Gwynne Dyer: Jewish mass emigration from Europe?

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      “We’re not waiting around here to die,” said Johan Dumas, one of the survivors of the siege at the kosher supermarket during the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris in January. He had hidden with others in a basement cold room as the Islamist gunman roamed overhead and killed four of the hostages. So, said Dumas, he was moving to Israel to be safe.

      It’s not really that simple. The 17 victims of the terrorist attacks included some French Christians, a Muslim policeman, four Jews, and probably a larger number of people who would have categorized themselves as “none of the above”.

      It was a Muslim employee in the supermarket who showed Dumas and other Jewish customers where to hide, and then went back upstairs to distract the gunman. And the Middle East isn’t exactly safe for Jews.

      Dumas has been through a terrifying experience. He now feels like a target in France, and no amount of reassurance from the French government that it will protect its Jewish citizens will change his mind. But Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t help much either.

      What Netanyahu said after the Paris attacks was this: “This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our country, which is also your country.”

      He was at it again after a Jewish volunteer guarding a synagogue in Copenhagen was one of the two fatal victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Denmark. “Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews,” he said, “and this wave of terrorist attacks—including murderous anti-Semitic attacks—is expected to continue.”

      “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe.” As you might imagine, this did not go down well with European leaders who were being told that their countries were so anti-Semitic that they are no longer safe for Jews.

      It is true that five of the 19 people killed in these two terrorist attacks in Europe since the New Year were Jewish, which is highly disproportionate. But it is also true that the killers in all cases were Islamist extremists, who also exist in large numbers in and around Israel.

      French President Francois Hollande said: “I will not just let what was said in Israel pass, leading people to believe that Jews no longer have a place in Europe and in France in particular.” In Denmark, Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior rebuked Netanyahu, saying that “terror is not a reason to move to Israel.”

      The chair of Britain's Parliamentary committee against anti-Semitism, John Mann, attacked Netanyahu's statement that the only place Jews could now be safe was Israel.

      “Mr Netanyahu made the same remarks in Paris—it's just crude electioneering. It's no coincidence that there's a general election in Israel coming up....We're not prepared to tolerate a situation in this country or in any country in Europe where any Jews feel they have to leave.”

      It is crude electioneering on Netanyahu’s part—but it is also true that even in Britain, where there have been no recent terrorist attacks, Jews are worried. Statistically, Jews are at greater risk from terrorism in Israel, but it’s much scarier being a Jewish minority in a continent where Jews were killed in death camps only 70 years ago.

      Given Europe’s long and disgraceful history of anti-Semitism, it’s not surprising that such sentiments persist among a small minority of the population. But at least in Western Europe (which is where most European Jews live) the great majority of people regard anti-Semitism as shameful, and most governments give synagogues and Jewish community centres special protection.

      What European Jews fear is not their neighbours in general, but radicalized young Islamists among their Muslim fellow citizens. The Muslim minorities in the larger Western European countries range between four and 10 percent of the population. If only one in a hundred of them is an Islamist then Jews do face a threat in those countries.

      But it is a very small threat. Nine Jews have been killed by Islamist terrorists in the European Union in the past year in three separate incidents (Belgium, France and Denmark). The Jewish population of the EU is just over one million, mostly living in France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

      Nine Jewish deaths by terrorism in a year in the EU is deplorable, but it hardly constitutes a good reason for encouraging mass emigration to Israel. Still, Netanyahu has an election to fight, and this sort of thing goes down well in Israel.

      Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist whose articles are published in 45 countries.

      Comments

      11 Comments

      P.Peto

      Feb 18, 2015 at 4:26pm

      So saying Europe is not safe for Jews [anymore?] is simply electioneering by Netanyahu. I am not sure how that would gain him votes in Isreal. Perhaps he is really trying to replace the steady exodus of Jews from Isreal because of his hostile policies. It 's undeniable that he is responsible for the steady rise of "Antisematism" in Europe and elsewhere because of his ruthless bombing of Gaza and continuing persecution of Palestians and usurption of their land. It is ironic that world Jewry are blamed for the irresponsible and reckless behaviour of Jews in Isreal! Perhaps it's all part of a grand jewish project to lure the Jewish diaspora into repopulating the "promised land" of a "Greater [Ersatz] Isreal". It seems to me the whole Jewish homeland project turned into a colossal mistake for the Jews. If it were't for the misguided fervor of American evangelical zionists to support this escatological project we would not have to suffer the outrage of Middle Eastern Muslims and their Muslim diaspora.

      greg g

      Feb 19, 2015 at 3:20pm

      OMG, has Dyer finally been able to write that magical article that I Chandler won't find some way to argue with, not even by shoe-horning in some marginally related tangent to rant about? I was starting to lose faith that I would live to see the day.

      greg g

      Feb 19, 2015 at 3:23pm

      @P.Peto Are you intentionally misspelling Israel for some reason (as some sort of insult)? I'm totally serious, it sounds like you are well-read enough on the subject that it seems hard to believe you wouldn't know how to spell the name of the country. Not being a grammar-Nazi, just genuinely curious.

