IDEAS & ISSUES: As Holocaust Fades into History, Jews Consider Their Future

By Odrezin, Daniel | The Tuscaloosa News, May 23, 2015 | Go to article overview

IDEAS & ISSUES: As Holocaust Fades into History, Jews Consider Their Future


Odrezin, Daniel, The Tuscaloosa News


"Is it time for the Jews to leave Europe?" This was a startling question posed by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg in a recent piece that highlighted a dilemma plaguing Jews throughout the continent as they watch a frightening surge in anti-Semitism all around them.

The horrific shooting that took place at a Kosher supermarket in Paris in coordination with an equally despicable shooting at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper was the most shocking demonstration of this frightening trend, but it was certainly not isolated. In May of 2014, there was a shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels that left three dead. In March of 2012, a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, killing four.

The Anti-Defamation League's recent study of anti-Semitic attitudes in 100 countries demonstrated disturbing trends as well. According to the study, 37 percent of the French population harbors some degree of anti-Semitic attitudes. That number is 27 percent in Germany, 28 percent in Austria and 45 percent in Poland.

This surge in anti-Semitism has been attributed to several factors. These include a growing Muslim population, many of whom are proving to be hostile toward Jews and Israel, the growth of ultra- nationalist groups that are inherently anti-Semitic and a growing number at the opposite end of the European political spectrum that specifically and unfairly single out the Jewish state for criticism.

More and more Jews throughout Europe report being afraid to openly express their Judaism, and as this reality sets in many are debating whether or not they have a future there. More than a full one percent of France's Jewish population immigrated to Israel in 2014, and that number is expected to grow substantially this year. As conditions worsen, Europe's Jews are asking themselves whether they should remain in the countries they've always called home or look for a different life someplace else.

Of course, this is not the first time the Jews of Europe have been forced to ask themselves this question. This spring marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of many Nazi concentration camps all across the continent. Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, the most infamous of the Nazi camps, was liberated in January of 1945 while a long list of German camps including Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Dachau were liberated in April.

The world has taken pause this spring to remember the unthinkable acts that took place 70 years ago, but sadly as the years pass, there are fewer and fewer survivors remaining to tell the horrific stories. As TIME magazine reported in January, 300 survivors attended this year's ceremony commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz, while 1,500 attended the 60th anniversary in 2005. …

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