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28
May
2014

Europe’s Complacency in the Face of Extremism and Anti-Semitism


The appalling terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24, 2014, was carried out as millions of Europeans registered an apathetic vote at the polling booths. The results illustrate the gradual breakdown of the “European Union” ideal in favor of a closed and inward-looking nationalism. The new European Parliament has turned into a hothouse and a forum for extremist activism. Over a quarter of its members are active in neo-Nazi movements or parties fighting for the dissolution of the European Union in favor of a nationalist and isolationist ideology and the expulsion of foreign immigrants.

In France, Hungary and Austria, such activists won the majority of votes and Marine Le Pen’s Front National is now France’s largest party – a historic turnaround that resulted in a crushing defeat for the ruling Socialist party, which received a mere 10 percent. This represents an equally severe blow for President François Hollande and for all leftist parties. There are two primary reasons for the political upheaval in Europe: a record number of abstentions and utter apathy, and a dangerous downswing in economic conditions, with 27 million unemployed. The European economy, however, still remains the largest and most robust in the world, with assets of 17 trillion dollars and a strong, unified currency by comparison with the dollar. The problem arises mainly from the lack of a clear and unified policy, and weak, spineless leadership with a feeble attitude towards the superpowers. The success of the extremists in the European Parliament also derives from the fact that since Europe’s international borders were opened, there has been a huge surge of millions of immigrants from North Africa, black Africa, and Eastern Europe, including unwanted and Islamic elements.

The terrorist attack in Brussels is not the first such attack against Jews since World War II, as was mistakenly reported in the media. In October 1989, the chairman of Belgium’s umbrella Jewish organization, Dr. Joseph Wybran, was murdered by a Moroccan Belgian named Abdelkader Belliraj. He was captured in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, only two decades later and his long, slow trial in that city remains underway.

Recent years have seen an increase in anti-Semitic attacks. In Paris in 2006, Ilan Halimi was killed by black Islamists; in 2012 the Sandler family was murdered at the Otzar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse. Moreover, since the 1980s there have been terrorist attacks against Jewish restaurants, schools, and synagogues, and Jewish cemeteries across Europe have been desecrated.

In addition to racist, anti-Semitic incidents committed by neo-Fascists and the far right, in recent years there has also been a sharp rise in the number of Islamic-based, anti-Israel episodes. The Mohammed al-Durra affair sparked a fire among Israel-haters in the press, on the Internet and in universities, and spurred incitement among Christians too. The delegitimization of the Jewish state and the boycott of Israeli products in Europe are the result of deceptive propaganda by the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas cynically exploited the visit of Pope Francis to spread lies about the “security wall” and “discrimination against and persecution of Christians by the Israeli government.” Abbas, himself a Muslim, ignored the fundamental fact that Christians living in Israel are treated with respect and have absolute freedom of worship and religion, as distinct from all Muslim countries in the region and indeed throughout the world. Should such false statements by Abbas not be considered incitement? By his words, is he not encouraging hatred of Jews?

Some 300 Frenchmen are currently fighting in Syria alongside terror organizations and al-Qaeda, as are 200 Belgian converts to Islam. Dozens have returned home, trained to commit terror attacks. Brussels itself has a 26% Muslim population and there are currently over 30 million Muslim immigrants in Western Europe alone. The terrorist Mohammed Merah, who murdered the Sandler family in Toulouse, trained with the Taliban in Afghanistan. On his return to Toulouse, his home town, the French Secret Service totally ignored him and failed to take his threats seriously.

In opening its borders to the needy in general, and aspiring to unity and solidarity among nations, Europe – out of narrow economic and electoral considerations – is consciously overlooking the fact that Enemy No. 1 is within it. It lives, breathes and kicks, and its name is Islamic Jihad. Instead of using all possible means to deter and uproot this most dangerous phenomenon, Europe chooses instead to occupy itself with the Palestinian problem and endless condemnation of Israeli government policy and the settlements. Is Europe really so naïve that it does not see the day approaching when churches and Christian holy places will also become the target of terror? Are Christians, too, not heretics in the eyes of Islam? Have the images of the destruction of churches and the murder of Christians in Syria, Iraq and even Nigeria been forgotten?

If Europe wishes to contribute to the peace process and claims the ability to guarantee our security, then why does it not attend first and foremost to the safety and security of its own citizens, especially European Jews living in real and tangible danger, with a profound concern for their future?

About Amb. Freddy Eytan

Amb. Freddy Eytan, a former Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel’s embassies in Paris and Brussels, was Israel’s first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. He was also the spokesman of the Israeli delegation in the peace process with the Palestinians. Since 2007, he heads the Israel-Europe Project at the Jerusalem Center, which focuses on analyzing Israeli relations with the countries of Europe and seeks to develop ties and avenues of bilateral cooperation. He is also the director of Le Cape, the Jerusalem Center website in French. Amb. Eytan has written 20 books about the Israeli-Arab conflict and the policy of France in the Middle East, including La Poudriere (The Powder Keg) and Le double jeu (the Double Game). He has also published biographies of Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, and a book, The 18 Who Built Israel.
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