An oldie-but-goodie Steyn rerun which, once again, is every bit as relevant today as it was when it first ran in 2009. Probably more so, in fact.
“Israel is unfashionable,” a Continental foreign minister said to me a decade back. “But maybe Israel will change, and then fashions will change.” Fashions do change. But however Israel changes, this fashion won’t. The shift of most (non-American) Western opinion against the Jewish state that began in the 1970s was, as my Continental politician had it, simply a reflection of casting: Israel was no longer the underdog but the overdog, and why would that appeal to a post-war polytechnic Euro-Left unburdened by Holocaust guilt?
Fair enough. Fashions change. But the new Judenhass is not a fashion, simply a stark reality that will metastasize in the years ahead and leave Israel isolated in the international “community” in ways that will make the first decade of this century seem like the good old days.
A few months after the curtailed Holocaust Day tour, I found myself in that particular corner of Tower Hamlets for the first time in years. Specifically, on Cable Street—the scene of a famous battle in 1936, when Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, in a crude exercise of political muscle, determined to march through the heart of Jewish East London. They were turned back by a mob of local Jews, Irish Catholic dockers, and Communist agitators, all standing under the Spanish Civil War slogan: “No Pasaran.” They shall not pass.
From “No Pasaran” to “If you go any further, you’ll die” is a story not primarily of anti-Semitism but of unprecedented demographic transformation. Beyond the fashionable “anti-Zionism” of the Euro-Left is a starker reality: The demographic energy not just in Lionel Bart’s East End but in almost every Western European country is “Asian.” Which is to say, Muslim. A recent government statistical survey reported that the United Kingdom’s Muslim population is increasing ten times faster than the general population. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and many other Continental cities from Scandinavia to the Côte d’Azur will reach majority Muslim status in the next few years.
Brussels has a Socialist mayor, which isn’t that surprising, but he presides over a caucus a majority of whose members are Muslim, which might yet surprise those who think we’re dealing with some slow, gradual, way-off-in-the-future process here. But so goes Christendom at the dawn of the third millennium: the ruling party of the capital city of the European Union is mostly Muslim.
There are generally two responses to this trend: The first is that it’s like a cast change in Cats or, perhaps more precisely, David Merrick’s all-black production of Hello, Dolly! Carol Channing and her pasty prancing waiters are replaced by Pearl Bailey and her ebony chorus, but otherwise the show is unchanged. Same set, same words, same arrangements: France will still be France, Germany Germany, Belgium Belgium.
The second response is that the Islamicization of Europe entails certain consequences, and it might be worth exploring what these might be. There are already many points of cultural friction—from British banks’ abolition of children’s “piggy banks” to the enjoining of public doughnut consumption by Brussels police during Ramadan.
And yet on one issue there is remarkable comity between the aging ethnic Europeans and their young surging Muslim populations: A famous poll a couple of years back found that 59 per cent of Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace.
Proviong yet again that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But will the West learn the lesson at long, long last? Not bloody likely, alas.
The Muslim world has spent decades peddling the notion that the reason a vast oil-rich region stretching thousands of miles is politically deformed and mired in grim psychoses is all because of a tiny strip of turf barely wider than my New Hampshire township. It will make an ever more convenient scapegoat for the problems of a far vaster territory from the mountains of Morne to the Urals. There was a fair bit of this in the days after 9/11. As Richard Ingrams wrote on the following weekend in the London Observer: “Who will dare to damn Israel?”
Well, take a number and get in line. The dust had barely settled on the London Tube bombings before a reader named Derrick Green sent me a congratulatory e-mail: “I bet you Jewish supremacists think it is Christmas come early, don’t you? Incredibly, you are now going to get your own way even more than you did before, and the British people are going to be dragged into more wars for Israel.”
So it will go. British, European, and even American troops will withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a bomb will go off in Madrid or Hamburg or Manchester, and there will be nothing left to blame except Israeli “disproportion.” For the remnants of European Jewry, the already discernible migration of French Jews to Quebec, Florida, and elsewhere will accelerate. There are about 150,000 Jews in London today—it’s the thirteenth biggest Jewish city in the world. But there are approximately one million Muslims. The highest number of Jews is found in the 50-54 age group; the highest number of Muslims are found in the four-years-and-under category. By 2025, there will be Jews in Israel, and Jews in America, but not in many other places. Even as the legitimacy of a Jewish state is rejected, the Jewish diaspora—the Jewish presence in the wider world—will shrivel.
And then, to modify Richard Ingrams, who will dare not to damn Israel?
The joke about Mandatory Palestine was that it was the twice-promised land. But isn’t that Europe, too? And perhaps Russia and maybe Canada, a little ways down the line? Two cultures jostling within the same piece of real estate. Not long ago, I found myself watching the video of another “pro-Palestinian” protest in central London with the Metropolitan Police retreating up St. James’s Street to Piccadilly in the face of a mob hurling traffic cones and jeering, “Run, run, you cowards!” and “Allahu akbar!”
You would think the deluded multi-culti progressives would understand: In the end, this isn’t about Gaza, this isn’t about the Middle East; it’s about them. It may be some consolation to an ever-lonelier Israel that, in one of history’s bleaker jests, in the coming Europe the Europeans will be the new Jews.
And so it has come to pass. If you wonder where this all might be headed, you need only look to the name of London’s sitting mayor for a clue.