Europe’s Jews are a vanishing group.
In 1939, 9.5% of the world’s Jews lived in Europe. By 1945, that had dropped to 3.8%. That number reflects the catastrophe of the Holocaust which decimated the numbers of Jewish people on this planet. Hitler killed 35% of the world’s Jews in those six years.
The decline in the Jewish population of Europe was slow for the first 15 years after World War II, dropping from 3.8% in 1945 to 3.2% in 1960. Then, the pace of migration increased. Jews were 2% of the European population in 1991 and by 2010, they had dropped to 1.4%.
What that means in real numbers is that the Jewish population of Europe was 9.5 million in 1939 and 3.8 million in 1945. The death of such a large percentage of its people decimated world Jewry. Pew Research estimates that the 2010 world Jewish population was about 14 million, which is still less than it was in 1939.
Much of the migration of Jews from Europe in recent decades has come from immigration of Jews out of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Most of the migration of Jews from Europe has been due to them going to Israel.
The shooting in Denmark last week included the murder of a Jewish man at a synagogue at which a Bar Mitzvah was taking place. Hundreds of gravestones in a Jewish cemetery were desecrated in France, hours after the shooting. Five young men have been arrested in connection with this crime.
In 2014, more than 7,000 French Jews left for Israel. The numbers of migrants have been on the increase since March 2012 when Mohammed Merah stormed a Jewish school in Toulouse, and killed three children and a rabbi.
The graveyard vandalism came just a month after a gunman killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris. These murders were part of a three-day siege of violence that left 17 people dead.
In Brussels, four people were shot and killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014. This came after pro-Palestinian rallies were marked by demonstrators shouting “Death to the Jews!” and “Gas the Jews!” in France, Belgium and Germany.
Later last year, a Jewish-owned pharmacy in Paris was destroyed by youths protesting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A synagogue in Wuppertal Germany was attacked with firebombs. A group of Muslim men patrolled the neighborhood wearing uniforms that said “Shariah Police.”
These violent attacks are accompanied by a “soft” anti-Semitism that sounds a lot like the hazing, bashing, hate speech that always precedes violent persecution.
“The fear is that now things are blatantly being said open, and no one is batting an eyelid,” Jessica Frommer told the New York Times. “The Middle East is being imported into Europe,” said Philip Carmel, European policy director for the European Jewish Congress.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday that the French government would defend French Jews against “Islamo-fascism.”
“A Jew who leaves France is a piece of France that is gone,” he told RTL radio.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that her government would do everything possible to make sure Jewish sites are secure. “We are glad and thankful that there is Jewish life in Germany again,” she said.