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The scourge in Europe that is going unreported

Pro Palestinian demonstration in Berlin, March 30, 2024. (Photo: IMAGO/Eibner via Reuters)

Even amidst the Easter holidays, a pro-Palestinian mob succeeded in shutting down Berlin’s central train station, necessitating German police to restore order. It happened just yesterday when an unauthorized demonstration took place, accompanied by anti-Israel chanted sentiments. Police were forced “to detain some protesters, using harsh methods” as they attempted to put an end to the disturbance which blocked passengers.

At the same time, over the weekend, “French police have arrested an Egyptian migrant and ISIS operative suspected of planning a jihadist attack against the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.”

What do these two incidents have in common other than their obvious aspiration to wreak havoc in two different European cities? They represent a marked escalation in militancy which is being felt throughout Europe and the UK where violent pro-Palestinian marches are a regular occurrence. And, unless you live in one of these cities, you may not have even heard about them.

Regrettably, incidents, such as these, are a stark departure from the relative peace which has been pervasive throughout Europe since the end of WWII, where laws were adopted, in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, making it a criminal offense to employ the Nazi salute. Switzerland and Sweden have also classified the gesture as a hate crime.

But what’s the difference between giving the salute or spewing anti-Israel hatred and threatening the Jewish population that still remains in those countries? Very little, because in both cases, there is a toxic anti-Jewish atmosphere which is contributing to a breakdown in the fabric of society where these protesters, many of whom are of Palestinian descent, or merely sympathizers who hold contempt for Jews, or Muslim or godless. That translates into a potential danger for the Christian population as well, which is just slightly more tolerated.

In its goal to be the dominant world religion and political force, radical Islam’s adherents and facilitators are rapidly growing, and this must be of great concern to European leaders who permitted and even enabled the present situation which is placing the lives of their citizens in peril. The “pro-Hamas sentiment shocks” have Jews fearing for their future. 

One rabbi who “divides his time between Berlin and Vienna,” has seen the rising danger up close, hearing from members of the Jewish community in those locations that they feel unsafe, to the point of having to change their outward appearance so as not to be recognizable as a Jew. One can only imagine how they feel if they happen to be on the street while an anti-Israel demonstration is taking place, because the “expressions of Palestinian support, in the form of Jew-hatred and solidarity with Hamas, even following displays of extreme barbarism against Israelis” has become both frightening and unexplainable.

That same rabbi, referring to what he has seen in Berlin, commented that “the speed, scale and violence, with which anti-Israel actions have unfolded in Berlin, are startling and surprising.” And it is exactly these types of developments that have prompted articles to be written, in Jewish journals, on a continuous basis, as to whether or not the Jewish population of these cities should consider leaving, given that the future of their children and grandchildren is no longer something which has certainty attached to it.

It doesn’t seem to make a difference that many of these on-the-street gatherings are banned by police and the municipalities. They occur anyway, and in several demonstrations, people were heard chanting in Arabic, “Our lives, our blood we’ll sacrifice for you, Al Aqsa.”

London and Spain are no different. The skyrocketing of antisemitic hate crimes is shocking, including the burning of Israeli flags outside of synagogues. Amsterdam has also experienced its share of anti-Jewish sentiments, necessitating three Jewish schools to temporarily close down. It’s also a known fact that it’s no longer safe to wear a kippa (skullcap) in France and Belgium.

So, will Europe’s leaders be able to reverse the spreading cancer of hatred in their midst? Because their strategy of ignoring it is not helpful. Only one media outlet reported the incident at the Berlin train station, and the only place the prospective Notre Dame cathedral attack was reported was on 𝕏 – meaning that both of these incidents went largely unreported and unknown to the public at large. Perhaps the theory is that if it’s not circulated in the news, no one will be the wiser, but such festering problems cannot be swept under the carpet forever.

Just this month, the Israeli online news service, Haaretz published an article entitled, “Antisemitism on Steroids: How anti-Jewish Hatred Rose Across Europe in Wake of October 7.” It documents antisemitic incidents from France to Denmark to Italy to the UK and Switzerland, with attackers stating that “they are out to hurt Jews.” Can we connect those violent impulses to the Israel-Hamas war, when those Jewish residents of Europe aren’t even involved, in any way, with a fight going on thousands of miles from their countries? Absolutely not!

The conclusion must be that a sleeping giant has been awakened, one that laid dormant for decades but which is now active and expanding. The attacks are coming in the form of “verbal and written hate speech, emails, messages or antisemitic letters sent to individuals, graffiti and social media posts.” It also includes “vandalizing or damaging Jewish people’s homes, cars, businesses organizations, synagogues and cemeteries.”

But, again, unless you live in one of these locations, you may not have heard about these disturbing incidents, and that is part of the problem. It’s difficult to get angry if you’re not informed. It’s also impossible to be informed if there is a concentrated effort to obscure the anti-Jewish sentiment which is no longer hidden but boldly expressed in word and deed. 

What might happen if these incidents were widely known? For one thing, those countries could see a drop in tourism which would surely hurt their economies, and it’s also possible that their leaders would have to face greater scrutiny and accountability for not clamping down on these bullying crowds, which have defied their cities’ ordinances, gathering in opposition to the bans that have been enforced. Maybe this is mere speculation, but antisemitism on steroids in Europe is news worth reporting, and so the question must be asked why are we hearing so little of these incidents?

Come to your own conclusion, but it's not so far-fetched to believe that we will not hear too much about these daily occurrences until things really get out of control and a series of deadly attacks take place, no longer able to be quietly hidden. That is where all this is leading. Sadly, by then, it will be too late for those who might have been spared had this news been broadcast throughout the world, so that civilized people could have risen up to demand an end to the scourge which has taken hold of Europe.

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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