All comes from the Jew; all returns to the Jew.
douard Drumont (18441917), founder of the Anti-Semitic League of France
I. The Scourge of Our Time
The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of Holocaust survivors, is an accomplished, even gifted, pessimist. To his disciples, he is a Jewish Zola, accusing Frances bien-pensant intellectual class of complicity in its own suicide. To his foes, he is a reactionary whose nostalgia for a fairy-tale French past is induced by an irrational fear of Muslims. Finkielkrauts cast of mind is generally dark, but when we met in Paris in early January, two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he was positively grim.
My French identity is reinforced by the very large number of people who openly declare, often now with violence, their hostility to French values and culture, he said. I live in a strange place. There is so much guilt and so much worry. We were seated at a table in his apartment, near the Luxembourg Gardens. I had come to discuss with him the precarious future of French Jewry, but, as the hunt for the Charlie Hebdo killers seemed to be reaching its conclusion, we had become fixated on the television.
Finkielkraut sees himself as an alienated man of the left. He says he loathes both radical Islamism and its most ferocious French critic, Marine Le Pen, the leader of Frances extreme right-wingand once openly anti-SemiticNational Front party. But he has lately come to find radical Islamism to be a more immediate, even existential, threat to France than the National Front. I dont trust Le Pen. I think there is real violence in her, he told me. But she is so successful because there actually is a problem of Islam in France, and until now she has been the only one to dare say it.
Suddenly, there was news: a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, in eastern Paris, had come under attack. Of course, Finkielkraut said. The Jews. Even before anti-Semitic riots broke out in France last summer, Finkielkraut had become preoccupied with the well-being of Frances Jews.
We knew nothing about this new attackexcept that we already knew everything. People dont defend the Jews as we expected to be defended, he said. It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.
I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?
We should not leave, he said, but maybe for our children or grandchildren there will be no choice.
Reports suggested that a number of people were dead at the market. I said goodbye, and took the Mtro to Porte de Vincennes. Stations near the market were closed, so I walked through neighborhoods crowded with police. Sirens echoed through the streets. Teenagers gathered by the barricades, taking selfies. No one had much information. One young man, however, said of the victims, Its just the Feuj. Feuj, an inversion of JuifJewis often used as a slur.
I located an acquaintance, a man who volunteers with the Jewish Community Security Service, a national organization founded after a synagogue bombing in 1980, to protect Jewish institutions from anti-Semitic attack. Supermarkets now, he said bleakly. We made our way closer to the forward police line, and heard volleys of gunfire. The police had raided the market; the suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, we soon heard, was dead. So were four Jews he had murdered. They had been shopping for the Sabbath when he entered the market and started shooting.
Frances 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the countrys population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juifdirty Jewrang in the streets, as did Death to the Jews, and Jews to the gas.
The epithet dirty Jew, Zola wrote in JAccuse !, was the scourge of our time. JAccuse ! was published in 1898.
The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is notor should not bea surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, autodaf, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection.
Despite this history of sorrow, Jews spent long periods living unmolested in Europe. And even amid the expulsions and persecutions and pogroms, Jewish culture prospered. Rabbis and sages produced texts and wrote liturgical poems that are still used today. Emancipation and enlightenment opened the broader culture to Jews, who came to prominence in politics, philosophy, the arts, and scienceChagall and Kafka, Einstein and Freud, Lvi-Strauss and Durkheim. An entire civilization flourished in Yiddish.
Hitler destroyed most everything. But the story Europeans tell themselvesor told themselves, until the proof became too obvious to ignoreis that Judenhass, the hatred of Jews, ended when Berlin fell 70 years ago.
Events of the past 15 years suggest otherwise.
We are witnessing today the denouement of an unusual epoch in European life, the age of the post-Holocaust Jewish dispensation.
