Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman (Emer.) of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank and a world famous expert on Anti-Semitism, recalled Former Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens' scathing sum up of Europe as "an economic giant, military dwarf, political worm" at a lecture titled “Israeli-European relations in an increasingly chaotic reality” presented to a full room this week.
Gerstenfeld is confident that "Western democracy can survive, but not in the form of the liberal democracy we see today. Europe is not going to be taken over by Islam, although Islamization is going on to a degree, observable in Muslim food, dress and mosque construction in the public domain."
"On the other hand", he elaborated, "there is ugly Islamization of which ghettos and no-go areas are only one example; Even more radical is criminal Islamization of which terror is an extreme situation. Politicians who want to please Muslims take part in indirect Islamization and all this leads to anti-Islamic movements. The seeds of conflict are already sown."
Gerstenfeld identified three major reasons for the current turbulent dynamics in the European Union, adding that from the start, the EU had major flaws, "the most obvious being a joint currency without a joint fiscal policy and common value system."
The first reason for increased chaos, he said, is connected to developments in Germany. The massive immigration of refugees and asylum seekers has disturbed internal balances. In Germany, it has led in the September parliamentary elections to a decline in support for the two leading parties: Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. At the same time, a far-right party, AfD, without a constructive alternative program, has become the third political force in the country. The German pressure - supported by the EU - to spread refugees all over the EU, increases tensions.
The second issue is one that Gerstenfeld predicts will create major dynamics in the EU. That is Brexit - the departure of Great Britain from the EU. Even if an agreement is reached between the two parties, it will create shocks. A hard Brexit, i.e., no agreement, will be bad for both parties.
The third factor concerns developments of a totally different nature. The lack of willingness of part of the established European Muslim population to integrate in national societies is likely to exacerbate problems they are already causing in many EU countries and since up to 85% of the immigrants are anti-Semitic, Jews will feel less at home. He noted that all European Jews killed for ideological reasons in recent years were killed by Muslims..
France, being the “sick man” of Europe, is as such a far smaller international player than its new President Emanuel Macron would like it to be. Yet, the Muslim problem in France is the greatest among major European countries and therefore its development must be followed closely.
Gerstenfeld said that Israel does not have proper structures to analyze in real time what the many developments in the EU and its member countries may mean for it. "The absence of a counter-propaganda agency results in Israel fighting inefficiently against the massive hate-mongering toward the Jewish state and the Jews in Europe," he stated unequivocally.
"The Foreign Office should have in-house experts speaking various European languages and following developments in detail in a number of countries. The current setup where there is often no genuine professional in the Foreign Office to back up embassies is a handicap that causes lasting damage."
Gerstenfeld noted a trend away from globalization and an increased desire for sovereignty in Europe. Israel, he suggests, should probably welcome this, as at least 10 EU members have smaller populations than the Jewish state and will find it harder to tell Israel's government what to do. As so many foreign countries interfere so frequently in Israeli foreign affairs, the current trend should be used to systematically investigate how interference in Israeli sovereignty can be reduced, he advised.