Europe Is Ruined": Conversations With Israelis in Berlin"

BERLIN – The story here is over, sighed Israeli A, as he poured himself another glass of chilled wine. They’ve ruined this country with all the garbage they’ve let in, said Israeli B.

We were sitting in the neighborhood biergarten, which was full of people and decorated with colored lights. The two of them have been here for years and their businesses are prospering – they are primarily in real estate and home prices are rising relentlessly; everyone wants to live and work in this city, which is flourishing as a result of immigration. But they’re complaining. A. pulled up an article from an Israeli website on “Germany’s Islamization,” while B. ranted about “Arab France.”

Ah, yes, I said. Once it was good, when France was French and Germany was German and pure. Once upon a time, foreigners knew their place. Once upon a time, those in charge knew how to deal with them. My interlocutors fell silent.

For years Israel has been flooded with monstrous descriptions of Europe. This is a transparent result of the delusions of Israeli politics. What’s especially bizarre is that so many Israelis embrace a totally unrealistic, imaginary past of a European paradise, pure as the driven snow, which was lost forever when the “migrants” came. Many Europeans talk that way, as they always did, but when you hear it from Israelis, some of whom felt the joys of good old Europe on their backs, it’s nauseating. It’s hard to decide whether it’s primarily ignorance or racism.

There is no such thing as “pure” Europe. The area known as Europe, whose borders are always changing, was always a hotbed of migration. What is Germany essentially? After all, not too long ago there were two Germanys, and this vibrant city was a bloody wound. Throughout most of German history a multitude of tribes and principalities were massacring one another. And the Jews, who lived here for a thousand years, were they Germans? And who decides?

National purity is a hollow and dangerous myth. There have always been foreigners/the poor/the “other” everywhere. Their demonization, the hatred, doesn’t stem from how they look or religious differences. In the early 20th century, there was a pogrom in Marseille against Italian immigrants. They were very similar in appearance and religion to the locals, but the latter still murdered them. They call it racism, and it stems from incitement and political interests.

In today’s Germany the Muslims are less than six percent of the population, but researchers have found that the German public thinks they are 20 percent. This gap between image and reality exists all over Europe. In Poland, for example, less than one-tenth of one percent of the population is Muslim – a few thousand people among tens of millions – yet the Polish public thinks they are five percent of the populace. Okay, there are probably lots of Poles who will also tell you there are still millions of Jews in Poland. But it’s the same story, and anyone who thinks there a difference between old-fashioned European racism and the “realistic view” of the current situation is deluding himself.

Islamic terror is a burning issue; only a fool would deny that. But the Europeans, despite what Israelis think, are not stupid and certainly not naïve. What they’ve already managed to forget about policing and oppression, Israel hasn’t even begun to learn. Incidentally, violence and terror – political, ethnic, homegrown and foreign – have always been here. But Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron have learned the lessons of the past and understand that the dumbest way to fight terror is to treat all Muslims like terrorists, to act against them with racism, and to push thousands more into the arms of the Islamic State.

After all, that’s exactly what these despicable terror organizations, whose power is miniscule compared to the power of the state, want. They initiate terror attacks to goad these rich countries into making ill use of their power, to undermine human rights and to take “counterterrorism” measures, for state terror is the surest way to destroy a state, and this city is proof. When it displayed tolerance and opened its gates, it flourished, and when it closed itself off and attacked, it plunged into hell and dragged all of Europe after it.

Published in "Ha'aretz".

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