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.”

Additional Articles

Head of EJA Blasts Grotesque and Disgusting Antisemitic Aalst Carnival Flot – Seeks Assurances from City Mayor

The Chairman of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin today blasted the organisers of the Carnival in the Belgian city of Aalst for allowing a float to take part depicting Hasidic Jews with grotesque hooked noses standing on chests of money, and asked the mayor Christoph D’Haese for a full explanation of how this was allowed to happen.
Rabbi Margolin expressed his incredulity as to how such an image, reminiscent of the worst anti-Semitic tropes and propaganda, was allowed to form part of a celebration in Belgium in 2019.
In his letter to the mayor, Rabbi Margolin said,
“When I first saw the images I thought it was a sick joke. I simply find it hard to believe that a carnival float could replicate the most disgusting and prejudiced stereotypes of Jews that are regularly conjured up by right wing extremists, Nazis and fascist sympathisers.
“I write to express not only the deep disgust of our association, that represents Jews from across the continent, but to ask you, as the Mayor – a public servant representing all faiths, colours of society -how this float was even seen on the street, let alone as part of a celebratory carnival.
“I need not explain the deep distress and hurt to Jews not only in Aalst, in Belgium but all over Europe, caused by this grossly offensive depiction of Jews. I sincerely hope and trust that this was a gross oversight, and that not only an apology from the organisers will be forthcoming, but also an assurance from you that all floats will be properly vetted in future and that such a float has no place in someone’s garage, nevermind a public carnival.
“I have long made the case for educational programmes to be put in place in Belgium that combat such negative and patently false stereotypes, the float at the carnival in Aalst are a clear demonstration that this is now a matter of pressing urgency.”

House of Fates hand-over to Jews should be celebrated not belittled says EJA Head

Responding to the news that the Hungarian government has made Hungary’s Emih, Hungarian Jewry’ principal Jewish community, the custodians of the Jewish Museum “House of Fates”, the Chairman and Founder of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin welcomed the move and rounded on critics as pretending to speak for Hungary’ Jews.

In a statement Rabbi Margolin said,

“The Emih community was founded in 1877 and re-constituted in 2004. Since then it has been leading from the front when it comes to the remarkable and inspiring revival of Hungary’s Jewish community.

It counts 16 Rabbis acting on behalf of its community in Hungary’s 3 main cities. It is the only community that provides Kosher certification and performs circumcisions. It is the only community to have published, in Hungarian, a Siddur, Machzor, Haggadah and Chumash. Additionally it runs 6 synagogues and leads spiritually another 3 in Hungary. It runs a kindergarten, school, high school and University and Rabbinical college.  It also founded the most important organisation in Hungary that monitors Anti-Semitism – Action and Protection – an organisation that enjoys widespread support among Hungarian Jewry. In the upcoming year, Emih will renew another 3 synagogues in Hungary. There is no doubt that Emih is responsible for the Jewish renaissance in Hungary.

Little wonder therefor that Emih is recognised by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and that the Hungarian government has chosen it to act as custodians for this important museum. This is the first time that a government has given up voluntarily, a museum or memorial and placed it in the hands of the Jewish community. This is to be celebrated not belittled.

Anyone that is critical of this move is showing how far they are removed the community and realities on the ground. Attempts to politicise such a positive step underlines the very real need for communities like Emih, particularly as the Hungarian government is one of the few in Europe that continues to provide support and is helping to create the conditions needed for a flourishing Jewish community through its unambiguous  support for Isreal and Freedom of religion.

Jewish groups challenge European Court of Justice ruling on religious slaughter

European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin
The Belgian Constitutional Court upheld a ruling of the European Court of Justice that member states of the European Union can ban religious slaughter without pre-stunning. The ban voted by the Flemish and Walloon regions has been challenged by Jewish groups who argue that under freedom of religion, which is protected by the European Union as a human right, EU legislation allows exemption on religious grounds for non-stunned slaughter provided that they take place in authorised slaughterhouses, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
“The Belgian Constitutional Court has shamefully upheld a decision that is openly hostile to a fundamental pillar of Jewish practice,’’ stated Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, in a reaction to the decision by Belgium’s Constitutional Court on Thursday to uphold a decision by the European Court of Justice banning religious slaughter without pre-stunning, thereby also upholding a similar decision by the Belgian Walloon and Flemish regions. Lamenting the court decision, he said however that provided an opportunity for European countries to show their support to Jewish communities and protect this central tenet of faith and practice. “What gets to the Jewish Communities the most is the two-faced approach of some countries towards Jewish Communities. On the one side they are solidly supportive when it comes to the fight against antisemitism, on the other they have no difficulty in effectively legislating Jewish faith and practice out of existence. ‘ Rabbi Margolin continued, “Worse still these countries are blissfully ignorant of this massive contradiction and its catastrophic effects on Jews across Europe. This decision, if replicated, is a real threat to Jewish life across Europe. Every bit as threatening as rising antisemitism, and in a sense even worse as it directly targets the very tenets of our beliefs. Now is the time for European countries to stand behind their Jewish communities and leave Belgium isolated and an outlier of how not to treat Jews”. The European Jewish Association is a Brussels-based advocacy group representing Jewish communities across Europe.

Jewish groups challenge European Court of Justice ruling on religious slaughter

Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Blessings for Rosh HaShanah18-21-09-2020

The EJA warmly thanks H.E. Zoran Tegeltija, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for His Excellency’s kind wishes to the European Jewry in light of the recent holiday of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year).

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