The massive influx of refugees into European Union countries and the resulting problems can have very problematic consequences for European Jews. As far as Israel is concerned it opens up new challenges and opportunities in its relations with Europe. This was the theme of a lecture given to a capacity audience that included former Amb. Alan Baker among other known diplomatic and academic figures, at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, by its Emeritus Chairman Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld. Arutz Sheva was there.
Dr. Gerstenfeld, world renowned expert on anti-Semitism whose frequent Arutz Sheva columns are widely read, opened his PowerPoint presentation with the iconic picture of the dead three-year-old Syrian Kurdish child Aylan Kurdi on the beach of the Greek island Lesbos. This event and the picture which appeared at the beginning of September 2015 triggered many emotions among Europeans which led to what he called a “Welcome Euphoria” in Western Europe.
This euphoria would shift rather suddenly after New Year’s Eve. On that night massive sex attacks were perpetrated against women in nine German cities as well as other cities in four European countries, led by recent immigrants from Muslim countries. The press unscrupulously hid the facts for nine days, but the truth eventually emerged, leading to great concern among many European citizens about both the short and long term impact of the refugee influx.
In fact, the atmosphere in Europe can best be described as a general feeling of angst, using the evocative word once reserved for European Jewry's anxious trepidation.
Not even the number of people who have come into Europe with this latest wave of immigrants is known. It is certainly over one million, but some sources claim that there is an additional half a million immigrants about which the authorities know nothing as their entry was not recorded anywhere.
Gerstenfeld compared EU successes with the much longer list of its blunders, explaining why the migrant issue has made a much stronger impression on European citizens than the many other significant EU mistakes in the decades since its founding. To its credit, the EU has prevented wars between its member countries. This is in contrast to the many tens of millions who were killed or died in the two World Wars. Furthermore the Customs Union enabled Europe to be far more competitive, especially in industry, and thus contributed to increased wealth for EU members.
However, that is more or less where the benefits end, and Gerstenfeld quoted a statement made in 1991 by the then Christian Democrat foreign minister of Belgium Mark Eyskens, describing Europe as an “economic giant, a political dwarf and a military worm.”
European countries remain military parasites feeding on the United States, despite the fact that the EU’s Gross Domestic Product now is slightly larger than that of the US. This became clear in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, which were totally European, but could only be ended by American intervention. Europe is totally unprepared for Putin's proactive regime.
The current military reality has led to absurd situations. Last year Dutch soldiers, whose army has 36 tank drivers all told, also had no live ammunition for their training exercises. Instead they were told to shout “pang-pang!”
Still, occurrences in the military field do not impact the day to day lives of EU citizens.
The introduction of the single currency, the Euro, was structurally misconceived, as the various countries had no unified economic policy (note Greece). So was another major innovation, the creation of the Schengen zone, where inter-country border controls were abandoned. Yet Europeans welcomed both because it made their individual lives easier. They could now travel in many countries without changing money or having to wait at borders.
Even another major mistake, the gradual, unselective acceptance of many immigrants a few decades ago from countries with a radically different culture, affected only big cities and a number of other areas in the host countries.
Then, in stark contrast, came the sudden influx of migrants, which impacted many. It became alarmingly evident that the EU had open borders between its members, but shockingly, had no system in place for guarding its entire delineated perimeter.
This was particularly problematic in Germany and Sweden, which allowed in the highest percentage of immigrants as compared to their own populations. Sweden now has slated 80 000 of its 150 000 immigrants for repatriation.
Problems have been created in these two countries which will last for decades. Many have already come to light. Support for anti-Islam right wing parties has increased, not only in Germany and Sweden, but also in France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria, among others. Hungary, thinking ahead, kept its Jobbik party from growing by building a fence to keep out migrants.
Far more worrying is the increase in violence, including the beating up of immigrants, in particular in Germany. This can also become very dangerous for the local Jewish community, even if this violence currently targets mainly immigrants.
Despite efforts to keep the facts under wraps, detailed, updated information is available in Germany on attacks on immigrants and on asylum-seeker shelters. Similar systematic information is needed on crimes committed by immigrants inside the asylum-seeker centers, including specific details of assaults on women, Christians and homosexuals. A day before the lecture, a Syrian asylum seeker was accused of having set fire to a refugee shelter in the German town of Bingen, using swastikas in an attempt to frame neo-Nazis for the deed. The German authorities have stated that one-third of all Moroccans in Germany are criminals, some part of the growing Arab mafia.
There are many other problems. One of the most worrying to the German authorities is Salafist radicalization of the new refugees. There are many unaccompanied youngsters among the asylum seekers, easy prey for radical Muslims. German authorities believe that there are 6000 immigrant youngsters whose residence in the country is not registered anywhere. The European police agency Europol speaks of 10,000 in total throughout Europe.
One of the basic tenets of Islam is charity. Considering that there are 57 Muslim countries in the world, some of them extremely wealthy, and 1.5 billion Muslims, the problem of the refugees should have been resolved among their co-religionists, Gerstenfeld maintained. The EU should have made a financial contribution to that end, rather than waiting passively until the massive wave of migrants crossed its borders. He compared the unwillingness of the Muslim world to take care of the refugees of today with the way it has perpetuated the refugee status of the Palestinian refugees through their offspring.
The refugee influx and the disagreements between individual member countries and between EU headquarters and its members is one of the major reasons for the current crisis in the EU. This provides Israel with a unique opportunity to finally expose the discriminatory policies the EU has been practicing against Israel for decades in many areas of activity – up to and including the recent infamous labeling decision. He suggested the creation of a “black book” which would, in one volume, detail the EU misdemeanors against Israel.
Such a black book should not be financed by Israel or Jewish organizations, but rather by an individual who would fund a team of researchers for this purpose. Discussions in the EU between countries and the Brussels headquarters provide additional usable material. So do some of the articles appearing ahead of the British referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU.
Gerstenfeld added that Israeli experience in matters of security, treatment of trauma, education and integration of immigrants could be helpful for the EU countries in handling problems resulting from the refugee influx, but in the current atmosphere, he added, it is hard to imagine that expertise being requested.