Spend a good amount of time in the malls and midtown shopping outdoor malls in Israel and the United States and simply count the numbers of baby carriages and pregnant women and you will quickly see a glaring difference. In Israel you cannot take more than a half dozen steps without having to sidestep one or the other and in America you can hardly find either in most cities. These are the signs of a healthy society which is growing against a moribund society dependent on immigrations, both legal and illegal, to support the need for workers. Read the newspapers and you will see that in Israel they have built an effective barrier to prevent further illegals coming across the border from Egypt while giving illegal immigrants already in the nation seed money and a plane ticket to get them to voluntarily relocate outside of Israel while the United States political class appears to be earnestly determined to grant as many as twenty-million illegal immigrants an easy path to citizenship making them legal for employment. The United States is willing to take the workers with other illegal immigrants in order to keep population growth positive as without the influx of illegal aliens into the United States the population would be on a slow decline and accelerating. The population in Israel, particularly the Jewish population, is growing at an increasing rate to such an extent that demographics experts are now predicting that even should Israel annex all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem and grant the majority of the Arab population citizenship over time the Jewish majority would not be challenged by the so-called demographic Arab bomb.
But that is not the full extent of the differences between the United States and Israel. Where religious service attendance and open practice of religion are on the decline in the United States it is rapidly growing in both numbers and percentage of the population in Israel. Religious observance is being attacked by the government in the United States as is evidenced by the current hearings in the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act’s demand that employers provide birth control and other reproductive health services without copay including all abortifacient drugs. In Israel there is a growing movement to provide any necessary assistance, medical care, adoptive options, and support for mothers deciding to keep their child after birth providing viable options for those women who are considering turning to abortion believing they have no other real alternative. These efforts have been received and greatly appreciated with some of the mothers who were aided and had their baby saved by the efforts of these private organizations turning around and joining them in seeking out women in distress and giving them alternatives to getting an abortion. There are those in Israel who claim the trending away from abortion as a solution to pregnancies is due to the great love and respect for life that is a central theme in Judaism. They credit the increasing religious observance with being somewhat responsible for the movement away from abortion and the increase in people and organizations providing assistance and alternatives to abortions.
There is a general feeling of optimism accompanying the growth in faith and religious observance in Israel which is almost palpable. The Synagogues, Churches, Mosques and Temples are filled for weekly services and a growing number of Torah and Bible classes with some even being offered in languages other than Hebrew as there is a relatively large immigrant population responding to the call growing in Jews worldwide to make Aliyah and return home. There are signs that the numbers of Jews returning home to Israel will continue to increase as the world situation devolves further with growing anti-Semitism throughout the world including the Americas and Europe as well as other regions where such has long been a serious problem. Meanwhile, there has been evidence that the numbers of immigrants crossing the southern border of the United States have decreased over the past decade with some evidence of some of those who had already come into the United States, often illegally, are now returning south of the border as they have been unable to find the employment and better life they had sought. The difference between America and Israel is one is growing and vibrant and the other not so much. Perhaps this may be part of the growing troubles between the two nations who have experienced great relations that recently have turned troublesome. Such an end is sad to see, but perhaps these two friends will find a path to rebuild their relations in the near future.
Beyond the Cusp
There have been numerous studies and commentaries pertaining to the rising anti-Semitism in much of Europe. There have also been eulogies for the Christian and Catholic Churches in Europe and often mentions of another church or cathedral being put up for sale and often being transformed into Mosques. This transformation mirrors the events in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Spain, Turkey and other locations where Islam spread during their periods of expansion as they conquered these lands and transformed them from Christian nations into Muslim majorities and dwindling Christian presence. Similar such occurrences are currently being witnessed in Egypt with the Coptic Christians, the Christians of Lebanon and the Christians of Bethlehem under Palestinian autonomy. The story is often told about the empty pews of the churches throughout most of Europe and the advance of secular statist humanism where the human is worshiped as the ultimate pinnacle of creation and the State is seen as the end all and arbiter of rights, privileges and petition which is nothing more than another variation of worship. The Christians have yet to face the animus which is being felt by the Jews in Europe.
That is where a recent survey taken of European Jews reveals the extent of the discomfort, one could say persecution, felt by the majority of Jews in Europe. Some of the statistics from the survey found that sixty-six percent of European Jews considered anti-Semitism “a fairly big or very big” problem in their country; seventy-six percent said anti-Semitism had worsened in the past five years, with abuse especially prevalent on the Internet with it particularly present in social media, especially where aliases hide the perpetrator’s real name; France, Belgium and Hungary reported the highest rates of anti-Semitism in the media and political life, as well vandalism and open hostility in public; twenty-one percent of people said they had experienced verbal or physical abuse in the last year for being Jewish; almost half feared experiencing public insults or harassment in the next year, with as close to twenty-three percent saying they purposely avoided Jewish sites or celebrations as they might not be safe; eighty-two percent of people did not report abuse or discrimination they had experienced to the authorities feeling it would be useless as nothing would be fully investigated and it would have no real effect on their situations; large number of European Jews are considering leaving because of the persecution they experience in the countries; the belief was found to be valid that a clear link between the demonization of Israel and attacks on Jews in Europe exists; sixty-eight percent of the Jews reported they have avoided appearing identifiably Jewish in public for fear of attack or harassment; eighty-two percent of those surveyed say they have heard Israelis being likened with Nazis; many of those respondents who had witnessed anti-Semitism saying that it had come from the Left with fifty-seven percent of those in Britain, sixty-two percent of those in Italy and sixty-seven percent of those in France said they had heard anti-Semitism from someone on the Left; racism against Jews from the Muslim community was reported by fifty-one percent of Jews in Sweden, fifty-six percent of Jews in Britain and seventy-three percent of Jews in France; and thirty-one percent of Jews had either considered or attempted emigration specifically as a result of anti-Semitism, while in France the figure is just below half.
Between these numbers and the known high rate of assimilated Jews who no longer practice their religion and the high rate of intermarriage, it is very likely that the end of a Jewish presence beyond some small communities of Orthodox and Hassidic Jews will remain in Europe by the middle of this century and certainly by its end. The truly frightening revelation is that the Jews in the United States are following this very trend, though with far less prevalence of the anti-Semitism, and outside the very religious communities the numbers of practicing and Shabbat Synagogue attending Jews is rapidly dwindling where these communities may soon also disappear. The one thing that might change these trends and force many Jews back to their faith is the rise of anti-Semitism, oddly enough. Should it become systemic and be enacted into law, something which has already begun in Europe with the bans on Kosher slaughter (Shechita) as well as bans on Circumcision, two basic tenets of the Jewish faith, the Jews might, as has occurred numerous times in their history, return to their religion and reestablish close communities living as separate from the mainstreams of society and eventually relocating most likely to Israel. Some might claim that this is exactly what was predicted would occur once the Jewish State was reestablished and that all of this is simply coming to fruition of the ingathering of the Jews to Eretz Yisroel. They would also point to the return by the Ethiopian Jewish community, the Bnei Menashe Jews from India and the Yemeni Jews to Israel in the recent past and still continuing in the present and many expect that more of the lost tribes from the northern kingdom of Israel (also called Samaria) will be found and brought home as well as the rest of the Jews from the southern kingdom of Judah. That is an area where I must depart as such events are beyond the reach or control of mortal humans and as such must simply be hoped for and attempt to assist where and when able but not to the point of believing that our actions can produce such results, that is decided in another dominion.
Beyond the Cusp