When the survivors of the Shoah emerged from the camps, and from hiding places in cities and forests across Europe, they were met on occasion by pogroms. (In Poland, for instance, some Christians were unhappy to see their former Jewish neighbors return home, and so arranged their deaths.) But over time, Europe managed to absorb the small number of Jewish survivors who chose to remain. A Jewish community even grew in West Germany. At the same time, the countries of Western Europe embraced the cause of the young and besieged state of Israel.
The Shoah served for a while as a sort of inoculation against the return of overt Jew-hatredbut the effects of the inoculation, it is becoming clear, are wearing off. What was once impermissible is again imaginable. Memories of 6 million Jewish dead fade, and guilt becomes burdensome. (In The Eternal Anti-Semite, the writer Henryk Broder popularized the notion that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.) Israel is coming to be understood not as a small country in a difficult spot whose leaders, especially lately, have (in my opinion) been making shortsighted and potentially disastrous decisions, but as a source of cosmological evilthe Jew of nations.
An argument made with increasing frequencymotivated, perhaps, by some perverse impulse toward psychological displacementcalls Israel the spiritual and political heir of the Third Reich, rendering the Jews as Nazis. (Some in Europe and the Middle East take this line of thought to an even more extreme conclusion: Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, said last year of Israel.)
The previously canonical strain of European anti-Semitism, the fascist variant, still flourishes in places. In Hungary, a leader of the right-wing Jobbik party called on the governmenta government that has come under criticism for whitewashing the history of Hungarys collaboration with the Nazisto draw up a list of all the Jews in the country who might pose a national-security risk. In Greece, a recent survey found that 69 percent of adults hold anti-Semitic views, and the fascists of the countrys Golden Dawn party are open in their Jew-hatred.
But what makes this new era of anti-Semitic violence in Europe different from previous ones is that traditional Western patterns of anti-Semitic thought have now merged with a potent strain of Muslim Judeophobia. Violence against Jews in Western Europe today, according to those who track it, appears to come mainly from Muslims, who in France, the epicenter of Europes Jewish crisis, outnumber Jews 10 to 1.
That the chief propagators of contemporary European anti-Semitism may be found in the Continents large and disenfranchised Muslim immigrant communitiescommunities that are themselves harassed and assaulted by hooligans associated with Europes surging rightis flummoxing to, among others, Europes elites. Muslims in Europe are in many ways a powerless minority. The failure of Europe to integrate Muslim immigrants has contributed to their exploitation by anti-Semitic propagandists and by recruiters for such radical projects as the Islamic State, or ISIS.
Yet the new anti-Semitism flourishing in corners of the European Muslim community would be impoverished without the incorporation of European fascist tropes. Dieudonn Mbala Mbala, a comedian of French Cameroonian descent who specializes in Holocaust revisionism and gas-chamber humor, is the inventor of the quenelle, widely understood as an inverted Nazi salute. His followers have taken to photographing themselves making the quenelle in front of synagogues, Holocaust memorials, and sites of past anti-Jewish terrorist attacks. Dieudonn has built an ideological partnership with Alain Soral, the anti-Jewish conspiracy theorist and 9/11 truther who was for several years a member of the National Fronts central committee. Soral was photographed not long ago making the quenelle in front of Berlins Holocaust memorial.
The union of Middle Eastern and European forms of anti-Semitic expression has led to bizarre moments. Dave Rich, an official of the Community Security Trust, a Jewish organization that monitors anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, wrote recently: Those British Muslims who verbally abuse British Jews on the street are more likely to shout Heil Hitler than Allahu akbar when they do so. This is despite the fact that their parents and grandparents were probably chased through the very same streets by gangs of neo-Nazi skinheads shouting similar slogans.
The marriage of anti-Semitic narratives was consummated in January of last year, during a so-called Day of Rage march in Paris that was organized to protest the leadership of the French president, Franois Hollande. The rally drew roughly 17,000 people, mostly far-rightists but also many French Muslims.
