Post-Liberal Europe and its Jewish Problem

Of course, the most direct cause of European Jews’ growing sense of insecurity is the violence and terror perpetrated by extremist elements in the Muslim community. But at the root of even that phenomenon are changes within liberal Europe itself—specifically, the shift toward cultural relativism and away from a proud attachment to particular national identities, including the latter’s demand that newcomers adopt the norms and values of the majority culture.

Among its other consequences, this shift has created a profound dilemma for Jews, most of whom have long identified themselves with the older European liberal idea. While Israel has come to play an indispensable role in strengthening and preserving their Jewish identity, liberal Europe has become increasingly hostile to the very idea of a Jewish state. As a result, European Jews have been presented with a choice: they can either retain their attachments to Israel despite growing censure, or they can join the chorus of European critics at the expense of their own identity.