The cost of France's culture clash
European anti-Semitism is the gold standard of hate. Few things are historically more reliable.
Just as approximately 400,000 Jews fled Germany and Austria in the 1930s, today’s Jews are likewise fleeing France – perhaps not to the same degree, but for the same reasons. And the recent terror attacks in Paris are likely only to exacerbate the trend. The violence directed toward Jews in France is well-documented.
European conciliation of fundamentalist Islam, perhaps the only thing as antagonistic to modern Jewry as the Nazi Party, is largely to blame for the recent drama. France’s “extremist problem” played out on the world stage last week with the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a kosher deli.
If any Jews were on the fence, many likely just jumped.
Lost among all of the rightful moral indignation and freedom-of-expression arguments is an admittedly less important, yet still considerable side-effect of France’s culture clash. When Jews leave, they take their money with them. Whereas Germany simply confiscated Jewish wealth, today’s Jews are free to fill the coffers of friendlier states (one attorney who helps French Jews to relocate estimates a transfer of $1.4 billion from France to New York among roughly 25 families).
But France’s growing cultural dichotomy is a double-edged sword: its Muslim population (more than five times that of its Jewish population and the largest in Western Europe) is increasingly expensive to the French state, and the gates are wide open. It is estimated that more than two thirds of immigrants to France in 2010 were Muslim.
While the actual financial numbers are impossible to track due to French census laws restricting religious and ethnic affiliations, a little common sense goes a long way.
Muslim neighborhoods, particularly in Paris, serve as ideal extremist breeding grounds for young, unemployed immigrants. These same areas were the location of globally televised riots in 2005 that resulted in millions of euros in damage.
With a 22-percent unemployment rate among immigrants (non-EU immigrants make up 9 percent of Paris’s population), the costs to the state are clear. While not all immigrants are radical Muslims, most do come with a price tag.
France’s fiscal woes are no secret. President François Hollande rode to power touting a 75-percent tax on the rich (as if Jews needed another reason to leave), a measure that quickly lost popularity.
Like most Western economies, France was hit hard by the financial crash of 2008. By not taking an early stance against radical Islam and anti-Jewish sentiment, it has not only created a moral nightmare, but laid the foundation for a serious financial headache as well.
The country is desperate for a solution to the burdens imposed by its socialist economy, and now more revenue is leaving while the bills add up. It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize-winning economist to see the dangers. Money certainly isn’t everything, but it does show how far the effects of radicalism and anti-Semitism reverberate.
The recent marches in France in which millions have declared unacceptable the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo look promising. But in all likelihood they are too little, too late. France’s best hope lies in creating economic opportunities for its immigrant population (a 2002 report showed a 40-percent unemployment rate among Turkish and African migrants aged 15-29) while stymieing the flow of its Jewish population, and their wealth, to more friendly environs.
It’s a tall order indeed. Bonne chance.