From ‘Never Again’ to ‘Now and Again’
As antisemitic incidents spike in the rest of Europe, Hungary’s restrictive immigration policies are vindicated.
As Israel continues to count and identify the bodies of the October 7 Simchat Torah massacre by Hamas, and as the number of civilian victims used as human shields by Hamas in Gaza continues to rise, revolutionary Islamists are now filling European streets and squares, attacking police and synagogues, and, above all, proclaiming loudly: “Here we are, and we stand by what happened.”
This problem stems from both failed demographic and immigration policies. While Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has accepted some level of immigration and has started to let in tens of thousands of third world migrant workers to deal with the ongoing global recession, he has done so under strict regulations. Notably, the immigrants are primarily from non-Muslim countries.
The rest of Europe, however, takes a different approach. A quick glance at British statistics shows that the foreign-born population has been growing steadily since 1921 with a radical jump after 2001. In 2001, there were 1,600,000 Muslims in the U.K.. By 2021, their number had increased to 3,868,000. The Muslim population of the U.K. is expected to grow to 13 million by 2050. West Germany began admitting its first Turkish migrant workers in the 1960s; their number have since ballooned to four million. In addition, Germany has taken in almost a million Syrian migrants, which has resulted in further problems. In 2021, 65 percent of Syrians in Germany were unable to find work, placing additional strain on Germany’s famed social welfare system. These radical changes did not occur in centuries, but in decades.
Hungary and the rest of post-socialist Europe, however, have taken a more cautious pace and some politicians, such as Orbán, or the recently elected Slovakian left-wing P.M. Robert Fico have sounded the alarm on immigration. In response they were criticized by the mainstream press as “extremist,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” These adjectives are debatable; Orbán regularly connects his strong stance on immigration with protecting other minority groups. In 2016 he declared, “We shall not import to Hungary crime, terrorism, homophobia and synagogue-burning anti-Semitism.”
Their warnings were not cultural “fear-mongering,” as the left-wing press claimed. The European immigration problem has direct ties to real security issues. In 2017, there were over 50,000 Salafists (radical Sunnis) in France; in 2022, 11,000 in Germany. Not all Salafists are jihadists, but many of them are or have such sympathies, and most European countries admit extreme Salafists are a security concern. But they are not the only dangerous group in Europe. Although Germany banned Hezbollah in 2020, there remain about 1,250 members of the Shiite terror group. The constant surveillance of this many people regularly drains resources and manpower from the internal security services. In 2018, the German police were keeping only 774 radical Islamists under constant surveillance. A recent report from the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security stated that “last year, the terrorist threat from ISIS to Europe increased. Especially since the second half of 2022 there have been ever more clues that ISIS is planning attacks in Europe.” Israel has also warned that there are over 450 Hamas operatives in Germany alone.
Attacks have already taken place throughout Europe in connection to the current war in the Middle East. In France, a mass stabbing occurred at a secondary school in Arras, after Hamas called for a “Global Day of Jihad” on October 13. A French language teacher was killed, while several others were injured. The perpetrator, a Muslim from Russia, was known to the French security services for being a radical and was affiliated with ISIS. Three days later, two Swedes were shot dead in Brussels by a Tunisian migrant who had previously been flagged by Belgian authorities for potential jihadist activity. Again, ISIS claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile, illegal migration continues. Last month, around 7,000 migrants arrived to the island of Lampedusa, Italy, in a span of only 48 hours. The island normally has a population of 6,000. Lampedusa is a well-known transport hub for would-be-terrorists. The Tunisian who shot two Swedes in Brussels arrived there on a boat in 2011. The island is “overwhelmed” and “in a crisis,” according to its mayor who spoke with Reuters. A staggering 2.3 million immigrants entered the E.U. from non-E.U. countries in 2021, an increase of almost 18 percent compared with 2020. This does not mean that a real far-right threat does not exist in Europe; it is not, however, coming from populists but from mushrooming neo-Nazi groups. The world is destabilizing at an alarming rate and there are increasingly strong signs in Europe which point towards a looming civil war or bloody social unrest; there are fewer and fewer signs that this scenario can be avoided.
The problems described above affect the European Jewish community in a particularly dangerous manner. The mere fact that a very large proportion of immigrants come from countries where anti-Semitism is deeply ingrained in society should be reason enough for strict border controls. According to ADL data for the Middle East and North Africa and Asia, 80 percent of the population is anti-Semitic in Morocco, 87 percent in Algeria and Libya, 71 percent in Turkey, 60 percent in Iran, and 92 percent in Iraq. But Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza beat them all: Ninety-three percent of their population is anti-Semitic. In the summer of 2015, the ADL conducted a survey focusing specifically on Muslim communities in Western Europe, which found that 68 percent of Belgian Muslims, 62 percent of Spanish Muslims, 56 percent of German and Italian Muslims, 54 percent of British Muslims, and 49 percent of French Muslims held anti-Semitic views. In general, 55 percent of Muslims in Western Europe were found to be anti-Semitic. In terms of attacks, Germany saw 2,480 anti-Semitic atrocities last year; the UK, 1,652; France, 436. Attacks have sharply risen since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas.
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But this may not be all that surprising. A report by the Community Security Trust, a Jewish NGO in the U.K. explained that “the single biggest contributing factor to the record number of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2014 was antisemitic reactions in the U.K. to the conflict in Israel and Gaza.” How could the current protests and atrocities catch European authorities unprepared? This is not to say that some countries have not acted. French president Emmanuel Macron recently banned pro-Hamas protests. On October 13, France raised its security alert to the highest level and deployed 7,000 soldiers following the aforementioned school stabbing. Viktor Orbán also banned all pro-Hamas demonstrations in Hungary. But in the rest of Europe, hatred took the streets.
Ten thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators sided with Palestine in the Netherlands, as Jewish schools closed around the country. Thousands protested against Israel in London. Jewish schools in the U.K. also stepped up their security or shut down altogether. Parents kept their children away. Pro-Palestine protests were held in Germany as well; some local Arabs openly support Hamas. But this is nothing compared to what German media reported: some Jewish homes had been marked with the Star of David, reminiscent of the Nazi era. One German synagogue was firebombed.
How could Europe’s liberal leaders have turned a blind eye to the dangers of Muslim immigration for decades? How could they commemorate the Holocaust every year, while allowing the mass arrival in Europe of people who see the Holocaust not as a story of a horrific genocide, but as the story of a brave man—Hitler—who tried to defeat the evil Jews, and failed? The West’s fear of being branded ‘illiberal’ has given free rein to anti-Jewish hatred on the streets of Europe.