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.

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Read more at Sapir

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

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter