What do Paris and Malmö, Marseille and Berlin, Brussels and Amsterdam have in common? Yes, all these cities belong to the European Union. But they also share a dark feature: in these cities, the kippah, the Jewish symbol par excellence, is disappearing.
It just happened again in Paris, where two Jews have been attacked with hacksaws; both suffered cuts during the struggle. They both wore a kippah. They were a target.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights revealed that a third of the Jews of the Old Continent has stopped wearing religious symbols because of fear of attacks. The president of the Jewish Consistory of Marseille, Zvi Ammar, asked the Jews “not to wear the yarmulke in the street so as not to be recognized as Jews.” The same appeal was addressed to the Jews of Denmark: it was dangerous in Denmark in 1943; it is still in 2017.
The Jews in Marseille, where the community has been asked to avoid wearing the kippah, live in a nightmare: they go to synagogue at groups of 10 or 15 to better defend themselves; there are mothers, when going shopping in Hebrew stores, who leave their children in the car with someone else; the 22 Jewish schools and synagogues are monitored by the military; and parents have organized patrols around schools. I have seen the same level of security and protection only in the brave Israeli enclaves in Judea and Samaria.
“It is better you wear another hat,” said Josef Schuster, chairman of the board of the Jews of Germany. And the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam urged students not to wear the kippah out on the street. The Jewish community of Norway has adopted “invisibility” as a way to live safely. The same thing is happening in Sweden and Belgium. Jewish symbols are disappearing all over Europe.
There are whole areas of Europe where it is better not to be recognized as Jewish. It is happening today, not in the 1930s. “The European Jewish community is dying,” said Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the world’s leading expert on the Talmud. The Jewish community in Norway spends half of its budget on security. “Are Jews abandoning Antwerp?,” headlines De Standaard. The Belgian newspaper predicts that in fifty years there will be no more Jews living in the city.
Even in Finland, where a small but historic Jewish community has always lived in peace, the Jewish community has issued a directive asking its members not to wear the kippah in public. In Malmö, Sweden, the situation is even more dramatic: the Jews there live like Christians in Mosul.
In Paris, Jews are advised to “walk in groups,” never alone. In the Netherlands, the country of Baruch Spinoza and where the Spanish Jews during the Inquisition, a group of Jewish girls of the same age as Anne Frank, the author of Holocaust “Diary,” told the daily Het Parool that they never leave home with the Star of David around their necks. Standing in front of the famous Portuguese synagogue of Amsterdam, built in 1675, in a period in which the Netherlands welcomed the Jews from all over the world, today is “not safe.”
It is a dramatic phenomenon: first, the kippah disappears in the streets, then the Jews themselves flee these societies. 40,0000 Jews have left France in the last fifteen years, one-tenth of the whole French population. In the tolerant, liberal and democratic West, where Muslim minorities have become more and more assertive, Jews have become more and more “invisible.”
The European Jewish Congress has publicized a shocking poll: “A third of the European Jews think of emigrating.” That is 700,000 people. The future of Europe’s Jewish community probably lies in Israel. I am happy for my Israeli friends who will receive this wave of educated and good immigrants. But what’s left to Europe? Burqas instead of kippahs?
It is as if the best way to stop Islamic violence is to withdraw, step aside, hide, and do everything to avoid triggering a possible action against us. The cultural retreat of the West unfortunately recurs in every day’s news, and the retreat is turning into a surrender. We must stop whistling in the dark. We cannot accept retreating without moving a finger, without fighting, without protesting, without sounding an alarm bell. A Jew hiding the symbols of his identity for fear of being recognized as a Jew is the perfect representation of a world that forces the West to hide itself for fear of provoking the reaction of those who want to stab us.
The vanishing cross from Mosul pointed at the Islamization of the ancient Mesopotamia, as the disappearance of the Jewish symbol reveals Europe’s submission to Islam.
Giulio Meotti, cultural editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author. He is the author of three books: A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism (Encounter Books); J’Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel (Mantua Books), and La fine dell’Europa, about the Christian and demographic decline in Europe. He is a columnist at Arutz Sheva and his writings have appeared in publications including the Wall Street Journal, FrontPage, Commentary, and The Geller Report.