Judaism in Europe is Going through a Difficult Time

Israel and the Jews in Europe must learn how to communicate much better

europe_map_politicalBy Luis Bassat

Judaism in Europe is going through a difficult time and the economic downturn has undoubtedly had a decisive effect on this. Europe’s growth cannot compete with that of China, India, Russia, Brazil, or with any other already established economies such as the United States and Japan. This has led to the birth of populist and intransigent positions. One need not be reminded of Germany in the 1930s which was plunged into an even deeper crisis than ours and how the Nazi party was able to take advantage of public discontent to impose its disastrous policy.

The emergence of neo-Nazi parties in Europe is worrying as we have seen in Greece, Holland, France, Germany and other countries. Parallel Islamic terrorist attacks against Jewish institutions, such as the unfortunate killing of innocent people in the supermarket in Paris, or at the weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, show that hatred is not waning but quite the opposite, it is on the rise. Someone must take the blame for all the ills and Jews have already had to face fatal experiences for being considered the cause of all evils in the world and at different times in our civilization.

How few recall that Karl Marx, who did so much for the working class, was a Jew and both Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud who made enormous breakthroughs in the field of physics and psychiatry, were both Jews.

If terrorists ever manage to wipe Jews from the face of the earth, how many Nobel prizes and charities and how much knowledge and know-how would be lost?

I am not saying that there are no hateful people in the Jewish world, there certainly are, as in all the world’s social groups. I am not saying that Israel’s policies are always right, because in my opinion, at times they have not been. And I am not saying that Jews are free from all blame. Yet it is not the Jewish people but simply Jewish individuals that cause rejection in society along with that of their fellow Jews.

One cannot hate on the grounds of belief or race, skin color or sexual orientation. We are all humans who at least deserve the respect of others.

How to fight it? In my world, the world of advertising, they say that when there’s bad news in a group the only way to overcome it is by drowning it in more good news about the same group; and that’s what I think we, the Jews of Europe, should do. We should start producing news, good news, important news that is capable of stifling the inevitable criticism that occurs all too frequently. Not only that, I think Israel should do exactly the same.

I have visited Israel many times, and spoken with ministers and heads of government and all have said the same thing; the attitude of Israel is to ignore the media. It is to do what one believes should be done and the world will understand. Unfortunately this is not so, not least because in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the Palestinians are weaker and mankind always tends to back the weaker side.

Israel and the Jews in Europe must learn how to communicate much better both from Israel, with a ministry of information that is capable of reporting daily to the world about all the good things Israel is doing and also about the problems that occur both domestically and with its neighbors and we, the Jews in Europe, should focus on this idea of creating an entity that could be born from Leatid, with the aim of having the press, radio, television and Internet social networks constantly informed of everything the Jewish world contributes to the world, not only to every country in Europe but to all mankind.

Luis Bassat is Chairman Emeritus of the Bassat Ogilvy Group. He holds a Doctor Honoris Causa from the European University of Madrid and is the author of “The Red Book on Advertising” and “The Red Book on Brands.”

Cross-posted at Leatid.org