In all the noise about “Je suis Charlie” earlier this month, less attention was paid to the related deadly attack on a Kosher market in Paris. Defense of free speech against ideological thugs is a vital world issue, but given what happened the last time European ideologues unleashed their historic hatred of Jews, nobody should be ignoring that danger, either.
Jews should also remember that last time around most of the world’s governments turned a blind eye on their fate. It’s fashionable to mourn the Holocaust now, but nobody cared very much when there was still time to do something to prevent or stop it.
Here’s a small sample of how things are turning in Europe. In Malmo, Sweden a pair of journalists don Jewish symbols and take a walk. Here’s what happened.
The Washington PostCharles Krauthammer wonders (as well he should), if anybody actually means “never again.” He says:
The rise of European anti-Semitism is, in reality, just a return to the norm. For a millennium, virulent Jew-hatred — persecution, expulsions, massacres — was the norm in Europe until the shame of the Holocaust created a temporary anomaly wherein anti-Semitism became socially unacceptable.
The hiatus is over. Jew-hatred is back, recapitulating the past with impressive zeal. Italians protesting Gaza handed out leaflets calling for a boycott of Jewish merchants. As in the 1930s. A widely popular French comedian has introduced a variant of the Nazi salute. In Berlin, Gaza brought out a mob chanting, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone!” Berlin, mind you.
Finally, some Jews and Jewish leaders are coming around to the idea self defense by definition has to be performed by the SELF. Some of them are reluctant and wimpy about it, but they’re getting there. Benjamin Brafman writes, as if he’s startled by the revelation, “In light of recent events, however, I am convinced that Jews everywhere are now targets of terrorists intent on killing us. Accordingly, I am leaning closer to changing my mind on this issue as I come to grips with the realization that no police force, however superb, can always be everywhere. It is really that simple. When skilled, armed police are not on site, should we as Jews allow ourselves to be slaughtered, or do we take precautions that will give us at least a fighting chance?”
Others are still a long way from getting the reality. One Israeli hair stylist has invented an invisible kippah so that men can still be observant while looking less Jewish. Although (according to that article) rabbis have sanctioned foregoing the kippah if wearing it could be unsafe, this clever dodge dodges the real issue.
In the 1947 book and movie “Gentleman’s Agreement” a Gentile American journalist, Philip Green, does what those Swedish journalists did but for a longer time. He pretends to be Jewish to observe how he’s treated. At that time in the U.S., even after everybody had seen the horrors of Hitler’s death camps, Jews were still looked down on, excluded, and denied a lot of opportunities. It was mostly done without overt sneers and insults and certainly without violence, at least among polite adults. Green (played by Gregory Peck in the film) has a young son, though, and the boy comes home in tears one day because a gang of local bullies has called him a kike or a “dirty Jew.”
Green’s clueless, social climbing fiancee who feels threatened by the whole experiment comforts the boy by saying (I’m going from memory so this is the gist, if not the exact words), “It’s alright! It’s alright! You’re not really Jewish!”
Green, of course, gives her righteous hell. She has wretchedly missed the point and implied that if the kid was Jewish, somehow the insults and bullying would be okay.
You can pretend to be Jewish in Europe and see what it gets you. You can pretend not to be Jewish by wearing an invisible yarmulke and see if it makes you feel safer. But you’re missing the point if you can’t also see that Jew hatred is rising and that the only defense against violent thuggery is being prepared to deliver violent, life saving righteousness in return.