EJA never called every Jew to carry a gun

November 27, 2017

Rabbi Margolin’s clarification: He never claimed that every Jew should carry a gun
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association (EJA), made the following clarification:

Contrary to what has been written, Rabbi Margolin is not the Rabbi of Brussels but the Director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, which represents 700 rabbis across Europe, and General Director of the European Jewish Association, a federation of Jewish organisations active at European level.
2. Rabbi Margolin never asked that every Jew carries a gun and does not advocate widespread gun use. Where licenses are issued, Rabbi Margolin calls for guns to be used responsibly and in self-defence. Referring to recent events, Rabbi Margolin has said that given the serious current climate, where Jews are afraid to go to the synagogue, to Jewish school or kosher supermarket, each Jewish institution – whether synagogue, school, kindergarten, or Jewish store… should be protected by the authorities across Europe. Should governments find they are unable to ensure the protection and security of institutions and Jewish citizens, in the long-term Rabbi Margolin called on Europe’s Interior Ministers to review current gun licensing laws “to allow designated people in the Jewish communities and institutions to own weapons for the essential protection of their communities, as well as receiving the necessary training to protect their members from potential terror attacks.”
With regard to recent claims regarding the content of Rabbi Margolin’s calls on the subject of gun licensing, the EJA Director concluded in no uncertain terms: ”Let there be no doubt, we are asking that all weapons will be issued for self-protection only, and to designated personnel that will undergo thorough investigation and training by local authorities.”
3. Rabbi Margolin thanks the Belgian Government for taking very seriously the protection of the Jewish community.
4. Rabbi Margolin repeats once again that he never claimed that every Jew must carry a gun!

Additional Articles

Israel skips Poland antisemitism meet, but some still see thaw in ties ahead

KRAKOW, Poland — A Polish opposition politician expressed regret at the passage of a law this summer that limited Holocaust restitution efforts, and said he hopes ties between Poland and Israel — put in deep freeze by the legislation — will be repaired soon.
“I personally, from the very beginning, was opposed to both legislations that made so much damage to Polish-Israeli relations,” Michał Kaminski, a Polish senator and a deputy marshal of the Senate with the opposition Union of European Democrats, told The Times of Israel during an interview earlier this week. “Those legislations I opposed in both chambers, they are very unfortunate.”
Kaminski was referring to not just the legislation from July regarding Holocaust restitution, but also a 2018 law that criminalized statements implying the Polish nation played a role in victimizing Jews in the Holocaust. The law was later amended to remove the possibility of criminal charges, but the legislation caused major diplomatic tension between Warsaw and both Israel and the United States.
Three years later, a law that effectively prevents future restitution to the heirs of property seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust led to a downturn in ties between Israel and Poland that has remained in effect since the summer. Each nation recalled its ambassadors, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the law “antisemitic and immoral.”
Poland “turned into an anti-democratic, illiberal country that doesn’t respect the greatest tragedy in human history,” Lapid charged. Poland responded by accusing Israel of “baseless and irresponsible” behavior.

Kaminski — a former minister and former member of the European Parliament — suggested that ties between Israel and Poland would not be irreparably harmed, and claimed that support for Israel was a bipartisan issue in Warsaw.
“In terms of supporting Israel on the international stage, Polish opposition is absolutely on the same side as the Polish government,” he said. “We are supporting Israel as a state, we are supporting Israel’s fight against terrorism, and we are supporting Israel as a stable democracy in the Middle East.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) speaks at a ceremony in Rabat, on August 11, 2021. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (right) arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO; Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via AP)

Kaminski noted that Poland was still among the strongest supporters of Israel within the European Union, and suggested that the rift was motivated by domestic political needs on both sides, which he called “very unfortunate.”

