Never Again: Jews can no longer live in Europe without fear

Standing over the ruined tombstones in a freshly desecrated Jewish cemetery in eastern France the other day, the president of the French Assembly, Gerard Lacher, grandly pronounced his version of Never Again. “The French Jews are France, flesh and blood of our country,” he said. “This community must be protected. Jews must be able to live a normal life.”

The question is: What is normal?  Since the slaughter at the kosher supermarket in Paris last month, armed government forces have been guarding every Jewish school, synagogue and community center in France. Now, perhaps, armed troops will be stationed in the graveyards, to defend those already dead.

It is a simple fact that Jews cannot presently live a normal existence in France. Or in Denmark, where a synagogue was attacked this week and the country’s only Jewish radio station shut down for security reasons.

“The Jewish community belongs in Denmark,” said Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt after the murder at Copenhagen’s main synagogue last week. “We will do everything we can to protect the Jewish community in our country.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has infuriated European statesmen by calling on the Jews of the continent to move to Israel.

But Denmark cannot really protect its Jews, any more than it can protect its journalists and artists, one of whom was also murdered on Saturday (at a free speech rally).  Neither can any other Western European country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has infuriated European statesmen by calling on the Jews of the continent to move to Israel.

Two generations ago, a mass influx of Muslims was welcomed by European governments.  These Muslims were a source of cheap labor, or the beneficiaries of a cheaper form of colonialist expiation, but these things were too crude to say out loud.  Instead, a slogan was invented: The mass immigration from Islamic countries was proclaimed “cultural diversity.”

It seemed at first to be possible.  Perhaps the Muslims would add spice to the EU stew with their exotic garb and interesting folkways. Europeans have a very hard time taking their former subjects seriously. It didn’t occur to them that they might add a large dollop of antipathy to Western values, a hatred of secular modernity, homophobia, and misogyny and Jew hatred.

When these traits became noticeable, the Europeans comforted themselves with the fiction that their Muslim fellow citizens would soon outgrow their cultural and religious animosities, see the virtues of the open society and quietly assimilate.

Many have. Let’s say 90 percent of Western Europe’s 20 million Muslims love their new homes and hate jihad more than former Vice President Dick Cheney. But that leaves 10 percent. Too high, you say?  Okay, let’s say 1 percent. That leaves 200,000 Muslims who are infected to one degree or another with what the late writer Christopher Hitchens called Islamofascism.

I use the term “infected” advisedly. Anti-Semitism is a contagion, capable of sweeping through entire populations.  That’s what happened in Germany and its collaborators in World War II.  That’s what has happened in today’s Middle East, where Jew-hatred (aka Zionism) is now a cultural touchstone. 

There are signs that it is moving into the general population.  The kids who desecrated the cemetery in France the other day were just good ol’ boys who caught the fever from Muslim holy warriors, the same way their grandparents caught it from the German supermen of World War II.

Like all fevers, this one will claim its victims, run its course and subside -- no thanks to the governments of Europe, which are in no way prepared to administer the kind of strong medicine needed to end the epidemic.  They can put cops outside synagogues, but not inside mosques. They can coordinate border information, but they won’t end the flow from Islamic countries. They can draw up lists of terror suspects like the killers in Paris and Copenhagen, but they won’t take preemptive action. All they can do is post guards at the doors of the synagogues and issue empty post-massacre words of regret and solidarity with their Jewish communities.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has infuriated European statesmen by calling on the Jews of the continent to move to Israel.  For this, he is derided as a demagogue and an alarmist, a man accused of attempting to spook Europe’s beloved Jews with the ghosts of yesterday,

But there is no need to invoke the Holocaust.  It lives in the memory of every Jew in Europe. Besides, the present situation is more than sufficient.  Today, in the great capitals of Western civilization, every bar mitzvah party, synagogue service, funeral procession or trip to the kosher grocery is a fraught occasion.

An increasing number of Jews know this -- you hear a lot of French on the streets of Tel Aviv these days -- but the majority will probably stay put for now.  But they will do so uncomforted by official assurances. With apologies to Assembly President Lacher, the Jews of his country and his continent are neither protected nor free to lead normal lives. Never again.