Although Jews living in Europe today appear  to be successful and secure, there is  nevertheless an underlying sense of unease.  Anti-Semitism is growing. A survey recently  commissioned by the European Union’s Agency  for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has found that  Jews have experienced anti-Semitic harassment  including physical attack or threat, and many have  considered emigrating because they feel unsafe.

A menacing atmosphere also exists because of a  general antipathy toward the State of Israel. Surveys  show that as many as 40 percent of Europeans believe  that Israel is conducting a war of extermination  against the Palestinians. There have also been moves  in Europe to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter.  Intense social pressures also exist, created by the rise  of radical and often violent Islam of the kind that  targeted Samuel Sandler’s son and grandchildren  when an Islamist terrorist shot and killed them at  a school in the southern city of Toulouse in France.

Jewish people find little comfort in assurances  from politicians that anti-Semitism is “not present  in the heart of society” or in “major political parties”.  At the same time politicians acknowledge that a  “frightening” degree of anti-Semitism is prevalent  today in Europe, and promise to “fight against it  with all the means at their disposal.”

Yet Jewish religious and cultural activities are  everywhere on the rise. In Germany a measure of  Jewish safety and security can be seen from the fact  that synagogues have been built and restored in recent  years. A European Centre for Judaism will soon  be built under the auspices of the Consistoire (the French union of synagogues) and the French government.  Jewish museums or Holocaust memorials  are in evidence in Paris, Berlin and other European  capitals, including a national Holocaust memorial  and educational centre in Wannsee, Germany, the  location of the notorious Nazi conference on the  Final Solution.

Museums and memorials to the dead are one  thing, but the Jews of today are living reminders of  the Holocaust and the moral failure of Europe in  the twentieth century. This is a burden of guilt that  contemporary Europe finds uncomfortable. 4  Although about two-thirds of the Jews who  survived the Holocaust left Europe for Israel, the  United States, Australia and other countries, the  remaining third were eager to resume their former  life and reintegrate into society. To do so, they  had to turn a blind eye to their country’s wartime  behaviour.

But there were also good reasons to remain  in post-war Europe. The Western Europe that  emerged from World War II was a New Europe,  full of optimism, promoting freedom and unity.  Following the war, the United States stayed on  in Europe and provided military security within  Europe itself and against Soviet expansion. Through  the Marshall Plan and similar mechanisms, the  United States funded and sponsored rebuilding  and development.

During this time the State of Israel enjoyed an  extraordinary popularity in the Western world as a  progressive and courageous country struggling in  a backward and hostile region. The establishment  of the Jewish state also helped Western Europeans  cope with the otherwise uncomfortable memory  of their role in the Holocaust. For the Jews of  Europe, Israel became a symbol of their growing  self-confidence after the tragedy and horror of  World War II. This is not to say that anti-Semitism had completely disappeared from Western Europe,  but Jews did begin to enjoy a period of increasing  acceptance and participation in society.

All this began to change around the year 2000  as disillusionment with the New Europe took  hold. Following the establishment of the European  Union in the nineteen-nineties, the EU developed  into a top-heavy, anti-democratic and chaotic  body. The launching of the euro in 2002 failed to  sustain prosperity, with the exception of Germany.  After 2008 the common currency led to a series  of national bankruptcies or near-bankruptcies in  Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and, most  spectacularly, in Greece.

Jews benefited from living in Europe as long  as conditions ensured prosperity and progress. As  conditions have deteriorated, so Europe’s Jews are  increasingly suspect; conspiracy theories abound,  and fertile ground for anti-Semitism has been created.  As survivors or children of survivors, either of  the Holocaust or of the near-complete expulsion of  Jews from Islamic countries after 1948, Jews living  in Europe know how a seemingly normal Jewish life  could be destroyed overnight. This is why many believe  that Jewish life in Europe might be at another  turning point, and perhaps now it is time to leave.  But there remains a better future for the Jewish  people when Christ returns, for their God is faithful  to His promises. No longer shall they be scattered  among the nations, unable to find ease or rest (Deut  28:64-65), for there shall be a great ingathering of  Jews to the land of Israel from all countries of the  world: “Thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Now will I  bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy  upon the whole house of Israel … Then shall they  know that I am Yahweh their God, which caused  them to be led into captivity among the heathen:  but I have gathered them unto their own land,  and have left none of them any more there” (Ezek  39:25, 28).