Tablet has roundup of the escalating threats facing European Jews. From the bombing of a community center in Sweden, to proposed bans on ritual circumcision in Finland and Germany, on ritual slaughter in the Netherlands, and on the kippah in France, Jews’ physical security and religious traditions are more seriously endangered than at any time since the end of the Cold War. For the moment, the legislative proposals aren’t likely to get far: the Dutch parliament, for example, overwhelmingly rejected the ban on kosher slaughter. Still, observant Jews are increasingly wondering whether they have a future in Western Europe.
It would be easy to attribute these developments to a resurgence of the old anti-Semitism. In fact, the situation is considerably more complicated. Some of the violence against Jews and Jewish sites has been carried out by the familiar cast of skinheads and neo-Nazis. But most of the perpetrators seem to be Muslims. Indeed, anti-immigrant parties across Europe have sought Jewish support on the the grounds that they have common enemies.
On the other hand, these same parties have been behind many of the proposals to limit Jews’ religious freedom. This isn’t simple hypocrisy. It seems clear that proposed bans on circumcision, ritual slaughter, and distinctive religious attire are aimed primarily at Muslims. The problem is that Muslims share those practices with Jews. So anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment turns back into anti-Semitism, or, more accurately, anti-Judaism.
What are European Jews to do? Part of the answer is obvious: reject the anti-immigrant right. But that’s pretty much a foregone conclusion. Unless they’re amazingly stupid, politicians with roots on the extreme right can’t expect to get many Jewish votes (of which there are few to begin with). More likely, they’re signaling to potential supporters in the religious and ethnic majorities that they’ve gone respectable.
In more positive sense, Jews in Europe and elsewhere should defend freedom of religion while insisting on the security of life and property that they are due as citizens. Islamism may be dangerous for Jews. But states with the authority to regulate religion are a bigger risk.