Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”
Let me be very clear–I am against the burning of the Koran! It’s not my book, I don’t believe in it, but I read it anyway to better understand my enemies and surroundings. In Ankara, the Turkish government summoned the Swedish and Dutch ambassadors, one after the other. In both countries, the Koran has been burned and torn up in recent days. First, the burning of the Koran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm sparked outrage in the Islamic world and increased tensions between Sweden and Turkey. A few days later, the head of the Dutch branch of Pegida, Edwin Wagensveld, publicly tore up a Koran in The Hague. Why was that necessary?
I can understand why the entire Islamic world was upset about these incidents. In contrast to the Christian world, the Muslim world is much more “believing” than the supposedly “Christian” nations of Europe and the Americas. The Christian world would react and has reacted more leniently in similar insults to their holy book and figures. But that wasn’t always the case.
Why do people keep burning other people’s books? For centuries, literature has been destroyed and demonstratively burned in order to erase dangerous and harmful ideas. “Where books are burned, people will also be burned in the end,” wrote the poet Heinrich Heine in the 19th century. In the next century, in the 1930s, Jewish books were thrown into the fire, and a few years later Jews themselves were gassed and incinerated.
Of course, I can understand that the Muslims get upset and angry about this. If Torah scrolls were thrown into the fire in Europe, Jews would also have been upset. However, everyone gets upset in their own way. Muslims are more likely to engage in riots, while Jews more likely resort to verbally condemn and complain about the world’s antisemitism.
And when I talk to my Jewish and Arab friends about the burning of the Koran in Europe, they both tell me the same thing. Europe is and will remain Europe. The Christian Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust all happened on European soil. Shadi is a Palestinian from Fukin and my friend. “Why do Christians do this? The Koran is our holy book,” he stressed the day before yesterday. “The Crusaders have always been our most brutal enemy.” And so on.
On the Jewish side, one hears again and again that Jews should be careful when it comes to Europe. True, at this time Europe looks like the most peaceful continent on earth. Israelis love classic Europe, skiing in the Alps and vacationing in Italy, Spain and elsewhere. But that bubble can burst again. Just 80 years ago, six million Jews were exterminated in Europe. What is 80 years in the timeline of world history? Two world wars broke out on this continent and a few centuries earlier the Inquisition ruled there.
“When Korans are burned in Europe, I get scared,” Itzik, who lives in Israel and northern Italy, told me. Eres, another friend of mine who lives in Portugal and often tells me how much he enjoys life in Europe, said he also knows that in Europe everything can change overnight. His grandparents’ siblings were all murdered in Europe. Yes, the burning of Korans also scares Jews, because not long ago more than books were burned in Europe.
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