Three months after the freeze in ties between Jerusalem and Warsaw, there were few signs of thaw at the confab in Poland, yet cautious optimism that it was on the horizon.
A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told The Times of Israel that any improvement in ties “is basically up to Poland,” adding: “The crisis is because of the law. In order to fix the problem, they should address it.”
While politicians, ministers and parliamentarians from a wide range of countries attended the conference, including the UK, Germany, France, Hungary, Slovenia, the Netherlands and even the Congo, not a single representative of Israel’s government or parliament was present. The only Israeli on the conference agenda was Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi and current chairman of Yad Vashem.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent a video message that was played at the conference’s gala dinner, where he stressed that “Jews should not be fighting antisemitism alone,” and declared that anti-Zionism is the “modern manifestation” of antisemitism.
A representative for Poland’s government — Wojciech Kolarski, secretary of state in the chancellery of the president — was originally slated to attend the conference but canceled for unspecified reasons. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
Instead, an adviser to President Andrzej Duda read a letter from the president at the conference, which emphasized the need to remember “all Poles” alongside Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and stressed that “contemporary Poland is a safe and friendly country” to Jews.
EJA officials said they invited Israeli Culture Minister Chili Tropper to attend, but he declined. Tropper’s office said he was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.
Conference organizers suggested that Israeli government representatives were unwilling to commit to attending the conference due to the uncertainty over the timing of critical budget votes, which wrapped up late last week.
Alex Benjamin, the director of the EJA, told The Times of Israel that the crisis in ties between Israel and Poland likely “would have been [part of the] equation” for Israeli officials choosing not to attend.
But, he said, “there are some things that transcend political disagreements,” and asserted that for Israel, “such consideration and such diplomatic rows fade into insignificance when it comes to honoring the dead in Auschwitz. There are some things that transcend political disagreements,” he added. “And visits to Auschwitz and talking about antisemitism is one of those.”
Kaminski spoke to The Times of Israel immediately after he addressed a gala dinner at the EJA gathering in Krakow on Monday. Feted as a close friend of Israel and of Europe’s Jewish community, Kaminski’s public remarks echoed Bennett’s equation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism: “Fighting antisemitism and standing with Israel and with its people — we are fighting the same fight.”
The Polish senator told The Times of Israel that while he understands Jewish and Israeli outrage over the restitution legislation, he does not believe it was aimed specifically at cases of Holocaust survivors and victims.
“The legislation about the property rights is directed in 85-90% of the cases, not against Jews, it’s directed against the Polish citizens,” he said. “I understand the anger of Jewish people, of Israeli politicians, on one side, I voted against the law. But to be honest, this law is not directed against the Jews as such.”

Artur Hofman, the head of the Polish Jewish cultural organization TSKZ, lays a wreath at Auschwitz on November 9, 2021. (Yossi Zeliger/EJA)

Warsaw says the law will bolster legal certainty in the property market, but opponents say that it is unjust to those with legitimate claims, including Holocaust survivors and their families.
The legislation places a 10-to-30-year cutoff date on contesting past administrative decisions on restituting property lost during World War II. Critics of the law argue that it will effectively cut off the ability of Jews to reclaim property that was seized before and during the Holocaust.
Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not passed comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the communist regime.
Artur Hofman, president of the cultural group TSKZ, the largest Polish Jewish organization, told The Times of Israel that while the law is problematic, the outrage ignores more local issues.
“I know that everybody in the world, in Israel, in the USA, is asking about money from property in Poland,” Hofman said. “But Polish Jews are like toys in this game. Nobody asks us.”
Hofman said that cultural buildings that once belonged to the Jewish community in Warsaw were seized by the government and never returned.
He claimed that restitution funds sought by organizations in the US and Israel are rarely distributed to Holocaust survivors, and that the money should instead remain in the Polish Jewish community and go toward remembrance and education projects.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-skips-poland-antisemitism-meet-but-some-still-see-thaw-in-ties-ahead/

The ordinariness of Auschwitz

As a dear colleague put it, “Where is the monster? It would be easier to deal with if there was a monster here.”

I’m just back from a delegation that we at the European Jewish Association organized to Auschwitz for around 150 ministers and parliamentarians from across Europe. In the days leading up to Holocaust Remembrance Day and the poignant 75th anniversary of the liberation of the most infamous death camp of all, we read the harrowing statements of the last few witnesses, and pledges from the great and the good “never again.”
I’m still trying to process what I saw, to reconcile what in my mind Auschwitz means with what it actually is when you walk through the gates. The word that best sums it up, the word that makes me sick in the very deepest pit of my stomach, is how ordinary it is.
I don’t know what the gates of hell should look like, but if you, like me, try to imagine it, you don’t picture bucolic countryside surrounding it, a McDonald’s drive-thru close by, parents pushing their children up the street, kids loitering around bus stops trying to look cool, and old people chatting outside the shops.
As a dear colleague put it, “Where is the monster? It would be easier to deal with if there was a monster here.”
That perfectly encapsulates what is so scary and upsetting about the place: There’s no monster.
The gates of hell have a parking lot, a pizzeria over the road, and students in tight jeans and Ugg boots chewing gum while waiting to have a look inside. Our Jewish ground zero, literally the sight of our worst nightmare, the scar that each and every one carries in our heart, is an ordinary place.
Now I have to tell you that the staff there are incredible people. Our guide Michal believes with every ounce of his being that it is his duty as a resident to tell the story and history of the place. His knowledge is terrible and devastating. He paints a visual Guernica with his words: the 7 tons of human hair that they found packed and ready to be stuffed into God knows what; the fact that they found traces of Zyklon B in the hair; the number of people who shoveled bodies into the crematoria. I could go on but I won’t.

