EJA Meeting with Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion, Ján Figel

July 5, 2018

On the 28th of June, the European Jewish Association has met with Mr. Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU. During a very productive and insightful two-hour conversation, the topics discussed have ranged from the freedom of religion and inter-religious dialogue to anti-Semitism and the future of Jews in Europe. Other highly important issues touched upon included persecution of religious minorities worldwide as well as ways of resolving this severely acute problem, which still continues to plague the world even nowadays.

Former EU Commissioner and long-time Slovak politician, Mr. Figeľ has shared with us his experience on promoting the sacred and universal idea of the freedom of religion around the world on behalf of the EU and its inhabitants. Potential possibilities and opportunities for further cooperation between his office and the EJA have also been discussed.

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Belgian Jews Live in ‘Permanent State of Siege,’ Says Head of Antisemitism Watchdog

Fear of antisemitic violence and the presence of armed police and soldiers outside Jewish institutions has left Belgian Jews living in a “permanent state of siege,” the head of Belgium’s main antisemitism watchdog disclosed during a wide-ranging TV interview this weekend.
“The presence of military on the street in front of Jewish sites is somewhat reassuring,” Joël Rubinfeld — president of the Belgian League Against Antisemitism — told the French-language broadcaster RTBF on Sunday. “But you can imagine what kind of world we live in. Today, you go to a Jewish school and you feel like you’re coming back to Fort Knox, which is really a kind of permanent state of siege.”
Islamists based in Belgium have carried out several attacks on Jewish targets in Europe during the last decade, among them a gun attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014 in which four people were killed. Belgium’s 42,000 Jews are also subjected to antisemitic harassment by Muslim extremists. Rubinfeld said that over “the last two or three years,” his organization had dealt with a dozen cases of Jewish school students subjected to antisemitic bullying, as well as a broader trend of Jewish parents unwilling to risk sending their children to public schools.
“This is what they call a double punishment: on the one hand, they are victims of these antisemitic acts, of bullying, or even sometimes of physical violence, and on the other hand, it is they, and not the aggressors, who have to leave their school,” Rubinfeld said.
The last fortnight, he added, had witnessed a “rush of antisemitic acts” inspired by Palestinian violence on the border between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Israel.
Rubinfeld reflected that it had been difficult to convince Belgian politicians that the country has a serious problem with antisemitism. 
“Already in 2008-2009, I told them: ‘If you do not do it for my children, do it for your children,'” he said.
The article was published on The Algemeiner

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