Europe Will Miss Its Jews Not as Participants in Its Culture, but as Convenient Scapegoats

In 2013, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein contributed to a Mosaic symposium on the precarious situation of European Jewry, writing of her native Sweden that “the only way to survive as a Jew in my country is not to be seen as one.” Over the course of the next two years, she wrote three additional articles for Mosaic on the worsening situation there. She now revisits the question of whether Jews have a future in Europe after a recent visit to London, and is more pessimistic than ever:

In Europe . . . Jewish observance is an act of rebellion. We Jews bond together like refuseniks, fighting for survival in a place that has never stopped trying to get rid of us. Governments across Europe are attempting—and sometimes succeeding—to ban foundational Jewish practices such as kosher slaughter and male circumcision, making traditional Jewish life extremely difficult. Jews attending prayers, Jewish schools, or community centers do so behind bulletproof glass with armed guards at the door. When they are victims of anti-Semitic attacks, they are often assumed to have provoked the attackers simply by being Jews.

Given these pressures, European Jews have increasingly abandoned their old homes for the old/new country: Israel is the one place on earth where it is safe to breathe while Jewish. The pandemic has only pushed the issue of aliyah to the front of our collective mind. The closing of borders gave us the first taste of what it’s like to live in a world where Israel is not an option.

With the Jewish population of Europe feeling as if it’s on its way to an eventual extinction, we have to wonder whether our absence will be felt—and whether it matters. The answer, simply and clearly, is that we were never wanted in the first place and that our contribution to and success within European society is at the very heart of Europe’s disdain for us. The Jews of Europe have been hated and persecuted for over 2,000 years, because of our unique ability to survive and thrive in forced exile and our tradition of neither proselytizing nor intermarrying. . . . We will be missed—not as citizens, but as enemies.

I have deep roots in Sweden, my country of birth, going back three generations. . . . Today, [however], I am forced to make a choice between the country of my birth and the land of my ancestors, because Europe does not allow me to have both. . . . In America, people carry the duality I seek: they call themselves Jewish-American, Muslim-American, Sikh-American. The very names express a built-in acceptance. But in Europe, we must make a choice, or the choice will be made for us.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Aliyah, Anti-Semitism, European Jewry, Sweden


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus