European Jewish leaders from the EJA Annual Conference in Porto: Antisemitism is a unique phenomenon and must be treated separately from other forms of hate and discrimination

May 17, 2023

Date: 15 May 2023

Immediate Release

 

EUROPEAN JEWISH LEADERS CONFERENCE IN PORTO.

THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR:

 

ANTISEMITISM IS UNIQUE AND MUST BE SEPARATED IN NATIONAL PLANS FROM OTHER FORMS OF HATE – CALLS ON OTHER JEWISH GROUPS TO REJECT “INTERSECTIONALITY” DUE TO ZIONIST EXCLUSION AND LACK OF ANY SOLIDARITY WITH JEWS

 

In resolution Jewish Leaders call on Israeli Politicians to rise above differences and to remember that all of Israel are responsible for each other, as well as for legislation that bars EU politicians with avowed antisemitic positions from office.

 

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Combatting Antisemitism, Amichai Chikli fires up delegates in message:

 

“In times of tension here in the Middle East, the Jews in the diaspora, whether it’s Europe or the States, unfortunately, are suffering as well.  We are working constantly to make sure that every community will be protected…We are also witnessing troubling trends like the intention of the European Students Union to embrace the BDS movement- this is very bothersome to us, and we are afraid that this will hurt Jewish students who study on different campuses across Europe. Against these threats and many more, we will have to work together, determined and wisely. We must pay close attention – the campaign against the BDS movement and the New Antisemitism should be addressed as a WAR. There is no place for despair or giving in.”

 

European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, opening conference, says:

 

How many people here have actually been asked by a government official or politician what a Jewish future should look like, or what should be in any plan?  Not nearly enough. We must change this. Right now, as we meet, governments across Europe are coming forward with plans affecting Jewish life in Europe. We must ask ourselves what kind of future we want to see?  And what part all of us can do to make that vision a reality? We are one community undivided by borders, when we speak with one voice, we are stronger together.”

 

European Commission Vice-President, Mr Margaritis Schinas praised EJA for its contribution to make Jewish life viable and ensuring the prosperity of European Jewry and noted that:

 

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise and unfortunately, Jewish institutions across the continent are required to invest more and more in security. The data shows that approximately 38% of the Jews in Europe are considering leaving Europe because they feel unsafe. This is a shame and it’s the responsibility of every government in the EU to protect its Jewish citizens.”

 

Schinas noted that 19 EU governments have so far released national action plans to combat antisemitism and stressed that “Europe strives in its diversity,” 

 

World Zionist Organisation Head of Department for combatting antisemitism Raheli Baratz-Rix said, “Antisemitism is not a new term, but a term that reinvents itself. Antisemitism is familiar to us from history; however, it is still very present in our lives and continuously adjusts itself to current events. Even today there are rising voices not only from marginalized groups, but also from major groups in the global public, that threaten to take over the discourse and public space. We refuse to forget what can happen and where it can lead to, therefore we must not provide these groups any platform”

 

Gabriel Senderowicz , President of Jewish Community of Oporto:

 

“Many European governments confuse Jewish life with Jewish heritage. They think of Judaism as ancient houses that have been rehabilitated and some municipal museums that open on Shabbat. I am honored to be president of a community that has synagogues that respect traditional Judaism, that has kosher restaurants, films of history, a Jewish museum closed on Shabbat, and a Holocaust Museum that welcomes 50,000 children a year and teaches them that the aim of the Final Solution was to exterminate the Jews and not minorities in general.”

 

(Porto 15 May 2023) The European Jewish Association Annual Conference “Shaping the Future of European Jewry Together” begins today in Porto, Portugal. In partnership with the Jewish Community of Porto and the influential EMIH community of Hungary headed up by Rabbi Shlomo Koves, the conference gathers over a hundred Presidents and Board Members of Jewish Communities across Europe, and the participation of government and regional special envoys for Combatting Antisemitism.

 

The two-day Conference included: panel discussions on the national plans for combatting antisemitism that are starting to come forwards, online hate, a new youth leaders programme for campus activity and youth experiences of hate, ending the trade in Nazi memorabilia, bringing forwards a women’s leadership forum, and more.

 

Other notable figures addressing the conference included: European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, The General Secretary of the French Inter-ministerial delegation for the fight against racism and antisemitism, Mrs Elise Fajgeles, the Personal Representative of Chairman in Office on Combatting antisemitism OSCE Rabbi Andrew Baker, Chair of the Woman’s Impact Forum at the World Jewish Congress, Ruth Wasserman Lande, World Zionist Organisation Head of Department for combatting antisemitism Raheli Baratz-Rix, and the CEO of NGO Monitor Prof. Gerald Steinberg.

 

The Conference also took in a Jewish tour of Porto and delegates took part in a remembrance service for those that perished in the Inquisition.

 

The Conference culminated in a resolution, passed by vote in a show of hands, that will be forwarded to governments across Europe and to the Leadership of the European Union Institutions. The Resolution states that antisemitism is a unique and must the separated in national plans from other forms of hate, it calls on other Jewish organisations to reject “intersectionality” due to Zionist exclusion and a lack of solidarity with Jews. In the resolution the Jewish Leaders also called on Israeli Politicians to rise above differences and to remember that all of Israel are responsible for each other, and finally urged governments for legislation that bars from office EU politicians with avowed antisemitic positions.

