Chief Rabbi Jacobs honours Armenian Genocide victims at dutch service

June 15, 2021

Why am I present at this commemoration? What does it matter whether or not the murder of innocent people more than 100 years ago is called or recognized as genocide? To answer that question, I self mirrored and questioned myself: How would I react if the existence of the Holocaust was denied or reduced to something small-scale? I would find this unacceptable.
I would consider that a painful and blatant insult to those who were murdered then and to the relatives of today. Recognition is important, as it somewhat relieves the pain of the gaping open traumatic wound.
But, even more importantly: no present without a past. Our youth must know the history and what happened in the past to avoid it from happening again. And could it happen again? I don't doubt that for a second.
But how could it happen? Were the killers all by definition just evil people? I do not think so. During the Holocaust in Holland the number of people that collaborated with the Nazi’s was only a small percentage. But also, the number of people who resisted and dared to fight evil was miniscule. As the famous historian Prof. Jacques Presser put it in his masterly work Ondergang: “5% were very good and hid Jews, 5% were very bad and sold Jews for Fl.7.50 and 90% turned their head”. The vast majority witnessed and saw it happen, chose the easiest way, even if that road led to the most degrading acts. Whether we talk about the Holocaust, other massacres in our modern history, or about the genocide on Arameans: it has everything to do with the pinnacle of intolerance and looking away.
Could the genocide of then happen again today? Do we learn from history? In my opinion, the only historical law that we can establish with certainty is that people never learn from the past.
Freedom of religion? Yes! Freedom of speech? Yes!
But if freedom of religion is unlimited and calls for the elimination of fellow human beings who think differently or who are different, then that religion or ideology must be strictly banned. And if freedom of expression implies that fellow human beings may be insulted and humiliated to the bone, then we as a society may not accept that, whether it takes place in the Netherlands or anywhere in the world. Extremist ideas are perilous, especially in a climate that is increasingly polarizing globally. And therefore, we as a society must refuse to bury our heads in the sand, have an eye for reality, learn from what happened in 1915. We must point out and teach our youth the dangers of polarization, racial hatred, intolerance, megalomania and genocide.
But is that the purpose of our meeting tonight? Is this meeting an educational project? Are we gathered here primarily to take a lesson from the past and translate it into the present? No!
This meeting started with a minute of silence. Remembering the victims. Men, women and children who were brutally murdered because others believed they should not exist. And I, as a Jew, I’am here to share with you that one minute of silence. I stand next to you, literally and figuratively. I am with you in solidarity!
Speech Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi, June 15th 2021, Enschede NL

Additional Articles

Chanukah distribution of Menorahs and candles

Shabbat Shalom, Europe!
The EJA is happy to announce that we are distributing Menorahs and candles for various congregations across all corners of Europe!
Interested?
We kindly request that you fill in the form to be found through this link:
https://members.smoove.io/lk0tibd1y68dbmybby9nnghn1fcbxi7pxgrn399ntbgtnhtnd9nbx9drgmb9g.ashx
Have a wonderful day!

Jewish headstones smashed at Greek cemetery

Jewish Community of Athens spokesman says: “the scene is repulsive and our disappointment is great” after vandals carried out attack during early hours of Shabbat

