Are Jews safe in Europe?

Benjamin Weinthal ?is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

French authorities brought a recent dramatic standoff with a crazed gunman to an abrupt end when they shot him dead in a house in the southwestern town of Toulouse. Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, is suspected of killing four Jews outside a school and three soldiers after returning to France from South Asia.

Merah's murder spree represents a new European tradition of importing radical Jew-hatred. The self-confessed al-Qaeda supporter is believed to have trained in the Waziristan area of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, and fought NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Merah, who reportedly justified his killings to "avenge Palestinian children," is the latest in a long line of murderous anti-Semites to take up terrorism for the Palestinian cause. Just over 30 years ago in Paris, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine detonated a bomb outside of the Union Libérale Israelite de France synagogue, killing four people and injuring more than 40 others.

A year later, in 1981, a member of the Palestinian terrorist organization Abu Nidal stormed a bar mitzvah celebration in a synagogue with hand grenades and machine guns, killing two and wounding 30.

The the Anti-Defamation League recently released a study showing that, in France, "the overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, an increase from 20 percent in a previous ADL poll conducted in 2009."

The poll revealed steady increases of anti-Semitic attitudes in nine of 10 EU countries polled, including Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

European governments reflect the trend, as well.

The Austrian paper Die Presse wrote in 2010 that"statements sharply critical of Israel" by Kristin Halvorsen, education minister of the Norwegian Socialist Left Party, have contributed to "legitimizing attacks" against Jews. Jewish pupils have been attacked in Norway's schools, and teachers have simply looked the other way. Last year, I asked Bruce Bawer, the Oslo-based acclaimed author of While Europe Slept and Surrender,if Norway's Jews should consider making aliyah (relocate to Israel). "Yes," he answered explicitly.

In Sweden, the city of Malmö has contributed to an exodus of Swedish Jews to Israel. In 2010, a group of Swedish Muslims, who make up roughly 20 percent of Malmö's population of 290,000, blasted "Sieg Heil" and "Hitler, Hitler" from loudspeakers and threw rocks and bottles at a small group of Jews who were peacefully demonstrating in support of Israel's right to defend its borders against Hamas rocket attacks.

In response, Malmö's Social Democratic mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, blamed the Jews. In an interview with Skånska Dagbladet, which was, bizarrely, published on International Holocaust Memorial Day, Reepalu argued that Sweden's Jews are largely responsible for the violence inflicted on them because they didn't "distance" themselves from Israel and the Gaza war. "The community chose to hold a pro-Israel demonstration," he added.

All of this helps to explain why Malmö's already tiny Jewish population of 700 is rapidly dwindling amid a toxic mix of left-wing politics and Islamist Jew-hatred. After the shootings in Toulouse, Reepalu once again targeted Swedish Jews, asserting that a political party - Swedish Democrats - has infiltrated the town's Jewish community to spread hate of Muslims.

Sweden's small Jewish community published an open letter to the head of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, noting that the community "has long had to endure hatred and threats just because we are Jews ... Ilmar Reepalu has now crossed all boundaries ... This type of conspiracy theories, we know all too well from history."

The letter continues, "Ilmar Reepalu no longer has any credibility for us Jews in Sweden."

In spite of its troubled past, Germany has now become the central hub of radical Islamic activity in Europe. The Federal Republic has refused to outlaw Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based proxy of Iran's regime, which is reported to have roughly 900 members there. Hezbollah, like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is committed to the annihilation of Israel, and has murdered Americans and Jews in attacks across the globe.

Disturbingly, Germany's prominent television network ZDF (Second German Television) broadcast without objection an interview in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust.The Holocaust is "a lie of Israel" that allows the Jewish state to hurt the Palestinians, Ahmadinejad said in the March interview.

Claus Kleber, a well-known journalist for ZDF, a taxpayer funded, public station, aired the 45-minute interview, prompting Dieter Graumann, head of Germany's 105,000 member Jewish community, to criticize the network for providing Ahmadinejad a platform to spread his "poison."

"I am very disappointed that a respected German journalist, and on top of that, a public station, allowed the most brazen remarks from notorious Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad to remain unchallenged," Graumann said.

Holocaust denial is unlawful in Germany, but the authorities have chosen over the years to not enforce such laws against Iranian regime representatives who have denied Hitler's crimes in the Federal Republic.

Now, after the horrific killings in France, the future of European Jewry looks bleak there, too.

Across the continent, Jews face indifferent political elites, radical Islamic immigrant populations, and left-wing inaction at best and tacit anti-Semitism at worst. They will be forced to make tough decisions.

E-mail Benjamin Weinthal at bweinthal@defenddemocracy.org.