A few hundred meters from Auschwitz is Birkenau. If Auschwitz is hell’s waiting room, Birkenau is where the doctor, quite literally, would see you. Selection, and then into the flames. Gone for eternity.
And yet again, so close by, you find houses with swings in the yard, bored dogs barking at cars, the half-constructed BBQ made of bricks that was never quite finished (maybe next year when the rain lets up).
Auschwitz is so terrifying to me, not because of what happened inside those gates. I know the horrors, I’ve been raised on them. No, it’s so terrifying because of what goes outside of them, so close, so palpably close. A town where life 80 years ago continued its slow, mundane pace.
While the crematoria burned and the latest shipment of Greek Jews arrived to be murdered, two old men sank a pint in the nearby pub. A baby cried because its toy broke. Teenagers fumbled awkwardly away from watching eyes.
I can’t reconcile at all how ordinary life could continue. And worse, I’m scared. I’m scared that people can tuck into their Margherita pizza after the tour is over, the same way that you can swim with Jaws at Universal Studios then tuck into wings and fries.
I’m scared too that surrounded by this ordinariness, just as it was all those years ago, antisemitism can keep rising and keep rising while tourists keep on going through those gates having learned nothing, and worse, get back to the football and order another drink while the kindle for the fires of hell is slowly being gathered again, right under their noses, and ordinary life continues.
The writer, Alex Benjamin, is the director of public affairs at the European Jewish Association.
The article was published by the JPost

EJA Actions and Activities

Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a delegation of 50 parliamentarians will commemorate Babyn Yar massacre

The delegation is organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) in partnership with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine.

Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a delegation of around 100 people, including fifty members of Parliaments from several countries across Europe, will gather on Monday in Kiev, Ukraine, where one of the first and largest massacres occurred during World War II: the Babyn Yar massacre.
Also known as the ‘’Holocaust by Bullets’’, Babyn Yar, a location near Kiev where the Nazis shot around 100,000 people in plain sight, including almost the entire Jewish population of Kiev in the space of just two days on September 29-30, 1941.
The delegation is organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) in partnership with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine.
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is currently being built in order to immortalize the stories of the 2.5 million Jews of Eastern Europe, including 1.5 million in Ukraine alone, murdered and buried in mass graves near their homes during the Holocaust. Over the past year, a number of memorials have been erected at the site of the Holocaust-era massacre as part of the establishment of an innovative and expansive museum complex across the whole of the Babi Yar area. The establishment of the new center is being guided by public figures and leaders from around the world, chiefly Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.
‘’The delegation we bring to Babyn Yar will commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day by also introduced to aspects of the Holocaust that often go overlooked or whose memory has been suppressed,’’ said Alex Benjamin, Director of the European Jewish Association.
‘’Nazi forces and their collaborators attempted to cover every trace of the massacre. Soviet, and until recently post-Soviet authorities attempted to suppress any memorialization thereof,’’ noted Benjamin.
On Monday, a symposium will be used as an incubator for presenting, discovering, developing and establishing new and effective tools for sustained Holocaust education.
Delegation participants, especially parliamentarians, will be asked to adopt political action and take home best practices shared during the Kiev trip, and to advance public measures that will lead to effective Holocaust remembrance education and criminal prosecution mechanisms against Holocaust denial,
On Tuesday, the participants will visit the site of Babyn Yar where they will be introduced to the Babyn Yar Memorial Center, listen the testimony of a survivor and participate in a memorial ceremony.
The parliamentarian delegation comes at a time of growing tension between Ukraine and Russia.
https://ejpress.org/ahead-of-international-holocaust-remembrance-day-a-delegation-of-around-100-people-will-visit-babyn-yar/

Additional Communities
United Kingdom
Ukraine
Schweiz
Switzerland
Spain
Slovakia
Serbia
Russia
Romania
Portugal
Poland