Living conditions for Jews in Europe are obviously a touchy subject that arouse some defensiveness on the part of European leaders. They do not appreciate hearing Israeli officials like Natan Sharansky say that the Jews have no future in Europe and should emigrate. But this is part of an emerging theme that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing everything he can to encourage.
He’s getting support for amateurs, too, like this guy who decided to walk around Paris and its suburbs in identifiably Jewish dress and film the reactions he received. As you might imagine, some people in the Arab neighborhoods were confused by his presence and others were outright hostile. I guess if you go looking for intolerance and hatred, it’s not that hard to find, but this hardly proves that all French Jews need to be on a plane for Tel Aviv by tomorrow noon.
“I can’t allow things to be said in Israel that would lead one to think that Jews have no place in Europe and particularly France,” French President Francois Hollande said near Paris after vandals damaged about 300 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in northeastern France.
“The fact that you’re in an election campaign doesn’t mean you can just make any statement,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday. “The place for French Jews is France.”
I’m not an expert on Israeli politics, by any means, but Netanyahu’s campaign has irritated Western leaders to such a degree that there is going to be lasting fallout for Israel’s relationships with their best and most powerful allies. And the Israeli right’s policies were already making it increasingly painful for popularly elected European officials to remain allied with them before Netanyahu decided to attack Europe as anti-Semitic and uninhabitable for Jews. It was painful enough before Netanyahu nakedly tried to destroy the Iranian nuclear negotiations, to which the U.K., France, and Germany are parties.
You have to wonder, at what cost is Bibi willing to secure his position?
[Cross-posted at Progress Pond]