EU COURT DECISION LABELLING WHEN ISRAEL IS UNDER FIRE IS “WORST KIND OF FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS” SAYS EU JEWISH HEAD

November 12, 2019

“The European court quoting Israel for its “breach of the rules of international humanitarian law” whilst Hamas and its acolytes are bombing innocent civilian populations in Israel is one of the most perverse ironies I have witnessed in quite some time,” says Rabbi Menachem Margolin
As Israel was reeling this morning under a barrage of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza, the EU’s top court ruled today that EU countries must oblige retailers to identify products made in Israeli settlements with special labels.
The move was sharply criticized by the Chairman of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin “as the worst kind of fiddling while Rome literally burns”.
In a long running saga on labelling products originating from settlements in the West Bank, the European Court of Justice said in a statement that “foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin.”
Rabbi Margolin said in statement:
“The entire basis of the labelling policy is purely discriminatory against the world’s only Jewish state. Is any other country in the world with disputed territory subjected to such a blatantly one-sided policy? The answer is no. It also goes against the international standard of trade set by the World Trade Organization.
“What is particularly galling is the message this sends to the Israeli public today.
“As shops, schools and businesses are forced to close because of the onslaught of massive indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza, as Israelis take shelter and border towns and villages steel themselves against the worst, the EU sends them a signal not of support or solidarity, but of punitive and needless labelling.
“This is the worst kind of fiddling while Rome burns. The European court quoting Israel for its “breach of the rules of international humanitarian law” whilst Hamas and its acolytes are bombing innocent civilian populations in Israel is one of the most perverse ironies I have witnessed in quite some time.”

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Letter of Support for Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi

Your Excellency Madam President Von Der Leyen,

In response to accusations against European Commissioner for Neighborhood & Enlargement, Mr Várhelyi, and calls for his resignation, we would like to make the following statement.

Following the horrific and inhumane terror attacks against civilians in Israel on 7 October, which shocked the whole world, Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi posted on social media the decision for urgent review of the entire Palestinian development portfolio, on 9 October 2023. Hundreds of innocent women, children and elderly people were killed in terrifying circumstances or taken as hostages.

The Commissioner is accused of “offense to EU’s institutions and their democratic functioning”, by claiming that his “actions undermine not only the image of our institutions, but the trust that EU citizens put in the Commission”. Whilst, in fact, his actions are the ones defending and protecting both our fundamental values and moral compass, and also vis-a-vis trust by EU citizens.

Antisemitic attacks and calls to harm Jewish people have risen by 1200% here in Europe and both national governments and EU institutions have to take action. These are staggering and deeply distressing numbers.

The announcement by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi was particularly welcomed by all our communities, as he very correctly stated “there can be no business as usual”. “The scale of terror and brutality… is a turning point” and it has to be.

Germany review of Palestinian development aid

On 8 October, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, H.E. Ms Svenja Schulze, announced that the “attacks on Israel mark a terrible fracture”. “We will now review our entire engagement for the Palestinian territories.”

Austria development aid suspended

On the 9th of October, prior to the Commissioner’s post, the Austrian Minister for Foreign

Affairs, H.E. Mr Alexander Schallenberg announced that “We will put all payments of Austrian development cooperation on hold” and sharply criticised states that refuse to classify Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Sweden’s aid to Palestine suspended

On 10 October, Sweden Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, H.E. Mr Johan Forssell, stated, “We have a new situation after the 7th of October”. “Our decision today is that Sweden will … pause development aid to Palestine until further notice.”

Denmark development aid on hold

The same day, Denmark Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, H.E.

Mr Dan Jørgensen, confirmed that Danish development assistance to Palestine will be placed “on hold”. “Unacceptable acts, terrorism and aggression of the worst kind have happened, and we must be naturally be very sure that Danish money is not indirectly supporting that”.

The social media post by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi was made after a truly unprecedented and deadly terrorist massacre. It followed the lead of a number of countries and the strong condemnation of the terror attacks by world leaders. Both national governments and EU institutions share very legitimate concerns as Hamas has turned agricultural and irrigation equipment, which was paid by European funds, into weapons to attack civilians, and used cement that was meant for living quarters to build death tunnels to expand its terror activities.

As Jewish organisations which represent thousands of European citizens, we believe the accusations against Commissioner Várhelyi are politically motivated and display a breathtaking and appalling insensitivity to the horrendous and barbaric loss of human life.

At a truly unprecedented time, when Europe must be united against terrorism, it is nothing less than shameful that there exist those who prefer instead to try and score cheap political points on the graves of the dead and on the hundreds of hostages still in terrorist captivity.

Were a reminder needed of what we are all up against, last night the same type of terrorism struck the heart of Europe in Brussels claiming two utterly innocent lives, this follows, of course, the brutal murder of a teacher in Arras, France.

Commissioner Varheyli enjoys the full and unyielding support of European Jewry for his noble stand, a stand that sadly is possessed by far too few political leaders in the face of atrocity, barbarism and an assault on the very European values that we all hold so dear to our hearts.

