Those of us born in the West since the end of World War 2 live much different Jewish lives than our ancestors. For millenia we have been discriminated again, persecuted, pillaged and murdered for the simple crime of being Jews. The last three generations, on the other hand, have been almost the opposite. We are now an integrated part of Western society, full mobile within it and possessed of the same rights as all other citizens of the countries in which we live. Yes there have been occasional Jew-hating episodes here and there, and there's always the quiet Jew hatred of British civil society, but they have been aberrations, not the norm.
In short, we have been on vacation and the vacation in ending.
It's not a terrible surprise to note that Europe is the vanguard in the resurgence of open and socially acceptable Jew hatred. The influx of Muslims from poor and underdeveloped countries, with all their social prejudices and beliefs, along with a post-national multi-cultural death wish amongst the old stock Europeans which allowed these old world hatreds to fester and grow without any judgement against them, has brought out open Jew-hatred in Europe once again. Simmering over the last 25 years, the pot is now on full boil with the onset of the latest Israel-'Aza war.
For years people warned of this and were dismissed as cranks and conspiracy theorists. We were told about rule of law, about assimilation, about how "those days" were in the past. Anyone reading the news these last couple of weeks knows that this is a lie. Open calls for death to us, open calls for the destruction of Israel, open calls for boycotts of Jewish (not Israeli, pay attention, but specifically Jewish) shops and business, all the stuff of the early 1930's come back to life. For years many of us warned that the situation in the West was growing eerily similar to the situation that brought Nazism to power and we were told we were overreacting. When a Belgian doctor refuses to treat a Jewish pateitn, when shops in Europe post signs that say "Dogs are okay but no Jews allowed", are we still overreacting?
But surely the rule of law would still protect us. Muslims may riot in the streets and attack synagogues but there are laws against those kinds of things. Wouldn't the protests be controlled? Wouldn't we be protected?
Let me share a cynical point: a law is only as effective as the will to uphold it. If European or North American police are going to stand back and watch as a mob displays its bloodlust and attacks Jews or Jewish institutions then there is no security in knowing the law protects us. As Europe's Jews have started to learn, the police have no interest in tangling with a large crowd of violence-happy Muslims intent on torching the local shul. They'd rather not have to engage a crowd that size with all the implications such an encounter would engender and frankly most of them don't care as long as we're the target.
North America is still behind Europe in this latest trend. Our immigrant Muslim populations are relatively smaller. Our police forces are still not thrilled with the ideas of uncontained rioting. But we in North America would be fools to think that in the next few years, certainly within the next decade or two, that the open and tolerated Jew hatred will find its way here.
During the Three Weeks we confront our dismal history and remember not only the destruction of our Temples (may it be speedily rebuilt) but also all the other tragedies that have occured to us over the centuries. It is sad to think that on the horizon there are more waiting to happen after this prolonged period of peace and quiet but perhaps it is something we need to start adapting to.