Antisemitism and Aliyah
Many people argue that antisemitism in Europe and other parts of the world should not make Jews instinctively flee to Israel.
But it is high time for Diaspora Jews to shake off their denial and confront the reality. They must acknowledge that all indicators predict that their situation is only going to worsen, and that — in some cases — a call for aliyah in the face of rising antisemitism is warranted.
Although the feverish increase in antisemitism is a global phenomenon, Jew-hatred in the United States, Canada and Australia is a far cry from what is happening in Europe and South Africa.
In the United States, amid bomb threats and cemetery desecrations, the principal menace comes from the combined far-Left and Muslim antisemites, along with some right-wing radicals. This activity is located primarily on university campuses, where Jewish students are increasingly intimidated.
Liberal American Jews, who failed to react to Barack Obama’s vicious anti-Israel diplomatic onslaughts and played down the venom on campus, are now promoting a partisan political agenda by blaming President Donald Trump for the recent threats and desecrations.
But despite these tensions, aliyah from the United States in response to antisemitism is nonsensical. That’s because — on the whole — Americans are the least antisemitic people in the world.
But Europe is entirely different. Here, antisemitism directly impacts Jews, and is destroying their quality of life.
This does not suggest that Jews in Europe are facing imminent extermination. Israel is a safe haven, and will ensure that a second Holocaust does not occur.
But the quality of Jewish life in Europe today does justify a call for mass emigration.
What sort of a life is it for a Jew when he is fearful to be seen in public with a kippah or any other outward manifestation of his Judaism? Or when schools, synagogues and other locations where Jews meet require military protection? Who could have dreamed of such a situation a mere 10 years ago?
Who would have envisaged that the finest universities in the UK and Europe would be transformed into platforms for anti-Israel and antisemitic activity, where Jewish students are harassed and denied freedom of expression?
Violent Islamic terrorism, including a home-grown variety, is also now a daily threat to Europeans. The influx of “refugees,” many of whom are deeply embedded with antisemitism, has only accentuated this problem. And wherever possible, European Islamic terrorists primarily target Jews.
While most governments pay lip service to the fight against antisemitism, “popular” hatred of Jews is growing — and Israel is still being blamed as the source of Islamic extremism.
And while antisemitism is rife in the media and political arena,even the slightest criticism of Islamic extremism leads to accusations of Islamophobia and indictments of “racism.”
The situation is somewhat different in each country. Ironically, Eastern European countries are less hostile than their Western counterparts. Antisemitism is worst in France. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition party, can only be described as the left-wing equivalent of the late British fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Corbyn’s friends and allies include Islamic terrorist supporters and outright antisemites.
Those who no longer care about their Jewishness assume a low profile and seek to discard their Jewish identity. In most cases, their children will no longer consider themselves Jews.
It is the remaining, committed Jews who face a quandary. Many of them live among fellow Jews and rarely face antisemitism directly. They live in denial and philosophically dismiss the hostility and the discrimination that their children endure.
But Jews should not be willing to live under such circumstances. There is no guarantee in any society that children will maintain the traditions of their parents. But in today’s Europe, it is almost impossible to have any confidence about nurturing Jewish grandchildren who will retain and take pride in their heritage. For many, the odds of shedding their Jewish identity are very high.
The time has come to speak out clearly. Conditions for Jews in Europe will almost certainly worsen, even in countries like the UK. Jews who value their heritage and wish to see their children and grandchildren remain proud and committed Jews should make every effort to leave.
To emigrate is no easy challenge. Even allowing for the fact that Israel today has one of the most successful economies in the world, many middle-aged families may find it difficult to find meaningful employment. Most of them will therefore remain in Europe.
But they should at least encourage their children to settle in Israel. The next generation can — and should be — saved.
A version of this article was originally published by Israel Hayom and the Jerusalem Post.