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.

Read more at Atlantic

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

 

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security