As most members of the Jewish faith will confess in moments of candor, former President Jimmy Carter knows their struggle better than they do themselves. On Tuesday, Carter demonstrated his command of the issues confronting Jews around the globe when he insisted that the spate of anti-Semitic violence sweeping across Europe should for the most part be ignored.
Via The Washington Free Beacon, Carter recently sat down with Huffington Post Live host and college professor Marc Lamont Hill where he weighed in on the terrorist attacks in Paris as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invitation to French Jews to immigrate to Israel. Carter suggested that French Jews would be walking into a lion’s den if they took Netanyahu up on his offer.
“My guess is that the Jews who live in France will maybe not take this as a positive step, and say the only way you can be safe is to go to Israel,” Carter said in an interview with HuffPost Live. “I would guess that you may be, on the average, maybe safer in France than some places in Israel, but I’m not trying to make a judgment.”
In a sense, he’s right. There are some places in Israel that are not especially safe for Jews: Those areas within range of Hamas’s Qassam rockets or in West Bank settlements beyond Jerusalem’s protection, for example.
Despite Carter’s flippant dismissal, European Jews are well aware of their tenuous situation.
“Even among those inclined to condemn racism in any form, fighting anti-Semitism is no longer seen as a priority, with Jews often perceived as privileged compared with Muslims and other minorities confronted with discrimination” The New York Times reported last September.
With Europe still shaking from a populist backlash against fiscal austerity, some Jews speak of feeling politically isolated, without an ideological home. Many left-wing political parties are anti-Israel. Many right-wing parties, some with anti-Semitic origins, are extremist and virulently anti-immigrant. And many Jews who have voted with the Socialist Party in France and Belgium worry that those parties are weak and becoming more dependent on fast-growing Muslim voting blocs.
The Israeli war in Gaza this summer did nothing to end the isolation Europe’s Jews increasingly feel. This August, thousands of police were deployed across Europe in order to prevent anti-Semitic violence from flaring any further.
“Protesters have attacked synagogues, smashed the windows of Jewish-owned business and torched others, in scenes disturbingly reminiscent of the 1938 Kristallnacht in France,” The Telegraph reported ominously. “The marchers have chanted ‘Jews to the gas chambers’, and Jewish people have been attacked on the streets of Berlin.”
“Phrases like ‘Anne Frank Was a Liar,’ ‘Dirty Jews,’ ‘Jews your end is near,’ and ‘Israel executioner’ were written in spray paint alongside Celtic crosses and rows and rows of swastikas,” The Daily Beast confirmed.
France has the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the US. But the number of French Jews emigrating to Israel has risen sharply in recent years by 70 per cent in 2013, according to the Jewish Agency. In part, this may be fuelled by France’s economic problems, but many observers believe it is also being fuelled by a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the country.
The latest wave of European Jews fleeing the hostile continent was even the subject of a Newsweek profile over the summer. “Thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. But the protest soon turned violent – and against Jews in general,” that piece read. “Two weeks later, 400 protesters attacked a synagogue and Jewish-owned businesses in Sarcelles, in the north of Paris, shouting ‘Death to the Jews’. Posters had even advertised the raid in advance, like the pogroms of Tsarist Russia.”
In America, the prospect of a new wave of European anti-Semitism of a scale unseen since World War II is enough to send the left into fits of condescending mockery. They are assured of that which is untrue, that Europe has progressed beyond anti-Semitic violence and hatred. It is ironic that those so possessed of their own correctness are equally determined to avoid confronting information that fails to comport with their worldview.
Despite Israel’s failings, that state’s Jewish residents can rest assured knowing their businesses will not be vandalized or that they will be assaulted on the streets by violent and prejudiced mobs.
For all their self-professed erudition, it is a wonder that the left seems so unwilling to address the inconvenient truths right under their noses.