The ‘New Normal’?

(Originally published on Israel Hayom)

In Michel Houellebecq’s dystopian novel, “Submission” (2015), which takes place in an imaginary France ‎in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood has won elections and rules the country in alliance with the Socialists, the non-Jewish protagonist, a professor at the Sorbonne, tells his Jewish student, who is escaping to Israel with her family, that there ‎can be “no Israel for me.” This is one of the most poignant observations in the book.‎

Another is the protagonist’s reflection that the increasing violence, even the gunshots in the streets of Paris as a ‎civil war threatens to explode during the run-up to the elections, has become the ‎new normal: something that everyone is resigned to as an inevitable fact, barely reported in the ‎media and treated as unremarkable by his fellow lecturers. Even after the Muslim Brotherhood wins the ‎elections, and the Sorbonne is turned into an Islamic university, with all that this entails, his colleagues treat ‎this development as nothing out of the ordinary. Houllebecq’s indictment against the silence and ‎complicity of his fellow intellectuals in the face of the Islamist encroachments on French society is ‎scathing. As a matter of course, in the new France, where freedom of speech comes at a prohibitive ‎price, Houllebecq now has to live under 24-hour police protection. “Submission,” by the way, was published on the day of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.‎

The resignation and the precarious pretense that everything is normal in the face of rapidly deteriorating ‎circumstances, is a predictable human reaction, testimony to the sometimes practical but lamentable human capacity for adaptation to most circumstances, whatever they may be. ‎Historically, Jews have excelled in this discipline, simply because they had no choice. Just like Houllebecq’s ‎protagonist, they had nowhere else to go. However, whereas there “can be no Israel” for the lost ‎professor, today, unlike the last time Jews were threatened on a large scale in Europe, there is an Israel ‎for the Jews. Uniquely among all the peoples of Europe, the Jews have a welcoming place to go. ‎Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Western European Jews choose to stay put in Europe.‎

In 2015, 30,000 Jews made aliyah from all over the world. Almost 22,000 of these arrivals were from ‎France, Russia and Ukraine, and approximately 3,700 new immigrants made aliyah from the United States and ‎Canada. Other countries included Argentina and Venezuela, but Western Europe, outside of France, only ‎accounted for the tiniest contribution to these figures.‎

From the Netherlands, home to an estimated 50,000 Jews, only 96 Jews made aliyah in ‎‎2015, still the highest figure recorded in a decade. In Belgium, which saw an Islamic terrorist attack on the ‎Jewish museum in 2014, only 287 Jews made aliyah last year out of an estimated Jewish population of ‎‎40,000. Aliyah from the Scandinavian countries was equally negligible in 2015, despite a terrorist attack on ‎the synagogue in Copenhagen in 2015 and a growing anti-circumcision lobby in all the Scandinavian ‎countries, threatening to literally make a continued Jewish presence in those countries untenable. In ‎‎2014, kosher slaughter was made illegal in Denmark. In Sweden and Norway it was already outlawed. ‎

In the Netherlands, the beginning of 2016 saw an extraordinarily savage anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish ‎octogenarian couple in Amsterdam, who were robbed and beaten nearly to death while the Muslims ‎who perpetrated the attack called them “dirty Jews.” The couple had to be confined to an old-age home, ‎having sustained permanent injuries. Incredibly, the Dutch media, aided by the prosecution, upon reporting ‎the crime, chose not to mention the strong anti-Semitic element of the hate crime. Anti-Semitism was ‎also reported to be on the rise in Dutch schools, a dire foreboding for the future. ‎

The situation all over the European continent is depressingly similar with the occasional fluctuations in the ‎rise and fall of anti-Semitic incidents, but with a clear and persistent anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ‎sentiment that makes itself felt in everyday life. Recently, the president of the Jewish society at the ‎London School of Oriental and African Studies explained that “we are too scared to go anywhere ‎so we walk in a group to the station. People come up to me and say, ‘I heard you hate Palestinians.'”‎

Jews are particularly at risk from the rise of jihad on the continent, but they are also existentially ‎threatened by the anti-Semitic campaigns against circumcision and kosher slaughter, which often have a broad ‎popular base that defies any categorization of left and right. The Social Democratic government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt brought about the prohibition against kosher slaughter in Denmark in 2014.‎

Added to this is the threat from far-right groups, which is sometimes exaggerated yet ‎nevertheless very much there. In the Netherlands, for instance, a Jewish organization, the Center for ‎Information and Documentation on Israel, was pressing charges in May against supporters of the ‎Dutch soccer champion PSV Eindhoven. A video was posted of PSV fans singing, “My dad was in the ‎commandos, my mother in the SS. Together they burned Jews, for Jews burn the best.” A PSV ‎spokesperson expressed his horror at the video. ‎

Nevertheless, Dutch high school graduates at a graduation party this month at Elde College in the ‎town of Schijndel, 60 miles southeast of Amsterdam, broke out in a song with almost the same lyrics. As ‎they approached the party, several graduates sang, “Together we’ll burn Jews, because Jews burn the ‎best.”

