Unease among Europe’s Jews


Two eye-popping pieces out of Europe today shine a bright, almost glaring light on the predicament of the continent’s Jews three weeks into the Gaza conflict.

The first comes from British actor and comedian Paul Kaye, who lost his Israeli mother-in-law to a Hamas rocket several months ago. But Kaye, who retains strong ties to his mother-in-law’s kibbutz, is more troubled by the children killed by Israel.

He writes:

My five-year-old son, Geffen, was constantly asking me if he was going to die like his Grandma. People on the kibbutz rallied around as you would expect; it was no time for questions or politics. We didn’t see the bigger picture. But on returning home, I saw it all too clearly, and it sent me into meltdown.

A good friend of mine over there called Mirav, whom I’ve known for 25 years, has a 12-year- old daughter, Omer, who just stays in her room and cries. She’s been doing it for three months now and this all began after the fourth Kasam rocket hit her school. I try to think about her, but shockingly she doesn’t seem to matter so much any more. Not at the moment anyway. Not from here in England with what we’re seeing on television every day. Everything is dwarfed by the horrors in Gaza.

With another perspective entirely comes Anders Carlberg, the president of the Jewish community of Gothenburg, Sweden. Carlberg describes the vulnerability felt by Sweden’s small community of 20,000 Jews in the face of “increasingly violent and aggressive” anti-Israel demonstrations.

Among Sweden’s Jews, the views range from fear among Holocaust survivors and refugees from the Eastern bloc, who seen in the current animosity echoes of their own pasts, to those who think the Jews ought to be quiet lest they draw the ire of their neighbors.

Carlberg concludes with this:

As we contemplate the image of our synagogues burning, something that almost happened in a small town in south Sweden last weekend, the future itself seems to be going up in flames. We look at our children and wonder if they will continue to be able to see this as their home, something we have taken for granted. Seeking a refuge, we may find ourselves turning toward Israel, but would nonetheless consider it a defeat to have to leave the country we have been part of now for generations.

There are those who cannot sleep at night in fear of a repetition of the Holocaust, and those who stand guard outside the community buildings at night, for fear of arsonists. The Jewish community is under pressure from within and from the outside.

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