An “Iron Dome” Needed to Protect Jews in Europe

By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

When Hamas rockets pummel Israel, Iron Dome protects Israel’s citizens and visitors alike. However, when Israel defends itself by trying to knock out the rocket launchers and terror tunnels in Gaza, it’s the Jews in Europe who are most at risk. We need an “Iron Dome” to protect them.

More than a million Jews live in Europe. Many have been there for countless generations. Others immigrated from the FSU or the Magreb when they faced Anti-Semitism. For decades they have raised their families and been a part of the fabric of Europe. However, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), which has a helpline for British Jews to report anti-Semitic incidents, such incidents in the UK rocketed by nearly 500 per cent since the start of the latest conflict in Gaza. Likewise, Jews in France, Germany and other countries have been under attack. It’s no longer safe to openly wear a Star of David or kipah in many places in Europe.

What causes the attackers to hate – and to act on that hatred? Public opinion research continually indicates that the majority of people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds form opinions about Israel and Jews from the media. That is why it is so important for the news stories to be factually accurate and have the appropriate message frames.

The Jewish communal organizations of Europe lack the know-how and resources to efficiently and effectively oppose anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities and views on their own. They need our help.

Moreover, not only is the media critical, but mosques and online recruitment tools – something being used effectively to recruit even Europeans themselves to fight for jihad – are also a threat.

Overall in the European Union, Muslims outnumber Jews by almost 20-1. While there are some important partnerships with moderate Muslims to help protect Jews, official statistics show that around 95 percent of anti-Semitic acts in France are perpetrated by youths of Arab, African and North African descent.

Truthfully, over a period of years, Europe has experienced a significant and disturbing upsurge in serious and violent anti-Semitic attacks. The growing Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and de-legitimization movements – perpetuated by British academics, European trade unions and even by some governments – are one form of anti-Semitic activity. But the far more serious threats come from radical extremist Islamists who pursue an ISIL, Hamas or other caliphate-driven ideology.

With the majority of Europeans forming their opinions based on televised mass media coverage, the media is the front lines for combating anti-Semitism and Israel de-legitimization. I spent more than a decade working on these issues in Europe. However, all these programs were dissolved in 2012. Since then, due to a combination of multiple factors, attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions have skyrocketed.

It’s vital for the Jewish community to again use scientific methods of public opinion research to make sure that we are doing things that will bring support and security to Israel and Jews worldwide. While I can no longer lead such efforts, experts like Stan Greenberg PhD, Frank Luntz PhD and others can bring the latest methods to ensure that millions of philanthropists dollars aren’t wasted with materials and outreach that will not win hearts and minds for Israel and the Jewish people. Stan Greenberg was the chief campaign strategist to Prime Ministers of England, Germany, Austria and other countries around the world. He knows how to win hearts and minds in Europe and can be a big help – so why isn’t he being utilized?

Too many of our resources in the US and around the world still go to rolling out programs and materials that resonate with the “amen choir” (those already connected to our community and issues), but that backfire with the “swing”. We beat our chests with “we’re right/they’re wrong” narratives that only shoot ourselves in the foot with the very people we need to reach.

The war to win hearts and minds is a matter of life and death.

As a child my father and others in Austria watched citizens vote freely and openly FOR Hitler in a democratic election. Hitler used the most sophisticated public relations strategies then known to man. The hearts and minds of people are more powerful than weapons. As we see from ISIL (an organization not too different from Hamas whose official charter calls for “killing the Jews” and the elimination of Israel) – it can be the ultimate threat.

Currently the Jews of Europe are NOT facing Hitler. But they are facing a dangerous situation. What Arabic speakers in Europe see in the Arabic language media, and what European language TV watchers see in European media inspires them to perpetrate hate crimes.

Much more that must be done counter the threats, but who will do it? Will it be by The Jewish Agency? Government of Israel? The post Abe Foxman-ADL? The AJC or another group in the alpha-bet soup of Jewish organizations?

Serious philanthropists and the government of Israel should get together to support focus groups of opinion elite men, opinion elite women, moderate Muslims and Jews in Europe. Scientific strategic communications plans need to be put in place and implemented – along with strong partnerships with European security organizations.

As we have seen from the challenges in US foreign policy, Israel cannot afford to have all its eggs in the America basket. Nor is the answer to anti-Semitism around the world aliyah for everyone.

Jewish billionaires Sheldon Adelson and George Soros/Haim Saban are busy canceling out each other’s mega-checks in the US Senate races. I wish more of their dollars – and those of others – would pay for the same level of strategic and communications work in order to save Jewish communities and individuals in Europe.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is cofounder/director of the Mizrahi Family Charitable Trust. She has long been active in Jewish life and spent 2002-2012 working to reduce anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Europe.