The other day I spent some time with one of my closest friends here in Los Angeles. He is a successful businessman, a father, an Orthodox Jew. Recently, he and his lovely wife took a trip to Prague and Budapest. I asked him if they had a good time. My friend hesitated, smiled, and kind of shook his head as if unsure what the word fun means.
“I’ll tell you, Robert, both cities were beautiful…”
“Lots of cobblestones, right?”
“Well, yeah, have you and Karen been?”
“No, but I’ve seen enough movies to know that cobblestones get a lot of play.”
“Anyway, we hired a tour guide because we wanted to see the Jewish sites. We saw the Maharal’s shul, and the window where the Golem looked out on the city. And of course synagogues have been restored, but…”
My friend is, by nature, a warm and generous man. He is one of the few people I’d describe as an optimist, which is one of the reasons I like hanging out with him. Where I see darkness, he manages to glimpse shards of light.
“But we heard about Jewish ghettos, the blood libels, the forced conversions, the Jew-hatred, the Nazis. And the tour guide talked about us—the Jewish people—as if we were fossils. As if the Jewish people were curiosities. Look, there were small Jewish communities in each city and I spent time with the wonderful Chabad rabbis, but it was all just so depressing. Truth is we were there long enough. Four days. Right afterwards we flew to Israel. Robert, it was such a relief to be in Jerusalem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we went, but really Europe was soooo oppressive.”
I said, “Europe is in the midst of committing suicide by allowing, even encouraging Muslim occupiers. At first the Muslim minority kvetches about being an oppressed minority. They talk about Islamophobia and civil rights. But once they achieve a demographic tipping point, say 25% to 30%, they assert Islamist intolerance through sharia. Europe is finished. An entire civilization choosing to self-destruct.”
I expected my friend to come back with a more sunny take on Europe. But my buddy just nodded and said, “Robert, I think you might be right.”
We parted with the traditional Passover blessing: “Have a happy and kosher Pesach.”