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March 22, 2016 5:41 pm

Sharansky in Wake of Brussels Bombings: Europe Is Shifting From ‘Free Society’ to ‘Fear Society’

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, addressing a Gatestone Institute event in New York on Tuesday. Photo: Raymond Hamlin.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, addressing a Gatestone Institute event in New York on Tuesday. Photo: Raymond Hamlin.

Unlike the suicide-bombing in Istanbul last week, in which three Israelis were killed, the triple attacks in Brussels on Tuesday morning were not connected to Israel or the Palestinians, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told The Algemeiner. However, he said, they were directly related to the phenomenon of “a minority who does not believe in the values of democracy confronting a majority who has given up on demanding those values.”

Sharansky – speaking at an event hosted by the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based think tank specializing in strategy and defense issues – was putting the recent terrorist attacks into the broader context of the distinction between “free societies” and “fear societies.”

The “geography” of the latter “is growing larger and larger,” said Sharansky, who immigrated to the Jewish state after spending nine years in Soviet prisons for trumped-up espionage charges lodged when he requested to emigrate to Israel.

Addressing the 2015 aliyah figures, Sharansky both welcomed the fact that 31,000 Jews immigrated to Israel – mainly from France, Ukraine and Russia – and pointed to its less-than-encouraging significance.

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“Since 1948, there has never been such aliyah from western Europe,” he said, going on to explain that the rise in antisemitism from radical Muslims and the Christian Right is only part of the reason. Equally, if not more, important, he explained, is that “while Jews have always been prominent among the builders of liberal societies, as soon as post-modernism and multiculturalism took over, Israel became the symbol of a remnant of colonialism.”

Basically, Sharansky said, Jews in Europe are finding themselves without a natural cultural home.

He said that he is often asked whether there is a future for Jews in Europe. “My answer to them is to ask whether there is a future for Europe in Europe,” he said. “When society is afraid to defend freedom, others step into the vacuum.” And that, he said, is what is happening today.

Sharansky addressed the Gatestone event at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, mere hours after three explosions — two at the Brussels airport and one in a centrally located subway station — rocked the Belgian capital. In the attacks, two of which are suspected to have been suicide-bombings, at least 30 people were killed and another 230 wounded.

According to CNN, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, and the “working assumption” of the Belgian authorities is that the terrorists belonged to the same network that was behind the Paris massacres in November, which left 130 dead.

Tuesday’s carnage comes on the heels of last week’s suicide-bombing in Istanbul – purportedly perpetrated by ISIS terrorists – in which four people were killed, among them three Israelis. Surveillance footage from the venue has led to the suspicion that the Israelis had been marked as targets for the attack.

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