprises.
The Middle East and North Africa come out worst, with 74 percent among population groups qualifying as antisemitic according to the poll’s 11-question index. The most antisemitic political entities in the world? The West Bank and Gaza, coming in at 93 percent. (Yes, those same Palestinians with whom Israel is always under pressure to “make peace.”)
The next worst region is Eastern Europe, with 34 percent scoring as antisemites. But not too far behind is Western Europe—the home of multiculturalism, advanced environmental awareness, bevies of human rights NGOs, and so on—at 24 percent.
The West European countries scoring highest for antisemitism were Greece with a whopping 69 percent, France at 37 percent, and Spain at 29 percent. Germany did itself proud by coming in above the West European average at 27 percent—a bit over one-quarter antisemitic seven decades after the Holocaust.
Over the weekend the European Jewish Association (EJA), along with other European Jewish organizations, held a briefing on the survey in Brussels for EU ambassadors and officials.
One of the West European countries scoring lowest for antisemitism was the Netherlands at 5 percent. Yet Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi of the Netherlands, told this gathering:
Today, there is a strong political polarization, especially in Holland. Radicals from both sides of the political spectrum have become more extreme, and the middle ground is disappearing. I can’t walk a whole day in the street without having at least one person shout the words “dirty Jew” at me, because I am visibly Jewish.
If so, one hates to think what it’s like in the high-scoring countries.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the EJA, “called upon all EU member states to establish central committees, directly accountable to the respective prime ministers, in order to lead the fight against anti-Semitism.”
But would establishing committees really be an adequate response at this stage?
Then things got really ugly.
In Milan, Spain on Sunday night, the Israeli professional basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv won the European championship in a stunning upset by beating Real Madrid. Many Israelis—not least the 9,000 loyal fans who flew to Milan to cheer their team—were ecstatic. The prime minister and the president congratulated the team, and on Monday night Tel Aviv held huge celebrations.
Spanish fans reacted differently. Of course, they weren’t expected to be happy that their team lost. But it wasn’t just a matter of not being happy.
It turns out that Spanish Twitter users reacted to the loss by “post[ing] 17,500 messages of anti-Semitic abuse.” After the game they “created an expletive anti-Semitic hashtag in their messages…, which briefly became one of the most popular keywords on Twitter in Spain.”
Specific reactions included “Jews to the oven” and “Jews to the showers.”
By the way, in Spain today—with its antisemitism ranking of 29 percent—there are about 45,000 Jews out of a total population of 47 million.
The report goes on to say that “Twelve Jewish groups in the northeastern Catalonia region lodged a legal complaint over the messages.” The leader of one of these groups “presented copies of anti-Semitic tweets to state prosecutors.”
Again, getting some of these vicious people in trouble—if that indeed happens—might be worthwhile; but would it really solve the problem?
Instead of committees, lawsuits, and the like, I would suggest a different solution: for Jews, at last, to give up on Europe. For good. To leave it and not go back to it (to live, at least) for a long time, if ever.
If the Holocaust was not enough to convince some Jews that they are not wanted in Europe; if, seven decades later, the situation is one where a rabbi in one of the less antisemitic countries cannot walk the streets without being called "dirty Jew," is it not time to conclude that one is in the wrong place?
I would prefer for European Jews to come to Israel—which also has to cope with an antisemitic environment, but where Jews are in a qualitatively different situation because they stand on their own two feet and look out for themselves.
But if not Israel, at least not Europe.
The only remaining dignified response is for Jews to bid Europe adieu.
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