By Isla Lamont
Kosher super market hostage crisis. Copenhagen temple and café shootings. Most people with even the faintest touch on the world’s pulse have probably heard about these European terrorist attacks occurring over the last half a decade. Everyday it is becoming clearer and clearer that Europe is becoming increasingly anti-Semitic.
The media has covered no grand publications of any correlated attacks striking at Jewish European citizens nor has there been a huge outcry from the assailed religious and ethnic collective. Though in reality, there is arguably a growing plight for the Jews of Europe. Even Madonna has something to say about it. The quinquagenarian pop singer told a French radio station that “anti-Semitism is at an all-time high,” and the always classic, “it feels like Nazi Germany.”
So exactly what has been happening to Jewish European citizens? In the summer of 2014, a French jihadist shot dead three people in a Belgian Jewish museum. An attack on a French kosher supermarket, committed in the same week by a gunmen related to the Parisian satirical journal Charlie Hebdo massacre on January 7th, was, as French president François Hollande described “unmistakably anti-Semitic.” On February 15th, an attack in Copenhagen targeted a temple holding a bar-mitzvah, with earlier attacks on a café hosting the French ambassador to Denmark and a cartoonist known for his illustrations negatively depicting the prophet Mohammed. To make a depressing state of affairs even worse, a little research past large media outlets found that the feel-good headline circulating the internet a couple of weeks ago, about a ring of 1,000-plus Muslims forming a protective ring around an Oslo temple, is a complete hoax. A total of 20 Muslims showed up in front of the tiny temple. Much worse, it was reportedly organized by a known anti-Semite. In a recent social experiment, British journalist Jonathan Kalmus donned a traditional Jewish kippa and took a stroll around parts of the UK, where he caught on film strangers harassing him, yelling “you Jew” at him with his wife and child, even a man shouting “fight the Jewish scum”. There have been anti-Semitic attacks against Jews.
The problem with these uncorrelated attacks is that there is not one organization with like-minded people orchestrating them; there are speculatively thousands of individuals spread across the continent who share the same anti-Semitic beliefs. According to a Jewish Business News published in late February 2015, the amount of anti-Semitic acts committed in France was 851, with 243 of them being violent. The Community Security Trust also released statistics it has compliled and found that Britain’s number of recorded “anti-Semitic incidents” reached a staggering 1,168 in 2014. That’s the highest documented since the trust began monitoring anti-Semitic cases in 1984.
With anti-Semitism on the rise across the continent, cue Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has his own solution to the problem — mass emigration back to the homeland. According to an article by the Washington Post, the Prime Minister up for reelection mid-March of this year became extra vocal, a quality he is already known for in international affairs, after the Copenhagen attacks. Netanyahu reaffirmed Hollande’s findings, saying “Jews have been murdered
again on European soil only because they were Jews.” Hollande has even gone so far as to present his national Cabinet with a $50 million dollar plan to aid a massive influx of future Israeli citizens.
I must agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assessment of the situation. What I find grounds for disagreement on, however, is his reaction to it.
A quick Wikipedia search shows a comprehensive list of terrorist attacks on European soil. Starting with the year 2010 and omitting entries concerning the Greek economic collapse, there have been 9 recorded terrorist attacks. 8 of the 9 recorded entries list an Islamist or other Islam-based perpetrator. So if Europe’s Jews are under attack from an almost exclusively radical Islamist persecutor, Why would Netanyahu find it prudent to move millions of European Jews into the Middle East, much less a country which is in an almost constant state of conflict with its neighboring countries? And this is not even addressing the fact that Europeans come from a wide range of national dialects, none of which is Hebrew, and even those who speak it for liturgical purposes are unlikely to find it helpful in daily dialogue. The cultures of the Western world and near East are also too different for the majority of Jewish people to simply convert their daily lives to.
I find this the appropriate time to note that I am a strong supporter of anti-Islamophobia. The faith is a peaceful one, and as an Abrahamic religion it shares many historical and liturgical ties with both Jewish and Christian faiths. But as can be seen with many of the atrocities committed in the blood-stained pages of history, such as the Catholic church’s role in the Hoy Wars, any sort of overzealous religious sect can take the word of a good faith to the extreme, resulting in the loss of human dignity and life.
Even if the hotbed of cultural turmoil was as safe a destination as Disneyland, what lesson is to be learned here? An exodus to Israel should not be done out of fear. The Jewish people have been fleeing for thousands of years, quite literally since the dawn of the written word. It’s time to educate thy neighbor. Ignorance is not to be fled from, but to be challenged with intellect and understanding. It’s about time countrymen stood for one another, against any threat, regardless of race or religion. It’s time to take a step forward by keeping both feet firmly planted.