Chelsea Football Club receives prestigious Jewish award for leading the way on combatting antisemitism

November 25, 2021

European Jewish Association’s King David Award gives recognition for “fearlessly and unambiguously taking the lead on the issue”, urge other clubs to follow Chelsea’s lead.
‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,”said Bruce Buck, Chairman of Chelsea FC who received the award on behalf of his club at Stamford bridge.

During Tuesday evening  Chelsea vs Juventus Champions League game at Stamford bridge, a delegation from the European Jewish Association presented the Association’s prestigious King David Award for 2021 to Bruce Buck, Chairman of the Chelsea Football Club.
The recognition comes as a result of Chelsea’s ‘’Say No to Antisemitism’’ campaign, funded by club owner Roman Abramovich, which was launched in 2018 to raise awareness of and educate players, staff, fans and the wider community about antisemitism. The long-term initiative forms part of the club’s on-going inclusion work, through the Chelsea Foundation’s Building Bridges campaign.
“We are honoured to be the latest recipients of the European Jewish Association’s King David Award,’’ said Bruce Buck who received the award on behalf of his club. ‘’Since our Club Owner Roman Abramovich initiated our ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign in January 2018, we have been committed to working with Jewish organisations nationally and internationally to help stamp out antisemitism from our societies. We will continue to use our global platforms at Chelsea to say no to antisemitism and keep up the fight against this and all other forms of discrimination,” he added.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association said of the award, “Sport brings out the best in people, but sadly it can also bring out the worst. And some of the worst examples of antisemitism often manifest themselves on the football terraces, and in stadia around the world. Chelsea was, of course, no exception to this rule. Except, that unlike others, they decided to do something about it.’’
“It is truly inspiring to see not only the significant investment made in this effort, but the genuine commitment to listen, to act and to make a difference. From the ground up, from grassroots initiatives to a website visited by millions, Chelsea Football Club has led the way, a shining light and example not just for other football clubs to follow, but for everyone,’’ he said.
He added, ‘’Presenting them with this award, on behalf of the many communities across Europe that we represent is the least we can do to recognise this movement for change that they have started, this ultimate force for good that gives hope to Jews everywhere that the lessons of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, and that antisemitism will be called out wherever it manifests itself.’’
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi in the Netherlands and chairman of the EJA committee on combatting antisemitism, ‘’ underlined that ‘’the Chelsea model is one to be replicated everywhere, and we will let governments and organisations know about the great and important work you are doing here. King david is a Jewish hero.  Chelsea are now heroes to the Jewish community.’’
Lebanese businessman Abdallah Chatila, a recipient of the 2020 King David Award who made headlines worldwide when he bought 600,000 Euro worth of Nazi Memorabilia at an auction and donated it to Jewish organisations as an act of registering his disgust at the auction, and who since has supported many initiatives that combat antisemitism, added:
“Antisemitism targets Jews but infects society as a whole. Ignorance, hatred and xenophobia have no place in a world where borders are increasingly meaningless, where values are universal and where different identities are to be cherished. I am proud to be here tonight at Chelsea, to be a continuing link in a chain of those committed to combatting antisemitism. Chelsea Football Club have a huge reach. They could have opted for an easier route. Instead they decided to tackle the issue head-on. It is inspiring to see. And for others to follow and emulate.”
https://ejpress.org/chelsea-football-club-receives-prestigious-jewish-award-for-leading-the-way-on-combatting-antisemitism/

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EU Message for European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism

“Today, we remember and honour all victims of terrorist atrocities, and we stand by those who grieve and those who endure the physical and psychological wounds of terrorist acts”. The Commission has issued this statement to mark today’s 16th European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism. The statement reads: “Terrorist attacks such as the ones that have struck at the heart of our Union in recent years are attacks on our values and our way of life. We will continue to stand firm against all who seek to hurt and divide our societies through hatred and violence and we will continue to build the EU’s resilience against attacks of all natures. Everyone in our Union has the right to feel safe in their own streets and their own home”. “It is our common responsibility to make sure no victim is left alone or forgotten and that our communities remain supportive”. The European Union “will continue to support victims and their loved ones, protect their rights and guarantee that their voices are heard. Those who have to live with the scars of terrorist acts need special support and care. Through the newly launched EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism, we provide Member States with expertise and guidance so they can assist victims in case of a terrorist attack”. Finally, “on this day of remembrance, we stand united and strong in our commitment to build a Europe that protects”.

Celebating Chanukah with PM Sophie Wilmès

Our Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin had the opportunity to meet Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès yesterday evening at the Chaarei Tzion Synagogue in Brussels, where leaders gathered to mark the 8th and concluding night of the Chanukah holiday. The Prime Minister and Rabbi Margolin agreed to stay in touch regarding ongoing challenges and opportunities affecting European Jewry.