On one side of this march, you had neonationalist and reactionary Catholics, who had strongly and violently opposed gay marriage, and on the other side young people from the banlieues [suburbs], supporters of Dieudonn, often from African and North African background, whose beliefs are based in opposition to the system and on victimhood competition, Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the Paris director of the American Jewish Committee, told me. What unites them is their hatred of Jews. That day, on the streets of Paris, the anti-Hollande message was overtaken by another chanted slogan: Juif, la France nest pas toiJew, France is not for you.
Howard Jacobson, the Man Booker Prizewinning writer whose latest novel, J, is a study of a future genocide in an unnamed but very English-seeming country of an unnamed people who very much resemble the Jews, told me the book emerged from an inchoate but ever-present sense of anxiety. I felt as if I was writing out of dread, he said when we met recently near his home in London.
It will never go away, this hatred of Jews and the proof of this is that barely 50 years after the Holocaust, the desire for Jewish bloodletting isnt over, he said. Couldnt they have given us a bit longer? Give us 100 years and well return to it.
I know this is a dangerous thing to say but the Holocaust didnt satisfy.
Ive spent much of the past year traveling across Europe, in search of an answer to a simple, but pressing, question: Is it time for the Jews to leave? Europe is a Jewish museum and a Jewish graveyard, but after the war it became, remarkablyand despite Hitlers best effortshome once again to living, breathing Jewish communities. Is it still a place for Jews who want to live uncamouflaged Jewish lives?
A conversation between Jeffrey Goldberg, Leon Wieseltier, and James Bennet
II. Dont Go to the Jew
On the morning of March 19, 2012, a man named Mohamed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent, parked his motorbike in front of the entrance of a Jewish school in Toulouse called Ozar Hatorah, which is in a placid residential neighborhood not far from the city center. Merah, who had been radicalized in a French prison and trained in an al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan, dismounted and almost immediately began firing a 9 mm pistol at students and the parents who were dropping them off. He killed a 30-year-old rabbi and his two sons, who were 3 and 6 years old. Merah then walked into the schoolyard, shooting at students. He chased down an 8-year-old girl named Myriam Monsonego, catching her by the hair. Merah held her down and placed his 9 mm to her head, but the weapon jammed. He switched to another handgun, pressed it against her head, and fired. The sound of shooting had brought the schools principal to the school yard. Yaacov Monsonego arrived to see Merah execute his daughter.
Merah escaped on his motorbike. He was later shot and killed by police. French authorities said he was also responsible for the earlier killings of three French soldiers of Muslim background. In the theology of radical French Islamism, Muslims who cooperate with the state are as much an enemy as Jewish children.
Ozar Hatorah, which is today known as Ohr Hatorah, is surrounded by a high wall, topped in places by barbed wire. I visited the school in October with Nicole Yardni, the Toulouse representative of the national Jewish council. Yardni wanted me to meet a physician named Charles Bensemhoun, who would explain, she said, the collapsing relationship between Toulouses 18,000 or so Jews and its much larger Muslim population.
Bensemhoun, who is in his mid-50s, is Sephardic, born in Morocco. Three-quarters of Frances Jews are Sephardim, chased from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia in the 1950s and 60s.
Many of Bensemhouns patients are North African Muslims. These are people like me, who were born there, he told me outside the schools synagogue. We speak the same language, literallyhe says he and his patients move easily between Arabic and Frenchand we understand each other in very deep ways. Theyre very comfortable with me as their doctor. He went on, But its changed in recent years. Now their children are telling them, Dont go to the Jew, You cant trust the Jew. Theyve become radicalized. Its upsetting. The new generation is anti-Semitic in a way that we havent experienced.
Are these patients listening to their children? Yes, he said. In some cases, yes.
I asked him whether he thought he had a future in Toulouse. He smiled. Does any Jew have a future in Toulouse? The Jewish community is shrinking, Yardni said. Some families are moving to Paris. Others are moving to Israel.
