Election Envy: The Europeans and the Jews

Why do Europeans feel such revulsion toward Jews? At a certain level, to be sure, European leaders deeply regret the new persecution of Europe’s Jews. Many share the sentiment of European Commission Vice-Chairman Frans Timmermans, who warned yesterday that an exodus of Europe’s Jews would call into question the premises of European society. Last September, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel told a rally in Berlin that it was the duty of every German to fight anti-Semitism. Nonetheless even the best-intentioned Europeans feel their skin crawl in the presence of the sort of Jews who represent the future of the Jewish people: those who follow Jewish tradition, raise Jewish families, and embrace the cause of Zionism. Europeans adore secular Israelis who wallow in existential doubts, for example, the novelist Zeruya Shalev, a bestseller in Germany and the winner of any number of European literary awards. I’ve never read Shalev, but then again, I don’t like fiction. Jews like Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister and leader of the Jewish Home party, give them the creeps.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter much whether the assimilated, secularized Jews of Europe stay or leave, for most of their children and very few of their grandchildren will be Jewish.

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