EJA Meeting with European Parliament Vice-President Roberta Metsola

June 2, 2021

The EJA was proud and honoured to welcome European Parliament Vice-President Roberta Metsola to our Headquarters for a meeting.
Vice-President Metsola is responsible for Article 17 matters: Dialogue with churches, and religious and philosophical organisations, and is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of European Jewry, particularly in light of rising antisemitism due to the pandemic, but more recently the surge in antisemitic sentiment related to the recent Gaza conflict.
The EJA noted with appreciation the Vice-President’s fire and determination on combatting antisemtism and countering ignorance about Jewish life, practice and faith in Europe. In a political environment often marked by platitudes, such an approach was wonderfully refreshing. We agreed to pursue a number of projects and activities together in the months ahead and look forward very much to deepening our relationship with Mrs Metsola and her capable, efficient and dynamic offices.

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Red Lines Follow-Up: Meeting with German Ambassador H.E. Mr. Martin Kotthaus

Earlier today, the European Jewish Association has had the honour of meeting with the recently appointed Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Mr. Martin Kotthaus. While His Excellency has earlier already attended some of our events, including the recent EJA annual conference back in November 2018, this has been the first occasion, which presented an opportunity to have a very comprehensive discussion on a number of different topics.

These subjects, amongst others, included the issues European Jewry is faced with nowadays across the continent, the situation in Germany itself, especially with regards to the present political climate and the upcoming elections at regional and EU levels, various topical matters at hand and everyday life of the Jewish community, as well as prospects for the future. Both sides have expressed their hopes for a continued productive cooperation between the German authorities and the country’s Jewish community. The recently adopted Red Lines have been touched upon as well, with Mr. Ambassador kindly offering to report back on them to his homeland’s government.

We very much look forward to a long and fruitful cooperation with His Excellency and the Embassy on questions presenting mutual interest and concern.

Red Lines Follow-Up: Meeting with Iceland’s Ambassador to the EU

Eja chairman Rabbi Margolin met this morning with Iceland’s new ambassador to the EU, Benelux countries and San Marino, HIs Excellency Mr Gunnar Palsson. In a friendly get to know you discussion, His Excellency offered to report back to his government on our Jewish Red Lines, and expressed his support and desire for greater co-operation and ties between the Icelandic Government and the small but significant Icelandic Jewish Community. The EJA very much looks forward to continuing this dialogue and co-operation with His Excellency. 

