Eldad Beck, the Berlin-based European correspondent for Israel Hayom, the country’s newspaper-circulation leader, is worried about European Jewry.
In a visit to Philadelphia on Monday, he noted that 12 Jews were murdered just for being Jews as a result of incidents in France, Belgium and Denmark. He sees nationalism and political parties on both the right and left extremes who, one way or another, exaggerate Jewish interests and denounce Israel.
“We live in crazy times, it’s something,” Beck said.
He was in town for a Lunch and Learn program sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the American Jewish Committee of Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
Beck’s talk was titled “Europe Without Jews?”
“It’s not easy to be a Jew in Europe these days,” said Beck, a 54-year-old native of Haifa. “Jews do not go out wearing a kippah or any other Jewish sign, and they think twice before going to any Jewish event. Some of what I bring up is not easy for many to digest.”
Beck said some of the signs of Europe in the 1930s are there — caricatures of Jews with big noses are in some newspapers — and there are false conspiracy theories involving Jews that circulate, but there are a few major differences from that era.
Beck, who has been stationed in Berlin since 2002, first with Yedioth Ahronoth, and now his present publication, explained: “First, we have a strong Jewish state in Israel, which we have to keep that way, if it ever happens Jews need a place to go. And while nationalism, on both the left and right is emerging, a lot of the hostility against Jews and Israel comes from the growing Muslim population in Europe.
“There are three types of anti-Semitism,” he added, “religious, with the Spanish Inquisition, racial, as the Nazis practiced, and political, as you see today.”
Beck said that in today’s European anti-Semitism, “Zionist” has replaced “Jew” with many of these groups. Attacking Israel and Zionists occurs in many ways.
For instance, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is designed to, in the movement’s words, “end international support for Israel’s oppression against Palestinians and to comply with international law.”
Beck contends that BDS is something much more.
“It is political anti-Semitism in its strongest form,” Beck said. “It is a movement that clearly doesn’t want there to be a Jewish state and no Jewish homeland. BDS doesn’t talk about Turkey occupying Northern Cyprus or Russia Chechnya, but singles out Israel. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism by another name. So is the talk about Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Where is Israel mentioned? It’s not.”
Beck is concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism on the extreme left, as well as right, specifically mentioning British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s comments comparing Israel’s military actions to those of the Islamic State group.
He feels these issues upset a political balance for Jews,
“Over the years, Jews have always felt at home with the left,” Beck said. “With Corbyn’s comments [along with Labour politician Naz Shah and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone], there is a caution flag. Extreme elements on the left attack Israel as well.”
Beck reiterated that only a strong Israel will both bring peace to the Middle East and serve as a final protection for Europe’s Jewish community.
“We have to fight back against this, like we have always fought back, and realize what we have in Israel,” he said. “It’s a place where Jews can always feel safe.”
Beck also said Oman’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Muscat, and the increase in contacts with many of the Persian Gulf States, are moves that come from Israeli strength.
“Some of these countries are seeing that Israel is better to deal with than Iran the way things are,” he said. “I really feel matters for Israel are changing with these countries because of Iran.” l