When news broke of the terror attacks in Denmark, a close friend of Danish descent called me to vent his frustration that once again Jews were being murdered in Europe. He reminded me when such atrocities were happening during World War II, Danish citizens rescued their Jewish countrymen.
On Oct. 1, 1943, Adolf Hitler ordered that all Danish Jews be arrested and deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The order was to be carried out on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, as the Nazis assumed all Jews would be in their homes. Attache for Germany, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, warned the Danes a few days before the roundup, enough time for the Danish resistance movement to organize a mass exodus to Sweden of more than 7,200 Jews and their non-Jewish relatives.
Under the leadership of Denmark’s King Christian X, who financed the transport of his Jewish subjects to safety, Germany left the Jewish community in Denmark alone for the most part. It was a political move to serve Hitler’s “model protectorate,” which left daily life mostly unchanged and everyday affairs carried out by the sovereign government. The Nazis learned early on that the king would not give up his Jewish citizens nor force them to wear a yellow star. Not until the war was turning against Germany did the order come to deport the Jews to the death camps.
A few decades later, the noble leadership of Christian X and the resolve of the Danish citizenry are just historical footnotes and stories that proud grandparents tell the younger generation. Today’s Denmark is similar to Europe of the past and the present, appeasing terrorists in the hope of being spared the atrocities.
In an interview just a few days prior to the recent terror attacks in Copenhagen, famed civil liberties attorney and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told the RT news network, “Europe ignored terrorism until it came to its own borders,” noting that “Western Europe was complicit in terrorism.”
Mr. Dershowitz is spot on, and the history lesson he gives the interviewer speaks volumes about the horrific present.
“Terrorism in the Middle East — when Jews were being attacked, Israelis were being attacked, Americans were being attacked, even in Lebanon — Western Europe not only ignored it, they were complicit in it,” Mr. Dershowitz explains. “Italy freed the Achille Lauro murderers; France, Britain, Germany freed the terrorists at the Munich Olympics; and Europe failed to understand that terrorism against anybody is terrorism against everybody. So in large part, Western Europe is responsible for the current wave of terrorism now directed against it.”
Truth can be painful to accept. But even worse is an unwillingness to learn from past failings, as Europe has done since World War II. It’s as if the Neville Chamberlain model of appeasement has been resurrected despite its colossal failure.
In keeping with European tradition, the blame-the-Jews mentality is still alive and metastasizing. The new appeasement model is to tolerate and excuse terrorism in the name of Palestine, while condemning Israel for defending its citizenry. The Jewish state is judged by an altogether different standard than those who seek its destruction. Europeans have told themselves that they are under attack because of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs. Therefore, if the Jews would just throw in the towel, all will be right with the world.
Unfortunately, for the first time in recent memory, the United States is lending credence to this absurdity.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry told a Muslim gathering this past October that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is “a cause of recruitment [for the Islamic State] and of street anger and agitation.” He even borrowed the line from the anti-Israel camp that terrorism “has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity” for the Palestinian people.
President Obama’s recent comments to Vox.com that the Paris attacks were committed by “a bunch of violent vicious zealots,” who “randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” reveal a shocking tolerance for anti-Semitic propaganda.
Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick recently pointed out: “By de-judaizing the victims, who were targets only because they were Jews, Obama denied the uniqueness of the threat jihadi Islam and its adherents pose to Jews. By pretending that Jews are not specifically targeted for murder simply because they are Jews, he dismissed the legitimate concerns Jews harbor for their safety, whether in Diaspora communities or in Israel.”
Europe and the West need to channel the heroics of the Danish people of generations past. They knew the fate that awaited their fellow citizens if they appeased hate. More than 95 percent of the Jews in Denmark survived World War II. No other European nation occupied by the Nazis can stand in the same room as the Danish people.
The same hate that drove Hitler drives Islamic terrorism. But while Hitler targeted the Jews and people he deemed unworthy (gays, gypsies, disabled), Islamic fundamentalism casts a much wider net.
When your head is on the chopping block, it will be a little too late to realize that you can’t blame the Jews.
• Paul Miller is executive director of the Salomon Center.