Chief rabbi says Dutch Labour Party opposed an anti-Semitism definition to woo Muslims

December 3, 2018

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said he was “shocked” that the Labour Party rejected a motion calling for the adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism, saying its vote aimed to curry favor with some Muslim voters.
On Tuesday, a majority of lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, the  Tweede Kamer, passed a nonbinding motion calling on the government to adopt the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. But Labour, along with all the other left-wing parties, voted against it.
The definition has been adopted as official policy by the United Kingdom, Germany and five others in the European Union, as well as the EU as a whole.
Some pro-Palestinian activists have opposed the definition because it says that some forms of vitriol against Israel are anti-Semitic.
Jacobs, a member of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, rarely comments on political votes. He made an exception here.
The lawmakers who voted against the motion, he said, “did so out of political considerations.” Asked whether he meant that Labour opposed the motion to woo some Muslim voters, he said “Yes.”
Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher declined to say why his party voted against the motion, Ernst Lissauer, a prominent freelance journalist, wrote on Twitter.
‏Bram van Ojik of Green Left told Lissauer: “Anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel should be kept separate.”
On Wednesday, Jacobs and Rabbi Izak Vorst, the co-heads of Chabad’s team of emissaries to the Netherlands, attended an early Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Khadija Arib, the chairwoman of the Tweede Kamer, also attended along with Ankie Broekers-Knol, chairwoman of the Eerste Kamer, or Senate.
Despite Labour’s vote, Jacobs said, “There is real determination in the Dutch political establishment to fight anti-Semitism, and the chairwomen’s remarks at the event reflected that.”
The article was published on JTA

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COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
 
Mr cohen from Schin op Geul
 
The world is turned upside down. The UK in isolation. My grandson, who lives in London but is studying at a Talmud College in Israel, will join us soon. He had flown from Israel to London for a week to attend his older brother's wedding, but now cannot go back. And so he travelled to Calais last night via Dover, is now in Belgium and will come here immediately in the hope / expectation that he can still fly to Israel from the Netherlands.
 
Incidentally, he has been tested for corona and according to the test he is in possession of a very large number of antibodies and we do not have to worry about contamination, although we will of course observe the 1½ meters.
 
We have made it through Hanukkah quite well, but uncertainties are starting to gnaw more and more and so the limitations of human ability are becoming increasingly visible. But in the meantime, that ‘other’ older virus is also spreading: in the ND, the Nederlands Dagblad I am quoted:
Chief Rabbi Jacobs: 'Prohibition of kosher slaughter has been a precursor to the persecution of the Jews throughout the centuries'. 'Naturally we want to contribute to the welfare of animals,' emphasizes Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs. 'Well-being is not only about slaughter, but also about everything before that: the stables, transport. The focus is now on one point: slaughter. I would like to sit with the PvdD, but then for the total well-being. ' Jacobs is moved by the ruling of the European Court. "If they're really concerned about animal welfare, let them bring up animal cruelty and sadism in slaughterhouses and the large meat industry."The Chief Rabbi sees the will to ban kosher slaughter as a sign of rising anti-Semitism. 'The first ban that Hitler issued in the Netherlands was that of kosher slaughter. It is absolutely not the case that I accuse the people who are now advocating a ban with anti-Semitism. But the phenomenon has always been a precursor to the rising persecution of the Jews. That worries me very much. ' 'Animal welfare is very high on the Jewish standard', he continues. 'Kosher slaughter is precisely about the welfare of the animals. And even if the animal is stunned, ie paralyzed, no one knows whether the animal suffers when it is cut into pieces. Science does not clarify this. ' Jacobs foresees major consequences if the Netherlands, like Flanders, imposes a ban on kosher slaughter without anesthesia. 'Then we can't eat meat anymore. Or we have to import it. It would be more consistent if the Party for the Animals advocated a general ban on meat. Then I would become a vegetarian. ' According to him, the consequences are even more far-reaching: 'Orthodox Jewish people will leave the Netherlands. And Orthodox Jewish life is already so sparse. They are the core of the Jewish community. If it disappears, the periphery of the Jewish community will also disappear. ' The European Court of Justice partly relies on science for its judgment. However, according to Jacobs, this is not unambiguous. A ban on ritual slaughter is drastic for the Jewish community. "It's an erosion of the faith community."
 
And in the RD, the Reformatorisch Dagblad, Rabbi v.d. Camp words to that effect and elsewhere I also saw that Lowenstein expressed the same concern. It is nice that it is precisely through an attack on a religious aspect of Judaism that something very unique becomes visible, something to which I was drawn to the attention of, among other things, a non-Jewish employee at the EO. I was at the EO a few days ago to record a podcast for the Jewish Broadcasting Company. Afterwards you talk a little longer. If a member of one of the PKN municipalities no longer sees the faith, he deregisters and is therefore no longer Protestant. But the Jew always remains a Jew, he explained to me! I remember a certain Mr Cohen from Schin op Geul. He was an atheist, anti-Zionist, vehemently against Israeli politics and wanted nothing to do with Judaism. Of course, he did not want to speak to me, he explained to me in an impassioned speech of at least half an hour. But when some years later the local pastor asked him to give a lecture to his church about Israel's special position in the Middle East and so he was actually asked to defend Israel's politics and for the unassailable union between Jews and the holy Land, he called me and asked to help him prepare for his talk.
 
