If Europe cannot protect its Jews, it cannot protect its noble core values

Wall Street Journal
David Harris
August 14, 2014


Kudos to Andrew Nagorski for "Camouflaged as Humane Concern, Anti-Semitism Flourishes" (op-ed, Aug. 6). There was no equivocation or rationalization of this pressing problem as is too often the case.

What we are witnessing today in some European countries—shocking expressions of anti-Semitism, physical assaults on Jews and defiance of the police—was already evident in 2000, when the second Palestinian intifadah triggered threats to Jews in France and elsewhere. In the ensuing 14 years, the American Jewish Committee had countless meetings with European officials. At times, there was an unwillingness to confront head-on the problem, namely, unvarnished anti-Semitism. Instead, the reactions were: "This is a sad but unavoidable response to the Middle East conflict," or "We're experiencing hooliganism, not anti-Semitism."

Now Europe as a whole is waking up to the threat, and it is not only to Jews. If Europe cannot protect its Jews, it cannot protect its noble core values. The two cannot be separated, as if Jews were not one litmus test of postwar Europe's commitment to overcoming the past and building a brighter future for all, including Jews.

The first step is to acknowledge the seriousness and upward trajectory of the danger in this combustible mix of jihadists, right-wing extremists and Israel delegitimizers. They may not agree on much, but regarding Jews and Israel, there is a striking unity.

There is no one-size-fits-all antidote for the pathology of anti-Semitism. Rather, it requires the sustained efforts of government ministries from education to interior to justice, joined by the determination of civil society, including religious leaders of all faiths, to defend the principles of mutual respect and civic harmony.

David Harris
Executive Director
American Jewish Committee
New York

Date: 8/14/2014 12:00:00 AM

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