Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Saturday 16 October 2010

Night Falls On Europe

I had a beloved ten-volume set of children’s encyclopedias when I was growing up. First appearing in the 1930s, they were edited by a fine, fair-minded English journalist called Arthur Mee, and were reprinted a number of times. Each volume had sections on various subjects ranging from literature from various nations through art and history to astronomy and science and even basic French lessons; the level of the entries rose in sophistication with each volume number. Thus, when I was six I began by devouring all the stories and “verses for very little people”, but I was still learning from the volumes when I was in my teens.

What I didn’t realize at the time, but can clearly see now, is that Mr Mee was a classical liberal of the honorable, old-fashioned type. He was on the side of Parliament versus the Absolute Monarchy of Charles I; he was on the side of the abolitionists of slavery and the slave trade; he admired the Hebrew prophets and biblical heroes; and he was demonstrably pro-Jewish. I recall that one of his chapters regarding the Norman Conquest was entitled “The Castle and the Jew”: it explained to young readers that the great castles that dot the English and Welsh landscape today were the work of the conquerors, and it noted that with the Normans came Jews, about whom it spoke in decidedly favourable terms (I seem to recall him describing Jewish civilization as “great and glorious”), and he deplored the fact that Jews were – remember, Mee was writing in the 1930s – “a race yet despised”. I also clearly remember that the title of another chapter (Mee had a flair for the picturesque and the dramatic) was “Night Falls On Europe”. It concerned the coming of the Dark Ages.

When I read just now, in a report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), of the fears expressed yesterday by European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor regarding the imperilled future of small Jewish communities in parts of this continent that are beset by the “grave danger” of antisemitism, some of it officially sanctioned, I immediately thought of Mee’s “Night Falls On Europe”.

Although night hasn’t fallen yet, it will do, if things continue to go in the direction described by Mr Kantor. Here is part of the JTA’s report:
‘Among the recent incidents he [Kantor] cited were a "Palestine Day" at a Catholic school in Antwerp, Belgium, during which children were invited to throw replicas of Jewish and Israeli soldiers into two large tanks. The game was called “Throw the soldiers into the sea.”
In another incident, a gang shouting "Heil Hitler" and "Jewish pigs" attacked a Jewish children's event in Malmo, Sweden, last weekend. Many Jews reportedly have been leaving Malmo this year due to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
Kantor also pointed to recent anti-Semitic statements by German former Central Bank board member Thilo Sarrazin and other public figures.
Citing a feeble official response, Kantor said that "anti-Semitism is at best actively promoted and at worst ignored by some officials in Europe. Due to this intolerable situation, small Jewish communities, like Malmo, are teetering on the brink of extinction,” threatened by extremists on the left and right.’
Later this month, Kantor will be hosting a conference in Dubrovnik on how best to combat racism and xenophobia. He warns that the European Union and European leaders should "launch a campaign against intolerance and anti-Semitism to remind European citizens that the new Europe was established after the Second World War on the concept of 'Never Again.' '' And he adds: “If they [threatened Jewish communities] can’t receive protection or respite from mainstream officials, then we are entering a very dark period for the Jews in Europe.”


  1. It's not often you can actually see history repeating itself.

    The idea of a continuous progression for Western civilisation is an illusion. The history of mankind is the history of conflicts. The post-war era generation thought we had reached Churchill's 'sunlit uplands'. We had, but not for long.

    I fear for future generations. A world of peace and toleration is still a long way away.

  2. Hi, Ray. When I consider how comparatively recently women won the vote, and how women's rights in Europe might some time this century be imperilled by misogynist fanatics I wonder what struggle the little girls I see in their prams and pushchairs might be faced with.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.