“Call it the yogurt’s-expiration-date syndrome”
There is no future left for Jewish communities in Europe.
That’s the inescapable conclusion of You Only Live Twice by Michel Gurfinkiel in Mosaic Magazine.
The lengthy article is a long trip down the death during World War II and then rebirth of Jewish communities in Europe, and how that rebirth is being snuffed out by renewed anti-Semitism from multiple directions, particularly leftist demonization of Israel and Islamist anti-Semitism.
This Leftist-Islamist coalition, centered around hatred of Israel, is a topic we’ve explored here many times in connection with anti-Semitism in Malmö, Sweden, on British campuses, in the BDS movement, in the academic boycott movement, among other places.
The fact is that while intellectually one can distinguish anti-Israeli fervor from anti-Semitism, in reality, on the streets of Malmö and Paris, and elsewhere in Europe, they are one and the same.
To the degree that Israel’s popularity had been an important factor in Europe’s postwar embrace of its Jews, the growing rejection of Israel undermined the Jewish image and standing. According to a 2011 study on “intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination in Europe” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (linked to Germany’s Social Democratic party), 63 percent of Poles and 48 percent of Germans believe that Israel is conducting a genocidal war against the Palestinians aimed at their “obliteration.” The same study found 55 percent of Poles, 41 percent of Dutch, 37 percent of British, and 37 percent of Germans in agreement with the following statement: “Considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews.”
It’s also no surprise that it is in Muslim communities in Europe that a Jew must be afraid to wear a yarmulke in public for fear of physical attack. Gurfinkiel:
As for Muslim anti-Semitism, it has been intimately connected with classic European anti-Semitism for more than a century, and has massively borrowed the latter’s doctrines and tropes, from the blood libel to Holocaust denial to the crazed conspiracy-mongering of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The two brands share a common language, and each sees in the other a mirror image of itself. Much money has also circulated between them. Just as fascist and Nazi funds helped Arab and Iranian anti-Jewish activists in the past, so Arab and Iranian money has been lavished on all stripes of European anti-Semites in our time….
The sad fact is that many European Muslims subscribe to the unreconstructed forms of anti-Semitism that are prevalent in the Muslim world at large, and are impervious to any kind of Holocaust-related education. In today’s Europe, hard-core anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity, from harassment in the street or at school to arson and murder, is mostly the doing of Muslims.
Strategic accusations of “Islamophobia,” however, stymie frank and honest discussion of the anti-Semitism that pervades Muslim communities in Europe..
Gurinkiel’s conclusion is that between Jewish life in Europe may have reached its “expiration date.” He starts and ends the article with that concept:
“Call it the yogurt’s-expiration-date syndrome,” an elderly, Moroccan-born Frenchman recently said to me. He elaborated:
Right after Morocco won its independence from France in 1956, my family joined the country’s ruling elite. My father, a close friend of King Mohammed V, had access to everybody in the government. It went on like that for two or three years. Then one day, out of the blue, Father told us we were leaving. We children asked why. “We’ve passed the yogurt’s expiration date,” he said. “We have no future in Morocco; as long as we’re free to go, we must go.” So we left, leaving behind most of our money and belongings. Ever since then, wherever I’ve lived, I’ve been on the lookout for the yogurt’s expiration date. In France, I think it’s close.
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Can it really be that European Jewry was reborn after the Holocaust only in order to die again? Can it be that, even as Jews, you only live twice? History, of course, is unpredictable except in retrospect. But it would be irresponsible in the extreme to brush off the possibility of demise; “unthinkable” is no longer a word in the Jewish vocabulary. The sober assessment of Robert Wistrich, the instincts of Samuel Sandler and so many other European Jews—these rest on firm foundations. The expiration date looms nearer, however slowly and by whatever intermediate stages it may finally arrive.