Jews have always been smeared by ambivalent Europeans -- discriminated against as too clannish in their creed, without ancestral land-holding lineages and aristocratic status. Once again Jews are now beginning to feel as unwelcome in Europe as they did in the 1930s -- or in 1543, when Martin Luther wrote his "On the Jews and Their Lies." Jewish academics are sometimes shunned at international conferences in Europe. Some suburbs in Paris or Rotterdam are no longer safe for Jews to walk about. Europe is largely anti-Israel and probably always will be.
After the Revolutionary War, Europeans both flocked to America and damned it as uncouth and crass, even as they looked to it for money and military help. Nothing has much changed here either, despite the utopian pronouncements of the European Union and the reset policies of the Obama administration.
Most European grandees recently felt that the American cowboys got what they deserved in Iraq and during the financial panic of 2008. Then they blamed their own fiscal meltdown on imported Wall Street viruses -- only to appeal for bailouts when southern European defaults threatened to destroy the European Union. In response, we habitually declare our independence and isolation. We promise never again to get involved in their squabbles and war -- only to find ourselves drawn knee-deep into them.
Like clockwork every few decades, some self-described European "visionaries" swear that the continent can either live in peace under utopian protocols or, more darkly, be united under one grand -- and undemocratic -- system, willingly or not. But for all the noble pretensions of the Congress of Vienna or the European Union -- or the nightmarish spread of Napoleon's Continental System and the Third Reich -- and for all the promises of European-born fascism, communism and socialism, the result is always the same: disunion, acrimony and infighting.
That schizophrenia is what we should expect from dozens of cultures and histories squeezed into too small a continent full of lots of bright -- and quite proud -- people. Every new Europe always ends up as old Europe.
Louie Zamperini's Son on "Unbroken": "It’s Terrible and Beautiful at the Same Time” | Daniel Doherty