EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION WELCOMES NEW AUSTRIAN GOVERNMENT’S REJECTION OF ANTI-SEMITISM

December 18, 2017

The European Jewish Association (EJA) today congratulated Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz on the establishment of the new Austrian government. In a statement, EJA Founder and Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin said:
“We remember Mr. Kurz as a foreign minister sensitive to the values of democracy and a friend of the Jewish people.
“In recent years, European Jewry has faced a wave of opposition to Jewish religious practices on the continent, as well as a worrying rise in the level of anti-Semitism and the popularity of extremist parties, both right and left.
‘Jewish Ethics denote that a people are never rejected personally, but their behavior and actions are’.
“For this reason, and in light of the statements made by the new government who all its members are united in condemning any expression of anti-Semitism, we congratulate the Austrian chancellor on his unprecedented achievement and his success in founding a stable government.
“Austria as an EU Member however poses a challenge. We cannot ignore the fear that in other countries extreme parties will join the government based on the Austrian model without the unambiguous rejection of anti-Semitism that Austria has provided.
“The European Jewish Association is asking the new government to join the United States, the European Union and other countries and to appoint a special government representative to initiate and coordinate government action to eradicate anti-Semitism and Xenophobia in Austria in the spirit of the anti-Semitic definitions adopted in the European Parliament in June 2017 and to clarify that freedom of religion in Austria will remain unchanged.”

Additional Articles

BRUSSELS PARLIAMENT WON’T BAN KOSHER SLAUGHTER – EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION CHAIRMAN APPLAUDS DECISION

“Where Brussels has led, others must follow”, says EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, adds “thank goodness for 3 Parliaments in Belgium.”

 

(Brussels 17 June). In a closely contested vote (42 against, 38 for) the Brussels Parliament has just voted not to ban Kosher slaughter in the Capital Region.

 

The move represents a victory for Jews in the Belgian Capital and stands in contrast to both Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium’s other regions) where bans on Kosher slaughter are in place.

 

Welcoming the vote, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the Chairman of the European Jewish Association that represents hundreds of communities across the Continent, and whose offices are headquartered in Brussels said in a statement:

 

“After a steady stream of bans across Europe that has left many communities bereft of local Kosher meat and having to shoulder the increased expenses of importing meat, we applaud this vote by Belgium’s Capital Parliament.

 

“The expense of course is of secondary concern to the overwhelming feeling from communities across the continent that their faith and traditions are constantly under threat by ill-though out , or malign legislation. 

 

“It is not said too often, but thank goodness for 3 parliaments in Belgium. There are few bastions left where Freedom of Religion is still considered a fundamental right. As a citizen of Brussels, I am proud that the capital is such a bastion. Where Brussels has led, others must now follow”.

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.”

Greetings for the Upcoming Rosh HaShanah by Prime Minister of Hungary, H.E. Mr. Viktor Orbán and by Ambassador of Hungary to Belgium and Luxembourg H.E Dr. Tamas Ivan Kovacs


80 years after Babyn Yar massacre: tools to keep the memory alive, learn the lessons

For two days, September 29 and 30, 1941, 33,771 people were exterminated. More than thirty thousand of them were Jews.
A zoom press conference was dedicated on Tuesday to the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre ahead of an event “Lessons from Babyn Yar: History, Memory and Legacy” which is jointly organised by the House of European History in Brussels and the Kiev-based Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC).
The conference, organized in cooperation with the European Jewish Asociation, discussed lessons 80 years later, as well as unveiling new and unique tools to keep the lessons, history and memory alive, including actually putting faces and names to those murdered for the first time.
Among the speakers, French Father Patrick Desbois, founder of Yahad-In Unum and head of the scholarly council of BYHMC, stressed that Babi Yar was a criminal site where the genocide of the Jewish people took place in the center of a large city in a large country (Kiev, today Ukraine).
‘’The locals willingly aided the young fascists. The gunmen were given sandwiches and tea with little vodka in it as the mass executions lasted many hours,’’ he noted.
Father Patrick asked a practical question: where did the tons of items and valuables taken from the Jews before their execution go? ‘’It would seem that everything should be documented, but it is easier to find detailed evidence and statistics of the shootings than information about the confiscated property of those killed. It was as if the Germans were embarrassed to write about such facts.’’
He added, ‘’For me, this is another terrible evidence of the Babi Yar tragedy: human life is reduced to zero. It is only the result of statistics, nothing more. Even more terrible is that the USSR, on whose territory the tragedy took place, tried to hide the truth about Babyn Yar for a long time. Nevertheless, our generation has a goal: to find the hidden facts and restore the history of this bloody genocide.’’
“I visited Raka in Syria where there was a mass grave. Journalists came, journalists went. Perhaps in 80 years there can be a debate about what is a ‘fitting’ memorial. What is important is keeping the memory and lessons alive,’’ stressed Father Desbois.
One of the panelists, Marek Siwiec, Director of European Affairs at BYHMC,  provided information about many ongoing projects, each of which can contribute to the restoration of the truth about Babyn Yar.
Colossal work has been done: out of more than 33,000 dead, 28,428 names have been identified, and essential family and personal facts have been restored. All these invaluable findings became the basis of a vast program titled “Project Names.”
‘’It brought us closer to the real life of those who were shot at Babi Yar. They say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but the death of tens of thousands is a statistic,’’ said Siwiec, who is a former member of the European Parliament.
‘’Project Names’’ allows us to turn dry statistics into pain for everyone who was left in that terrible place, who did not live, who did not love, who did not leave their continuation on earth,’’ he added.
Another project mentioned by Siwiec, “Red Dot” (Red Dot Remembrance), is unique: more than 3,000 people provided information about the WWII war crimes. This app has so far registered 2,850 sites across of Europe of the ‘Holocaust by bullets’ which enables users to see and learn what took place wherever they are.
‘’These are mass extermination sites, eyewitness accounts, evidence supported by documents, which were kept with German punctuality and pedantry throughout the war,’’ explained Siwiec.
On the Babyn Yar massacre anniversary date of 29th September, 15,000 schools in Ukraine will participate in a “lessons of the Holocaust Day”.
‘’The key word underpinning all of our activities is education. It is only through education that the tragic disasters of the past can never be repeated,” said Siwiec.
Marek Rutka, a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, and chairman of the parliamentary group for the commemoration of the crimes at Babyn Yar and for a Europe free from genocide and hatred, explained that members of his political party  regularly visit the sites of the Shoah executions. ‘’They see heartfelt tragedies lead to politically literate conclusions about the need to talk about the Shoah on a European scale. There is no genocide without the tolerance of neighboring countries. These words can be taken as a motto for the whole debate.’’
Anton Schneerson, who contributed this article for European Jewish Press,  is a Ukrainian Jew living in Germany. The Jewish community of his hometown, Dnipro, managed to build one of the world’s most prominent Holocaust museum that deeply covers the Babyn Yar tragedy.
 
https://ejpress.org/80-years-after-babyn-yar-massacre-tools-to-keep-the-memory-alive-learn-the-lessons/

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