A series of attacks in Germany have left many on edge in what has, until now, been one of the Western European countries safest from Islamic terror. Rabbi Joshua Spinner, executive vice president and CEO of the Berlin-based Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, said that despite inconclusive information on the nature of the incidents, they have intensified a general feeling of unease among Jews in the county amid growing unrest throughout the continent.
He said that none of the violence that was perpetrated targeted Jews. However, Rabbi Spinner considered the extent to which these acts were motivated by Islamist ideology, as opposed to being the acts of troubled loners, as a deteriorating situation in Europe that held particular danger for Jews.
“In general, Jews always do better in a politically stable environment. I don’t [think] the fears are an immediate reaction to these incidents, but for us in Germany it brings the issue much closer to home,” he said.
Another issue that many commentators have pointed to — the need for Europe to take better control of the migrant crisis — was echoed by Rabbi Spinner.
“At some point Europe will have to put aside its moral snootiness and understand that it has to do a better job of balancing the need to protect the safety of its citizens,” he said. “Things are blowing up and it’s normal for people to say, ‘I don’t care what it takes, I need to feel safe in my country.’ A problem of EU’s open borders is that they are not open for security forces. It’s an inherent problem.”
An unintended result, Rabbi Spinner conjectured, could be less harsh criticism of the State of Israel’s efforts to balance security with civil liberties. He added that despite the growing specter of Islamic terrorism and acts it inspires, he feels the extreme elements that it has unleashed pose a far greater threat, especially to Jewish communities.
“In the long term, the potential breakdown of the democratic political order in Europe and rise of extreme neo-Nazi types is very dangerous,” he said. “We [Jewish communities] have had our challenges with Europe’s liberalism. Fights over milah and shechitah came from there, but what could replace it seems far scarier.”