Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article, ”Europe 2018: Problem Issues for Israel and the Jews” was first published by the Begin Sadat Institute, and republished here with the author’s consent.
Anti-Semitism in several EU countries seems to be expanding. Many in the European establishment have made efforts to suppress information or avoid mentioning the important role of Muslims in aggression and hatemongering against Jews and Israel. This has delayed this major aspect of anti-Semitism from coming forcefully into the European public domain.
A variety of detailed studies show that anti-Semitism among Muslim immigrants and their descendants by far exceeds that of the original populations of European countries. All Jews killed in Western Europe this century for ideological reasons were murdered by Muslims.
A UK study published in September 2017 found that 12.6% of Muslims there have strong anti-Semitic attitudes, whereas only 3.6% of the general population hold such opinions. The same study found that 34.7% of UK Muslims have strong anti-Israel attitudes versus 9% of the general population.
EUROPE 2018: PROBLEM ISSUES FOR ISRAEL AND JEWS
In order to follow developments in 2018 it is helpful to establish a partial inventory of a number of major problem issues for Israel and the Jews in Western European countries and the European Union.
A crucial problem remains the widespread demonization of Israel. Polls in nine countries tell us about the high percentages of their population which agree with statements such as “What the state of Israel does today to the Palestinians is in principle no different from what the Nazis did to the Jews in the Third Reich” and “Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” Statistics show that in these countries at least 38% of the population agree with such statements. In Poland the figure is highest at 63%.1
These ‘feelings’ of European citizens tell us nothing about Israel and its actions. They are however indicative of extreme anti-Israeli bias in a number of countries. About Germany seven polls exist on these attitudes taken from 2004 to 2015. The latest from 2015 found that 41% of Germans sees Israel as behaving like Nazis.2
On a continent where Nazi Germany had so many collaborators in the countries it occupied the Israeli government is fully in its right to confront governments about it being demonized.
Antisemitism in several EU countries seems to be expanding. Many in the European establishment have made efforts to suppress information or avoid mentioning the important role of Muslims in aggression and hatemongering against Jews and Israel. This has delayed this major aspect of antisemitism coming forcefully in the European public domain.
By now there are a variety of detailed studies which show that antisemitism among Muslim immigrants and their descendants by far exceeds that of the original populations of European countries. All Jews killed in Western Europe this century for ideological reasons have been murdered by Muslims.
A study published in September 2017 in the UK, found that 12.6% of Muslims there have strong antisemitic attitudes. This while only 3.6% of the general population hold such opinions. The same study found that 34.7% of UK Muslims have strong anti-Israeli attitudes versus 9% of the general population.3
Research among recent refugees from Syria and Iraq in Germany indicates far stronger antisemitic and anti-Israeli feelings than in the local population.4 The additional influx — without selection — of Muslims into Europe means importing more antisemites.
The European Union has taken some anti-Israel measures which are antisemitic according to the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.5 Furthermore, statements of the EU on events in the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, often express anti-Israel bias. One might conclude that the weaker the EU is, the better for Israel.
The overall societal situation in Germany has greatly deteriorated over the past two years due to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s irresponsible welcome policy for refugees. In the September 2017 elections the country’s two major parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU), and the Social Democrats (SPD) have declined to their lowest levels since 1949.
In these elections the AfD right wing anti-Islam party has become the third largest in Germany. It has no constructive program and its leadership is increasingly moving toward the extreme right. For both Israel and Jews there is much more to worry about the Germany of 2018 than about the country in 2015.
There has been an explosion of antisemitic expressions in the Labour party in the UK. It cannot be excluded that the country’s conservative government will fall in 2018 due to problems concerning the Brexit negotiations. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a facilitator of antisemitism, who called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends may well win the next elections.6
The situation in France for the Jews might be called ‘negatively stable.’ Two candidates in the 2017 presidential elections, the extreme right wing Marine Le Pen and the extreme leftist, Jean-Luc Melenchon together received 40% of the votes. Both deny that France is responsible for the extreme antisemitic crimes perpetrated by its war time Vichy government.7 This is a great step backward as the current French President Emmanuel Macron and his three predecessors have all admitted this responsibility.
Extreme right wing parties have in the new century become more significant in a variety of European countries. Muslim terrorism has been strengthening them. Those of these parties who wish to participate in government usually somewhat moderate their official positions. Such an attitude has enabled the entrance of the right wing FPÖ in the Austrian Government at the end of 2017.
Sweden remains a problem country both for its Jews and for Israel. One of the major antisemitic incidents in Europe during 2017 took place in the country’s second largest city, Gothenburg. Its synagogue was bombed while a youth activity was taking place within. Other bombings have happened in Malmö, the country’s third largest city. This town is often considered the capital of European antisemitism. Most perpetrators are Muslims. After the Gothenburg attack the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, was forced by the circumstances to condemn antisemitism. He even indicated that immigrants play a role in it.8
The situation in the Netherlands as far as Israel and antisemitism is usually less severe than in most of the countries mentioned above. Yet in 2017, it has become even clearer than in the past, that the police and the judiciary are partly dysfunctional in dealing with antisemitic incidents.
In Switzerland a particular problem confronts the Jewish communities. ; The authorities have found that Jewish institutions are a target for terror. Yet they refuse to pay for the security of synagogues and Jewish institutions. As the authorities do supply such security for various potential non-Jewish targets, this reflects a discriminatory policy.9
The above incomplete list may provide a useful tool for Israel’s authorities and international Jewish organizations in defining their 2018 agenda of actions.
1 library.fes.de/pdf-files/do/07908-20110311.pdf; “Kritik an Israel nicht deckungsgleich mit antisemitischen Haltungen,” gfs.bern, 28 March 2007. (German); www.hlsenteret.no/publikasjoner/antisemittisme-i-norge
4 AJC Berlin Ramer Institute: Attitudes of refugees from Syria and Iraq towards integration, identity, Jews and the Shoah Research Report: December 14, 2017