A recent report from the Jewish Agency states that almost 10,000 Jews emigrated to Israel from European countries in 2015, the highest annual number ever. Many of those leaving cite the sharp rise in anti-semitism as the primary reason.
The raised terror threat and the targeting of Jews are disturbing trends in a number of European nations but France is notable for some of the worst incidents. This may explain why 80% of those Jews leaving for Israel were from France alone. With growing Arab immigration into western nations such as Sweden, France, Belgium and Germany, many feel that the future of European Jewry looks even more bleak.
What possible effects will this migration wave have on Jewish life in Europe?
Europe is undergoing seismic and irreversible changes, largely through muslim migration across its borders. Consequently, politicians are having to formulate a response to the immediate and long term effects of this sea change throughout Europe. Perhaps this immigration will bring mutual benefits that we cannot see at present; an enriching of our western culture and a new understanding and appreciation of the diversity of the alternative viewpoints the newcomers are bringing with them.
That is the opinion of some of Europe's elites keen for the migrants to embrace what Europe espouses most; democracy, liberal values, magnanimity, equality and progressive attitudes. And all this at the temple of Europa's most revered god, Tolerance.
However, dreams of a golden era may be fading fast. Recent incidents of predatory sexual attacks and growing crime by migrants followed by the embarrassing media silence, then back-pedalling to the reimposition of border controls highlight the short sightedness and over-optimism of our leaders political aspirations.
Such discussions fill tabloid space and cafe conversations but few are picking up on the backlash immigration is causing Jews in Europe.
The spectre of anti-semitism is casting a grim shadow over European streets and only strengthening the dilemma many Jews have felt for a long time: "Should I stay or should I go?"
Anti-semitism has long been a trait of European and Arab society and the growing fusion between the two cultures via mass immigration to the West now places Jewish communities at even greater risk and uncertainty over their futures.
Who begrudges the many who sincerely search for a better life in the West, having fled from appalling conditions due to conflicts in their home countries? But, the predominantly Arab migrants are also bringing with them the outlooks that permeate the overwhelming muslim cultures they left behind.
The most disturbing export that many of these Arab migrants potentially bring is deeply embedded anti-semitism. From cradle to grave, Arab society is saturated with caricatures and demonisation of Jews; in film, television, radio, print, school and university curricula, policy, religious teaching, etc. Holocaust denial is prevalent and incitement against anything Jewish is positively viewed.
Hitlers, 'Mein Kampf' and the notorious Tsarist forgery, "The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion', are long-term staples in Arab translated literature and regarded as definitive in their appraisal of Jews and their supposed sinister, global intentions. These stereotypes of Jews are continually perpetuated in Arab society without any critical response or inquiry as to their validity.
This hatred and suspicion of all things Jewish predates the State of Israel; it is a fact and way of life for millions of Arabs. It is the one unifying thing all disparate muslim groups can agree on. It has explicit sanction in islamic teaching, the Quran and the Hadiths - it should be no surprise then to view a more Islamic West as a direct existential threat to European Jewry in the long term.
At the same time, there is a tangible resurgence in nationalism in many European countries. Despite successive government integration efforts over decades and the touting of Europeanism as the highest political goal, nationalism offers a knee jerk reaction to the threat many feel under from mass immigration. This is also having the effect of Jews feeling unsafe now on two levels; against a rising tide of nationalism and against the openly anti-semitic attitudes of many Arab immigrants.
On campuses across Europe little is done to tackle extremism and persistent intimidation of Jewish students. Protests against Israel or Zionism are barely more than attacks on Jews in general, classic anti-semitism, painted with the veneer of the right to free speech.
Israeli and Jewish societies are vilified and their meetings often the subject of mass protest, even violence, by the universities' Islamic societies or 'cause-bandwagon' left wingers, who seem to operate with impunity. Yet in university 'Safe Spaces', authorities turn a blind eye and give unrestricted platforms to those preaching subjugation of women, stoning gays, killing apostates and calls for resistance to host country laws in favour of the imposition of Sharia law.
Not only is European academia failing in this regard but open anti-semitism is a fact of life for many Jewish students on north American college and university campuses. Again, leadership seems inept or unwilling to counter those who espouse hatred in the name of freedom of speech. In some cases, they have been shamefully complicit in aiding it.
Europe, with its liberal values and obsession to appease at any cost in the name of tolerance is heading for a future cultural showdown. As it has despised its own Judaeo-Christian heritage and gone out of the way to legislate values contrary to biblical ones, it seems bereft of any real moral and spiritual power to counter what many see as the coming crisis in Europe.
Anti-semitism will not disappear; sadly, as I believe it is yet to reach its zenith. It is no doubt serving as the impetus for emigration of increased numbers of European Jews to Israel. Despite the tough reality of life in Israel and circumstances to the contrary, this will ultimately be the safest place for the Jewish people in the long term.
This is not because of the strength of Israel's Defence Forces nor it's technological edge, but because of God's determination to bring His people home and initiate a new, biblical reality that will ensure their safely and final redemption.
Until then, we must pray and labour against any form of anti-semitism and affirm God's biblical covenants for the Jewish people.
Thus says the Lord GOD: "When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbours who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God.""
Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 26th January 2016.
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