Guest Column by Murray Goldman
Watching in horror the events that were transpiring in Brussels, I started analyzing how the Western countries in North America and Europe became the focus of the hatred arising from the jihadists.
For the past several years I have been a member of the board of American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute housed in Brussels. I have been next to those airport counters numerous times and walked past the Maalbeek subway station.
George Van Bergen, AJC TAI’s deputy director, decided to walk to work Tuesday, March 22, instead of taking the train and exiting at the Maalbeek station. As he walked past that station, he was a witness to the explosion and the terror that followed. Thankfully George was not hurt, but I know that one day the victim could be me or one of my esteemed colleagues.
Was there any way the Belgium government should have known that an attack was imminent?
In November, the AJC TAI board met in Brussels. We had several high-level meetings with European Union leadership and members of the European Parliament. During those meetings we discussed many current topics, including the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, the Iran deal, and the migration of refugees from North Africa, Syria and the Middle East.
To me, it appeared these politicians were spinning the facts to fit their personal agendas so they would not have to address the elephant in the room: the rising Muslim population in Europe not integrating into Western European society.
The rage and terror against Jews in Europe were increasing significantly, but the politicians were reticent on many fronts to combat the true anti-Semitism. In fact, that day they initiated the labeling regulations against West Bank agricultural products to punish those “Zionists” who, in their minds, are the only reason there is no peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
We left Brussels on Nov. 12. The next day the target of jihadist terrorists was all of Paris, not just Jews.
Another task I have taken in Atlanta for AJC is the co-chair of the Muslim-Jewish Dialogue and Social Committee.
I have met many Muslim colleagues worried for the safety of their families. These individuals are willing to do what they can to be productive and law-abiding citizens of the United States. Many have integrated into Western society without giving up their culture or religion. I personally believe this is what has made Jews so successful in America.
The same cannot be said for Europe. What is happening is the isolation of Muslim communities. To change course, valid grievances that Muslims have with Western countries and cultures must be discussed and addressed.
Political leaders in Europe and America must also publicly challenge the majority of the Muslims in the world to condemn acts of terror and violence. European Muslim leaders, both political and religious, must act to combat the hatred arising from jihadists.
This hatred may have started against the Jews, but it will not end with the Jews.
Muslim neighborhoods in European cities have become breeding grounds for hate and terror. Now that Israel and the Jews are not the sole targets of terrorist acts, will European politicians start addressing the issues and stop ignoring the facts? They should have known that the attacks were imminent.
Thankfully, in America we have been more successful accepting Muslims and integrating them into our society. We must continue this and not deny Muslims entry. These are our Jewish values.
Murray Goldman is an AJC Atlanta board member, AJC Transatlantic Institute board member, and co-chair of Atlanta’s Muslim-Jewish Dialogue and Social Committee.