Yours sincerely,

Rabbi Menachem Margolin Founder and Chairman European Jewish Association

Joël Mergui Chairman of EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board President of Consistoire of Paris, France President of European Centre of Judaism

Baroness Régine Suchowolski – Sluszny EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairwoman for Holocaust Remembrance and President of Forum of Jewish Organisations, Belgium

Ellen Van Praagh-van Aspert EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairwoman for Equity and Diversity, and President of IPOR Jewish Communities, The Netherlands

Andrew Cohen FCA EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairman for UK President, Federation of Synagogues, UK

Riccardo Pacifici EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairman for Italy and Jewish Heritage

Alexander Benjamin EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairman for Advocacy, European Jewish Association

Gabriel Senderowicz Mold EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Member

EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Member Chairman of Board of The Social & Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKZ) Portugal

Yaron Zeloof EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Member President of the Jewish Community of Cyprus

 

 

Holland Appoints a National Co-Ordinator to Tackle Antisemitism as Cases Multiply

Move welcomed “with a heavy heart” by representatives of Dutch Jewry and by Chairman of leading Europaen Jewish Association
 
The Netherlands is to get a new national coordinator to tackle anti-Semitism, Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said on Sunday. Dutch Members of Parliament – following pressure from the Jewish Community – had pressed the government to appoint a special advisor to deal with antisemitism following a marked increase in antisemitic incidents in the Netherlands.  The new national co-ordinator’ primary task will be to advise the government about dealing with anti-Semitism from a legal perspective and on ensuring the safety of the Netherlands’ Jewish community. The move was welcomed by leading figures in Dutch and European Jewry.
Ellen Van Praagh Chair of the Inter Provincial Chief Rabbinate for The Netherlands (IPOR) and European Jewish Association Board Member said in a statement:
 
“Just this weekend my synagogue and the Liberal synagogue in Utrecht were daubed with swastika symbols. It appears that the attacker had mental health issues, but it is abundantly clear to us that the pandemic has brought out the  worst in people.
 
“It has seen the resurrecting of old tropes about Jews, which has  fueled a rise in antisemitism and antisemitic acts, the numbers of which are alarming to Jews everywhere in Holland. That the government has decided to step in and tackle the root causes of this is welcome, as is their commitment to safeguard Jewish communities and Institutions in the Neherlands. We at IPOR look forward to working closely with the national co-ordinator to this end.”
 
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands and founder member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), whose contacts with the Dutch government have directly influenced the moved added:
 
“It is of course indicative of the predicament facing Dutch Jews that the government has decided to appoint a national co-ordinator to tackle Anti-Semitism. Whilst we welcome such an appointment it is with a heavy heart that this position is even necessary in a country such as the Netherlands, whose very name is associated with tolerance and plurality. Nevertheless, as attacks increase, the national co-ordinator will find their inbox heaving with suggestions from Jews in Holland who want nothing more than to live in peace and practice their faith unhindered.”
 
The Chairman of the Brussels based European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, whose communities span the length and breadth of the continent, concluded:
 
“The EJA, as part of our Europe-wide plan to tackle antisemitism, has called for every country in Europe to appoint such a co-ordinator, many heeded our call and did just that. So, we applaud the Dutch Government as the lastest country to make this move. The Netherlands now joins a growing list of European Countries with national co-ordinators whose task is to eradicate the virus of antisemitism that has grown in tandem with the virus of Covid 19. Too many Jewish communities across Europe have been forced to pull the alarm cord and call for help.  That governments are heeding this call is reassuring, yes, but it is also a signal that they do not wish the disgusting stain of antisemitism to spread further on their social fabric. There is much work to do, and the European Jewish Association stands ready to help, offering suggestions and best practice from other parts of Europe that Holland can apply, and that can help make the difference.”  

MOLDOVA AND JEWS – SURVEY SHOWS COUNTRY HAS DEEP-ROOTED ANTISEMITISM PROBLEM

In first detailed country study for Moldova, 36% of respondents feel Jews use dishonest means to achieve aims, 19% have a negative perception of Jewish people and around 14% “really don’t like them” Other concerning findings: 32% say Jews exploit non-Jews and 36% Jews seek to gain advantage from the Holocaust and 37% said that Jews talk too much about it.  

(Brussels 5 March 2024) The Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), representing hundreds of Jewish Communities across the continent, and Budapest-based Action and Protection League today published a comprehensive report on antisemitic attitudes in the Republic of Moldova, as part of shared efforts to get an accurate continent-wide picture of current attitudes towards Jews.  

The land-locked country of 2.5 million citizens has a small Jewish population of around 1,900, equating to 0.7% of all citizens, which, says EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, shows an irrational and alarmingly high prevalence of antisemitic attitudes.  

The survey, conducted between October 20th and November 14th, 2023, gathered 923 valid responses from the adult population of Moldova. The study utilized a stratified, probabilistic sampling method to ensure the sample’s representativeness. 

The Moldovan government has taken some actions in combatting antisemitism such as adopting the IHRA definition and changing the penal code to include the promotion of fascist, racist or xenophobic ideologies, public denial of the Holocaust, glorification of exponents of fascism/Nazism and the use in public or for political purposes of fascist, racist or xenophobic symbols.  

Speaking as the survey was published, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association said today: “The Moldova survey on antisemitism is part of our ongoing efforts to properly map the situation affecting Jews across the continent. “It is sadly clear that – despite some government efforts – deep-rooted antisemitism persists in Moldova. There can be no rational explanation as to why a community that represents such a tiny fraction of the overall population bears the brunt of such an alarmingly high number of stereotypes and tropes.  

“It will take much more than the adoption of the IHRA definition and changes to the legal code to make an impact on the antisemitic attitudes present in the Country. Change in the classroom is as a matter of urgency, if not the next generation will perpetuate and carry the virus of antisemitism with them. The Moldovan government has a tough road ahead in eradicating these old antisemitic attitudes that have no place in any modern country, especially one that seeks to join the European Union.” Ends  

It was a boiling hot sauna - Chief Rabbi Jacobs

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