Had they not died as part of the Charlie Hebdo killers' final act, I wonder how much publicity the murders of Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, and FranĂ§ois-Michel Saada at a kosher grocery store would have attracted. An Islamic fanatic killed another quartet of Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last spring, and it was a big story for a couple of days, and then faded away. Over the last decade, the Continent seems to have developed a certain psychological ease with the routine murder of Jews. What remains of Jewish communal life in Europe now takes place behind reinforced doors and barbed wire, and the actual extinction of an entire identity group's presence is discussed as calmly as the long-range weather. Forty-five per cent of British Jews say Jews have no future in Britain, and 58 per cent says Jews have no future in Europe.
European leaders like M Hollande insist they're able to protect the Jewish community - or at least hold the remorseless picking-off of their members to manageable levels. The leader of the continent's biggest Jewish group is disinclined to take such assurances:
In a letter sent to interior ministries around Europe and obtained by Newsweek, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director general of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) and the European Jewish Association (EJA) - the largest federation of Jewish organizations and communities in Europe - writes: "We hereby ask that gun licensing laws are reviewed with immediate effect to allow designated people in the Jewish communities and institutions to own weapons for the essential protection of their communities, as well as receiving the necessary training to protect their members from potential terror attacks."
The Jews are always the canaries in the coal mine, so they won't be the last in Europe to discover that, when it matters, the state isn't there for you. There is a memorable moment in Michel Houellebecq's new novel Soumission, released the day of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter, in which the protagonist's Jewish girlfriend Myriam decides it's time to get the hell out of France and flee to Israel. And FranĂ§ois says bleakly, "There is no Israel for me."
Not many Frenchmen yet understand that. So they do not see the lesson for them in the dizzying and total de-normalization of Jewish life on the Continent in the 21st century. Here's what I wrote on the subject just under three years ago:
If the flow of information is really controlled by Jews, as the Reverend Jeremiah Wright assured his students at the Chicago Theological Seminary a year or two back, you'd think they'd be a little better at making their media minions aware of one of the bleakest stories of the early 21st century: the extinguishing of what's left of Jewish life in Europe. It would seem to me that the first reaction, upon hearing of a Jewish school shooting, would be to put it in the context of the other targeted schools, synagogues, community centers, and cemeteries. And yet liberal American Jews seem barely aware of this grim roll call. Even if you put to one side the public school in Denmark that says it can no longer take Jewish children because of the security situation, and the five children of the chief rabbi of Amsterdam who've decided to emigrate, and the Swedish Jews fleeing the most famously tolerant nation in Europe because of its pervasive anti-Semitism; even if you put all that to the side and consider only the situation in France... No, wait, forget the Villiers-le-Bel schoolgirl brutally beaten by a gang jeering, "Jews must die"; and the Paris disc-jockey who had his throat slit, his eyes gouged out, and his face ripped off by a neighbor who crowed, "I have killed my Jew"; and the young Frenchman tortured to death over three weeks, while his family listened via phone to his howls of agony as his captors chanted from the Koran... No, put all that to one side, too, and consider only the city of Toulouse. In recent years, in this one city, a synagogue has been firebombed, another set alight when two burning cars were driven into it, a third burgled and "Dirty Jews" scrawled on the ark housing the Torah, a kosher butcher's strafed with gunfire, a Jewish sports association attacked with Molotov cocktails...
Here's Toulouse rabbi Jonathan Guez speaking to the Jewish news agency JTA in 2009: "Guez said Jews would now be 'more discreet' about displaying their religion publicly and careful about avoiding troubled neighborhoods. ... The synagogue will be heavily secured with cameras and patrol units for the first time."
This is what it means to be a Jew living in one of the most beautiful parts of France in the 21st century.
Well, you say, why are those Jewish kids going to a Jewish school? Why don't they go to the regular French school like normal French kids? Because, as the education ministry's admirably straightforward 2004 Obin Report explained, "En France les enfants juifs â€” et ils sont les seuls dans ce cas â€” ne peuvent plus de nos jours ĂŞtre scolarisĂ©s dans n'importe quel Ă©tablissement": "In France, Jewish children, uniquely, cannot nowadays be provided with an education at any institution." At some schools, they're separated from the rest of the class. At others, only the principal is informed of their Jewishness, and he assures parents he will be discreet and vigilant. But, as the report's authors note, "le patronyme des Ă©lĂ¨ves ne le permet pas toujours": "The pupil's surname does not always allow" for such "discretion."
Metropolitan Toulouse has a population of 900,000 or so, about the size of Jacksonville, Fla. Imagine if, in Jacksonville, synagogues were firebombed, and kosher butchers shot up, and Jewish schoolkids gunned down, and, in the dull, placid months between the spasms of front-page attention, the cold, ongoing Jew-hate were so routine that it was no longer safe for a Jew to walk his own city with any identifying mark of his faith, or for his child to reveal his Jewishness at school.
In Toulouse, much of the Jewish community arrived after the religio-ethnic cleansing of French North Africa in the Sixties and Seventies. What they fled has followed them to the Midi-PyrĂ©nĂ©es, and now it's time to move on again â€” as it is elsewhere in Europe. "Jews with a conscience should leave Holland, where they and their children have no future, leave for the U.S. or Israel," advised Frits Bolkestein, the former EU commissioner and head of the Dutch Liberal party. "Anti-Semitism will continue to exist, because the Moroccan and Turkish youngsters don't care about efforts for reconciliation."
Thus, posterity's jest. Pre-war Europeans would never have entertained for a moment the construction of mosques from MalmĂ¶ to Marseilles. But post-war Holocaust guilt, and the revulsion against nationalism and the embrace of multiculturalism and mass immigration, enabled the Islamization of Europe. The principal beneficiaries of the Continent's penance for the great moral stain of the 20th century turned out to be the Muslims â€” with the Jews on the receiving end, yet again.
It won't stop there. Mijnheer Bolkestein is not (yet) asking what else those "youngsters" don't care for, but like many other secular Continentals with no interest in Jews one way or the other he'll soon find out.
~from Mark's Happy Warrior column, April 16th 2012.