City Council of Siena, Italy is taking a stand against antisemitism

March 24, 2021

Recently the City Council of Siena, Italy has taken a stand against antisemitism. Last Friday, thanks to the efforts of our Diplomatic Corps Member David Fiorentini, together with the Italian Union of Jewish Students - UGEI and the party Forza Italia, the IHRA working definition of antisemitism has been fully adopted. An important step towards a coherent and structured fight against the growing virus of antisemitism. We congratulate David and his partners for this excellent effort to help safeguard Jewish life in Europe.

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Attack at German Synagogue During Sukkot Raises Anti-Semitism Fears

BERLIN — A man wearing army fatigues and wielding a shovel attacked and badly injured a Jewish student coming out of a synagogue in Hamburg on Sunday, less than a year after an assault on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle turned deadly.

Security guards and police officers deployed to the Hamburg synagogue, where people were marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, swiftly subdued and arrested a 29-year-old man, whose name the authorities did not disclose. The suspect was carrying a piece of paper with a swastika in his pocket, the German news agency DPA reported.

The 26-year-old victim, who was wearing a kipa, or skullcap, when he was attacked, suffered grave head wounds and was taken to a hospital, the police said.

“This is not a one-off case, this is vile anti-Semitism and we all have to stand against it,” the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, wrote on Twitter.

Germany has seen the number of anti-Semitic crimes nearly double in the past three years. Last year alone, the government recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, culminating in the attack on the synagogue in Halle on Oct. 9. In that attack, a gunman tried and failed to force his way in during services for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, and then killed two people elsewhere.

The man arrested in Halle, Stephan Balliet, 28, is currently facing trial and has spoken openly in court about his hatred not only of Jews but also of Muslims and foreigners, and of being influenced by a far-right extremist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 51 people last year

Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern about the rise in anti-Semitism in Germany, warning in a speech to the Central Council of Jews that it is a reality “that many Jews don’t feel safe and respected in our country.”

“Racism and anti-Semitism never disappeared, but for some time now they have become more visible and uninhibited,” the chancellor said, citing the attack in Halle as an example of “how quickly words can become deeds.”

In Halle a year ago, the congregation inside the synagogue only narrowly escaped a massacre. The door of the synagogue had been locked and withstood the clumsily built explosives meant to blow it open. In his rage the gunman later trained his weapon on other random targets in the city.

Following Sunday’s attack, Jewish organizations in Germany and beyond urged the government to increase protection and focus on long-term strategies to stamp out anti-Semitism.

“I am saddened to learn that once again, this time on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a German Jewish community is confronting a violent, anti-Semitic act of terror,” Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement. “We must ask ourselves, and German local and national authorities must address the question — why does this keep happening? Why is anti-Semitism thriving?”

“The German government must take responsibility in strengthening education so that the next generation understands that hatred of any kind is never permissible,” Mr. Lauder added. “The long-term viability of Jewish life in Germany depends on it.”

EJA Meeting with PM of of Croatia

Despite the hectic EU Summit schedule, the EJA was honoured that the Prime Minister of Croatia, His Excelency Mr Andrey Plenkovic, took the time to meet today with a delegation from the European Jewish Associa
The wide-ranging meeting covered a lot of ground, including the eventual adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by Croatia, security concerns for the community in Zagreb, a briefing on the Zagreb opening of the Chesed centre for the loaning of medical equipment to all in need, an initiative to provide holocaust education via gentle and innovative means to younger schoolchildren as well as a fruitful discussion regarding involvement to the EJA’s Delegation to Auschwitz in November.
The EJA thanks Prime Minister Plenkovic for the care and attention he and his government shows to Jews in Croatia and across Europe, and notes that Jews feel safe and secure living and visiting the Country.

