Europe Is Rising to the Challenge of Anti-Semitism Because of Its Own Judaic Roots

October 21, 2021 | Robert Nicholson
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On October 5, the European Union, despite its history of hostility toward Israel and lack of concern over the fate of the Jews, issued a powerful program for combating anti-Semitism, which Robert Nicholson describes as “remarkable in its scope and aggressiveness.” Nicholson tries to account for this change of heart, and turns to a “deeper story . . . about Jerusalem as the touchstone of European identity,” that goes back to the very beginnings of the continent’s history as a distinct sociopolitical unit:

Defined as Christendom for more than 1,000 years, Europe rolled back the church’s power in the modern age (sadly, for good reasons) and put a rational-liberal order in its place. But the failure of that order to address the continent’s psychological needs, much less to confront the Islamic culture welling up inside its borders, has thrown Europeans back on themselves, forcing them to redefine the essence of the civilization they still hope to save.

Right-wing and left-wing Europeans define [their] culture differently, of course—one side cites the Judeo-Christian heritage, the other side cites the human-rights discourse—but both sense that the Jews are “an inextricable part of Europe’s identity,” and they are right. There is no Christianity, no modernity, no liberalism, no progressivism—indeed, no Europe—without the sons and daughters of Jacob. For as the historian Thomas Cahill once wrote, “the Jews started it all.”

The Jews don’t need Europe as much as Europe needs the Jews. In this late hour, defending the Jewish people is a moral mandate. Europe must come to see the Jewish people as members of an ancient nation and as the living reminder of Europe’s moral and biblical heritage. This recognition is as an act of civilizational reclamation.

The West is in protracted decline as it distances itself from the foundations of our moral order. In that, the EU’s new strategy is a promising and praiseworthy step in the right direction. Now, do Americans possess enough courage to do the same?

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