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, whose home in Amersfoort has been attacked five times in recent years, says ‎that the frequency of anti-Semitic chants and other hate crimes “means Dutch Jews are less inclined to ‎report hate crimes, when they occur around them all the time.” In other words, hate crimes have become ‎the new normal, just as in Houllebecq’s dystopia, the violent riots in the streets of Paris and the ‎incremental Islamization of France became the new and accepted normal. The status quo ‎gradually transforms itself from what is first seen as unbelievable and deeply shocking to something that is considered quite ordinary. “Only six years ago, we were profoundly shocked ‎when two young men screamed ‘Heil Hitler’ during a commemoration ceremony at Vught,” said Jacobs, ‎‎”But today, this wouldn’t be so shocking anymore. It is happening all the time in the Netherlands.” ‎

This is perhaps inevitable, a function of the plasticity of human nature and its ability to adapt to even that ‎which is most abhorrent, but it is also truly lamentable. Unlike Houllebecq’s professor, these Jews have a ‎place to go, no matter how imperfect and difficult they consider Israel to be compared to their often materially ‎comfortable lives in Western Europe. ‎

The questions inevitably arise: Why put up with the miseries of the European continent and the constant ‎and incremental assaults on Jewish freedom there, whether they come in the form of jihad or “native” ‎European anti-Semitism? Why suffer the indignity of hiding their identities for fear of verbal or ‎physical attacks when they can be open and free in Israel? 

Headlines: Fatah is a Terrorist Org., Antisemitism, UN’s Israel Bias

The Federal Court of Canada validated the decision of the Immigration Division (ID) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada which denied a Palestinian man refugee status in Canada because of his affiliation with the Fatah terrorist organization.
[Arutz Sheva]


Natan Meir, husband of Dafna Meir who was stabbed to death in their home, sent an emotional plea to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
[Jerusalem Post]


The Middle East Quartet, made up of the US, EU, UN, and Russia, is scheduled to release a major policy report later in coming weeks, and senior diplomats involved in its drafting have indicated that the US is taking a far harder line on Israel than in the past.
[Arutz Sheva]


The former Labour mayor of London calls Israel a ‘mistake,’ argues there was no anti-Semitism in the Arab world until founding of the Jewish State in interview with UAE-based news network.


Israeli officials said Saturday they would continue operations to uncover and destroy cross-border attack tunnels in the Gaza Strip over the coming weeks, even as Israel and Hamas sought to calm tensions along the frontier.
[Times of Israel]



When Jew Hatred Trumps European National Security

What is perhaps most conspicuous about the growth of anti-Semitism on the European Left, as exemplified by the current crisis in the British Labour Party, is that it is rising at a time when Europe should be busy with much more pressing issues, such as national security — particularly in London, where the terrorist threat keeps growing and security officials can barely keep up.

It has been less than two months since Islamic terrorists successfully targeted the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek metro station, killing 32 people and wounding many more. And it has been only half a year since the Paris attacks, in which Islamic terrorists killed 130 people and wounded nearly 400. These were groundbreaking, shocking events in the history of Islamic terrorism on European soil, so one would naturally assume that Israel and Jews in general, who make up such a marginal demographic group, constituting less than half a percent of the population of the EU, would be the last thing on European politicians’ minds. Another enormous immigration crisis looms, as 800,000 migrants, according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, are currently in Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This means that Europe will most likely be facing even more chaos than it did last summer.

However, European politicians, instead of busying themselves with protecting their citizens from future terrorist attacks — as well as preventing another chaotic summer of migration chaos — incredibly find time to get mired in sordid squabbles about insane ideas of transferring Israeli Jews to the United States and claiming Hitler was a Zionist — as we saw in the U.K. — or composing elaborate peace conference initiatives to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — as we saw in France. If I were a European citizen, I would wonder why my government was occupying itself with these issues, which have no vital meaning to any Europeans, at a time when Europe is facing unprecedented security threats.

As I mentioned in a past column, one example of this preposterous mindset was France’s rejection of Israeli terrorism tracking technology, which might have possibly prevented the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels — a clear example of Jew hatred trumping national security concerns, especially at a time when national security should be the top priority of every single European government.

In the wake of the anti-Semitism debacle in the British Labour Party, the obligatory inquiries will be made, solemn reports will be written and the culprits will be reprimanded, rebuked or excluded, upon which all will be forgotten and everyone will carry on as usual. It will change nothing, least of all the influence of the radical Left on mainstream leftist parties.

While the sordid ideas that are entertained by some in the European Left came out in the open in Britain on this occasion, this is most certainly not the last time we will see such a “crisis” revolving around the airing of some of these ideas, as the radical Left’s influence becomes more and more apparent, not only in Britain, but across the European Union. No one should harbor any doubts as to whether this is a British phenomenon — it most certainly is not, as anyone who follows Scandinavian politics can ascertain.