The Merah attack was the gravest in the modern Jewish history of Toulouse (the slaughter of the citys Jews by Crusaders in 1320 is presumed to have been bloodier). But the list of less tragic, though still damaging, attacks is long. Last July, Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish cultural center; street harassment of Jews walking to and from school and synagogue is common. Early last year, Yardni and other Jews were banned from a left-wing demonstration called to protest homophobia andof all thingsanti-Semitism, because they were ruled to be Zionists. The local police record dozens of anti-Jewish hate crimes each year. There is a point where it becomes difficult to stay, Bensemhoun said.
Monsonego, the school principal who saw his daughter murdered, came out of the synagogue. He is a small, slight man with a graying beard and a hesitant gait. We spoke privately for a couple of minutes. I found him in some ways unfathomable. I dont understand how a father maintains his sanity after witnessing what he witnessedbut his daughters murder has not caused him to lose faith in God or in his work.
Later, I asked Yardni why the Monsonego family has remained in Toulouse. She herself is one of the citys most visible Jewish leaders, and receives many veiled death threats. If the leaders of the community run away, what will happen to the rest of the people? she said.
III. Je Suis Juif
Like many of the banlieues that ring Paris, Montreuil bears no socioeconomic or aesthetic resemblance to the Paris of popular imagination. The architecture is rude, the parks are unkempt, and the people, many of them immigrants from North Africa, are estranged from la belle France. On the way to Montreuil, in the Mtro, I passed defaced posters of the musician Lou Reed. Stars of David had been drawn on his nose. Other graffiti was less ambiguous: Nique les JuifsFuck the Jews.
I was visiting a vocational high school, the Daniel Mayer School. The school is associated with ORT, which is a Russian acronym for the Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor. ORT was founded in 1880 to educate the destitute Jews of the Pale of Settlement, the vast ghetto created by czarist Russia for its Jewish subjects. In France, ORT schools educated a generation of Polish and Russian survivors of the Holocaust; today, they primarily educate the children of North African Jews.
The Mayer School is housed in a seven-story building in Montreuil, near the Robespierre Mtro station. The principal, Isaac Touitou, gathered a group of studentsmainly ages 17 and 18and teachers in the library to talk with me. These were mostly the children of striving working-class parents; the school, which has a reputation for rigor, is a ladder to the middle class. Its students graduate as opticians, dental technicians, accountants, computer programmers. The school also functions as a haven for young Jews living in a dangerous environment.
Once we get here were safe, one of the students told me. Getting here from home is the hard part. Many of the students live in distant and equally perilous suburbs, including Sarcelles, the site of anti-Jewish riots this past summer; and Crteil, where Jews have suffered beatings and rapes by anti-Semitic gangs.
Each of the 10 students had a story to tell about brutality. I was in a public school in Crteil but I had to leave. People would yell at me in the halls: Dirty Jew. Fucking Jew. I want to kill all of you, a student named Paola said. Two years ago they attacked my brother. They would always scream, Go back to your country. They meant Israel.
The ORT school had itself been the target of harassment. Touitou described a recent incident in which about 20 or so students from a neighboring public school had gathered in front of the building and made the quenelle.
The students I talked with in the library generally agreed that their future lay outside of France. A lot of the Muslims hate us here, a student named Alexandre said. His parents had already moved to Israel. They were two of the roughly 7,000 French Jews who left for Israel in 2014. Alexandre would be joining them after graduation.
Zionism, which at its essence is a critique of EuropeTheodor Herzl, its founder, interpreted the Dreyfus affair in France and the pogroms in Russia as invitations to seek an alternative Jewish future outside of Europeis perpetually resuscitated by anti-Semitism. Paola said, Those kids told me to go to Israel, so thats what Im doing. Others were contemplating the possibility of life in Quebec, and some dreamt of America.
