As Queen Elizabeth II is laid to rest following seven decades of public service, the EJA welcomes the ascendancy of King Charles III to the throne. As Prince of Wales, Charles was a great friend of British Jewry, familiar and respectful of our faith and customs and above all deeply supportive of our communities. As King Charles III stewards the UK forwards into a new era, we wish him strength, fortitude and health.
Earlier last week, on 6 November 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ and Association “Shamir” /Latvia/ have come together to further promote the ongoing Europe-wide initiative on the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism. This time the meeting brought us to the Gem of the Baltics – Rīga, the enchanting capital of the Republic of Latvia.
At the meeting, where the EJA has been represented by Mihails Vorobeičiks-Mellers (Political Affairs Adviser), the APF by Kálmán Szalai (Secretary) and Shamir by Rabbi Menahems Barkahans (Chairman) and Jūlija Tereščenko (Project Manager), we have had a chance to meet with H.E. Madam Ilga Šuplinska, Minister for Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, and members of her staff.
The meeting took place at a beautiful Jugendstil building constructed back in 1911, which the Ministry occupies since 1938. Besides the earlier Hungarian experience, the system of education in Latvia has been discussed, particularly the various curricular and extra-curricular initiatives and programmes already implemented or currently planned by the educational authorities and other entities, such as NGOs, and which are related to different aspects of Jewish studies in the country, and thus the project’s area of topical coverage.
Differently from other meetings, this one has taken place in two languages – English and Latvian. As a result, the overall tone of the conversation became somewhat more personal, with a variety of first-hand experiences having been brought up by the EJA’s representative, taken from his own school years as well as Jewish studies back home. In turn, Rabbi Barkahan has described Shamir’s very active long-time work and accomplishments in the latter field.
In the course of the discussion, several areas of possible cooperation have been identified, including on the composition of new academic materials for school pupils. Moreover, interest in potential event collaboration both in Latvia and abroad has been indicated.
We are deeply grateful to H.E. Minister Šuplinska and the Ministry of Education and Science for the interest, time and the opportunity to hold this important discussion, not to mention for being such welcoming hosts. We very much look forward to further contacts on the present initiative and other subjects of common interest and concern.
The chief rabbi of Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, was severely beaten at his Buenos Aires home in the early hours of Monday morning, and has been hospitalized with “serious injuries” according to the capital’s Jewish Community Center (AMIA).
AMIA issued a statement on Monday saying that Davidovich, Argentina’s chief rabbi since 2013, was “beaten and savagely attacked by a group of strangers who entered his house,” at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Davidovich’s wife was tied up during the break-in and the assailants stole money and other possessions from the home, while telling him: “We know that you are the AMIA Rabbi,” according to AMIA’s statement.
The rabbi reportedly remains hospitalized. AMIA described the attack as “alarming” and called on the authorities to quickly investigate the assault against Davidovich and his wife.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international community must act against antisemitic incidents in wake of the attack.
“I send wishes for a speedy recovery to the chief rabbi of Argentina, Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich, and his wife, who were brutally attacked,” he said in a statement. “We must not allow antisemitism to raise its head. I strongly condemn recent antisemitic incidents and call on the international community to act against [antisemitism].”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett sent his wishes to Davidovich for a speedy recovery and called on world leaders to stand up against antisemitism, emphasizing in particular the need for Argentina’s government to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
“Today, the leaders of the world in Europe, in South America [and] all over are failing in their responsibility to learn the lessons of the past,” Bennett said. “But unlike the past, today we have Israel, and every Jew around the world must know they have a home here: we are waiting. But for Jews who want to live in Argentina, or France, or England, or the US or anywhere, we are also here. We will stand up against antisemitism. A strong Israel is the only answer – our enemies should know [that] Jewish blood is not cheap.”
His words were echoed by other Israeli politicians across the political spectrum.
“We are together with you in the struggle against antisemitism: in Argentina, in France, or anywhere else where the darkness tries to hurt us,” Labor leader Avi Gabbay said in response to the attack.
Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White Party, said; “we will fight the antisemitism that raises its head firmly in the world.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said he was “shocked” by the attack.
“Last week, I met with Latin American ambassadors and asked them to convey a message that the Jewish state will not be silent in the face of antisemitic attacks and the duty of local governments to uproot them,” he added in a statement.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamilel (Likud) said the attack was a “hate crime… the result of antisemitism that is rising around the world.”
“We pray for the safety of Rabbi Davidovich and his rapid recovery,” she added. “Argentina Jewry – the State of Israel is on your side.”
Amir Peretz (Labor) also consoled the community and urged Argentinean authorities to take action.
“The government should demand that the authorities in Argentina act quickly and decisively,” Peretz said. “We must do everything to ensure the welfare of Jews everywhere in the world.”
Ayman Odeh, chairman of Hadash-Ta’al, remarked in a statement that he was, “shocked by Rabbi Davidovich’s attack in Argentina.”
“Racism is racism and racism is racism, and should be condemned everywhere,” the Arab MK added.
Jewish leaders, too, were robust in their condemnation of the attack.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog condemned the attack and said that “we must fight to the end the human garbage whose source and motives are the hatred of Jews,” and said that the Jewish Agency would help lead the fight against global antisemitism.
“The World Jewish Congress is shocked and incensed by the brutal attack against the chief rabbi of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, who was savagely beaten by robbers inside his own home,” WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said late Monday.
Argentinian officials and security forces are investigating the violent incident to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
עמית ולדמן | צ׳אט הכתבים
הולנד לאוניברסיטאות: “דווחו על כל קשר בין עובדי אוניברסיטאות לישראל ולארגונים יהודיים”. הרב הראשי של הולנד, בנימין יעקבס, העומד גם בראש הוועדה למאבק באנטישמיות של איגוד הארגונים היהודים באירופה : “מדובר בדרישה המדיפה ריח רע ביותר של אנטישמיות ומזכירה את הדרישה מראשי ערים בהולנד למסור מידע על יהודים לכובשים הגרמנים בזמן השואה”