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French special forces evacuate the Hypercacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. Four hostages, all Jewish, were killed (Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images)

Recent events in France, Britain and Denmark confirm the Europe-wide threat that we now face. Symbolic reactions to this are obviously not enough. After the Paris shootings we had "Je suis Charlie" demonstrations and all the sort of daft symbolism which the TV so loves—dimming the lights of the Eiffel Tower, the great bells of Notre-Dame booming out and so forth. None of this achieves anything, not only practically but even intellectually. It is all very well for people to demonstrate in their thousands holding pencils in the air or make passionate declarations about freedom of speech and the press, but the hard fact of the matter is that editors and journalists across Europe—and further afield—will hesitate even more than before over anything liable to incur the wrath of Muslim zealots. And free speech was the quite explicit target in both Paris and Copenhagen. Contrary to the popular adage, the sword is quite normally mightier than the pen. TV stations and newspapers will be increasingly reluctant to show cartoons of Muhammad or anything else that might draw a terrorist attack. And this is the key: ultimately what Muslim zealots want is to impose sharia law on the West, indeed, on the world, and the ban on images of the prophet is a key sharia tenet. The evidence suggests that the bullies are winning.

The media naturally framed the issue as one of freedom of speech. For the Jewish community the issue was that four Jews had been targeted and murdered because they were Jews. France now enjoys the unhappy distinction of having more (and more persistent) anti-Semitic attacks than any other country in Europe and possibly the world. As a result the Jewish population is expected in the next few years to have fallen from 500,000 to 400,000—a whole 20 per cent drop. France is thus today in the same situation that Germany was in 1933. This is not only deeply shameful for all Europeans but it is a fact which ought to make one sit up very smartly indeed, and not only because we all thought that we would never face another 1933. The Jewish population of Europe has been the great bearer and leader of Enlightenment values for two centuries now. There is no need to rehearse all the Jewish contributions to science, the economy, literature, medicine and culture in general. Any educated Gentile knows perfectly well that the Jewish minorities across Europe play an absolutely primary role in all those societies, leavening the loaf as it were. Jews are very precious people and only societies not in their right mind—like contemporary Russia, Nazi Germany or much of the Middle East—would happily watch their local Jewish minority diminish in number. A projected drop of 20 per cent in the French Jewish population in just a few years is a sign that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

In Copenhagen too one man was killed because he was a Jew and the terrorist was clearly attempting to gain access to a synagogue where he would have found eighty Jews, many of them children. This fact—and the visions which swim in the head of what might have happened—caused one member of the Jewish community there to say, "We are living the nightmare." Netanyahu's subsequent appeal for all European Jews to re-settle in Israel expressed the pessimism about Europe as a whole as a safe place for Jews to live in which, though alarmist, is already widespread in America and becoming increasingly  common among European Jews too.

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Robert Schwartz
March 8th, 2015
8:03 PM
It is encouraging to hear voices of clarity amidst the din of hatred and deadly gunfire. The metaphor of Jews as "leavening" the loaf is apt given their positive and vitalalizing contribution to society relative to being a minute proportion of the whole. But there is an irony in that as Passover approaches, we recall that that it is "unleavened" bread (Matzah) that signifies the Jewish exodus to freedom. Mr. Johnson adds his welcome voice to the French prime minister who recently noted the importance of a Jewish presence for a society's success and growth. Although always a tiny minority numerically, the Jewish contribution is more like a major ingredient of the bread, perhaps the water to the flour. Recall Matthew Arnold'a idea in Culture and Anarchy that western civilization is a product of Hebraism and Hellenism, the former representing "strictness" of conscience and the latter "spontaneity of consciousness". Whether leaven or water, Nazi Germany failed to recognize the positive and vital role of Hebraism and they have disappeared ignominiously from the world stage, to invoke Mark Twain. Now another great power is now rising up in a doomed project of destruction. It seems a distant dream, but we can pray that these dark forces will instead come to express gratitude to the "light unto the nations" and finally recognize Jews as the wellspring of their own religion. It took centuries until Pope John Paul spoke for Catholicism, famously observing that, Jews are our brothers, indeed our elder brothers. We must proceed with fortitude and hope that it won't take as long before radical Islam comes in peace to sit with both Jews and Christians to break bread rather than in violence to break the bread.

February 26th, 2015
5:02 AM
The appropriate candidates for immigration from the Islamic World are minorities, secular democrats, feminists, etc.) The indiscriminate admission of Muslims into the West should come to a screeching halt. As the internal contradictions of reactionary Islamic society continue to create societal breakdown back home, these admissable groups will be even more scapegoated and desperately need a place to go. There should be a wholesale reconstruction of immigration laws so that immigrants can't get citizenship for two generations and can be deported if they don't fit in. Signs of distaste for secular democracy, high birth rates, nd intoleranc are such signs.

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