And we see the same thing now. Because also Jews who really do not attach any importance to kosher food and certainly not to kosher meat, for whom kosher slaughter has no value and who will not be harmed by any means if there is a ban on kosher slaughter, stand hand in hand with me in the fight against the ruling of the European Court. Why? Because they too feel that it is not primary here that this is not primarily about animal welfare, but about the survival of the Jewish Community in Europe. But does the unbelieving Jew (if any) then need the survival of religious Judaism? And then I just quote that non-Jewish employee of the EO: being a Jew goes deeper than just faith and is certainly not linked at all to membership of the Jewish community.
 
I think that Mr Cohen from Schin op Geul is an exemplary example of this.

 

Eighth Candle of Chanukah- #LightingEurope

As a part of our #LightingEurope canpaign for the eighth and last Candle of Chanukah we are honored to have Ruth Dureghello, President of the Jewish Community of Rome with some special word for the holiday.

Bukovina Governor Made a Surprise Announcement: Historic Nationalized 'Jewish House' to be Returned to Community

A series of historic events commemorating 'Eighty Years of Tragedy' and in memory of the Holocaust victims of the Bukovina region, took place last week in the ‘Jewish Shtetel’ of Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Hundreds of dignitaries, public figures, guests, and members of the Jewish community attended the events. During the events, the regional governor made a surprise dramatic announcement: the ‘Jewish House’ nationalized during the Communist regime will be returned to the community and serve as a warm home for education and enrichment programs.
Under the auspices of the Jewish community of Chernivtsi, led by Chief Rabbi Menachem Mendel Glitzenstein and the head of the community, Mr. Leonid Milman, and with the assistance of local government bodies and other Jewish organizations, six memorial events were held on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 6-7). These events took place in memory of those murdered in the Holocaust and to commemorate the tragic historical events that began eighty years ago and led to their murder.
The climax, during which the region’s governor surprised the participants with the historic declaration, took place during a memorial meeting on the corner of Bryanska and Pizkulturna streets, where the Maccabi stadium was located and from where thousands of Chernivtsi Jews were deported in 1941 to their deaths in the ghettos and in the camps of Transnistria. A commemorative plaque was unveiled and inspiring speeches were delivered by the Israeli and German ambassadors to Ukraine and by the regional governor Mr. Sergei Osachuk. During his speech, Mr. Osachuk announced that the famous Jewish building called the “Jewish House” would be returned to the local community and will serve as an educational and cultural center benefiting community members and tourists from across the globe.
Following the governor’s announcement, during an official meeting with the Israeli ambassador to Ukraine that took place between the events, the ambassador Mr. Joel Lyon asked the Governor to authorize the return of the magnificent 'Temple' building to the community. In response, the governor promised “to do everything possible to return it soon.”
Additional events included a memorial service in the square from which thousands of Jews were taken - exactly 80 years ago - to the mass graves; reciting of the Yizkor prayer in the ‘Valley of Killing’ near the town of Baila, led by the city's Rabbi and Israeli ambassador to Ukraine, Mr. Joel Lyon; a historical exhibition curated by the local Jewish Museum under the direction of Mr. Nikolai Kushnir; an Intellectual Forum for the History of the Bukovina Holocaust, with the participation of rabbis, politicians, experts and journalists, and a special film festival focused on the memory of the Bukovina Holocaust. Many of these events took place at the premises of the Jewish House.
"These events have an additional purpose," explains the Chief Rabbi and Chabad emissary to Chernivtsi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Glitzenstein. "Beyond commemorating the memory of the Holocaust victims and events, we must boldly look at the spread of anti-Semitism in the world and do everything we can to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again. We must celebrate our Judaism with pride and without fear, spread light, and make the darkness disappear. The might of the events that have just been commemorated in the city, with the participation of government representatives and guests from across the world, prove that this is possible and in our hands."
Tens of thousands of Jews from Chernivtsi and the Bukovina region are scattered around the world. Many of them are eager for information about their roots and relatives who lived in the city. The Jewish community has set up a commemorative project that helps them in a variety of ways to commemorate their loved ones and discover information about them. You can contact the community at the following email: ‏‪jewishczernowitz@gmail.com

Meeting with H.E. Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria

Yesterday, on 17 September 2019, a delegation made up from the European Jewish Association (Alex Benjamin, Director of Public Affairs), the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ (Ferenc Olti, Board Member of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association and Kálmán Szalai, Secretary) and a member of our Advisory Board (Emil Kalo, Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, President of the Bulgarian Foundation ORT) has met with Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria, and members of her office.

The main topic of discussion has been the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism, a meeting on which just last week has already taken place in Valletta, Malta. This time, organized in the ancient city of Sofia, we have had an excellent opportunity to touch upon this subject and its various aspects with Mrs. Sacheva and her colleagues.

Not only has interest in possible cooperation been reciprocated – which in itself is already an excellent result – a preliminary agreement has been reached with Madam Deputy Minister on prospectively designing and implementing a pilot project in Bulgaria, based on the ECTPA.

We are deeply grateful to Deputy Minister Sacheva and the Ministry of Education and Science for the chance to talk about this important initiative and eagerly look forward to further cooperation.

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