In the Wake of Mass Migration, Germany Struggles to Keep Its Jews Safe

Earlier this month, an Israeli Arab living in Germany, skeptical of the claim that Jews can’t walk Germany’s streets without risking harassment, decided to test it out by donning a kippah and taking a stroll. He was soon assaulted by a Syrian refugee, and posted a video of the incident that has since gained much attention, as James Kirchick writes:

[T]he plain fact is that most of the migrants who have come (and continue to come) to Europe hail from Muslim-majority countries that long ago expelled their once-vibrant Jewish populations, where anti-Semitism figures prominently in state propaganda, and where belief in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is widespread. To take just one obvious incongruity between Germany and the migrants it is accepting: Holocaust denial, a crime punishable by prison in Germany, is pervasive across the Muslim and Arab Middle East. Of course, it would be wrong to presume that every Syrian refugee holds the anti-Semitic attitudes of the country’s former defense minister, who published a book repeating the ancient blood libel about Jews killing Gentile children to bake matzos for Passover. But it is equally misguided to deny that many have been profoundly influenced by the anti-Semitic environments in which they were raised.

So concerned were they not to appear indifferent to the sufferings of foreign Muslims, however, that many Germans welcomed them without properly considering the impact this move might have on their Jewish fellow citizens. . . . The chaotic nature of the influx and lack of border checks meant that most of the approximately 2 million people who entered Europe in the great wave of 2015-2016 were not refugees but economic migrants seeking jobs. . . .

[M]any of those who could legitimately claim refugee status were not fleeing immediate danger but rather United Nations-administered camps in safe countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Such places are certainly not ideal. But they do not constitute sites of persecution, war, or state-directed violence, the legal standard for determining whether an individual can claim refugee status. Comparisons with the plight of the stateless Jews of Nazi-era Europe—many of whom, turned away from American shores, ended up in gas chambers—which were ubiquitous at the height of the 2015 migrant crisis and used as a moral cudgel against Merkel’s critics, are inappropriate. . . .

A country like Germany will have to try harder at inculcating an appreciation for liberal democratic values among the Muslim migrants wishing to live there.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Angela Merkel, Anti-Semitism, Germany, Immigration, Politics & Current Affairs

 

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform