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Fear has engulfed Europe


Five minutes from where he had dinner in Paris, dozens were being murdered; when he arrived in Hanover, alerts of a bomb led to the evacuation of a stadium; when he landed in Marseille, the airport was evacuated and a Jewish teacher was stabbed. One week in Europe made it clear to Ben-Dror Yemini just how explosive the situation in Europe is, and how long is the road ahead in the fight against jihad.

This is my fourth visit to Europe this year. And it’s not the same Europe. I’ve been in France when journalists and Jews were murdered, during the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher supermarket. And no, it’s not the same. At the time, Europe thought these attacks were a one-off, but now it is starting to realize this is not an isolated incident, it’s a serious disease. The terror attacks in Paris caught me at dinner, five minutes away from the theater where a mass slaughter was being committed.

And while my train from Hamburg was making its way to Hanover, on Tuesday evening, it turned out the city was in a state almost complete curfew as a result of alerts about a bomb in an ambulance, which led to the cancelation of the soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands.

On Wednesday, I managed to land in Marseille before security forces decided to evacuate the airport. Hundreds of people were standing outside. The weather was excellent. Landed planes remained on the runway. It wasn’t clear what was happening, and no one was allowed in or out. Shortly after that, as I write these lines, a Jewish rabbi was stabbed in Marseille by ISIS supporters.

French police during a raid in search of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks (Photo: Reuters)

And on it goes. According to the Schengen Agreement, there is no need for passports or border control for flights inside Europe. This week, that changed. The European Union is turning into a Europe of separate states. Border control is back while the Schengen Agreement continues to exist – but only on paper. Security checks are becoming more and more serious, and the lines grow longer. The economies of the free world are going to lose billions. The terrorists already managed to achieve something. There’s an increased presence of police or soldiers in airports and malls and they do surprise ID checks. I haven’t seen police carding any blonde-haired women. The suspects, naturally, are only people with a “Middle Eastern look.” It’s called ethnic profiling. This is discrimination. Is this even allowed? There are endless debates about the matter among human rights activists and legal experts. Israel’s Supreme Court also debated this issue. But now, there is no longer need for debate. Fears, whether real or not, create new rules.

Racism rears its head
Europe is currently going through what Israel went through in the 90s.

When four Arabic-speaking young men boarded the train in Germany, the body language of those sitting in the car changed. 99.99 percent of these young people have nothing to do with terrorism. One of them sat next to me while I was working on my computer. I noticed him curiously glancing at my screen, and we started talking. I told him I was typing in Hebrew. For a moment, I thought I had taken an unnecessary risk. After all, I have no idea what’s going on in his head.

Terror in Paris
When ISIS strikes in the heart of Europe / Yaron Friedman
Analysis: Among the Muslims in France who only want to live a quiet life, there are thousands of frustrated, poor, ignorant, unemployed and bored young people who envy the French people’s high standard of living. The Internet exposes them to the Islamic State, which suggests that they fill the emptiness in their lives by joining an organization seeking to control the entire world.
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He is one of the refugees who recently arrived in Germany. His English was as bad as my Arabic. They were on their way to another city in Germany, where they have friends. They have no home, no family, no livelihood, and they do not know the language – life doesn’t seem very hopeful. But for him, for them, they have reached the Promised Land. Germany has turned into a country that millions in Muslim and African countries dream about, but very few get to realize that dream.

The conductor comes in to check our tickets. He doesn’t dare approach them. There was no need for words – new situations create new codes of conduct.

How long will this last? What the hell can be done about these masses? How big is the threat they pose? These are the questions Europe is dealing with these days. There is no one answer. In Germany, like Sweden, arson attacks against refugee centers have turned into something of a routine. Hand-in-hand with the Europeans’ commendable hospitality, xenophobia develops. It won’t solve any problem, but racism is rearing its head.

Hand-in-hand with the Europeans’ hospitality, xenophobia develops

The increasing flow of refugees only serves to further exacerbate the existing fears. After all, a young man who came into Europe with the masses of refugees, going through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, all the way to Germany – was one of the perpetrators of the massacre at the Bataclan Theater. British intelligence estimates that two out of a hundred refugees could have ties to terror activity or one of the jihad organizations. Even assuming that wasn’t true, even assuming only one out of a hundred has ties to radical groups – we’re still talking about thousands.

How can people deal with the refugees and the fears they create, I asked Dr. Clemens Heni, a Berlin-based intellectual, a Christian, and a researcher of anti-Semitism. An imam came to one of the refugee centers in Berlin to speak to the young refugees, he told me. He wasn’t one of the moderate imams, and some of the young refugees complained that they did not come to Germany in order to listen to radical preaching. After all, some of them escaped this very radicalism. The problem was that the nice imam was sent by the institution. Someone wanted the young refugees to have a sympathetic ear and a spiritual guide. Despite complaints from the refugees, the imam continues visiting the center. It turns out the Germans’ good intentions also include stupidity.

Refugees boarding a train from Vienna to Germany (Photo: Germany)
Refugees boarding a train from Vienna to Germany (Photo: Germany)

How can people deal with the refugees and the fears they create, I asked a political science professor in Hamburg, who had me over for a lecture about the Middle East. We have no idea what is about to happen, he told me with candor. It was a lot better than the clichés spewed by most intellectuals, who believe it’s only a matter of hospitality and good will that would make hundreds of thousands of refugees – soon to be millions – magically turn into productive, responsible citizens.

It is true that experience from over the last few decades has shown that some groups of immigrants, like Hindus and Chinese, can acclimate, while in some groups, and we can’t mention which, quite a large percentage create their own closed communities and oppose acclimation. But facts can never confuse people who believe. And it doesn’t matter whether they are ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing a shtreimel, or intellectuals wearing a fashionable scarf.

Cities of Germany are changing
At cafés and restaurants in many cities in Europe, life goes on as normal. But it’s an illusion. Something is brewing under the surface, the atmosphere is changing. The Jews are the first wind vane to indicate which way the winds are blowing. “I was born in Riga,” told me a Jewish woman from Cologne. “I lived in Israel for only a few years, but circumstances led me to Germany. This week, for the first time, my son told me he is not allowed to say he is Jewish. He understood the situation before we even explained it to him.”

“We came to Cologne,” she continued, “because we were told it was different.”

It was true. But now, like every other city in Germany, Cologne is changing. Jews came to Cologne along with the Romans. It used to be one of the oldest communities in Europe, if not the oldest. But no one is left now from that old community – they either ran away, or were murdered. Now, the title of the oldest community belongs mostly to the Jews of Eastern Europe.

“We’re considering moving to Israel,” she concluded.

Scene of the terror attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris (Photo: EPA)
Scene of the terror attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris (Photo: EPA)

Some claimed this week that the terror attacks were meant to drive a rift between the Muslims and the old-timer Europeans, perhaps even to scare the latter away. White Flight is a known phenomenon. It happens in neighborhoods populated by immigrants and foreigners. Terrorism raises the number of asylum seekers – and it goes both ways. There are those escaping to Europe and those escaping from Europe.

The continent has been suffering from brain drain even before, and regardless of, the terror attacks in Paris. Young Europeans are leaving for the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Jews, meanwhile, are once again fleeing to the land of Israel mostly out of distress. This is exactly


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