Is the Diaspora Jewry’s future in peril?


A former Israeli mother in Manhattan told me that her daughters refuse to declare themselves as Jews out of fear that it will bring them harm, after a child wearing a kippah was humiliated in their school. Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in Germany, Stars of David were vandalized on residential buildings in France, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated in Austria, and Jewish shops and synagogues were attacked in Spain.

Even Montreal, a highly regarded Jewish community, is suffering from attacks on their synagogues. In Naples, one of the academic buildings was seized by a Palestinian group declaring that it wouldn’t be released until Israel stops the war. Demonstrators worldwide are chanting slogans of hatred and slander against Jews.

Meanwhile, the European Union still stands by its Jewish communities. However, alongside protests by tens of thousands of people in London and Paris – and considering the number of Muslim migrants in Germany and Sweden – can European Jewish communities turn a blind eye to their situation over time?

Following a unique project we are conducting at The Jerusalem Post marketing apartments to world Jewry, we are starting to receive reactions and insights from various places in the world.

A Jewish mother from South Africa says that she’s afraid to call a plumber despite the shower faucet not working for a month; Jews in London say they fear going to synagogue; and since the stabbing in Lyon, French Jewry is in terrifying fear, talking about emigration and survival. In Germany, there’s a fear of speaking Hebrew on the street, while simultaneously a banner in Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is adorned with “Never Again.”

The country is not ready to absorb world Jewry

Despite everything we’ve been through – most recently the current war in Gaza, with at least 1,200 casualties, about 240 kidnapped, and thousands injured – the understanding that there is no safer place for Jews than the land of their ancestors still shakes. Here, you’ll never need to hide your Judaism, and war is always justified.

The issue is that the existence of Jews in France has become a question of “existential war.” Let’s remember that Israel hasn’t yet used its real powers: its smart bombs, intercontinental missiles, F35 jets, and the full force of its air force. Even American backing won’t affect this – and overall, there won’t be room for humanitarian considerations in an existential war. A scorched earth approach can destroy entire countries.

Such a war will also bring the world’s Jewry in their masses to Israel. However, there’s a big question of whether the mass absorption from the world’s nations will succeed and be managed after the chaos of receiving refugees. Israel has again shown its weakness: There needs to be a comprehensive and unified plan.

People attend the rally ”Against terror and antisemitism! Solidarity with Israel” organised by Germany’s Central Council of Jews, political parties, unions and civil society, at Brandenburg Gate, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Berlin, Germany. (credit: REUTERS/ANNEGRET HILSE)

On the other hand, developers are ready with hundreds of apartments for occupancy. There is interest from world Jewry due to the situation out there, and the weakened shekel certainly helps with the price. Hopefully, like taxi drivers caught in their misbehavior, we won’t end up playing games with the world’s Jewry, with too high a cost per square meter. With attractive prices, they will also come to the coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, beloved by the French.

And what about helping world Jewry through education?

The country’s leniency doesn’t end only in housing. The bias in the world seemingly talking about pro-Palestinian protests is actually anti-Zionist, racist, and violent. Have you ever heard that the Office for Strategic Affairs is supposed to act on this issue? Well, you’d be laughing.

Eight years ago, in 2015, a state auditor already warned about this, and nothing has changed. Again and again, we see powers and roles shifting between ministries due to coalition agreements, hampering the ability to deal properly with the manifestations of antisemitism in the world. Suffice it to mention the closure of the Public Diplomacy Ministry or the dismissal of the excellent public diplomacy ambassador Noa Tishby for political reasons. Such events during an emergency period do not help us.

Take, for example, the Jews of Spain. Iran managed to penetrate by funding political parties in the Spanish government. The Spanish foreign minister is close to the Iranian position and criticizes Israel. 90% of television channels cover events with an anti-Israeli bias. Why should the Jews stay in Barcelona or Madrid? Should the historical story of the Toledo Jewish communities hiding the Seder table again resurface in the modern world? Today, they’ve already removed the mezuzahs from their doorposts.

Elad Shamchiyov, a news correspondent for Channel 12 in Europe, brings up-to-date data from the British CST organization, teaching that since the start of the war, 1,124 antisemitic events have been reported – a record since the organization’s establishment in 1984. In the last half-year, 803 cases were reported, and in the previous year, this month reported only 163 incidents. According to him, “we’re talking about dozens of physical attacks, property damage, social media abuse, and more.”

Gil Segal, Deputy Chairman of the World Jewish Congress, said in a recent Knesset debate: “The Jewish communities are not a single entity, some are strong financially and have communal resilience, [but] some are small, and their ability to deal with antisemitism is limited.” Is it good for them that Israel interferes from outside in their existential struggle? Absolutely not.

On the other hand, when we previously talked about ‘existential war,’ it seems we got confused with the real existential war within the boundaries of Jewish communities abroad. And here enters the role of the Jewish state. I will mention with admiration in the days of the bulldozer, Ariel Sharon, who as housing minister in 1991 had to embrace with open arms the large immigration boom from the USSR.

We must talk about Arik

In the early ’90s, Sharon turned the Ministry of Absorption and Housing into the logistics of the Chief of Staff. Maps and aerial photos marked the number of housing units, caravans, and temporary homes that would be built in every settlement. In addition, Sharon initiated emergency regulations to bypass bureaucracy to approve tens of thousands of housing units. While it takes 32 months today to build, during Sharon’s time, it was 18 months. In that same year (1991), there was an astonishing increase in construction starts, from about 20,000 to 85,000. And let’s remember, this is back in ‘history’ and not the modern era, with all its innovative technologies.

Even during the disengagement, Sharon had a representative throughout the process: Gabi Golan. He would take notes, and at the end of meetings he would remove a sketch from the wall and roll it up –  ‘it’s for the homeowner,’ he would say. What would have taken dozens of years in committees, Sharon shortened. For better or for worse. But it was done!