European Jewry

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk



The Jews of Europe


There are approximately 13.3 million Jews in the world today. This constitutes about 0.2 percent of the world’s six billion people. While the world’s population grows at about 1.4 percent each year, the Jewish population is at zero growth.

Of all the world’s Jews, 11 percent live in Europe. A little more than 5 million live in Israel, around 46% or 6 million live in North America, including Canada, and the others are found in small numbers in South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Today Europe has a population of 729 million, of whom only 1.4 million are Jewish in any sense of that word. In Russia, there are, 265,000 Jews,  in France there are about 519,000 Jews, in England no more than 273,000, in Germany 150,000 and in the Ukraine about 100,000. The remainder are found in small numbers in the Low Countries, in Italy, the Balkans and in Scandinavia.

This means therefore that most Europeans have never seen a Jew. Nevertheless, the anti-Jewish hate tradition of Europe continues unabated to this day. Once more the Europeans boycott Jewish owned businesses and even Jewish academics and scientists. In England the universities will not allow Jewish scholars or scientists to speak at their scientific meetings. Journal articles written by Jewish scientists are not published in British academic journals and Jews are prevented from lecturing at British universities. The British media pour forth a stream of anti-Jewish vituperation each day resembling the rantings of the German propaganda ministry during the Nazi era. The Guardian, the largest circulation newspaper in England, denounces Jews every day, as does the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation.

In France, Belgium and of course in Germany, physical attacks on Jews are common, as is the desecration of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. In Russia there is a political party devoted to the hatred of Jews and in Poland (no surprise) a radio station transmits anti-Jewish hate all day, although there are no Jews in Poland. Together with the Germans, the Poles murdered all 3 million Jews who once lived among those haters.

In 2004, the then Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, urged the Jews of France to move to Israel in order to escape the anti-Jewish violence there. He might also have included the Jews of England, whose migration rate to Israel increased over 60% last year.

Even as the support for Israel in the United States has reached a record high, Europeans rejoice at homicide bombings of Israeli citizens. Except for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, European politicians and clergy regularly side with the terrorists against Israel, which is held responsible for all the world’s ills. Merkel visited Israel recently but refused to visit the terrorists. This angered the terrorists mightily but did them no good. Merkel visited only Israel and the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Despite the positive attitude of Merkel towards the Jewish people, the German population as a whole is as anti-Jewish as ever. In a recent article in DIE ZEIT,  a weekly paper with a large circulation, we read that Jews can no longer walk in safety on German sidewalks, that Jewish children are told in school that they should all have been gassed, that Jewish soccer players are spat upon and insulted in public and that Jewish life is as precarious as in the early 1930’s, just before the Nazi assumption of power. Evidently,  the 100,000 Russian Jews who settled there made a bad mistake which any reasonable person could have foreseen. There is not chance of reviving Jewish life in Germany despite the recent opening of a rabbinical seminary in Breslau.

In addition to the threat of annihilation in Europe and a possible atomic bomb in the hands of the Iranian madman, the members of the Jewish population of Europe face yet another enemy, i.e. themselves.

In view of the excess of deaths over births among all Jews worldwide, a decline in the Jewish population is inevitable. This decline is augmented by the over 50% intermarriage rate among British (and American) Jews and the ever increasing emigration of British Jews to Israel. In 1950, England had 450,000 Jews. This has now shrunk to 273,000 and will shrink further to only 140,000 by 2080. This also holds for France and other European Jewish communities.

The religion of the Jews, i.e. Judaism, is already at an all time low. Over 52% of Jews surveyed are atheists and therefore not really Jews. These are people whose ancestors may have been Jewish but who are counted as Jews by the media. Consider whether atheists whose ancestors were Catholics or Methodists are still counted as members of those religions. Surely not. So why count agnostics and atheists as Jews? This makes no sense. The truth is that there are only about 3 million Jews in the U.S.A. and many of these, although members of one or more of our denominations, are also unlikely to participate in Judaism.

This raises the age old question of Jewish survival. If judged by our enemies and our own actions it would seem unlikely that there will be even one Jew left in the world a century from now. Nevertheless we Jews have somehow survived other disasters and therefore have reason to believe we may yet survive, even ourselves. Our survival is of course of no interest to our enemies and to agnostics (gnosis = belief; agnosis = no belief). Therefore, despite these gloomy statistics, some of us believe that Judaism will never become extinct and that there will always be someone, somewhere who will become Bar/Bat Mitzvah in all the years to come.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The Restoration of Israel (2006).

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