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
Diary 7 Feb. 2021
“The attention for Israel is increasing in many Dutch Churches. Yet it can do a bit more. The Hersteld Reformed Church (HHK) has now once again put its vision on paper. The Church is called to expose anti-Semitism as hatred against the G-d of Israel, ”I read in the Reformed Daily.
At the end of the article, different Christian denominations reported their attitude towards Jews. What interested me, of course, was their attitude towards converting Jews and their views on replacement theology.
Just a brief explanation for my Jewish and less Christian-savvy Gentile diary readers:
Replacement theology proclaims that wherever in the Tanakh the Jewish people are mentioned, they should be replaced by “Christians.”
This theology has been the source of a great deal of anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews over the centuries. To briefly summarize an interesting article: the various denominations have different opinions about how to look at Jews and how they should or should not be converted. And that urge or desire to convert made me think on Sunday (the Christian day of rest!).
It is a fact that the urge to convert has led to millions of victims over the centuries. That replacement theology is therefore experienced as an extremely reprehensible act to me.
But how do I view a Christian who wants to convert me? Can I accept that? Obviously I will not be converted and will actively fight attempts to convert, but… Do I think the other should have the desire to convert me?
We Jews have it easy because we believe that Jews should serve the Eternal in a Jewish way, but Gentiles don’t.
The so-called Seven Noahide Laws apply to them. If the non-Jew lives according to these laws, but still a whole package, then that is fine. Then, I asked myself, will I try to convince secular Gentiles to abide by these laws? And shall I point so-called Messiah professing Jews to their error? And my answer is a clear “yes”.
But, I then asked myself, then I also do a mission! Look at Hanukkah when we publicly light the Menorah? That is not just any fun party. It has a clear message: bringing light to spiritual darkness! And why am I nagging when Christians want to convert us?
It was an interesting and fierce discussion with myself, but in the end I think I was right. I believe, I am even convinced, that every believing Christian would like to see me transition to Christianity.
I will never do that because 1: I will have lost my job as Chief Rabbi and 2: As a Jew I am rock solid in my faith and (unfortunately for the missionary) I will really not be able to get rid of it. But: how do I view that missionary, the urge to convert or, even if no conversion attempt is made, the phenomenon that, although I must now be left alone, there is the firm conviction that I will eventually see the “light”?
I came to the conclusion that I have no problem with this. Every person is allowed to think and believe as he likes. Every person may think of me that his way of life is the right one and the other is wrong. But the moment his faith gives or calls to kill the dissenters, to bribe them with money or to blackmail them spiritually, then it becomes unacceptable to me.
Incidentally, the conversion was completely snowed in by the media report that two drugs have been discovered in Israel that appear to cure corona patients. So, no vaccines, but medicines. The FD speaks of a “game changer”. I sincerely hope that it will become apparent very soon that it does indeed work and will thus create a gigantic global breakthrough. It is also great that Israel will provide that breakthrough. Makes me feel great and proud. But of course, it will also be a wonderful opportunity to confirm the conspiracy theories. Jews are guilty of corona and see the evidence: they are now going to make money on the drug again. Will the International Court of Justice in The Hague also interfere with this and will our pharmacies be raided immediately that do not mention “made in Israel” in their package insert? Because there will probably be a complaint or a UN resolution because perhaps one of the doctors who made the discovery is living in the “occupied territories”.
And if not, probably one of the patients who has been cured with one of these drugs. Or am I thinking too negative? Because also mobile phones, computers and many other medicines of global value and “made in Israel” have never been boycotted.
 

Israel welcomes launch of maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza Strip

“We are now very close to opening this corridor, hopefully this Saturday-Sunday and I’m very glad to see an initial pilot will be launched today,” said European Commission Ursula von der Leyen a visit to Cyprus where she met Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

Israel on Friday welcomed the inauguration of a maritime corridor from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip.

‘’The Cypriot initiative will allow the increase of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, after security checks are carried out in accordance with Israeli standards,’’ a satement from the Israeli foreign mionistry said.

‘’Israel will continue to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip in accordance with the rules of war and in coordination with the United States and our allies around the world.’’

The statement added that Israel ‘’will continue the fight against Hamas — an organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and carried out the 7 October massacre — until its elimination and the return of all the hostages.’’

‘’It is very important that additional countries join the Cypriot initiative and the international effort to transfer aid,’’ the foreign ministry said.

On the same day, the European Commission, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States announce their intent to open a maritime corridor ‘’to deliver much-needed additional amounts of humanitarian assistance by sea.’’

‘’The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire, with innocent Palestinian families and children desperate for basic necessities,’’ they said in a joint statement.

“We are launching this Cyprus maritime corridor together, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States,” Von der Leyen said after a visit to facilities in Cyprus.

“We are now very close to opening this corridor, hopefully this Saturday-Sunday and I’m very glad to see an initial pilot will be launched today,” said European Commission Ursula von der Leyen a visit to Cyprus where she met Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

“The maritime corridor can make a real difference to the plight of the Palestinian people, but in parallel, our efforts to provide humanitarian assistance through all possible routes will continue,” she said in a joint press conference in Larnaca.

The sea corridor is due to formally open this weekend, with a first pilot operation to leave either on Satrday or Sunday, when the right conditions are in place.

It comes just hours after US. President Biden announced in his annual State of the Union speech that the US will set up a port on the Gaza coast to ramp up the delivery of lifesaving aid.

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