The Jews of Europe are once again in grave danger, while anti-Semitism has become the common currency of politics in many European countries.
Seventy years after the Holocaust, a pogrom took place in Toulouse, one of the most pleasant French cities. An Israeli rabbi and three Jewish children were executed during a killing spree. Four Jews “returned” to Israel in a coffin.
The question we face at this time is as follows: will the Jews have a place in the New Europe? Or will the remnant of European Jewry flee once again?
Nearly 80% of European Jews today can be found in France and in the United Kingdom. In both countries, the number of Jews is dramatically falling. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, reacting to anti-Semitic attacks in France, said in 2004 that French aliyah is “a must and they have to move immediately,” people were embarrassed. But these sentiments have changed.
A new exodus from the Diaspora could now take place. In the past few years, the number of French Jews immigrating to Israel has doubled. Hundreds of French Jews have bought apartments in Israel. It’s their “pied-a-terre” in case the situation gets darker in Europe.
According to the statistics available, due to aliyah and assimilation, French Jewry is projected to experience a dramatic decline from 520,000 in 2000, to 480,000 in 2020, to 380,000 in 2050, and to 300,000 by 2080. The Jewish population in the United Kingdom will also decline to 240,000 in 2020, 180,000 in 2050, and 140,000 in 2080.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the world’s leading Talmudic scholar, recently delivered an apocalyptic vision: “The Jewish community in Europe is dying.” Enclaves of ultra-Orthodox Jews are likely to prevail in the main European cities, but Judaism will survive as mere folklore.
The Auschwitz burdenProminent Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein recently sparked an uproar in the Netherlands by saying that Jews “should emigrate to the US or Israel.” Bolkestein's remarks echoed those of Benjamin Jacobs, Holland’s chief rabbi, who in 2010 said that “the future for Dutch Jewry is moving to Israel.”
Last autumn, the ancient synagogue of Weesp became the first synagogue in Europe since the Second World War to cancel Shabbat services due to threats to the safety of the faithful.
The Pew Research Center’s 2008 Global Attitudes Project found that 46% of Spanish residents held an unfavorable view of Jews. Meanwhile, 47% of Germans are of the opinion that “Israel is exterminating the Palestinians,” according to a poll undertaken by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, affiliated with the German Social Democratic Party.
There are more than 1,000 Jews in Oslo, but you never see them. Not one. Jews in Norway make upjust 0.003% of the total population, but the country is a bulwark of global anti-Semitism. Elsewhere, due to security reasons, Jews are fleeing the Swedish city of Malmo and Antwerp in Belgium, a town once proudly called “the Northern Jerusalem.”
To quote psychiatrist Zvi Rex: “Europe will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” Europe doesn’t want to live under the psychological burden of Auschwitz forever. The Jews are living reminders of the moral failure of Europe. This leads to the projection of guilt on Israel and the remaining European Jews.
Indeed, it’s a tragic but unavoidable process: the New Europe will be a Jews-free continent.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism