Is Europe sinking into a 'Badenheim' of barbarism?

Aharon Appelfeld's "Badenheim 1939" is a tragic allegory for today's Europe, still in an idyllic pre-catastrophe mode.

Tags: 1939
Giulio Meotti

OpEds European immigrants arriving in Israel (file)
European immigrants arriving in Israel (file)
צילום: עצמי

The great Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld just passed away. He delivered to his readers and the world the last waltzing tour of a scene waiting for catastrophe to strike: "Badenheim 1939.".

Resting on gentle hills, colored with roses and lilacs, the small town of Badenheim is the ideal setting. You have fun, there are strawberries with cream in the fashionable patisserie, Jews exchange gossip, quarrel quietly, flirt. Then - unexplainable restrictions for Jews are announced, mail no longer arrives, telephones are silent, there is talk of a "transfer" to Poland. Appelfeld wrote this marvelous constant of human history, the act of stunning that precedes the great catastrophes.

But today, Europe itself risks being turned into a Badenheim.

Take those far-sighted European politicians. They had foreseen the end of the world in Jerusalem, they wanted it so much to come to pass, but nothing happened after Donald Trump dediced to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Instead European politicians found themselves with many deaths and protests in Teheran, the home of their business colleagues and the object of their appeasement.

EU officials are now protesting an Israeli death penalty bill for terrorists, but they are totally silent or very comfortable with the deadly crackdowns on Iran's streets. And what is Federica Mogherini, EU's chief for foreign policy, doing? She invited the Iranians to Berlin for a round of talks. The Revolutionary Guard announced a few hours later that the revolts were overwhelmed. In Brussels they should be very happy. They were prepared to dribble for unrest and deaths in Israel, their scapegoat, but not in Iran.

A few days later, French officials mourned the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. No, they were not at all "all Charlie" and today most of the French consider that magazine just a pain. We are surrounded by a coterie of cowards. I might add that the freedom of criticism of Islam is for all practical purposes dead, along with the cartoonists.

A few days later, news came that 28,000 Jews this year from all over the world went to live in Israel. Of these, 20 thousand came from Europe. If this continues, we will soon be living in a Jüdenrein Europe. Without Jews. This year, fully a fifth of those immigrating Europeans arrived from France (about 3,500). How to blame them? In Toulouse the campaign of manifestos and voluntary support for Palestinian terrorism has just begun. The rifle in the manifestos is held up high. It declares "War on Zionism". We are in the city of Mohammed Merah, who killed three Jewish children at their school.

Without strong political repression and a cultural reaction that I do not see on its way, Europe will sink into this barbarism for a long time. That was the meaning of Badenheim.