It started with the ban on minarets in Switzerland which was supported by a majority of the Swiss in a referendum held last week. It quickly progressed to cemeteries when a leading Swiss politician said in a television interview that separate cemeteries for Muslims (no problem singling them out) and Jews (big problem singling them out) were not acceptable and should be banned as well. That didn’t go down to well with members of the Jewish community in Switzerland which numbers about 20,000, one tenth the population of Muslims living in Switzerland. The Jewish reaction to the politician’s statement was swift and immediate enough to get him to back down on his original comments regarding a ban.
What Swiss Jews did was acknowledge the inevitable with respect to minorities living in Europe, a breeding ground for internecine fighting and wars; once you begin down the slippery slope of racism, it gathers a momentum of its own and envelopes everyone and everything that is different than itself.
“We don’t have a situation of the extreme right in Europe attacking Jews because they are content to attack Muslims,” Philip Carmel, the international relations director for the Conference of European Rabbis, told Reuters.
“But the Swiss example is classic: it’s not just Muslims who are going to be targeted by the extreme right.”
What’s sad is without the comment about Jewish cemeteries, most likely members of the Jewish community would have remained silent in the face of Switzerland’s steamrolling racist juggernaut, but when it reached the Jewish community objections from that quarter were raised. Perhaps their thinking was if they remained silent and out of sight they would not be affected; but that’s clearly not the lesson history teaches about such societal tendencies. Let that also be a lesson to the Muslim community of anywhere in the world that if they too accept oppression directed towards any ethnic community anywhere in the world, it is sure to progress and include them in its racist tentacles.