      Gfy

      Feb 19, 2015 at 9:03pm

      C'mon Dyer, you can't really be serious trying to equate the amount of anti-semitism with how many body bags are stacked up. Like all the defaced tombstones, all sorts of vandalism, near death attacks...are just background noise for you? Weird logic you use above.

      P.Peto

      Feb 20, 2015 at 12:12pm

      It would be interesting to know whether the thumbs up or down to my comment represent the anti-Zionist or pro-Israeli of Dyer’s readership. We live in such a pro-Jewish and pro-Zionist propaganda bubble that any dissent is considered politically incorrect or even anti-Semitic which in some cases is criminalized. Note that in our propaganda bubble the same cannot be said of anti-Muslim sentiments.
      This is most unfortunate and speaks to the relative power of Jews and Muslims in the occidental world.
      I would like to believe that any negative tally I accrue is largely due to the zealousness of Zionist Trolls.
      As for my spelling of “Israel” [Iz-ree-uh] as Isreal is simply from the incorrect phonetic I use [is-REE-al], no harm intended to the artificially and unwisely created Jewish State.

      I Chandler

      Feb 21, 2015 at 3:00pm

      DYER: "What Netanyahu said after the Paris attacks was this:"

      Bibi was upstaged by Sisi:

      DYER:"Within hours the Egyptian air force responded with raids...and declared: Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them.' ”

      Dropping bombs on Sirte is easier than Paris. It didn't do much good anyhow - Libyan media reported 35 more Egyptians had been rounded up by ISIS in retaliation for the air raids.

      DYER:" Given Europe’s long and disgraceful history of anti-Semitism, it’s not surprising that such sentiments persist among a small minority of the population."

      Many theories have been put forward to explain anti-Semitism - this illogical phenomenon, which borders on a collective mental disease. A long and disgraceful history indeed. Instead of writing about Algeria, the sock puppets produce more walking while videos... There are a few Algerians in France:

      "French Muslims are mostly immigrants from North Africa. During the desperate struggle for Algerian independence, almost all the Algerian Jews sided with the colonialist regime against the local freedom fighters. When all Jews and many Arabs emigrated from Algeria to France, they brought their fight with them. Since they now live side by side in the crowded ghettos around Paris and elsewhere, their mutual hatred lives on and often leads to violence."

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/20/the-fallacy-of-rising-anti-semitism/

      greg g

      Feb 23, 2015 at 12:15am

      @P.Peto

      Thank you for answering my question, I really wasn't trying to be a smart-ass, I appreciate it!

      greg g

      Feb 24, 2015 at 2:10am

      p.s. And for what it's worth P.Peto, I gave your comment a thumbs up. Although you probably wouldn't like the fact that I do agree with those that support Israel's right to exist, the unwavering support by American evangelicals and our PM and the CPC in general troubles me greatly. It seems Bibi doesn't want the West Bank to ever become a more permanent part of Israel, nor does he want it to have any more autonomy than it does now. He wants neither, but rather some weird "temporary" limbo state that Likud naively thinks they can perpetuate forever without the outside world never saying "Enough!".

      The latest flare up in Gaza was completely orchestrated by Likud IMHO because with Fatah and Hamas forming a unity gov't, Bibi was scared shitless because he couldn't continue to use his tired old trope of not having a "true" partner at the bargaining table as an excuse to continue the brutal military occupation and land theft in his so called "Samaria and Judea" that has gone on for 48 years now with no end in sight.

      How anyone can say with a straight face that keeping all those people under Israel's legal jurisdiction without granting them citizenship, basic civil rights, and probably most importantly the right to vote, all while arbitrarily confiscating any land they feel like without any justification *isn't* an Apartheid system, they need to have their head examined. Or they are just cynically disingenuous, which is even more disturbing.

      Ilan H.

      Feb 25, 2015 at 10:03am

      In the most basic and primal version of Zionist emigration concepts Antisemetism is one thing. The Protestant puritan antisemtisim, the catholic "christ killer" antisemtism the racist, czarist, communist, anticommunist, fascist, neofascist… all the same thing.

      In that vein, islamist antisemitism is the same thing too.

      There's something to this approach, however crude. They share a lot of symbols and propaganda tidbits. "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is an old Tzarist piece of antisemetic propaganda. It was adopted by nazis, neonates, occasionally communists. Today it is alluded to in Hamas constitution, it's reprinted in various Islamic magazines from Indonesia to Morocco.

      Europe has a growing Muslim community which is shifting towards right wing conservatism. Jihadis and Islamists may indeed be a minority, even a small one but they're growing. The larger groups immediately to their left, like non radical islamists are growing too. They are very anti Israel and their anti Israel arguments are not the same as those made by their political allies from Europe's liberal-left. They make almost no distinction between Jewish and Israeli. It's much more about liberating "muslim soil" than Palestinian people.

      At the same time, Europe's hard right is experiencing phenomenal growth. This is more anti muslim than anti Jewish right now, but I think Jews are rightly intimidated by it.

      Regarding the "rational" point about the actual statistical dangers. The reality is that political violence has more of an effect than traffic accidents or random murder. This isn't entirely irrational either "Layl Habdolah" was a single day of anti Jewish riots. Not many were killed. Where it lead to is the scary part.