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Our Kiwi in Israel 2017

Michael Kuttner


15 August, 2017 by Michael Kuttner
First published in jWire

The recent foiling of a terrorist plot to blow up a plane in Australia has focused attention on the threat posed by radicalized citizens both at home and abroad.

We already know that Europe has reached the point of no return as thousands of jihadists have flooded in and have already been responsible for terror attacks. According to British intelligence officials there are at least 23,000 jihadist extremists who have been identified as living in the United Kingdom all of them considered potential terrorist threats. Of these, about 3,000 are being monitored by an under resourced police force and intelligence service. That leaves 20,000 deemed to be a “residual” risk and not being monitored.

Making this situation even more alarming are the number of jihadists and radicalized locals who do not even feature on the radar either because they are illegally in the UK or because the authorities do not have the resources to do anything about them.

What holds true for the United Kingdom is even worse for the rest of Europe where the number of unregistered “refugees” in many countries has spiraled out of control and the potential for disaster is considerably higher.

The negative effect on Jewish communities has been devastating. They range from actual physical violence to verbal abuse with communal institutions such as Synagogues and Jewish schools under constant threat. In addition Jewish men no longer wear kippot in public and many Jews have removed mezzuzot from their house or apartment front door posts. Anyone looking remotely Jewish runs the risk of being assaulted.

In summary, with the dramatic increase in Europe's Moslem population there has been an increase in anti Jewish behaviour. Given Europe's dismal past record it does not take too much imagination to foresee that normal Jewish life on that continent and indeed also in Scandinavia is becoming untenable.

Australia is described as the “lucky country” and indeed for Jews it has proven to be a safe haven of tranquility and equal opportunity. Maintaining that Australia has been a beacon of liberality is most probably stretching it a bit given its past treatment of its Aboriginal citizens and years of “white” Australia immigration. Restrictive policies which barred large number of Jewish refugees prior to 1945 gave way to a more generous quota post war and large numbers of Holocaust survivors found a home “down under.”

Given current developments elsewhere it would be foolish to ignore ominous straws in the wind. Being lulled into a false sense of inertia while enjoying economic prosperity has never been a recipe for success as far as Jewish communities have been concerned. It therefore behooves everyone to look carefully at developments close to home and internalize the necessary lessons. One has to be careful not to go overboard with wild theories but at the same time not to be afraid to acknowledge reality when it stares you in the face.

What are some of these realities now surfacing in Australia and which a few years ago would have seemed unreal?

The latest census (2016) showed a dramatic increase in the number for followers of Islam with the number jumping to over 600,000. At the same time the number who declared themselves Jewish fell to less than 100,000. We all know that census figures as far as Jews are concerned are not necessarily reliable but even if we take the previous figure of 120,000 it is undeniable that the Moslem population is growing at a far faster rate. Some people will say “so what.” Normally that would be a perfectly valid response but given developments elsewhere in the world we must ask further questions.

Do you know what is being taught in Mosques and schools? These are the places in the UK and Europe (and the USA) where incitement against Jews and the Jewish State are taking place. Of course not all are doing so but what level of oversight and supervision is in place to make sure that followers are not being indoctrinated with jihadist radicalization?

Given the recent past do authorities have a clue how many are being poisoned with terror related material? How many are monitored and how many are “under the radar?”

How long will it be before politicians and MP's feel it necessary to pander to the anti Israel sentiments of their Moslem constituents because failing to do so will mean their prospects of being elected are vastly diminished?

How many more Islamic inspired terrorist outrages will it take for local authorities to run for cover whenever planning permission for a Synagogue or communal building is sought?

The following facts (not suppositions) should give cause for concern.

  1. Turkey has the names of approximately 420 suspected Australian jihadists on a watch list it is using to block foreign fighters from traveling through its territory.
  2. The number of Australians on the list grew from just 90 in 2014 to more than 180 in 2015 with another 150 added last year.
  3. Turkey has deported 21 suspected Australian jihadists over the past two years.
  4. About half of them were sent back to Australia but the rest were sent to other countries.
  5. The large percentage of Australian Muslims who have joined the Islamic State has been little noticed.
  6. Australia had one of the highest per capita rates of Muslims traveling to ISIS controlled territory. The ratio is on a par with France.
  7. According to a BBC report the majority of Australia's radicalized individuals were born in that country.
  8. Between 2014 and 2016 Australian authorities foiled 15 plots.
  9. In 2016 the online ISIS magazine exhorted its followers to “scorch Australia with terror.”

An op-ed appearing recently on an Australian website by a Sydney domiciled Muslim sums up the current local situation far better than anything I have seen so far. In summary this is what he stated:

The radicalization of Muslims is the bastard child of Islam. The elephant in the room we refuse to talk about. The product of decades of neglect by politicians too scared to address the truth and Islamic leaders too weak to accept it even exists.”

Needless to say there are large numbers of Muslims who are model citizens and who are never likely to engage in activities associated with terror. It is common knowledge however that moderates are more often than not intimidated into silence and submission by the fanatics.

Given growing evidence of local radicalization is it wise to ignore and sweep the problem under the carpet? Dare we continue to pretend that it's not as bad as portrayed?

Is “she'll be right mate” / “no problems mate” a solution these days?

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel where he is J-Wire's correspondent.