Rabbi Margolin is pictured here along with Mr Alain Wahba of the MR for the Brussels Region and, of course, Prime Minister Wilmes.

Belgium Government to Remove Army Protection at Jewish Institutions on 1st Sep Despite On-Going Threat Status

Head of European Jewish Association rails against decision, saying it makes ‘Zero sense’ and adding that in absence of providing alternative security arrangements, it leaves Jews “wide open with a target sign on our backs”.
Brussels 23 June 2021. In Belgium the security threat is currently medium according to the metrics provided by governments own Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (CUTA). But for Jewish Communities, as well as the American and Israeli embassies, the threat remains “serious and probable”.
It was therefore with great alarm that the European Jewish Association, through its partner organisation the Jewish Forum of Antwerp and Belgian MP Michael Freilich, learned that the Belgian government was removing army protection from Jewish buildings and institutions starting on 1st September. The decision was taken without consultation with Jewish communities and without a suitable alternative being proposed.
Army presence at Jewish Buildings has been in place since the Brussels terror attacks and Jewish Museum murders.
In a statement today, the Chairman of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin said,
“The Belgian Government has up until now been exemplary in its protection of Jewish Communities. In fact, we at the European Jewish Association have held up the Belgian example as one to be emulated by other Member States. For this dedication to keeping us safe and secure we have always expressed out utmost gratitude and appreciation.
Is it also because of this dedication that the decision to remove the army on September 1st makes Zero sense. Unlike the US and Israeli embassies, Jewish communities do not have access to any State security apparatus. Not only that but while the threat may be medium for Belgium, for Jews the threat is both serious and probable according to the data provided to the government by their own agency, the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis.
It is alarming too that Jewish communities have not even been properly consulted about this move. Nor is the government presently proposing any alternatives. As of now, it leaves Jews wide open and with a target on our backs.
Anti-semitism is increasing in Europe, not decreasing. Belgium, sadly is not immune to this. The pandemic, the recent Gaza operation and its fallout are worrying Jews enough as it is, without this even added to the equation. Worse, it sends a signal to other European countries to do likewise. I am urging the Belgian government to reconsider this decision or at the very least offer a solution in its stead.”
 
Rabbi Margolin has written to the Belgium Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden, seeking an urgent meeting and asking for the move to be reconsidered:m v 23_6

Message by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah

It is my great pleasure to wish you, your families and friends and Jewish communities all over the world a joyful and blessed Erev Rosh Hashanah and a happy new year 5779, full of health, prosperity and success.
Rosh Hashanah is always a good time to look back at the year before, to review our deeds, an opportunity to reflect but also to revive our engagement for causes we believe in and adjust our path accordingly.
It was a challenging year for Europe and its Jewish communities as our societies were put to the test, again. We witnessed demonstrations of Jewish communities in several countries standing up against antisemitism and claiming their rights as citizens. Europe is built upon the richness of our diversity and the unity of our fundamental values. That is why I have great confidence in our collective future.
The European Commission’s relationship with Jewish communities, organisations and representatives has never been closer. This alliance makes us stronger in the battle against hatred, extremism and antisemitism. I was very honoured to receive the Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry this year. I see it as a sign of trust in the bond that exists between the European Union and the Jewish communities.
With shock and sadness I recall the horrific murder of Mireille Knoll who survived the roundup at Vel d’Hiv in 1942, but not antisemitism in Europe in 2018. The European Commission was very clear that there can be no justification and we stand in full solidarity with the European Jewish communities in condemning these vile attacks in the strongest possible way.
Jews should never have to wonder whether it is safe to display their identity in their own neighbourhood, city or country. Europe must remain a place where Jewish life can flourish and Jews can freely practice their faith without fear or restrictions. It doesn’t matter where the hatred comes from, whether it is right-wing, le -wing, Islamist extremists or whether it comes masked as antizionism, we all have the obligation to stand up and speak out.
Against resurging threats, the rebirth of Jewish life in many parts of Europe is a precious gi . It filled me with pride to take part in the inauguration of the new rabbi in my own home region last year and to see the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish communities in Europe. Every new synagogue, community centre and school is a step to strengthen Jewish life, but also a step to strengthen Europe and to strengthen our societies.
We will ensure that Jewish voices continue to be heard in Europe and let me thank all of you who participated in the broadest consultation ever on challenges to Jewish life in Europe, conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. The results will be presented this December and will guide our policy response with the ultimate aim of ensuring the rights of Jews in Europe.
This year is also special as we celebrate two crucial moments in history: the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrining the lessons for humanity from the Shoah, and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, materialising the Jewish people’s dream of a Jewish homeland.
The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We have the obligation to protect and strengthen the richness of Jewish culture and diversity and its contribution to our Europe.

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