CAPTION: GERMAN WORRY The synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, where a firebomb landed this summer but failed to ignite. For Jews in Germany, “this has very, very deep meaning,” said one synagogue member. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
The photo above, which shows Holocaust survivors at a gathering in Belgium, is at the top of a New York Times article entitled “Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes Out of the Shadows”
A recent article in the New York Times, which you can read in full here, tells about changes, which have made Europe an unsafe place for Jews.
This quote is from the New York Times article:
SARCELLES, France — From the immigrant enclaves of the Parisian suburbs to the drizzly bureaucratic city of Brussels to the industrial heartland of Germany, Europe’s old demon returned this summer. “Death to the Jews!” shouted protesters at pro-Palestinian rallies in Belgium and France. “Gas the Jews!” yelled marchers at a similar protest in Germany.
The ugly threats were surpassed by uglier violence. Four people were fatally shot in May at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. A Jewish-owned pharmacy in this Paris suburb was destroyed in July by youths protesting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, was attacked with firebombs. A Swedish Jew was beaten with iron pipes. The list goes on.
The news spread quickly in the early morning of July 29 among the Jews of Wuppertal, Germany. Someone had tried to firebomb the city’s synagogue. The devices had failed to ignite, leaving the building with little damage, unlike the collective psyche of its members.
“For Jews in Germany, especially for us, this has very, very deep meaning,” said Artour Gourari, a local businessman and synagogue member. “Synagogues are burning again in Germany in the night.”
Nowhere in Europe has the postwar imperative to fight anti-Semitism been more complete — and more intertwined with national redemption — than in Germany. In Wuppertal, a manufacturing center, the city’s synagogue was burned in 1938 during the two-day rampage known as Kristallnacht, when an anti-Jewish pogrom swept across Nazi Germany.
After the war ended, Wuppertal’s Jewish community had no synagogue and, with only 60 members, seemed destined for extinction. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the German government opened the country to persecuted Soviet Jews, and soon refugees from Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia had settled in Wuppertal. The local Jewish population reached 2,500. The presidents of Germany and Israel attended the 2002 inauguration of the new synagogue.
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Now a police van is stationed around the clock in a small park across from the synagogue. The police have arrested three suspects in the firebombing attack, all Palestinians, including one from Gaza, as well as a 17-year-old refugee. The refugee has lived in Wuppertal for two years, among the different Muslim communities of Turks, North Africans and asylum seekers from Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
Until the synagogue attack, Wuppertal officials had taken pride in the peaceful coexistence of so many religions and ethnicities. Many of the older Muslims had arrived in the 1960s for work but assumed they would eventually return to their home countries. Now a third generation, born in Germany, is growing up with different expectations, as well as a sense of alienation.
“They have to justify why they don’t fully belong to the society,” said Samir Bouaissa, a local Muslim leader.
One of the local high schools is named after a famous Jewish poet, Else Lasker-Schüler, and is commonly called “The School Without Racism.” Yet two recent graduates described rising tensions in the multiethnic student body, including resentment by some Muslim students over a sister-school arrangement with a school in Israel. This summer, during the Gaza crisis, several Muslim adolescents began circulating anti-Israel posts on social media.
This one “got shot yesterday,” said a Facebook post from Gaza shared by a student. It showed a photograph of a female Israeli soldier and added an obscenity. The student added his own postscript: “You get what you deserve.”
Antonia Lammertz, 19, a recent graduate, said only a small minority of students were extreme but that a softer bias was common even among the mainstream. “In my school, to be called a Jew was to be cursed, or insulted,” she said, noting a problem that officials have tried to root out at many German schools.
The photo above was taken in November 1938 when synagogues in Germany were set on fire in a pogrom called Kristallnacht. This was a signal for the Jews to get out of Germany, but alas, no country would take them. Not even America. You can read about the ship, called The Saint Louis here.
It is time for the Jews to get out of Europe again, and this time they have their own country to which they can go: Israel.