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A Necessary Reality Check

It doesn’t require any special clairvoyance to realize that the world is burning and too many American Jews are standing around fiddling with violins — and I mean the bouncy, and not mournful kind.
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April 19, 2023
Protesters demonstrate outside a meeting of the National Executive of Britain’s Labour Party on September 4, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Whether under some illusion of tribal invincibility, or perhaps simply obtuse to the realities around them, it doesn’t require any special clairvoyance to realize that the world is burning and too many American Jews are standing around fiddling with violins — and I mean the bouncy, and not mournful kind.

Antisemitic hate crimes are spiking globally, no matter who gathers the data. Jews remain the world’s favorite moving target. And for this reason, an alarming number of European Jews are on the move, having already decamped for safer ground. The Jews of the Middle East, Persian Gulf and North Africa — around 800,000 of them — are long gone. Most went to Israel, but others moved to France and a few other European nations.

You want to know the result of this? Are you sitting? Some believe that by 2048 European nations with rich Jewish histories will be without actual Jews. That’s right. Empty synagogues will be converted into movie theaters, which has been done in Poland for decades. Jewish museums will be reconfigured to memorialize Jewish dinosaurs.

Some believe that by 2048 European nations with rich Jewish histories will be without actual Jews.

As for those Jews who will remain situated in relative safety — those in Israel and America — don’t be surprised if even in safe havens, wearing a yarmulke or Star of David serves as a bullseye. For Israelis, the danger that surrounds them has only worsened, given Iran’s lunatic proxies (Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad) nuclear ambitions and eliminationist trash talk. For American Jews, showing up to shul might become a game of Russian roulette, and campus life is no longer especially collegial.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians still won’t renounce violence—even if they’re reduced to only guns,  knives, and automobiles. A fair-minded person can draw but one conclusion: Palestinians are far less interested in a country of their own than they are in seeing the end of the Jewish one. The implacable Right of Return foreshadows a Jew-less land to which they will return.

The latest Ramadan-Passover crossover skirmishes between Arabs and Jews saw the IDF conduct counterterrorism raids in the West Bank, rockets launched from Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon, and Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes.

Meanwhile, on the ground, the casualties were especially heart wrenching. On the second day of Passover, the Dee Family, formerly from the United Kingdom, lost three of its members — two daughters and the mother — when a Palestinian militant opened fire on them while in their car.

The Iron Dome doesn’t shield everything. An Italian tourist lost his life when a jihadist rammed into him while strolling on the Tel Aviv boardwalk. Don’t expect to see the Palestinian Authority or Hamas issue a formal apology to Italian diplomats. For these groups, everyone in Israel, or who supports Jews elsewhere, is fair game, as we learned from the murder of the Christian-American Taylor Force.

As for Europe, enmity toward Jews has spread into nations that opened their borders to Muslims fleeing the civil war in Syria. A great humanitarian gesture, but one that resulted in dead European Jews. Must I even mention the irony? On the very same continent where nearly 80 years earlier six million Jews were annihilated, today there is a new army ready to finish the job.

Germany, out of all the European nations, became a welcoming and compassionate sanctuary for a new strain of antisemitism. If there is one nation that should be recruiting philosemites, it’s Germany. How paradoxical that Hitler’s most enduring henchmen are wearing keffiyehs rather than jackboots, and pledging their allegiance by reciting “Allahu Akbar” instead of “Heil Hitler.”

Think I’m kidding about this overall European crisis? Twenty percent of Norwegian Jews have left its two largest cities. In France, the cities of Grenoble, Nice and Toulouse have lost half of their Jewish population. Denmark has lost a quarter of its Jews. They are predicting that within twenty years, Belgium will be emptied of Jews.

The chairman of the Jewish community in the German state of Brandenburg stated, “I don’t want to live in a country whose chancellor brings in millions of antisemitic Muslims who attack Jews and Jewish institutions in Germany. … where you can’t wear a kippah on the street. … Jews are hiding in Bonn, Potsdam, Bochum and the rest of the country.” England’s chairman of the Jewish National Fund recently declared, “Jews have no future in the UK.”

And putting aside the fate of Jews, the spread of Sharia law and jihadism throughout the mosques and madrassas of Europe portends neither a pluralistic nor democratic future.

As for American Jewry, it’s really a tale of two realities: The vast majority of Jews in the United States know next to nothing about the fate of their coreligionists around the world. Part of the reason is that for the most part, most live in modern shtetls that have been spared the synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, and the street violence in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Still others are not openly Jewish enough, or who have assimilated so seamlessly, to attract any attention.

Another reason for this apparent ignorance is that in an age of woke politics, it’s politically incorrect to point out the moral failings of persons of color. Being labeled an Islamophobe is one notch below racist. This latest iteration of Jew-hatred is one that dare not speak its name — radical Islam’s war against Jews. Neo-Nazis are fair game; Islamists are a protected class.

This latest iteration of Jew-hatred is one that dare not speak its name — radical Islam’s war against Jews. Neo-Nazis are fair game; Islamists are a protected class.

Jewish life has become cheap, even though Jewish existence itself is the epitome of human scarcity. A speck of a minority everywhere around the world — and in most places, virtually nonexistent. And, yet, nowadays Jews can disappear with little or no affinity . There’s a casualness about dead Jews, a numbness, yet never a crisis.

I have come back to this subject many times. Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and various places elsewhere.  It may seem like beating a dead horse, but all in the service of averting more dead Jews.


Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro University, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. He is the legal analyst for CBS News Radio. His most recent book is titled “Saving Free Speech … From Itself.”

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