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European anti-Semitism alive and well Photo: AP
European anti-Semitism alive and well Photo: AP
 
 

Can Jews live in Europe?

For increasingly helpless European Jews Israel is the solution, not the problem

Guy Bechor
Published: 03.06.09, 01:18 / Israel Opinion

It's hard to believe that this question is being asked gain, but sadly, after 70 years it has emerged nonetheless: Is there room for Jewish existence in Europe? Can Jews continue living as a proud community, in 2009, in that same continent with the terrible memories? The answer, in light of what has been materializing in the past few weeks – yet not only because of this – is negative.

 

A Jew can no longer walk the streets while displaying Jewish trademarks, or visit Jewish institutions that are not surrounded by police officers and guards; they must remain behind locks and bars, scared for their lives.

 

Meanwhile, those who hide any Jewish attributes and assimilate into society will continue to live – until they face an unpleasant situation with their colleagues, at school, or anywhere else in life.

 

In recent months I visited and spoke before several Jewish communities in European countries, including Turkey, France, and Britain – even before the Gaza operation. During the trip I saw with my own eyes the miserable Jewish existence. Yes, if they hide the Star of David and the unique dress, and if they agree that their synagogues will look like locked fortresses, like ghettos in fact, and if they are forced to experience threats on the street and hear about the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents – well, we can say that there is Jewish existence; scared, embarrassed, and submissive.

 

But what about feeling secure in their countries? There is none of that.

 

Anti-Semitism is a European phenomenon, with millions of Muslims sweeping the continent and turning the conflict with Israel and the Jews into a cause that enables them to reinforce their hold on Europe. The global economic crisis is being exploited in order to incite against the Jews and against the investment banks which the world enjoyed for half a century. Yet now, when we see losses, "Jewish money still rules the world," as the South African deputy foreign minister startlingly asserted.

 

The trend is growing across the world and it has nothing to do with Israel: Israel is the tool used in order to secure achievements. Israel is what the Jews used to be in the past.

 

When we see, in Turkey or Italy, Jewish-owned stores being marked so the locals refrain from buying there, what kind of future do the children of the 750,000 Jews in Western Europe have? You worked for a country that will always view you as foreigners. Following World War II, you made some countries rich, but now we see a quiet Jewish rally in the Swedish capital being banned because of fears of Muslims violence there. What kind of future do you have in this continent, which is becoming increasingly Muslim?

 

Today we have a state 

And what is the difference between 1939 and 2009? Today, as opposed to the past, the Jews have a state; a successful and wealthy state that boasts a standard of living that approaches that of Europe. The per-capita gross domestic product in Britain was $39,000 in December (according to the British Economist,) compared to $29,000 in Israel.

 

Leave the continent that fondly recalls its anti-Semitism; we in Israel need you. The addition of hundreds of thousands of wealthy Jews will boost Israel, end the illusions of any Israeli Arabs who dream about a demographic victory, and make Israel's economic supremacy absolute. You, who will be arriving in Israel now, will turn it not into one of the world's 20 wealthiest countries - this has already been achieved – but rather, one of the 10 richest countries on the globe.

 

You have a homeland, so why should you agree to be second-class citizens? Why should you be scared to show that you are Jewish? Why should you be attacked at subway stations at night?

 

This is the big difference. Arrive here not only for the sake of Israel, but for the sake of your identity and for the sake of your children's future.

 

The Jewish community in Israel always grew during periods of persecution against Jews – after all, this is the objective of Zionism, and this way we revert to the simplest ideological basis of the national Jewish movement: Serving as a home for Jews who are persecuted around the world.

 

As opposed to what you have become accustomed to hearing from the global media, for you, the Jews of Europe, Israel is not the problem – rather, it's the solution.

 

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