 A Jewish cemetery near Athens that was desecrated with neo-Nazi symbols two years ago has once again be vandalised.
A press release by the Jewish Community of Athens said: “On Saturday, the most holy day in Judaism, it is imperative and we are accustomed to abstain from everyday activities and, of course, from announcements. In the context of this almost absolute rigor of observance of the Sabbath holiday, there are exceptions that have to do with dealing with the threat of a life or a great pain.
“Such is the pain that caused us, today, on Saturday, May 5, 2018, the revelation of a new wave of vandalism in the Jewish Cemetery of Athens. Unknown vandals entered our Cemetery during the night and destroyed nine commemorative marble struts kicking them with fury, leaving them to peel off their bases and crushing them on the ground. These marble slabs are used to mark the sectors of our Cemetery and are dedicated to the memory of the dead by their families.
“The scene is repulsive and our disappointment is great. This is not the first time we see the result of a degrading act at our Cemetery but it is the first time we see such act was organised and planned in part of the Cemetery that is not visible from the neighboring houses and with incredible fury. The view of the results of this abominable act causes us deep sorrow and anger.
“The Jewish Community of Athens will exercise all the legal means at its disposal, the first steps have already been taken by the police authorities that immediately came to the collection of clues.
“But besides the Law, we call upon all the institutions of the State and the City, the Justice, the Religious and Spiritual Authorities of the country and the Civil Society, to condemn unambiguously and without reservation this desecration and to stand with absolutely zero tolerance against such phenomena of violence and intolerance. There is no worse sign of a society’s moral decline than desecration of a Cemetery and disrespect for the dead.
“It is not just an act that concerns only our Community and is recorded as one of the most violent and significant anti-Semitic events of recent years in Greece. It is about an act that brutally affects the whole of society, the values and principles of a favored state.
For these reason, we ask everybody to exhaust every effort to never allow such acts against anyone.”
In October 2015, parties who have not been identified wrote in black paint on the entrance to the same cemetery south of the Greek capital the number 18 – a neo-Nazi code for Adolf Hitler — and the word “raus” – German for “out.” In Nazi Germany, the phrase Juden raus, “Jews out,” was a common slogan among anti-Semites. They also painted a swastika on the cemetery’s gate.
Greece’s Golden Dawn party is widely considered one of Europe’s most virulent neo-Nazi movements with representation in a national parliament. It holds 16 seats out of 300 in the Greek parliament.
The Nikaia Jewish cemetery is an active and relatively new place of burial. The community has been burying its dead there since shortly after World War II, when city authorities allocated the land to the community for this purpose.
The article was published on the Jewish News Online

European Jews are breathing a sigh of relief after Corbyn lost'

Chief of European Jewish Association celebrates Corbyn's election defeat. 'This election wasn't about right vs left, it was right vs wrong.'
With the results of the UK's general election Thursday pointing to a decisive victory for the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Chairman of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association said that Jews across the continent would be breathing a collective sigh of relief at the defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chief of the European Jewish Association, which represents hundreds of Jewish communities across the continent, said Jewish opposition to Corbyn was not partisan.
“I want to be clear that we are a non-partisan organisation. We have no political affiliation. Nor do we endorse or advocate for the UK Conservative Party," said Rabbi Margolin.
“The potential election of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister for us and the vast majority of Jews was not a story of left or right, but about what is right and what is wrong."
“The election to the highest elected office in the United Kingdom of an avowed Israel hater whose approach to eradicating antisemitism was anodyne and recalcitrant at best, would have been a devastating signal not only to British Jewry, but to Jews everywhere."
“We fully agree with the Chief Rabbi’s assessment that he is wholly unfit for office. It appears that a majority of the British electorate are of a similar opinion."
“This morning - as Jews across Europe wake up to the news coming out of the United Kingdom - we will be collectively breathing a sigh of relief.”
With 648 out of 650 races called for Britain's Parliament, the Conservatives have won 363 seats, compared to just 203 for Labour, giving the Conservatives a wide majority.
Labour chairman Jeremy Corbyn announced that following his party's defeat, he would be stepping down as party leader before the next general election.
The article was published on Arutz 7

‘How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?,’ asks Jewish leader after Greece rules to ban slaughter without stunning

Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities, said European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin following Greece’s Supreme Court’s ruling that ritual slaughter without stunning violates EU law, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
The ruling is an immediate consequence of a ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg last December that member countries may ban the practice of ritual slaughter in order to promote animal welfare, without infringing the rights of religious groups.
The December ruling said that the EU’s animal slaughter regulation “does not preclude member states from imposing an obligation to stun animals prior to killing which also applies in the case of slaughter prescribed by religious rites”, but encouraged member states to find a balance.
"It is now clear that a number of member states are zealously applying the former whilst ignoring the latter," said Rabbi Margolin in a reaction to the Greek decision.
The Brussels-based European Jewish Association represents hundreds of communities across the continent.
“We warned in December about the downstream consequences that the European Court of Justice ruling carried with it, and now we see the outcome. Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack. It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus and now it is Greece’s turn.
“These direct attacks are coming from many of the same governments and institutions who have sworn to protect their Jewish communities. What we are witnessing is rank hypocrisy," said the EJA leader.
He added: "When it comes to antisemitism, governments and institutions rightly stand behind us. But when our faith and practice is assailed left and right by laws, they are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be found."
“What use is it to protect Jews while legislating fundamental pillars of our religion out of existence?,’’ he asked.
He said his group ‘’will urgently making representations to the highest levels of the Greek government to get direct answers to this simple but fundamental question: How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?’’
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 authorized slaughterhouses. Jewish kosher religious practice requires livestock to be conscious when their throats are slit.

‘How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?,’ asks Jewish leader after Greece rules to ban slaughter without stunning

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