columnJewish Diaspora

The looming choice for Diaspora Jews

Apart from any dangers, the political choices they face are likely to make for an uncomfortable ride.

A Star of David embedded in the wall of a medieval synagogue in Taormina, a hilltop town on the coast of Sicily, Italy. Credit: Jon Shore/Shutterstock.
A Star of David embedded in the wall of a medieval synagogue in Taormina, a hilltop town on the coast of Sicily, Italy. Credit: Jon Shore/Shutterstock.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

Is it time for the Jews of Britain, Europe and America to leave?

This question is increasingly being asked by Diaspora Jews reeling from the volcano of antisemitism that erupted with the Palestinian pogrom in southern Israel on Oct. 7 and has continued to spread its lethal effluent over the world.

To Jews in Israel, the answer is obvious. Of course, it’s time for Diaspora Jews to leave, they say. How can this even be a question?

It’s certainly impossible to ignore the astonishing scale and nature of the Jew-hatred now manifesting itself across Western societies.

This has progressed far beyond the pro-Hamas demonstrations in Western cities and on campus that are continuing to spread incitement, intimidation and violence against Jews with minimal pushback from law enforcement, administrators or politicians. Jew-hatred and the campaign to destroy the Jewish state have become mainstream.

In New York this week, the homes of the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum and its Jewish board members were vandalized with red paint and graffiti that included inverted red triangles, the symbol by which Hamas marks its intended victims for murder.

Two days earlier, outside an exhibit in Lower Manhattan commemorating the hundreds who were slaughtered at the Supernova music festival during the Oct. 7 atrocities, hundreds of Hamas supporters lit flares and shouted: “Long live the intifada” and “Israel, go to hell.” 

On the New York subway, a keffiyeh-masked mob on a train shouted: “Zionists identify yourselves, this is your chance to get out.” When they declared: “OK, no Zionists, we’re good,” there were cheers.

In Britain, an opinion poll revealed that 54% of respondents aged 18 to 24 agreed with the statement: “The State of Israel should not exist.”

When an El Al flight landed at London’s Heathrow Airport, a customs officer who noticed an Israeli flag on a piece of luggage pulled all the passengers from that flight into a room to have their luggage specially scanned. According to the UK Lawyers for Israel, when one of the passengers said: “We are Jewish, why are you doing this to us?” the official replied: “I am a customs officer, and I can do whatever I want.”

In the first three months of this year, French authorities registered 366 antisemitic attacks—a 300% increase over the same period last year, while the number of antisemitic acts recorded in 2023 was quadruple the figure for the year before. In May, Normandy police shot dead a man suspected of attempting to burn down a synagogue in Rouen. In April, a Jewish woman in a Paris suburb was kidnapped, reportedly raped and threatened with murder by an attacker who wanted to “avenge Palestine.”

According to Sammy Ghozlan, president of the National Office for Vigilance against Antisemitism, almost all violent antisemitic acts in France for more than two decades have been committed by Muslims.

Left-wing parties across Europe are increasingly genuflecting to the Muslim agenda. In France, the main left-wing party La France Insoumise is virulently anti-Israel, and its leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, calls Hamas a “resistance” movement.

In Britain, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is attempting to balance his pledge to make the party safe for Jews with the vicious anti-Israel feeling rampant among his members and Britain’s Muslim community. His deputy was filmed groveling to Muslims in her constituency and promising to “recognize a state of Palestine.” 

The party’s election manifesto says “Palestinian statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people” and that it is “not in the gift of any neighbor.” It commits Labour to recognizing a Palestinian state “as a contribution to a renewed peace process which results in a two-state solution with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state,” which leaves up in the air the question of whether a Labour government would recognize “Palestine” unilaterally or not.

Regardless of such ambiguity, since British Muslims number some 4 million compared to a mere 280,000 affiliated Jews the idea that a Labour government would resist the increasingly brazen anti-Israel and anti-West Muslim agenda is a fantasy.

All of this obviously strikes a frightening historic nerve. The refusal of the Jews of Europe to realize the Nazi threat until it was too late is burned into Jewish consciousness.

Today’s situation, however, is different. Unlike in Nazi Germany, the antisemitism rampant in the West today isn’t state-sponsored. It is the product instead of an alliance between the hard-left, woolly liberals and the Muslim world. The threat is therefore not limited to a regime based in one specific country. It is instead something more insidious—a war from both inside and outside the West against both the Jews and Western civilization.

The second big difference is that a pushback against the wellspring of all this is now underway in Europe. In last week’s elections to the European Parliament, a variety of “populist,” anti-immigration or “hard-right” parties made record gains.

In Britain, where according to the opinion polls Labour is on course to win the general election on July 4 by a huge majority, a similar revolt is under way. This is spearheaded by Nigel Farage, who galvanized millions of British citizens to vote for Brexit and who stormed back into frontline politics less than two weeks ago as head of the hitherto insignificant Reform Party.

Denouncing the Conservatives for having failed to stop uncontrolled immigration and Islamization, for having done nothing to combat intimidatory identity politics and for having committed Britain to the ruinous Net Zero green agenda, Farage is poised to pounce in the event of a predicted Tory wipeout at the election and become leader of a transformed conservative movement.

Although these “populist” parties are all very different from each other, they have one big thing in common. Like Donald Trump in America, they represent an insurgency against an entire political establishment that ignores, scorns or punishes eminently reasonable and indeed necessary concerns over Islamization and mass immigration, the growth of coerced cultural conformity and the erosion of the rule of law.

Diaspora Jews tend to hold their noses at anything on “the right” because they associate “the right” with antisemitism. They need to wake up fast. While there are certainly troubling increases in neo-fascist groups, the main threat to the Jews today is posed overwhelmingly by left-wingers and Muslims.

Some European “populist” parties are indeed unsavory. Others are merely authentically conservative. Most support Israel, although some have troubling antisemitic roots.

In other words, this is a mixed picture. And as a result, the pushback against those determined to destroy the West is likely to be messy and complicated.

Whether or not it’s time to uproot is a personal decision. However, Jews remaining in the Diaspora will find themselves having to choose between the devil and the deep-blue sea. Quite apart from any dangers, the political choices they face are likely to make for an uncomfortable ride.

This alarming situation didn’t suddenly burst out of nowhere on Oct. 7. The writing has been on this particular wall for decades. But most Diaspora Jews refused to see it.

In America, the majority of Jews have actually signed up for the liberal ideas that are driving anti-Israel hysteria and Jew-hatred. In Britain, most Jews have been too frightened, too craven or too muddled to talk publicly about the threat from Muslim antisemitism and mass immigration.

Of course, Diaspora Jews can reasonably point out that, at present, Israel is hardly a safe haven. And unfortunately, there may well be yet more horrors for that beleaguered little country to endure.

But Israel is where everyone knows what they’re fighting for. It’s where there is zero ambiguity about their enemy or its genocidal intention. It’s where the overwhelming majority understand that they are living through another seismic moment in the sacred history of their people. It’s why they know they have no alternative but to win.

That’s why Israel will survive. The same cannot be said for the West.

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