At any rate, whatever the outcome, for British Jews it is all too little and too late and the Labour debacle is only a political symptom of what has already become an undeniable fact on the street: Hate crimes against British Jews are at an all-time high. A report released on Sunday showed that there has been an increase of 50 percent in violent crimes against British Jews in the past two years and 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015 compared to 938 in 2014. Violent crimes constituted 196 incidents in 2015 compared to 126 incidents in 2014.

In other parts of the U.K., Jews are not faring any better. Almost 20 percent of Jews in Scotland have said that they have been victims of hate crimes. In Glasgow, home to the majority of Scottish Jews, more Jews are leaving or fearing to identify as Jews in a city, which has become increasingly hostile, something that culminated in 2014, when the Glasgow City Council decided to fly the Palestinian flag in what it said was a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Just as elsewhere in Europe, these developments are more likely than not to result in an even greater exodus of Jews from the European continent. Israel will be the richer for that and Europe the poorer. This leaves the Europeans with nowhere to escape from their irresponsible politicians. But they should ask why Israel and the Jews continue to be an almost clinical obsession to the point where Jew-hatred trumps national security. It would be very interesting to hear the answer.

Shame On You Poland

The Polish national anthem, in a glass-half-full kind of way, solemnly declares, “Poland is not yet lost.” These optimistic words, which do not actually sound very cheerful, especially when performed to the anthem’s depressing tune, were written by Jozef Wybicki in 1797, two years after the third and last partition of Poland between the great powers of the day: czarist Russia, Prussia, and Austria.

Poland, once an empire in its own right, never recovered. It did not become an independent state again until 1918, and then enjoyed independence only briefly, until Nazi Germany invaded it on Sept. 1, 1939, and proceeded to occupy and destroy it, aided by the Soviet Union. After the war, Poland, which had been reduced to rubble by the Germans, was once again devoured, when the Soviet Union occupied it and made it a satellite state, cut off from the non-communist world by the Iron Curtain. Only after the end of the Cold War did Poland re-emerge as a self-determining state.

As reported by Israel Hayom, the governing Law and Justice party in Poland has embarked on a strategy to promote certain glamorous episodes in Poland’s history, such as the anti-communist resistance after World War II, while aiming to suppress the discussion and research into less convenient topics, particularly how Poles helped massacre their Jewish compatriots during the Nazi occupation. The current nationalist government’s revisionist historical policies should be viewed in the light of the above history, which has informed how Poles have seen themselves and others throughout the centuries.

One obvious aspect of Polish history, which cannot be emphasized enough, is the prevalence of a virulent antisemitism that continues to haunt the country today. After World War II, the few Jews who had been left alive out of a pre-war Jewish population of over 3 million were met by Poles who had moved into their houses and overtaken their valuable possessions — many of which have not been repatriated to their rightful owners to this day, since communist Poland subsequently expropriated many of them. On top of all that, the Poles rained fresh pogroms on the heads of the Jewish concentration camp survivors, such as the terrible pogrom in Kielce in 1946.

Jan Tomasz Gross, the historian who more than anyone has revealed the extent of Polish war crimes against Jewish neighbors during the Nazi occupation, is being demonized by the current Polish government, with the president even threatening to strip him of a national honor bestowed upon him 20 years ago. The truth hurts, no doubt, but Gross has not relented, claiming that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during the war, which is not an unreasonable claim at all, given the speed and ease with which Germany occupied Poland and the zest with which Poles threw themselves into killing Polish Jews, as documented by Gross in his book, Neighbors.

Antisemitism flared up again after the 1967 Six-Day War, when Poland decided to take the Soviet dissatisfaction with Israel out on the country’s remaining Jews — around 13,000 of them — by firing them from jobs, denying them the right to study at university, and various other forms of harassment. Consequently, nearly all the remaining Polish Jews left Poland between 1968 and 1972.

Yet, even in a country largely bereft of Jews — albeit with a burgeoning Jewish cultural industry, which profits from the country’s wealth of Jewish history — antisemitism persists like a plague for which there is no cure. In November 2015, a protest against taking in Muslim refugees at the western city of Wroclaw ended with the burning of an effigy of an ultra-Orthodox Jew holding the flag of the European Union. Antisemitic graffiti is not uncommon and even the Polish language has traces of it with some Poles using the expression “to Jew” as a way to communicate all things unsavory.

Polish society is very formal, and communication is always polite, with men being addressed as “sir” and women as “madam.” Not that long ago, it was still common for men in polite society to greet women with a symbolic kiss on the hand in the old-fashioned French way, from where Polish culture has traditionally taken many of its cues. So much more disturbing is the primitive undercurrent of antisemitism, which exists just under the polished veneer, as it has indeed done throughout history in all European societies.

Before embarking further upon the jingoistic course of historical enhancement, the Polish government might want to reflect on the tremendous debt it owes to the Polish Jews, for everything they brought into Polish culture and for the murderous way in which the Poles ultimately repaid them. They ought also to ask themselves if Poland itself is served well by glossing over the crimes that were committed in order to communicate a picture post card to the younger Polish generations. Viewed from Israel, the question that inevitably comes to mind is this: How dare they?

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom