Foreign elections don't always interest Americans very much. But Benjamin Netanyahu has become a familiar name in America, almost pronounceable, since his speech to Congress. Many Americans, Democrats and Republicans, cheered him to the polls in Israel this week. They were persuaded by his argument, expressed in near-Churchillian rhetoric, that the negotiations with Iran to prevent an Islamic bomb could lead to a "very bad deal." They know the only democracy in the Middle East stands in mortal danger, and that means America and the West are in danger, too.
To hear the big ayatollah and all the little mullahs tell it, we're the Satanic twins -- Israel the Little Satan, the United States the Big Satan. Americans and Israel stand together in democratic solidarity, and the threat seen from America is a security issue. Jews see the threat as one of simple survival: We've seen this movie. We've heard this song before.
In a widely circulated article in Atlantic magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg documents the expanding incidents of "Jew-hatred" on the Continent and asks the question that was unimaginable only yesterday: "Is it time for the Jews to leave Europe?"
Bitter memories of the Holocaust inoculated the Continent against overt anti-Semitism for a generation, but that all ended when Jews were brutally slain in supermarket and synagogue in Paris simply for being Jews. Paris mourns the deaths of four Jews in a kosher deli, and Jews elsewhere in France recall that only two years earlier, in a suburb of Toulouse, a French citizen of Algerian descent killed a 30-year old rabbi and his two sons, ages 3 and 6, in front of his synagogue. They chased an 8-year-old Jewish girl into the adjacent schoolyard and killed her, too.
The murderer, radicalized in a French prison and trained by al-Qaida in Pakistan, had previously murdered three French policemen of Muslim descent. He was educated in radical French Islam, which condemns a Muslim who cooperates with the state as worthy of death as a Jew. Like in Hitler time, the tentacles of anti-Semitic evil extend to those who serve a state or institution that protects Jews.
A Jewish doctor in Toulouse, born in Morocco and who speaks the languages of his North African Muslim patients, tells how some patients are boycotting his practice. The older generation, which was comfortable with him, now hear their children say, "Don't go to the Jew." The Jewish population of Toulouse is small, only 18,000 or so and dwarfed by the growing Muslim community, and they're all feeling the heat of religious and racial hatred. Molotov cocktails regularly pepper their cultural center. Jews are routinely harassed in the street. The police docket grows with anti-Jewish hate crimes. No one hears sympathetic Frenchmen crying, "Je suis Juif" -- "I am Jewish, too."
Anti-Semitism echoes in Scandinavian countries with small Jewish communities surrounded by a growing population of Muslims who get their misinformation about Jews and Israel from rabid imams preaching an unrelenting message on television channels, such as al Jazeera and another operated by Hezbollah. Jewish children are afraid to wear symbols of their faith. A Danish imam tells Muslims to kill Jews. A rabbi in Malmo in Southern Sweden, whose Jewish population has dwindled to less than a thousand, is frequently cursed and spat upon in the street.
In Britain, with a Jewish population of 300,000, recorded anti-Semitic incidents last year rose to 1,168; half of British Jews surveyed now question whether they have a future in the kingdom. Americans are often surprised (as I was) to learn that even the iconic Anne Frank has been stripped of her Jewishness in the house in Amsterdam where she hid with her family in a "secret annex" before they were betrayed to the Gestapo. She was sent to die in the Bergen-Belsen death camp. The house is now "a multi-media museum," expressing a protest against a generalized intolerance and no longer focusing on the genocide of the Jews in which she died. Police guard the house because it still includes Jews in the story.
In January, at the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Ronald Lauder, the American businessman who is president of the World Jewish Congress, observed that Europe "looks more like 1933 than 2015." There's anti-Semitism in America, too. The New York Times reported last week a "surge of hostile sentiment directed against Jews at many campuses in the country, often a byproduct of animosity toward the policies of Israel."
Jews are the canaries in the coalmine, the first to feel poison rising from the bowels of the Earth. That's why Jewish eyes and ears are turned to Bibi the bulwark. Will his warning about the revival of menace be heard, recognized and heeded? The signs are not reassuring.