A March 2012 study by the Simon Wiesenthal Institute said “Europe—the historic civilization from which the Jews emerged into modern world through the crucible of triumph and tragedy—seems to be again approaching, as many prefer to avert their eyes the same paroxysm of Jew hatred that plunged the continent into its twenty century abyss. Is the twenty-first century doomed to repeat with variations the tragedies of the twentieth? The answer may depend whether Europe, this time, repeats the cycle of indifference or instead stands up against evil before it is too late.”
According to the report, “today “almost a third of Europeans show significant levels of anti-Semitism”, “over half of Europeans view Israel as “the greatest threat to world peace”, there are significant Anti-Jewish hate crimes (including the French massacre). Of course, there’s also the rapidly growing Muslim population.
The Jewish generation immediately after the Holocaust worldwide often voted on the simple question: “Is it good for the Jews?” In the increasingly globalized, complex, multi-cultural world we live in today, for many Jewish communities worldwide today that isn’t necessarily the first question asked by the Jews. Over the next few weeks, there are two high-profile European elections which have the potential to have major impact on Jews and Israel:
In France, Nicolas Sarkozy who has been the warmest French President ever to the State of Israel is up for re-election against Socialist François Hollande. Sarkozy has stated "We will never compromise on Israeli security”, said the establishment of the Jewish state was "the most important event of the 20th century" – his opponent is closely linked to Anti-Israel political leaders. “France would be more politically aligned with the Arab countries, and this could have an effect on its relations with Israel,” said Ivan Rioufol, columnist in the French daily Le Figaro. Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has said it would be a “big blow to Israel” if Sarkozy lost.
In London, Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London who is running for mayor again is the frontrunner in polls – and has been a persistent enemy of Israel and the Jews – he has stated on a number of occasions that it would be better off if Israel did not exist. According to David Hirsh, “Livingstone sees Israel as a pariah state with a menacing and malign influence well beyond its borders.”
Livingstone recently used anti-Semitic language in a meeting with the city's Jewish community leaders – and has vowed to “turn London into a “beacon for the words of the Prophet Mohammed”. He has embraced Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a high profile member of the Muslim Brotherhood and avowed anti-Semite, who in July 2003 spoke in favor of suicide terror attacks and said the Likud party and Hamas are “two sides of the same coin”. He has called for the forcible disarmament of Israel, said Israel's expansion has included ethnic cleansing, and said Jews had no right to be in Israel.
As Professor Charles Small of Yale University says, “Increasingly, Jewish communities around the world feel under threat.” One wonders – scarily – what happens if France and London are the first two cities to change elected officials – and we see a Europe openly opposed to Jews & Israel. It’s not such a far-fetched theory even for a PR Agency owner.
The Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in August 1930 spoke in Vienna of how European policy “has begun to strengthen certain Anti-Jewish movements…In the Eastern bazaar stretched out from Cairo to Basra, and encompassing a population of millions, the tidings, the news, the sensation is being passed on by word of mouth: “Have you heard that Islam is being backed by the most powerful and most cultured of all of the nations of Europe?”
One can be sure that the Arab world would celebrate elections of Hollande and Livingstone – and push democratically to forge forward in elections before the end of 2012 in Ireland, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy.
Walter Russell Mead, a professor of Foreign Affairs and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine wrote recently “Seventy years after Hitler, anti-Semitism of the worst and most violent kind walks the streets of Europe once more. And once again the educational, religious, cultural and political institutions and leaders of Europe are ineffective and paralyzed: like a rabbit frozen with terror in the presence of a rattlesnake, the European establishment is unable to act. Its follies and errors have created a trap from which it can see no escape.”
Jabotinsky is often referred to as a prophet – and history often repeats itself. His words are worth re-reading during these scary times worldwide for the Jewish people. One hopes that Jews worldwide are cognizant of the old saying “What is Good for the Jews” when they go to vote. Let’s also hope that decent Europeans of all race and religions go to vote for decency – and not for Jew-haters as the potential alternatives are very scary.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading NY PR Firm, and Author of “For Immediate Release”, a best –selling PR Book.