The students talked about ways in which Jews concealed their identity. Id heard that it had already become fairly common practice in some of the apartment blocks in the banlieues for Jews to remove the mezuzot from their doors. A mezuzah is a piece of parchment that contains Bible verses and that is placed in a case and then affixed to a doorpost. In some suburbs, mezuzot had become pointers for those in search of Jews to harm.
But the students told me something new. Jewish people are telling other Jews to take down their mezuzot, one of the students said. People are being pressured to hide that they are Jewish. The pressure can be very intense. The impetus for this new campaign seems to have been an incident that occurred in early December, in which a group of robbers broke into an apartment in Crteil. They told the occupants that they knew they were Jewish, and therefore wealthy, and then they raped a 19-year-old woman in the apartment.
Everyone is saying Je suis Charlie today, Wendy, another of the students, said, in reference to the popular slogan of support for the slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. But this has been happening to the Jews for years and no one cares.
It would be nice if someone would say Je suis Juif, Sandy, another student, said.
Everyone agreed that more attacks were inevitable. Next week or next month, no one knows, David Attias, a teacher at the school, said. But its coming. Everyone knows it.
The next attack came that afternoon. I met with the students on the morning of January 9. Several hours later came the massacre at the kosher supermarket, about a mile away. One of the dead was a graduate of another ORT school.
IV. Fear in Sweden
The most persecuted Jew in Europe is almost certainly Shneur Kesselman, the rabbi of Malm, a city in southern Sweden. He was dispatched there by the Brooklyn-based Chabad Hasidic movement.
Malm, which sits across the resund from Copenhagen, has a population of roughly 300,000. This includes a large number, perhaps 50,000 or so, of Muslim immigrants. The Jewish community is much smallerby some estimates, there are fewer than 1,000 Jews; the population has dropped by half in recent years. Malms leadership has at times been at odds with Malms Jews. A former mayor said that the city accepts neither Zionism nor anti-Semitisma statement that was taken as hostile by Jewish Swedes supportive of Israels existence.
Acts of anti-Jewish harassment and vandalism are common in Malm, and Kesselman is a main target, because he is the only Jew there who still dresses in an identifiably Jewish mannerkippah, black hat, black coat, and long beard. Jewish teenagers in Malm told me that wearing a Star of David necklace can incite a beating. Kesselman estimates that he has been the target of roughly 150 anti-Semitic attacks in his 10 years in the city, mainly verbal, but also physical. There is a lot of cursing at me, and people sometimes throw bottles at me from their cars. Someone backed up their car in order to hit me, he said when I met with him. Occasionally, he said, people spit on him.
Donors recently provided him a car of his own, so he would not have to walk from his apartment to Malms sole synagogue, except on the Sabbath, when Jewish law forbids driving. I attended services at the synagogue with Kesselman one Friday night in January. The synagogue is a large, ornate, Moorish-style building that was constructed in 1903. Seventeen others attended the service, most of them men in their 60s. There was no police presence around the synagogueScandinavian governments have been far more lackadaisical about Jewish security than Francesbut the Jewish community has its own security guards. Before I was allowed to enter, a security officer, a Swedish Jewplaying a role similar to that of Dan Uzan, the Danish Jew killed in a mid-February attack on a synagogue in Copenhagenquizzed me at length about my identity, asking me a series of idiosyncratic questions designed to test whether I was, in fact, Jewish. (What is the address of Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn? he said. Luckily, I had trained my whole life for this moment.)
After services, I walked with Kesselman and a group of other worshippers through the dark city center. They set an extraordinarily fast pace. I fell in step with a young woman who was born and raised in Malm but now lives in Israel. She was visiting her father, trying to convince him to leave. Hes stubborn, she said. I worry about him here. I noted that Israel is not pristinely safe. Its different. We protect ourselves there.
