Safe European home? If you’re Jewish, that ain’t necessarily so

12th February, 2013 4:34 pm

The most chilling thing about Michael Dugher MP’s timely piece on “mainstream” anti-Semitism is that it needed to be written. Anti-Semitism in Britain, as I wrote in the New Statesman last February, is sadly a phenomenon no longer confined to the fringes of politics.

But our worries pale into insignificance when we look at some other countries close to home. One of the most disturbing pieces of news on racism I have seen in recent years came last week, not from some country of desperate poverty, but from within that cosy little nest of tolerance and democratic values and that we like to think is the European Union.

Oskar Deutsch, leader of Vienna’s Jewish community, recently welcomed Jewish families emigrating from Hungary, reports Jewish News One (JN1). But there was an unpleasant undercurrent to it all: the families are emigrating because they do not want to live with the anti-Semitism which is now rife in Hungary. And one hundred and fifty families are crossing the Austrian border each year to Vienna, to escape it.

It is also worth pointing out that neither are they emigrating to a country which is perfectly safe for Jews: Deutsch has also reported a doubling in anti-Semitic incidents in Vienna over the last twelve months. But it still seems better than where they are coming from.

Much of Europe, particularly its central areas, has had a weakness for anti-Semitism for much of the twentieth century, if not long before. In the case of Hungary, it never really went away during the Communist era, and has now been stirred up again by the racists of the far-right Jobbik party, often quietly egged on by the nationalist Fidesz government of Viktor Orban (although they are also, to be fair, none too keen on Muslims or Roma people either). They have been accused, fairly, of trying to whitewash the country’s role supporting the Nazis in WWII, including putting a fascist writer from the period in the national curriculum for schools.

For another rather sick example, the government, according to Wikipedia:

“’sought in late 1998 to ease the collective conscience of the nation by offering to compensate survivors by paying approximately $150 for each member of their particular immediate families, assuming that they can prove that their loved ones were in fact victims of the Holocaust’, while offering 33 times this amount to relatives of the victims of the Communist era.”

It is abundantly clear that this had nothing to do with relative suffering, and everything to do with implying that the Holocaust was a rather exaggerated tragedy whose victims were rather looking for compensation in bad faith. In 2011, as anti-Jewish sentiment in Hungary increased, Orban’s government stopped paying even that.

The stomach-churning Jobbik, meanwhile, with over 10% of parliamentary seats, is brutally open about its aims, and:

“the party provoked outrage when it recently called for a list of the country’s Jews to be drawn up as a matter of national security.”

And we all know where that leads.

One hundred and fifty families still represent just a trickle out of the reported 90,000 Jews in Hungary; but a group which is leaving purely because of a tragic, age-old phenomenon born of bigotry and ignorance. Large numbers of right-thinking Hungarians are disgusted, but they do not run the country.

If things do not change, how long before that trickle turns into a flood, we wonder? Figures for the whole of Austria are not given, but a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that arrivees would only need to rise to a few thousand people each year, to reach proportionate levels to the German-Jewish exodus of the 1930s. A thought to bear in mind as you sit snugly on cold winter evenings in – as the Clash’s Joe Strummer once called it – your “safe European home”.

Right now, not everyone else in the EU feels as safe in theirs.

  • Sylvia

    After 2,000 years, I suggest that Europe’s Jews should give up trying and emigrate to the US, Israel, or perhaps Canada. European anti-Semitism never goes away, it is like a DNA imprint at this point that simply ebbs and flows. Before 1948 it was Christian persecution over alleged “blood guilt” for the Crucifixion – the pogroms, the Pale, the expulsions, the forced baptisms, the burnings, the exclusions from various professions, schools, etc. After 1948 it was whatever Israel did or didn’t do, combined with huge influxes of Muslims into European countries. The governments and politicians of those countries naturally pander to the larger minority population. We have seen this film before: now the streets of Europe ring again with the screams of “Death to the Jews!” while the Jewish candidate for PM of this country remains utterly silent as Palestinian and jihadist flags are put up in English towns and cities – too frightened of losing Muslim votes to denounce them.
    Give it up. Europe remains Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, and is not and never will be entirely safe for Jews. You are far better off in the US. Europe deserves to lose its Jews, and may then enjoy the fruits of all that Muslim immigration 50-100 years down the road.

  • Sylvia

    Two other points: French Jews are leaving their birth country, regretfully, at the rate of 1200 or so annually. And re those 90,000 Jews in Hungary that are all that is left of the several million that lived there for generations before WWII – if the Danube overflows tomorrow morning, you may rest assured that those 90,000 will be held responsible.

  • Pingback: Five Feet of Fury – Kathy Shaidle – Ed Driscoll: Diversity’s ”vibrant tapestry’ is beginning to look rather threadbare’()

Latest

  • Comment Is Blue Labour the answer to Labour’s woes?

    Is Blue Labour the answer to Labour’s woes?

    What can the much-derided Blue Labour offer the party? It is a question worth asking, because the leadership contest has so far largely eschewed big ideas. Surely, losing so badly in England and being flat-out destroyed in Scotland calls for a thorough reckoning with the party’s downward trajectory from 2005 to the present – a soul-searching process which asks: what is Labour now for? Jeremy Corbyn is excelling and inspiring partly because he is the only candidate with a clear […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The Calais migrant crisis is a bigger problem than you think

    The Calais migrant crisis is a bigger problem than you think

    The crisis in Calais didn’t start overnight. It is a problem that has been allowed to grow in spurts. Last September, the British and French authorities claimed the situation was at crisis point with hundreds desperate to make the dangerous journey of illegally entering the UK. There is a clear pattern. First, the situation is allowed to fester until it becomes too big to handle. Then each side offers one-off additional funding to bring calm. Tensions are relieved temporarily, but then get […]

    Read more →
  • News Harriet Harman urges Cameron to demand compensation from the French government over Calais crisis

    Harriet Harman urges Cameron to demand compensation from the French government over Calais crisis

    Harriet Harman has written to the David Cameron to urge him to ask the French government to pay compensation to Britons affected by the chaos at Calais. In a letter to the Prime Minister (the full text of which you can find below), Labour’s interim leader argues that the government has ignored warnings from Labour and hauliers about the growing crisis at Calais. There are thought to be over 3,000 people living in a ‘migrant camp’ in Calais and over […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured What do final CLP nomination patterns mean for each leadership candidate?

    What do final CLP nomination patterns mean for each leadership candidate?

    Two weeks ago I did an initial analysis of the patterns in the CLP nominations for Leader. We now have the final nomination figures: 145 for Jeremy Corbyn (though some sources are saying 147) (38% of those nominating), 110 for Andy Burnham (29%), 109 for Yvette Cooper (29%), 18 for Liz Kendall (5%). This means that 267 CLPs (41%) did not nominate. As I said last week some deliberately don’t bother – the two large Oxford CLPs (where I live) […]

    Read more →
  • News Milifandom founder reveals who she’s backing for Labour leader

    Milifandom founder reveals who she’s backing for Labour leader

    Abby Tomlinson, the founder of Milifandom, has announced that she is backing Andy Burnham to be Labour’s next leader. Really proud to have such a great advocate for my campaign in @twcuddleston. Thanks for the support Abby. — Andy Burnham (@andyburnhammp) July 31, 2015 Tomlinson started a ‘fandom’ for former Labour leader Ed Miliband in the lead up to the last general election. She formalised her attachment Miliband by declaring herself a “Milifan”, part of the “Milifandom”. Among other things, Tomlinson argued […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit