AFTER “HAMAS, HAMAS, JEWS TO THE GAS” CHANTS, DUTCH CHIEF RABBI AND MAYOR OF ARNHEM SET FOR FRANK, DIFFICULT BUT NECESSARY TOWN HALL MEETING WITH VITESSE FANS

April 21, 2021

After supporters of Arnhem based Vitesse football club were heard chanting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” ahead of a game against Amsterdam side Ajax last weekend, Dutch Chief Rabbi and European Jewish Association Chairman of the organisation’s committee for combatting anti-semitism Binyomin Jacobs and the Muslim Mayor of Arnhem Ahmed Marcouch are to hold a “town hall” meeting with Vitesse fans with the full support of the football club’s hierarchy.
The town hall meeting – whose date in coming days and details are being finalised – was arranged after Rabbi Jacobs got in touch with the Mayor immediately after the incident. Both agreed that words of condemnation were not enough, but that a constructive approach of engaging and holding a dialogue with supporters was needed.
Mayor Marcouch then contacted the Vitesse hierarchy to arrange a meeting with the supporters group.
Speaking today, Rabbi Jacobs said,
“Clearly the chants are abhorrent and disgusting. They are ignorant and a twin attack on Jews: on Israel and on the Holocaust. The natural reaction is to condemn in the strongest possible terms. We, of course, do so.
“But that on its own is not enough. We must be constructive, we must engage, we must educate so that those who chant what they think are throw-away lines in the spirit of rivalry, are fully aware of the weight of their words, of the damage and hurt that they cause.
The mayor and I, a Jew and a Muslim are fully aware of the dangers of ignorant prejudice. And we are also fully aware that boxing people in with condemnation can just entrench positions into “them and us”. This serves nobody’s interest. Our town hall meeting for which I am grateful to the Mayor for initiating, will be a frank, and we imagine difficult, exchange of views. But an entirely necessary one.”

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SUCCESSES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTISEMITISM

It should become a tradition to not only publish major antisemitic slurs at the end of each year. There is now also a possibility to publish successes in the fight against antisemitism.

In 2018, there were a variety of important actions against antisemitism. Summarizing the main ones at the end of the year provides some counterweight to the annual report of the worst antisemitic incidents — regularly increasing in pages — published now for a number of years by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
One important development is the expanding acceptance of the definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition (IHRA). One cannot try to fight antisemitism effectively unless there is a common measure of what it entails. By now the IHRA antisemitism definition had been formally adopted for internal use by the United Kingdom, Israel, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania and the formerly Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It has also been accepted by a wide array of others such as universities and towns including the cities of London and Berlin.
A second substantial development was successes in the fight against the BDS movement which aims to delegitimize the State of Israel. Legal measures play an important role in hampering BDS. In November 2018, Kentucky became the 26th American state to pass legislation to ban awarding state contracts to companies that endorse the BDS movement. The governors of all 50 US states have signed a declaration condemning the BDS movement as antithetical to American values. Chile has recently forbidden its municipalities to boycott Israel by aligning themselves with the BDS movement as a reason not to conduct business with Israel. Various municipalities in Spain have also tried to apply BDS to their practices. However, a number of courts have voided these measures, for instance, in Barcelona.
Yet another positive development is the appointment of antisemitism commissioners in Germany. This occurred at the national level but also in a variety of federal states. National commissioner Felix Klein has already addressed many aspects and incidents of antisemitism in Germany. He has, for instance, indicated that he intends to tackle the political distortion of reported statistics of antisemitic acts. Crimes against Jews by unknown perpetrators are registered as having been committed by extreme right-wingers, while attacks on Jews by Muslims are far more numerous than what is recorded. Among the state commissioners, Ludwig Spaenle of Bavaria has initiated a monitoring function that is slated to become operational next year.
The European Commission had already in 2015 appointed Katharina von Schnurbein as the coordinator for combating antisemitism. She has undertaken various initiatives, however has not been given anywhere near adequate resources to fulfill her task in exposing the massive antisemitism among the more than 500 million EU citizens.
A fourth important development is the increasing assurance of the security of synagogues and other Jewish institutions. Switzerland has been extremely negligent in this area. Finally this year, the first Swiss city, Basel, belatedly decided to join this process and assign police officers to guard the synagogue. This is an important precedent and challenge for other towns in the country.
A fifth important development is the publication of additional studies on antisemitism. In December, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) released a report it claims is the largest study on antisemitism ever undertaken. It investigated twelve European Union countries and is titled: “Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism.” The study found that the most common antisemitic statement encountered by Jews in Europe is that Israelis behave like Nazis toward the Palestinians. Muslim antisemitism is mentioned as the dominant identified source of harassment of Jews in Europe. It is followed by left-wing antisemitism and right-wing antisemitism. It is a Europe-wide problem that due to poor follow up, most victims of antisemitic incidents do not complain to the authorities.
There are many other incidental or smaller issues of importance. One was a French manifesto against Muslim antisemitism that was signed by 250 Jewish and non-Jewish personalities. This document sums up the main elements of violence and incitement against Jews emanating from parts of this immigrant community. One can only hope next year others will follow in those footsteps and expose what a variety of European governments try to hide or whitewash. Fifteen years too late, French President Emmanuel Macron has formally accepted that the murder of Jewish disk jockey DJ Sebastien Sellam in 2003 by a Muslim neighbor was an antisemitic act.
The Council of the European Union (EU) approved the first declaration of its kind to fight antisemitism and strengthen the security of Jewish communities in Europe. Outgoing US Ambassador Nikki Haley castigated the UN saying, “We will not tolerate a situation that a world body of 198 countries can spend half their time attacking one country: Israel.”
British media such as The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph have exposed the substantial antisemitism in the British Labour Party, which is led by Jeremy Corbyn, a friend of genocidal terrorists, associate of Holocaust deniers, anti-Israel inciter and part-time antisemite.
There are many other meritorious acts against antisemitism by individuals. Alyssa Milano refused to speak at the Women’s March in the US after two of its leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour refused to break ties with the leading US antisemite Louis Farrakhan. Another important development was the firing of extreme anti-Israel inciter Marc Lamont, by CNN.
It should become a tradition to not only publish major antisemitic slurs at the end of each year. There is now also a possibility to publish successes in the fight against antisemitism.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, and the International Leadership Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The article was published in The JPost

European Jews face new threat in wake of COVID-related anti-Semitism

Top European rabbi tells Israel Hayom a special center to monitor real-time incidents via remote feeds could be established in order to tackle anti-Jewish attacks.

The recent terrorist attacks in Austria and France, as well as the spike in coronavirus cases in Europe, has created a fear among Jews in the continent that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the spread of the pandemic could become mainstream.
A recent study in Germany showed that one in three Germans has somewhat of a conspiratorial view of the world.
Felix Klein, who is the federal commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and the fight against anti-Semitism, told Israel Hayom that the recent protests against the COVID-19 regulations have become fertile ground for anti-Jewish sentiment.
“The current protests against corona-related restrictions serve as a rallying point for antisemites, Holocaust deniers, and believers in conspiracy myths. At “hygiene protests”, participants downplay the Holocaust by, for example, comparing the current requirement to wear a face mask with the obligation to wear a Star of David during the Nazi regime,” he told Israel Hayom. “Portraying themselves as rebels – as do for example the supporters of the new political party Widerstand2020 (Resistance2020) and the Reichsbürger movement – is typical of adherents to anti-Semitic beliefs: Presenting oneself as breaking taboos, as ‘finally’ bringing the truth to light, as showing at last who is pulling the strings behind the scenes – and, as has been done for thousands of years, pointing their fingers once again at Jews,” he added.
When asked about the danger posed by such conspiratorial views, he noted that there is a concern verbal statements could eventually morph into action.
“Conspiracy myths also prepare the ground for violence, as history has shown. Those who perceive themselves as victims and feel threatened can themselves turn into a threat. Anti-Jewish pogroms throughout history have been the fatal consequence of such obsessive hatred of Jews, as have the antisemitic terrorist attacks worldwide in recent years,” he said. “A recent study has shown that radicalization online takes place four times faster than offline. That is what makes it so important to quickly adjust our laws. This is the thrust of the package of measures put forward by the federal government. I am confident we can achieve a lot through a combination of repression and education. After all, what is ultimately at stake is social cohesion in times of crisis.”
Meanwhile, Jewish groups have scrambled to deal with the threat of rising anti-Semitism in the age of coronavirus. The group “Concert – Together for Israel” strives to bolster Israel’s image and fight modern anti-Semitism, says its job has been made much more difficult in the wake of the pandemic, and many pro-Israel groups are facing potential elimination.
“Generally speaking, one can say that small organizations that rely on a small staff expect a slowdown and a long recovery, but the big organizations that need a large operation worry about their long-term viability in light of the added costs,” Nava Edelstein, the group’s program director says.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association that has led a comprehensive effort to counter anti-Semitism in Europe, told Israel Hayom that he has been overseeing a “virtual command center” that gets daily updates from Jewish communities on online anti-Jewish attacks.
“We constantly see how anti-Semitic voices on the web attribute the virus to a Zionist-Jewish conspiracy, on top over other forms of anti-Semitism that involve graffiti and vandalizing of Jewish institutions,” he said, adding the largest volume of reports originates in France, Romania and Belgium.
“We are considering setting up a center that would monitor events through Jewish communities’ video feeds in real time, so that we can alert security forces when such incidents happen,” he revealed.

Split, Croatia: French Jewish School Kids wake up to find giant Swastika daubed outside their hotel

European Jewish Association (EJA) contact PM, President and Ministers to register concern
EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, “this will be an unforgettable holiday and experience for these children, for all the wrong reasons…a reminder that we can never become complacent or let our guard down when it comes to antisemitism.”
(Brussels 19 July 2022) A group of French Jewish schoolchildren staying at a hotel in the small town of Trilj near Split, Croatia woke up yesterday to a giant swastika daubed on the pavement in front of their hotel, a clear antisemitic act.
The Brussels based European Jewish Association was informed about the act by their representative in Croatia, Mr Romano Bolkovic. Mr Bolokovic contacted the offices of the Prime Minister, President and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs Respectively, as well as informing the Israeli ambassador. The police are currently conducting an investigation into the incident.
Speaking today, EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said,
“What an absolute shame. Whilst I am certain that the views of the individual and group responsible for painting a giant swastika are not representative of the vast majority of Croatians, the act and nature of this attack – because that is what it is- is still a deep cut to Jews everywhere.
“As adults we are sadly used to hate, yet we continue to do all that we can to shield our children from it. That a group of French Jewish Children on holiday in Croatia have had such a vicious and visible introduction to this hate is tragic.
“Waking up to see a huge red swastika daubed outside their hotel, the symbol of pain and murder to Jews everywhere says clearly, you are not wanted here. It is the burning cross, the noose around the tree to Jews. This holiday for these children will now be an an unforgettable one, for all the wrong reasons.
“Whilst I am confident that the police will get to the bottom of this incident, and whilst the strong words of condemnation coming from the highest offices in Croatia are of comfort, we still have much work to do an antisemitism. This attack is a reminder that we can never afford to be complacent and let our guard down.”

EJA Chairman Extols Daniel Shvidler for Founding AMEPA, Strengthening US-Israel-Middle East Media Relations

EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin thanks Daniel Shvidler for his courageous partnership in establishing AMEPA – America Middle East Press Association, which is designed to strengthen ties and understanding between senior journalists in the United States and Israel and the wider Middle East.

In the photo from the left:

Rabbi Margolin, AMEPA representative on the West Coast, David Perry, the organization’s senior advisor Jeremy Pink, Daniel Shvidler, the organization’s representative in the southeast of the USA, Warren Cohn, AMEPA CEO Kim Kaman and Tal Rabina, the organization’s strategic director and head of Israel office

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