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December 21, 2015 7:39 am

What the Europeans Can Learn From Israel About Security

avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld

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Muslim migrants off the coast of Malta. Photo: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

Muslim migrants off the coast of Malta. Photo: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons.

In recent decades, Israel has made ongoing efforts to reduce its vulnerability, frequently using risk analysis to do so. Persistent violent attacks by Palestinians and other enemies have made this an important factor in many, but not all, critical decisions. Such analysis played a crucial role, for instance, in the decision to establish the security fence around Israel’s borders.

By contrast, analysis of potential vulnerabilities, whether political, social or security-related, has been neglected by Europeans in many important decisions over the past decades. This negligence has become a problem once again in light of the lack of a coherent policy for handling the current massive influx of refugees. Even if the European Union had wanted to keep them out of its territory, it would have been unable to do so. Yet there has been significant immigration to Greece and Italy in recent years, and therefore the EU should have prepared for the current developments with proper risk analysis.

The EU leadership initially acted as if this influx of people was no cause for concern. This, despite the fact that the porous nature of its outer borders was publicly known (and which led the EU to establish Frontex in 2004 to improve procedures and working methods). This agency has since proved to be inefficient. Nor did the EU leadership grasp that the flight of millions of Syrians to neighboring countries could lead to a major influx of immigrants into Europe itself.

Sweden and Germany demonstrated remarkable irresponsibility in their decisions regarding the large numbers of immigrants to absorb. Sweden was recently forced by events to acknowledge its failure. The Minister of State Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson, admitted that Sweden cannot take any more refugees. Sweden has already taken in 150,000 refugees this year, and would now like to send some of them to other European countries.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of virtually open borders continues to increase that country’s vulnerability. Germany will probably find itself paying significant prices several times over for her poor judgement in the near or distant future. Among these prices is the rise of right-wing forces, a challenge which is currently developing in several other EU countries as well.

The irresponsibility of Germany’s refugee policy has also been illustrated in the observations of Andre Schulz, national chairman of the Federation of German Detectives, who has noted that according to current records, 10% of refugees commit criminal acts. He added that the creation of open borders through the Schengen Agreement raised additional unanswered problems for German security.

The November 13 Paris attacks, one of the heaviest prices paid to date for the massive unselective influx of immigrants from Arab countries into Western Europe over the past decades, demonstrated another aspect of vulnerability. If many people are brought into a country from a radically different, non-democratic culture, with minimal or no selectivity, increased vulnerability is inevitable. This may be better understood when comparing this influx with the massive immigration into Israel of Jews from Arab countries and the Soviet Union, where a common religious and/or cultural basis existed, and thus vulnerability was, if anything, far less than in Europe. This was already noted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali around ten years ago.

Israel is currently suffering from a wave of stabbings, mainly carried out by lone terrorists. This shows that murder attempts by groups have become more difficult to perpetrate than in the past. When the terrorist threat in Europe becomes confined to the type of attacks currently experienced in Israel, as opposed to the recent attacks in Paris, the EU will know that it has achieved considerable success in reducing vulnerability.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.  The author was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  He has published more than 20 books.  His latest book is “The War of a Million Cuts: The Struggle against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews, and the Growth of New Anti-Semitism.”

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