Kesselman and his wife, the parents of four young children, avoid venturing out in public as a couple, for fear of being targeted together. Earlier, I had asked Kesselman why he has stayed in Malm. Because Malms remaining Jews would have no rabbi if he were to go, he said. Also, many Chabad rabbis resist the urge to leave even dangerous areas, in order to honor the sacrifice of their brethren: in 2008, a Chabad representative and his wife, along with four other Jews, were murdered (after reportedly being tortured) by Pakistani jihadists during the lengthy siege of Mumbai. I asked Kesselman whether he was scared to stay in Malm. Yes, of course Im scared, he said.
Moving from France to escape the attacks of Arabs to a country that will not be Jewish does not make a lot of sense.
I spent one afternoon interviewing people in the main shopping mall of the Rosengrd district, which is predominantly home to immigrants. Several of the Muslims I interviewed expressed benign feelings toward Jews. They knew of Malms reputation for anti-Semitism, and regretted it. A couple of others expressed objections to Israels existence, but absolved the Jews of collective responsibility. But more common was conflation, and exaggeration. I asked several people to tell me where they find information about Jews and Israel. Television stations such as Al Jazeera and the Hezbollah station, AlManar, were cited, as was the preaching of Scandinavian imams. One Danish imam, Abu Bilal Ismail, became famous last year for urging worshippers in a Berlin mosque to kill Jews: Count them and kill them to the very last one. Dont spare a single one of them. He later explained to a Copenhagen newspaper that he never meant all Jews.
One man, an Iraqi refugee, told me, The Jews have too much power everywhere. Another man, of Sudanese background, explained that the Koran itself warns Muslims to fear double-crossing by Jews. They killed the prophets and tried to poison the Prophet Muhammad, he said. I did not hear critiques of Israels occupation policies. I heard, instead, complaints about the Jews baleful influence on the world.
V. The Persecution of Anne Frank
Many institutions are devoted to memorializing the Shoah, but very few are as iconic as the Anne Frank House, in Amsterdam. Each year, more than 1 million visitorsmany of them Dutch studentsmake their way up narrow flights of stairs to the perfectly preserved secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid until they were betrayed.
The Anne Frank House, which is now encased inside a multimedia museum, is a significant operation, employing 112 people. I went one morning to talk with its head of education, Norbert Hinterleitner, about how the Jewish crisis in Europe is shaping the houses pedagogical mission. There has always been tension in the public portrayal of Anne Frank. The specifically Jewish qualities of her life have often been marginalized in literature, onstage, and in film, replaced with a more universal and, to some, accessible message.
I began the interview with a faux pas. A very large number of curators, guides, and directors in European Jewish museums, in my experience, are not Jewish. This is due in part to the general lack of Jews, and to the very large number of museumsEurope is a vast archipelago of Jewish museums. And yet somehow I made the assumption that Hinterleitner was Jewish.
Im Austrian, actually. He didnt know how many employees at the museum were Jewish, but, he said, there are some people who have Jewish lineage. He then added, in what I took to be an effort to explain my initial confusion, Some people here think Im Jewish, because Im dark and I have a big nose.
The Anne Frank House has never had a Jewish director (though Hinterleitner pointed out that at least two members of the board must have a Jewish background), and I would learn later that it is widely understood in Amsterdams Jewish community that Jews should not bother applying for the job. Hinterleitner said that the museum addresses anti-Semitism in the context of larger societal ills, but also that it recently issued a strong press statement condemning anti-Semitic acts in the Netherlands and elsewhere. He said the museum has made an intensive study of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, and has learned that most verbal expressions of anti-Semitism in secondary schools come from boys and are related to soccer.
The Anne Frank House is merely a simulacrum of a Jewish institution in part because, as its head of communications told me, Annes father said that her diary wasnt about being Jewish, but also, Hinterleitner suggested, because a museum devoted too obsessively to the details of a particular genocide might not draw visitors in sufficient numbers. We want people to be interested in this issue, people from all walks of life. So we talk about the universal components of Anne Franks story as well. Our work is about tolerance and understanding.
