The Jewish Dilemma in Europe and Beyond

December 17, 2019 | Joel Kotkin
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What with anti-Semitism on both left and right, economic stagnation, and demographic decline, European Jewry faces dim prospects, writes Joel Kotkin:

Perceptions of Jewish success combined with a weak economy and the shrinkage of the middle class have ignited a resurgence of right-wing populism across the continent. In some countries, notably Russia, Poland, Belgium, and parts of Germany, anti-Semitism of the traditional right-wing variety has been mainstreamed, often by nationalist parties such as the AfD in Germany, the Freedom Party in Austria, and Jobbik in Hungary.

This development is most notable in Eastern Europe, where economic conditions are less than ideal. Asked whether “Jews have too much power in the business world,” according to a recent Anti-Defamation League survey, 72 percent of Ukrainians agreed, as did 71 percent of Hungarians, 56 percent of Poles, and 50 percent of Russians. . . . [A] third of Austrians, according to a recent CNN Poll . . . complain Jews have too much influence in finance, as did a quarter of French and German respondents.

Contemporary leftist hatred of Jews has its roots in the post-Stalin alliance with Arab nationalist and Islamist regimes seeking to obliterate Israel. . . . As the famous Nazi-hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfield told me and my wife over two decades ago in Paris, French leftists would see huge potential in appealing to Muslims who now outnumber Jews by roughly ten to one. Although often out of sync with the very liberal social agenda of the European left, Muslims increasingly constitute a powerful constituency for French socialists, who have been losing ground among their traditional white working-class base in recent elections.

Over the long term, if current trends hold, the Jewish future will be essentially that of Israel. . . . Many in these countries may well say “good riddance” to the Jews, but it represents a tragedy not only for the Jewish people but for Europe and the world.

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