In the prevailing climate of political correctness, policies are too often driven by emotional arguments rather than sober analysis, a reality currently playing out in the debate over the mass influx into Europe of migrants from the Middle East and North African (MENA).
While the issue strikes a deep humanitarian chord, over the past two decades Europe has failed miserably at integrating these populations. Nevertheless, the EU is now doubling down on a failed strategy, promising to take in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people over the next few years, many of whom are, in actuality, asylum- seekers – with no intention of returning to their home countries – or economic migrants.
Yet nobody seems to be asking the question: Is this good for the Jews? The answer is a resounding “no.”
European Jewry is currently enduring the most intense wave of anti-Semitism to sweep the continent since World War II, and the cold, hard truth is that Muslim immigrants and their poorly-assimilated offspring are fueling it.
In France – which already has Europe’s largest Muslim population, and whose government has vowed to take in an additional 25,000 – more than 500 anti-Semitic acts were recorded over the first five months of 2015 (of which 23 percent were classified as violent), an increase of 84% over the corresponding period last year. While the denominational breakdown of the perpetrators is difficult to ascertain, the Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive (SPCJ), which compiled the report, made note that the incidence of attacks on Jews rose dramatically in the wake of January’s horrific massacre at the Hypermarche kosher shop, perpetrated by the radicalized son of Muslim immigrants.
The trend holds across of much of Europe, including the UK, which has promised to take in an additional 20,000 MENA migrants. In Britain, anti-Semitic incidents rose by more than 50% in the first half of 2015 compared to last year; this, on top of the more than 100% increase (to 1,168 acts) in 2014.
It is tragic, then, that Jewish leaders in Europe are not raising the alarm. To the contrary, many are advocating on behalf of those who are liable to hurt their communities.
Take the greatly respected former chief rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, who last week penned a moving albeit short-sighted article in support of the EU’s decision to absorb hundreds of thousands of additional people.
“Now is a unique opportunity to show that the ideals for which the European Union and other international bodies such as the United Nations were formed are still compelling, compassionate and humane,” Sacks contended.
While these words resonate profoundly with many Jews (themselves essentially refugees for more than 2,000 years, exiled from their land), they do not take into account the predictable fallout for Europe’s Jewish community.
Sacks justifies his position by quoting the biblical axiom, “Love the stranger because you were once strangers,” but ignores another commandment which overrides all others: Pikuach Nefesh, which demands that no policy be enacted which endangers life. And make no mistake, support for mass immigration from war-torn, destitute, traditionally anti-Semitic countries places Jewish lives at risk. Sacks also makes the typical mistake of universally applying the Jewish ideal of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – without acknowledging that Western values are foreign to many MENA migrants.
Another common rationalization employed by Sacks invokes the lead-up to the Holocaust. “One of the dark moments in [world] history occurred in July 1938,” he writes, “when representatives of 32 countries gathered in the French spa town of Evian to discuss the disaster that everyone knew was about to overtake the Jews of Europe wherever Hitler’s Germany held sway.... Yet country after country shut its doors.”
The flaw in this argument is glaring; namely, that there is no concerted genocide taking place in Syria, Iraq or Libya, but rather Sunni-Shi’ite proxy wars. Some minority populations are, in fact, being systematically targeted – such as the Yazidis, for example – but they are not primary among the young, single and mainly Muslim migrants currently being absorbed into Europe (according to the UN’s refugee agency [UNHCR], 70% of the nearly 450,000 immigrants that arrived by sea to Europe this year are men, compared to just 13% who are women and 18% children).
This is why comparisons to the Holocaust are invariably blanketed by emotional fluff – “wars that cannot be won by weapons can sometimes be won by the sheer power of acts of humanitarian generosity,” according to Sacks. But taking in millions of migrants will not end the war in Syria or anywhere else; by contrast, it will simply import the root causes – Islamic fundamentalism and tribalism – to the West. (A representative example is the Greek island of Kos, where thousands of migrants have caused utter chaos for local residents, with violent riots erupting between competing ethnic groups).
Moreover, it is wishful thinking that those pouring into Europe can be properly vetted. Consider figures released by Italian authorities (Servizio di Polizia Scientifica) which show that only two-thirds of the more than 120,000 migrants who entered the country so far this year have agreed to be identified (while EU rules stipulate that migrants apply for asylum in the countries in which they arrive, many are electing not to in hopes of moving on to other, more hospitable member states). This means that some 40,000 people effectively remain unaccounted for.
And that’s in only one country. The same dynamic is playing out in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary, from which tens of thousands of immigrants have crossed into Austria and then Germany.
It is no surprise that the influx into Germany – which temporarily broke EU law by waiving the requirement that migrants register in the country of their arrival – has already resulted in the arrest of an Islamic State (IS) terrorist, who happened to be in possession of boxes of fake Syrian passports. IS has alleged that it smuggled some 4,000 members into Europe along with the migrants. Overall, the masses flooding into Germany have overwhelmed the system, leading authorities to restore proper border control procedures. But one can only imagine how many people slipped through the cracks.
Another fully predictable outcome of the migrant influx is growth in support for the European far Right. This was already taking place in countries like France, with the rise of Marine Le-Pen’s National Front, as well as in countries like Greece and Hungary, where the Golden Dawn and Jobbik parties, respectively, have made political inroads.
In Germany, anti-immigration groups like PEGIDA have likewise gained a groundswell of public support.
And who always seems to get caught in the crossfire, if not deliberately targeted first? The Jews.
Just days before Sacks published his article encouraging more immigration to the UK, four Jewish males were attacked at a train station in Manchester, England, one teen sustaining a fractured skull. This is but one example of the many violent anti-Semitic attacks already occurring with alarming frequency throughout Europe, and taking in more people from MENA countries will only add to the crisis.
The remaining question is whether Jewish leaders will take ownership now, or feign surprise and outrage the next time a European Jew is severely beaten – or worse – by someone they advocated on behalf of.The writer s a correspondent for i24news, an international network broadcasting out of Israel.