Dear Rabbi, Does the mounting anti-Semitism in Europe surprise you? What does this say about the long–term future of the Jews? Isn’t this proof that we need a strong and secure State of Israel?
First let me suggest we stop using the word anti–Semitism and start using Jew–hatred instead. Jews are not the only Semitic people, but an anti–Semite hates Jews explicitly. We need to make this clear. Anti–Semites hate Jews, so lets call them what they are: Jew haters.
Second, does the rise in European Jew hatred surprise me? No. European hatred of Jews is centuries old. The Holocaust made open expressions of Jew hatred anathema, but did nothing to ameliorate the hatred itself. It is like racism in the United States: just because it isn’t considered socially correct to express racist views doesn’t mean that these views don’t persist.
What worries me is that Jew-hatred is no longer the preserve of rightwing nationalists, but of leftwing “progressives” as well. The Jew is the world’s bogeyman. Even in countries with few if any Jews, “Jew” is the label given to anyone with whom you disagree politically or culturally. You don’t need actual Jews to engage in Jew-hating. But when you have an actual Jew the hatred is all the more visceral.
Third, what does the rise of Jew hating say about the long-term future of the Jews? Nothing. We’ve never had a long-term future. We just persist. If you are suggesting that European Jews should be considering immigration, I agree. But I would say that all Jews should keep this option in mind. Jew–hatred is universal.
Fourth, is this proof that we need a strong and secure Israel? Sadly yes. But I hate the idea that Israel is simply a last resort for Jews who would rather live elsewhere but are driven to Israel because they fear for their lives. Israelis put their lives and the lives of their children on the line to defend their country every day, and letting them do so in order for nonIsraeli Jews to have a place to run in times of trouble is immoral. If Israel is a refuge for world Jewry, we need to create a moral climate that demands all Jewish children do two or three years of national service in Israel. If Israel is our “homeland” we should support it with our children the way Israeli parents support it with their children. If we are not willing to do this (and I admit that I never even thought of this when my son was that age), we have no right to call Israel our homeland.