When I left, two policemen were patrolling the narrow street outside the museum. A temporary surveillance post had been erected just across from the entrance. I asked one of the officers whether this level of security was normal. He said the government had increased security around the museum last spring, shortly after a massacre at another Jewish site: On May 24, four people were murdered at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels, allegedly by a French Muslim of jihadist bent named Mehdi Nemmouche. Two Israeli tourists, a French volunteer, and a Belgian employee of Muslim and Jewish descent were killed. Nemmouche had recently returned to Europe after a term with ISIS in Syria, where, according to a former French hostage of ISIS, his specialty was torturing prisoners.
If you have an anti-Semitic attack on Anne Franks house, it wont be the first, I said to one of the police officers. We have never had an attack, he said.
Not on his watch. But it is fair to count the August 4, 1944, Gestapo raid on the house, which resulted in the arrest of the Frank family, as an anti-Semitic act. Anne died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, roughly one month before it was liberated by British forces.
Anne Frank has become an obsession of modern anti-Semites. Her storyuniversally known, and deeply affectingis a threat to the mission of the Holocaust-denial movement, and her youth and innocence challenge those who argue that Jews are innately perfidious. In Rome last summer, the slogan Anne Frank is a liar was spray-painted on walls in the former Jewish ghetto. In Lebanon, Hezbollah, the radical Shia group, has fought to keep her diary out of schools. In 2006, the Arab European League posted on its Web site a cartoonthis occurred during an earlier round of Europes endless, debilitating blasphemy warsthat featured a shirtless, postcoital Hitler in bed with a frightened dark-haired girl. Write this one in your diary, Anne, Hitler says.
The police outside the Anne Frank House are not protecting it because it is an international symbol of tolerance and understanding. There are many international symbols of understanding scattered across Europe that are not first-tier targets of jihadist extremists. The police are guarding the Anne Frank House because it is, in fact, associated with Jews, and Jews are under sustained attack in Europe.
VI. Hitler Is Dead
In January, at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, the American businessman Ronald Lauder, who serves as the president of the World Jewish Congress, said acidly of Europe, It looks more like 1933 than 2015. He mentioned Jewish children afraid to wear a kippah on the streets of Paris, Budapest, and London; the sacking of Jewish stores; and attacks on synagogues; and he suggested that a slow-motion exodus from Europe was already under way.
Things have gone terribly wrong for the Jews of Europe lately, but comparing 2015 to 1933, the year Hitler came to power, is irresponsible. As serious as matters have become for European Jews today, conditions are different from 80 years ago, in at least two profound ways.
The first is that Israel exists, and has as its reason for being the ingathering of dispersed Jews. A tragedy of Zionism, the political movement to create a state for the Jews in their ancestral homeland, is that it succeeded too late. If Israel had come into being in 1938, rather than in 1948, an untold but presumably very large number of European Jews who were denied refuge by the civilized nations, including the United States, would have been saved from slaughter. Today, of course, the Jews of Toulouse and Malm understand that Israel will take them without question, and many thousands of European Jewsmainly, though not exclusively, Frenchhave moved to Israel in recent years.
The second wayand this is a historical astonishmentis that in 1933, the new leader of Germany announced himself as the foremost enemy of Jewish existence; today, Germanys leader is among the worlds chief defenders of Jews. Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the defense of Jews a principle of the nation: Germanys support for Israels security is part of our national ethos, our raison dtre, she said in 2013. At a rally against anti-Semitism held last September at the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Merkel said: Anyone who hits someone wearing a skullcap is hitting us all. Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundations of our free society.
In France, Manuel Valls, the Socialist prime minister, is, if anything, an even more ardent defender of Europes Jews. He argues that the French idea itself depends on the crushing of anti-Semitism.
The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens, he told me when I met him late last year in Paris. To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.
