Thousands of ex-Israeli military personnel now protecting European synagogues.
This is the rallying cry Jewish communities worldwide have lived by since the Nazi Holocaust of World War Two. But the recent explosion of violent Jew-hatred among radical Muslims and their leftist supporters in Europe has caused European Jewry to adopt measures to ensure that ‘never again’ really means ‘never again’.
Perhaps the most important of these actions has seen Jewish groups hire former, elite, Israeli soldiers from private security firms to protect synagogues and other Jewish establishments.
“…in Germany alone, several hundred former, Israeli soldiers are charged with the protection of Jewish institutions,” Beni Tal, an Israeli ex-military security agent working in Europe told the German newspaper Die Welt. “In all of Europe, we’re talking thousands.”
Well aware of history, German Jewish associations know the first major step in any planned liquidation of Europe’s Jewish communities, especially of their own, is the destruction of their synagogues. This is what occurred in Germany in November, 1938, and later came to be called ‘Kristallnacht’ (Crystal Night). In one night, Nazi thugs destroyed all the synagogues in Germany and Austria as well as many Jewish businesses, homes, cemeteries and social meeting places. The ‘Kristall’ refers to the debris of broken window glass lying on the ground afterwards from destroyed synagogues and Jewish stores.
‘Kristallnacht’ was a turning point in the Nazi treatment of Jews. A scant few years later, they were deported to concentration camps, from which most never returned.
Nowadays, radical, anti-Semitic Islamists have replaced the brown-shirted thugs. And they are becoming just as violent as their predecessors in expressing their anti-Jewish hatred.
In Toulouse, France, for example, a man tossed two “firebombs” at a Jewish community center containing a synagogue, but, fortunately, they didn’t ignite. The attack occurred only an hour after an anti-Israel demonstration. Toulouse was also the scene of a horrifying anti-Semitic attack in 2012, in which a Muslim jihadist murdered four people, three of them children, at a Jewish school.
Synagogues were also attacked in Paris in July, while their patrons have been harassed, even attacked. Last May, Brussels witnessed a murderous, anti-Semitic attack on its Jewish museum by another French jihadist, in which three people died. Their killer was recently extradited from France back to Belgium to stand trial for murder.
Great Britain also experienced a synagogue attack in Belfast, while more than a dozen assaults have taken place against Jews in Denmark last month. In Sweden, the synagogue in Malmo was vandalised in July and the rabbi assaulted three days later.
But the most numerous anti-Jewish assaults in Europe, described as occurring daily, are physical and verbal ones against individuals. They are so prevalent, a German journalist wrote: “…it is not possible everywhere in Germany to go to the synagogue Friday afternoon wearing a kippa.
In France, the daily situation for Jews in the face of widespread anti-Semitism is deemed even worse.
“Our lives have become absurd,” said one French Jewish leader. “We endure daily insults and get spat on, a general feeling of anxiety because a part of the population has a poisoned mind that makes it their mission to hurt Jews, regardless of Gaza.”
But if any doubts existed about the Nazi-like virulence of the Jew-hatred now present in Europe, these were laid to rest in the demonstrations against Israel’s Gaza invasion. With no fear of arrest, the protesters openly expressed their extermination yearnings, shouting ‘Death to the Jews’ and ‘Jews to the gas’.
“Things are happening (in Europe) that we have not seen since 1933,” a German Jewish lawyer told a special sitting of an Israeli parliamentary committee.
Germany has also experienced synagogue attacks. Since the Gaza conflict began, a synagogue in Wuppertal was struck by incendiary devices, for which two men were arrested, one from Syria and a Palestinian. Four men, who had threatened on Facebook to attack a synagogue in Essen, were also apprehended. But perhaps the most disturbing anti-Semitic incident in Germany since the Gaza conflict began occurred in a Berlin mosque, patronised mostly by Arabs, where an imam from Denmark “openly prayed for the death of Jews.
“Oh God, exterminate the Zionist Jews. Count them and exterminate them to the last one,” intoned this ‘holy’ man before the congregation. (Watch video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov00rNamNig.)
For some Germans, given their country’s history, such anti-Semitic incidents are intolerable in Germany today. To them, it is equally disgraceful that synagogues are once more being attacked on German soil, especially when the country marked the 75th anniversary of ‘Kristallnacht’ only last November.
During one ceremony to mark that event, in Hamburg’s old, Jewish quarter, candles were placed on the doorsteps of former Jewish homes to remember the murdered victims. In the same Jewish quarter, at the place where Hamburg’s largest synagogue once stood, a rabbi said a prayer and a remembrance watch was also maintained. Like its congregation, the synagogue was a victim of Nazi hatred.
To prevent a reoccurrence of a modern-day ‘Kristallnacht’, some Germans will not accept such scandalous incidents of Jew-hatred in their midst, as occurred in the Berlin mosque. One such German, a Berlin legislator, laid a charge against the Danish imam for violating a statute of the German federal constitution regarding hate-mongering against a people.
Another told Die Welt he did not want to see Jews leaving his country because of anti-Semitism, like they are doing in France and Holland, stating “our history forbids this.” The general- secretary of Germany’s ruling conservative party, Peter Tauber, added to this in expressing high esteem and a thankfulness for the Jewish presence in modern Germany.
“For us, it is a great gift that there are again active Jewish communities among us today,” Tauber said.
But with the rise of violent anti-Semitism in Europe, one now needs more than just laws and words to prevent a recurrence of ‘Kristallnacht,’ hence the stationing of thousands of ex-Israeli military personnel in Europe.
Tal told Die Welt that he never goes unarmed on the street, always carrying on his person a battle knife and a telescope riot baton. And since the Jewish museum attack in Brussels last May, he says he has been getting about 50 calls a week from Jewish establishments and individuals, inquiring about protection. Kidnapping has also become a major fear.
The fact that protection has to be imported from Israel for Europe’s synagogues and Jewish institutions, however, shows that European governments are failing their Jewish citizens as regards their security. One problem, a security agency owner noted, is diminishing police budgets. The less money, the less protection the state can offer.
Another problem is the quality of government-provided security. Tal regards, for example, the German police guarding Jewish establishments as “nice officers” nearly eligible to receive their pensions. But they are, he indicates, perhaps not really suited for this kind of work.
“If they have to run after a terrorist, then they will have to catch their breath before they fire, otherwise they will shoot down an innocent person,” he said.
Besides, unlike many European security providers, most Israeli ex-military security personnel are veterans with combat experience who can be counted on to react differently, and forcefully, “in a serious situation,” especially when their fellow Jews are endangered. One commented that if an ex-Israeli soldier had been providing security at Brussel’s Jewish museum last May, that particular jihadist “would definitely have been turned off, before he could have caused any damage.”
With Jew-hatred increasing in Europe, Jewish communities have adopted other security measures to ensure their safety besides hiring former Israeli soldiers. Some have formed self-defence groups, while young volunteers travel to Israel for security training. An Israeli agency is also helping out by funding security improvements, such as bullet-proof windows, security cameras and fences, for Jewish establishments worldwide.
“If Europe’s states do not protect the Jews who are living on their territory, Israel will do it,” said a deputy in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.
Nevertheless, a fear exists that all these security measures will still not be enough if a howling mob of several hundred radical Muslims and leftists attack a synagogue or Jewish school. This fear is more than justified, since anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks can only be expected to increase as Europe’s Muslim population rises. One German Jew, living in Berlin, pointed out the current irony of his community’s situation in Die Welt.
“Seventy years after the Holocaust, we are living again behind ghetto walls, and, indeed, not in order to lock us in, but in order to protect us. That is no natural Jewish life any more.”
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