The Labour party approves a draft action plan against antisemitism to be submitted to the government’s anti-racist body

The Labour party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) has approved a draft action plan against antisemitism it is required to submit to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the government anti-racist body,  ahead of a deadline later this week, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
The plan comes in response to  recommendations  of the EHRC report into antisemitism in the party.
The Labour’s action plan comprises the 18 key recommendations of the EHRC report, including the setting up of an independent complaints process to handle  allegations of antisemitism, other forms of discrimination and bullying.
The party had receive a 10 December deadline to produce a draft action plan in response to the findings and recommendations of the report released by the government anti-racist and equality body.
A Labour spokesperson said: ”Labour’s national executive committee has given its approval to the draft action plan it is required to submit to the EHRC this week.
“It covers all the EHRC’s recommendations and is an important step towards Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner’s commitment to rebuilding trust and confidence with our Jewish members and the Jewish community.”
The action plan is believed to contain details on how  Labour intends to live up to Keir Starmer’s zero tolerance commitment to reports of antisemitism in the party in the future, how it will introduce training sessions on anti-Jewish racism to be conducted by the Jewish Labour Movement, and how it will effectively monitor improvements to ensure lasting change within the party.
Asked to comment the process in the Labour party by its new leader Keir Starmer, Gideon Falter, Chairman of the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism, who has been in the forefront of the battle to refer the party  to EHRC because it was not taking its complaints against former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seriously, said: ‘’‘’The point is that this is a man, Jeremy Corbyn, who put 47% of British Jews in fear of their future in this country.He surely cannot be allowed by his political party, which claims to be anti-racist, to go without answer for that. He must be held to account in a fair, independent disciplinary process.’’
Falter added during a webinar hosted by the European Jewish Association: ‘’If this is going to be polluted by Keir Starmer’s  political considerations about who has the power in Labour, then I don’t think the party has learned his lesson. The Labour party has to secure justice against anti-Semites.’’
Last month, Starmer decided not to readmit Corbyn in its parliamentary ranks despite the fact that a Labour disciplinary panel lifted the suspension of Corbyn’s party membership.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process of handling anti-Semitism complaints.
Its report said the party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and harassment.
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BREAKING NEWS: In Unprecedented Move 60 MEPs Call on MOGHERINI to Stop EU Funds and Isolate BDS Movment

A cross party group of 60 Members of the European Parliament have urged the EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief, Federica Mogherini to marginalize, both financially and politically organizations such as BDS (Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment) that are increasingly becoming a virulent source in the spread of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism under the pretense of exercising freedom of speech and association.

The unprecedented initiative, spearheaded by representatives of the four major political groups, MEP Cristian DAN PREDA, MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu (S&D, Romania) and a Vice-President of the  European Parliament, MEP Petras Austrevicius (ALDE, Lithuania), MEP Arne Gericke (ECR, Germany) “calls upon ensuring that no public funds go to organizations calling for a boycott of the State of Israel, and to instruct agencies not to engage with companies, organizations or other entities involved with the BDS movement”. 

MEP Cristian DAN PREDA, foreign affairs coordinator for the largest political group, the European People’s Party, and co-initiator of the letter underlined  his party’s  opposition to calls for the suspension of the bilateral agreements with Israel  as some of his extreme left wing colleagues echo directly from the BDS playbook.   “It’s in the interest of this House, and of our citizens, to see an upgrade in the partnership agreement with Israel. We should not allow the current stalemate in the peace process to dictate the terms of our relationship with Israel.”

Swedish MEP and President of EIPA’S political Board Lars Adaktusson – a co- signatory – underlined that “the Union, and the Parliament, is in danger of being deemed irrelevant as a peace broker if it fails to address the incitement on its own soil against Israel.”  

Vice President of the European Parliament, Ioan Mircea Pascu concluded that  “boycotting strategic ties with Israel,  a leader in the intelligence and defence international community, may prove counterproductive to the common security interests  of both EU and Israel”.

The 60 signatories, among which are Chair of Security and Defence, MEP Anna Fotyga (ECR, Poland), Vice-Preident Pavel Telicka (ALDE, Czech Republic), Dietmar Koster (S&D, Germany), Vice-Chair of Human Rights Beatriz Becerra (ALDE, Spain) urged their Foreign Affairs chief to “address the incitement to hatred and violence and discriminatory practice of calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel.”

Europe Israel Public Affairs Founder Rabbi Menachem Margolin welcomed the initiative of the 60 MEPs: “Israel sometimes feels misunderstood by Europe, and this leads to a further strain on the relations. The European Parliament takes pride in its diversity, and we are glad to see such a wide support for investment, rather than divestment from something that has been for more than 3 decades a mutually advantageous bilateral relation”.

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