In 1980, shortly after the bombing of the Rue Copernic synagogue, in Paris, which took the lives of four people, Raymond Barre, who was then the French prime minister, described the attack as one that sought to target Jews who were in this synagogue and that struck innocent Frenchmen who were crossing Rue Copernic.
Frances Jews were wounded by Barres statement. To be excluded from the community of innocent Frenchmen by a prime minister is not something readily forgotten. Roger Cukierman, the head of Frances national Jewish council, told me that French Jews are grateful that Valls has been so willing to speak in their defense.
Valls, whose father is Spanish, framed the threat of a Jewish exodus this way: If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.
Valls is deliberate andunusual for a French politician of the leftblunt in identifying the main culprits in the proliferation of anti-Jewish violence and harassment: Islamist ideologues whose anti-Semitic and anti-Western calumnies have penetrated the banlieues. But he goes further: Frances new anti-Semitism is also the product of what he understands to be a malicious sleight of hand on the part of Israels enemies to repackage anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism.
It is legitimate to criticize the policies of Israel, Valls said. This criticism exists in Israel itself. But this is not what we are talking about in France. This is radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic. There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Behind anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
Frequently, Valls said, anti-Zionists let the mask slip. It is impossible, he said, to ascribe the attacks on synagoguesat least eight were targeted in France last summerto anger over Israels Gaza policy. The demonstrators who chanted Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas at rallies in Germany last year clearly have more on their minds than Israels West Bank settlement policybut evidently not everyone in authority believes that attacks on synagogues are axiomatically anti-Semitic: in early February, a German court ruled that the firebombing of a synagogue in the city of Wuppertal last year was motivated not by anti-Semitism but by a desire to bring attention to the Gaza conflict.
Valls and Merkel think more clearly about the implications of Jewish persecution than many others in Europe. So too does David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom. When I met with Cameron in January, on his most recent visit to Washington, D.C., he expressed, with something close to Vallss passion, a fear for the future of Britains Jewish minority. The Jewish community in Britain has been there for centuries and has made an extraordinary contribution to our country, he said. I would be heartbroken if I ever thought that people in the Jewish community thought that Britain was no longer a safe place for them.
According to the Community Security Trust, 2014 saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom, which is home to 300,000 Jews, since the organization began its monitoring efforts, in 1984: it recorded 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents. This is more than double the number of incidents in 2013, and exceeds the previous record, from 2009, of 931 incidents. In a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a quarter of British Jews said they had considered leaving the country; more than half of those surveyed said they fear that Jews have no future in Great Britain.
Cameron condemned demonstrators who took out their frustrations with Israel on Europes Jews. I asked him whether there existed in his mind a bright line that separates anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. He answered: I think it is unfair and wrong to lay at the door of Jewish communities of Europe policies pursued by the government of Israel that people might not agree withjust completely wrong.
He went on to say: As well as the new threat of extremist Islamism, there has been an insidious, creeping attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel, which spills over often into anti-Semitism. We have to be very clear about the fact that there is a dangerous line that people keep crossing over. This is a state, a democracy that is recognized by the UN, and I dont think we should be tolerant of this effort at delegitimization. The people who are trying to make the line fuzzy are the delegitimizers.
The fight against anti-Semitism led by Merkel, Valls, and Cameron appears to be heartfelt. The question is, will it work? After the January massacres in Paris, the French government deployed several thousand soldiers to protect Jewish institutions, but it cannot assign soldiers to protect every Jew walking to and from the Mtro. The governments of Europe are having a terrible time in their struggle against the manifestations of radical Islamist ideology. And the general publics of these countries do not seem nearly as engaged in the issue as their leaders. The Berlin rally last fall against anti-Semitism that featured Angela Merkel drew a paltry 5,000 people, most of whom were Jews. It is a historical truism that, as Manuel Valls told me, what begins with Jews doesnt end with Jews. But this notion has not penetrated public opinion.
Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe? – The Atlantic