The words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls echo down the centuries of anti-Semitic Europe, where Jews have been marginalised, persecuted, reviled, expelled and turned to ash in the ovens of Auschwitz. France could survive the emigration of any ethnic group, he avers. But if the Jews leave, “France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
His comments are published in The Atlantic, in an interview he gave to Jeffery Goldberg before the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the subsequent murder of four Jews in a kosher delicatessen in Paris. Given what he calls the “intensifying crisis”, Goldberg hastened publication of certain sections of the interview because of the demographic reality that thousands of Jews are certainly fleeing France. Indeed, Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, tweeted: “Every single French Jew I know has either left or is actively working out how to leave.” Manuel Valls insists that France must do more to halt the exodus. He explains:
The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens. To understand what the idea of the Republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.
..If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.
..Jews were sometimes marginalized in France, but this was not Spain or other countries – they were never expelled, and they play a role in the life of France that is central.
..There is a new anti-Semitism in France. We have the old anti-Semitism, and I’m obviously not downplaying it, that comes from the extreme right, but this new anti-Semitism comes from the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.
..It is legitimate to criticize the politics of Israel. This criticism exists in Israel itself. But this is not what we are talking about in France. This is radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic. There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Behind anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
..The Jews of France are profoundly attached to France but they need reassurance that they are welcome here, that they are secure here.
Prime Minister Valls may speak with piercing clarity on the nature and scale of the evil, and President Hollande may be equally unequivocal in his recognition of this “new anti-Semitism” (though it isn’t entirely clear what is “new” about oppressing Jews). And yet it is reported by Haaretz (and tweeted by Channel 4’s Jon Snow) that Hollande urged Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend the Paris march for freedom and unity: “Hollande wanted the event to focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audibert said that Hollande hoped that Netanyahu would understand the difficulties his arrival might pose and would announce that he would not be attending.”
Which is curious, because the murder of four Jews in a kosher deli might just have something to do with Jewish-Muslim relations. And journalists have fallen over themselves to suggest that Israeli policy toward Gaza explains (if not justifies) attacks on Jewish people, institutions and economic interests. “Many critics, though, of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well,” said the BBC’s Tim Willcox to the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. The same sentiment is found in the Financial Times: basically, the political provocation known as Zionism offends against justice and peace, so taking up AK-47s against Jews – whether they are Israeli or not; whether they support Israeli policy or not – may be rationalised and justified. As Tim Willcox enlightens us: “You see, people see it from all sides.”
Don’t they just.
The suffering of Palestinians is caused not by Israel, but devised and formed by “Jewish hands”. Willcox didn’t say those hands offend and must be cut off, but he might as well have. When Jews are victimised, their businesses raided, their synagogues bombed and their cemeteries desecrated – and journalists and politicians justify this by objecting to ‘offensive’ cartoons and pointing to the plight of Palestinians – it is no wonder that Jews are leaving Europe for a safer home.
A survey published in November 2013 by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union observed that Jews across Europe “face insults, discrimination and physical violence, which despite concerted efforts by both the EU and its member states, shows no signs of fading into the past”. Two-thirds considered anti-Semitism to be a problem across the countries surveyed. Overall, 76% of respondents said that anti-Semitism had worsened over the past five years.
In the last International Religious Freedom Report issued by the US Department of State, tucked away amidst the horrors being perpetrated in Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, we find this:
Throughout Europe, the historical stain of anti-Semitism continued to be a fact of life on Internet fora, in soccer stadiums, and through Nazi-like salutes, leading many individuals who are Jewish to conceal their religious identity.
..Rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment in parts of Europe demonstrated that intolerance is not limited to countries in active conflict. The European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) survey of perceptions of anti-Semitism among Jews in eight member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and United Kingdom), released in November, found that in some countries as many as 48 percent of the local Jewish population had considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism.
You see, it isn’t only France: incredibly, half of the Jewish populations of many European countries are so fearful, intimidated and oppressed that they are considering leaving their homes, families and communities and emigrating to a foreign land. Cries of “Death to the Jews” ring across towns and cities as the spectre of Nazi ghettos descends once again. “They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin… as if we were in 1938,” says Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman. He has also heard chants of “Jewish pigs” and “Gas the Jews”. “Since March 2012, I am ambassador of Israel in Germany,” he said. “If someone had told me that I witnessed such hateful, incites hatred and anti-Semitic phenomena would be in public in this country, I would not probably have thought it possible.”
Jews are being advised not to go out onto the streets wearing a kippah. In Toulouse, Jewish children are shot in a Jewish school. In Brussels, people are randomly killed in a Jewish museum: if they happen to be Jews or Israelis, all the better. In Liege, a café displayed a sign in its window which said dogs were welcome, but Jews were not allowed to enter.
This is Christian Europe, which, of all the continents of the world, ought to feel the deepest shame at the rise of this “new anti-Semitism”. And the oppressors are not all hardened Islamists obligingly plotting their next spectacular on SnapChat and WhatsApp for the convenience of MI5: no, many are simply ordinary but angry, young, male Muslims, itching for some self-proclaimed imam to issue the Call to Jihad.
To these young male Muslims, the Israeli occupation of Gaza is a certain grievance, but the Jewish occupations of Paris, London and Amsterdam also need sorting. To the media, they may be male; they may be Asian or “of Asian appearance”. But no, they may not be called Muslim, for that would cause great offence. These extremists, Baroness Warsi insists, “do not follow any faith”. Sajid Javid, the first elected Muslim to join the Cabinet, is not so blind: “The lazy answer from people out there is to say that this had got nothing whatsoever to do with Islam and Muslims and that should be the end of that part of the debate,” he said. “That is lazy and that would be wrong. You can’t get away from the fact that these people are using Islam, they are taking a great religion, a peaceful religion of a billion people around the world, taking this religion and using it as their tool to carry out their horrible activities.”
The Jews are leaving Europe not because the Jihadists are coming, but because they are already here, dwelling among us. They hate Israel and they loathe Jews, but, pace Manuel Valls, we say almost nothing and do very little. Instead, we let the Jews emigrate to the United States or “go back” to Israel, and they are doing so in their thousands every year. In the Holy Land they may be surrounded on all sides by the enemies of Zionism, but at least they have in Benjamin Netanyahu the leader of a government which will not hesitate to shelter and defend them. It will even bury their martyred bodies in fortified Jewish cemeteries in Jerusalem, where their sanctified graves will never be defiled with swastikas.