Wuppertal, Then and Now
On Dec. 16, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the warm welcome extended to Syrian migrants in Germany’s “rust-belt” city of Wuppertal to which, the mayor hopes, they will give “a much needed economic boost.” Wuppertal’s Syrian community has quadrupled in the past year to 4,000 people; one Syrian who came years ago says: “When I first went to the local flea market, I barely heard any Arabic. Now, you barely hear German.”
Needless to say, the Wall Street Journal has nothing to say about the impact this wave of Muslims (and similar large migrations to other German cities) is likely to have on the Jewish communities in those places. In July 2014, before this newest Muslim population onslaught, three Muslims (by their own account, overwhelmed by a passionate concern for Gaza) threw bottles full of diesel at Wuppertal’s synagogue. “Pure anti-Semitism” is how Leonid Goldberg, Wuppertal’s Jewish leader, described it. The flames were extinguished quickly so the damage was manageable and the culprits were tried for arson. But reports at the time on the conditions in which the synagogue “normally” functioned were scarcely encouraging. Cameras were positioned to the left and right of the entrance which in any case was only used on special occasions with security guards in attendance. The synagogue’s windows are bulletproof from the outside, shatterproof on the inside.
The odds of the Jewish community of Wuppertal surviving the “passionate concerns” for the Palestinians of its greatly increased Muslim population in the years ahead are low.
This writer is torn in her reaction. There is a strong argument that Jews should never have returned to Germany after the Holocaust. On the other hand a Jewish community in Wuppertal dates back to 1691. In 1930 some 3,000 Jews lived there. Both the community’s synagogues were destroyed on Kristallnacht. (The new one, under attack, opened in 2002.) By May 1941 Wuppertal’s thousand remaining Jews were all deported “to the east.” Today the Jewish population—made up chiefly of Jews who fled the Soviet Union—is close to what it was in 1930. That they should be forced to leave by Moslems admitted because of a German sense of guilt toward Jews is at the very least a major irony.
A New Merkel
Israel has long looked on Angela Merkel as a bulwark of support in a hostile Europe. But now? Merkel must know (she has certainly been told) that her welcome this year of a million-plus Muslims (with untold more to come) is virtually certain to spell the end of Germany’s revived, now 200,000 strong Jewish community. Following upon this, to Israel’s surprise and chagrin, she has backed the EU decision to label Israeli products from Jewish communities beyond the old Green [armistice] Line. That’s after Merkel’s foreign policy spokesman in the Bundestag, Jurgen Hardt, just last month had spoken against the EU measure, saying the labeling movement “seeks to boycott products from the settlements.” And only last week Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, a member of Merkel’s own party, said “Germany not only didn’t agree to the [EU] decision, it rejected it.”
Merkel now professes to see no connection between labeling and boycotting (her administration insists “there will not be an Israel boycott in Germany”) but of course, as Hardt said, labeling is preface to boycotting.
For Israel, it’s not a happy conclusion to a year full of events celebrating 50 years of diplomatic ties. On the other hand Merkel, in her new role as Mama Merkel for Middle East migrants, has positioned herself to chalk up a Nobel Peace Prize to supplement her 2015 designation as Time’s Person of the Year.
Season’s Greetings from Ron Dermer
On a happier note, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer has found a charming way to answer the labelers and boycotters. He has sent out holiday gifts from the embassy made up of settlement products. The accompanying note says that in response to the “fanatics and fools” who have attempted “to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. I hope you will enjoy them.”
Hanukkah at the White House
Except that it was another gratuitous insult by Obama, the Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the White House would have been Woody-Allen funny, a parody on the rich lode of Reform rabbinic moral idiocy. Chosen to light the candles was Rabbi Susan Talve, a member of the anti-Israel group T’ruah. T’ruah is the former Rabbis for Human Rights which, like J Street, is heavily funded by George Soros. As Werner Cohn points out in his blog, while it includes some dupes, T’ruah incorporates “just about every rabbi who has declared against the Jewish state.” The human rights it champions are emphatically not those of Jews.
Daniel Greenfield describes some of the highlights of Talve’s speech, designed to cram in as many far-left talking points as possible in short space. “I stand here to light these lights to say no to the darkness of Islamophobia and Homophobia and Transphobia.” (The last, for those not up on the latest leftist desecration of language, is that newly minted depravity of the American public, Transgender Phobia.) Talve declaimed: “I stand here with my fierce family of clergy and Black Lives Matter activists who took to the streets of Ferguson.” She called for “justice for Palestinians” and chanted “Ins’Allah, Ins’Allah.”
Greenfield speculates that Talve may not even know that Hanukah celebrates the Maccabees defeating a Syrian occupation, given that rabbis of her ilk “tend to be light on the religion and heavy on the social justice.” In any event, her mention of Syria (she called for bringing “all refugees” to the U.S.) was the closest she got to the story of Hanukah.
Rabbi Boteach Silenced at Kings College
More in the “you can’t make this stuff up” category. The Jewish Society at Kings College, London, invited Rabbi Shmuel Boteach to give a lecture and then abruptly cut him off when he violated what turned out to be a Jewish Society taboo—he spoke of Israel.
The Society, an astonished Boteach was told by the organization’s president (who wore a yarmulke, no less) was non-political and focused on “Jewish subjects.” Boteach has publicized the incident, commenting “Israel not a Jewish subject? I was dumbfounded. It was as if Israel had become the Voldemort of nations, the country that dare not be named.” He hypothesized that these young Jews were so cowed by bullying and hostility on and off British campuses they were afraid to so much as talk about Israel.
Boteach sums up: “Forget about pro-Israel advocacy. Israel itself was being silenced as a topic for discussion. A Jewish discussion. What could be more Jewish than Israel? To have the very topic silenced, and by students, Jewish students? …We are blessed to have a Jewish state after 2,000 years and we have to stand up for it.”
Vetting for Sharia
Andrew McCarthy points out that the heated arguments about how adequately we “vet” refugees miss the point. That’s because we vet for terrorism when we should be vetting for sharia-adherence. Given the large numbers of Muslims who advocate for sharia, “we miss the certainty that we are importing an ever-larger population hostile to our society and our Constitution.” Says McCarthy: “The question is not whether we are admitting Muslims who currently have ties to terrorist organizations; it is whether we are admitting Muslims who are apt to become violent jihadists after they settle here.”
Writes McCarthy: “The jihadism that most threatens Europe now, and that has been a growing problem in the United States for years, is the fifth-column variety. This is often referred to as ‘homegrown terrorism,’ but that is a misnomer. The ideology that ignites terrorism within our borders is not native: It is imported. Furthermore, it is ubiquitously available thanks to modern communications technology.”