 

Rabbi Shlomo Koves, President of EMIH in Hungary, who partnered with the EJA and Jewish Community in Porto and whose own efforts in Hungary have seen a renaissance of Jewish life and Institutions in Budapest and the country as a whole, added: “As years go by after the Holocaust, some social and political movements in Europe may want to forget it and say that antisemitism is just another kind of hatred, nothing unique about it. This is a dangerous attitude for the future of the Jewish community in Europe. Antisemitism is a unique and insidious form of hate that requires separate attention and action from other forms of prejudice. While we stand in solidarity with all those who fight against hate, we cannot allow our struggle against antisemitism to be subsumed within broader ‘intersectional’ movements that fail to acknowledge the unique and specific nature of anti-Jewish bias or reject our connection to Zionism. At the same time, Jewish communities across Europe must come together to shape our own future and demand action from our governments and EU leadership. We need to work in solidarity to ensure the safety and flourishing of our communities, and to make clear that antisemitism has no place in our societies.”

 

Elise Fajgeles – General Secretary Inter- Ministerial delegation for the fight against racism and anti-Semitism (DILCRAH): “France faces anti-Semitism from both the far-right and the far-left. Anti-Semitism on the far-left is the most visible and vocal. But on the far-right that pretend to defend Jews against Islamic Antisemitism, prominent political figures want to ban ritual slaughter that will eventually prevent Jews to practice their own religion and consequently question their vey future in France. We are focusing our efforts on both prevention and repression of Antisemitism. We are funding more than 90 associations that are engaged against racism and Antisemitism. We are working with the teachers to raise the issue of Antisemitism, educate them about it and give them the tools to fight it in schools when French Jews must face Antisemitism. We are also working with universities. We have created a network of referents educated and trained against Antisemitism in every university to organise conferences about it and refer to the French state when antisemitic acts are committed against Jews in universities. We have banned associations and groups who propagates Antisemitism, from ultra-right to Islamist organizations and radical mosques and we also are much aware of the fact that anti-Zionism is the reinvented modern form of Antisemitism.”

 

Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos, Coordinator antisemitism of Portugal: We are prepared for with guidelines on fighting antisemitism and promoting Jewish life. Antisemitism is not only hate speech. Speaking about it means awareness of Holocaust.

 

Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands,Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs: The 80% of Dutch Jews who were killed in the Holocaust lost their voice. Before the war, Jews were integrated in Holland; not assimilated, but integrated. There were many Jewish communities all over Holland. Now there is a serious need for restitution. In Holland nowadays there is anti-Zionism and it’s exactly the same thing as anti-Semitism. It’s a virus. It’s a political issue. Left-wing parties don’t want to talk about it though. That creates a lot of anti-Semitism.

 

Edward Odoner Chairman of the Review Board, TSKZ (Poland): The Jewish community in Poland doesn’t feel antisemitism on a daily basis. That’s why the Polish government has no problem to not have a plan to combat antisemitism. But this doesn’t mean that there are no antisemites in the country. This also why Poland has bad press because people think it

has no action against antisemitism.  Poland just commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and this was the initiative of the Polish government and President.

 

Ellen Van Praagh – Chair IPOR (Netherlands): Every time they talk about Palestinians, they ignore the position of Dutch Jews. Many Dutch Jews are leaving to Israel, the US, and anywhere else. We have some political parties that are openly antisemitic and don’t believe in the existence of the State of Israel. We have been living in the Netherlands for many generations and this is our home.

 

Ruth Wasserman Lande, Chair of Women’s Impact Forum, World Jewish

Congress (WJC): When I lived in Cairo it was obvious that it was difficult as a Jew, as an Israeli, to deal with the inherent misconceptions and antagonism. In Boston I expected something very different, however I met people who were afraid of the Holocaust coming back. I now understand the sentiment of those Jewish people in Boston. It’s obvious why that was the case, as anti-Semitism is on the rise. We need to bring it home to the Israelis, just how amazing it is to have both religious and secular people here together. We should work on operatively building these ties – as Israelis are part of us, and we are part of them. This is our strength.

 

Additional Articles

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel

A Jewish cemetery in Belgrade, Serbia was vandalized Wednesday night, when an axe, hammer and stones were thrown through the window of its chapel.
A spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Belgrade told The Algemeiner that the incident had caused serious material damage, noting that if the chapel had been occupied, it could have resulted in “severe physical injuries or even death.”
The spokesperson said that “this act reminds us of Kristallnacht,” the Nazi-led riots against the German Jewish community in 1938.
On Thursday, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote to Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, calling for a full investigation.

“It is clear that whoever was responsible has no respect for the dead, never mind the living,” Margolin said in a statement. “We extend our support to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Belgrade and Serbia as a whole, who must be reeling at this attack, and feeling vulnerable.”

“I have written to Serbian minister of Internal Affairs asking for a robust response to the attack, as well as a full throated condemnation, lest the antisemites that carried out this act believe that it is now open season on Jewish buildings in Serbia.”

The vandalism is the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents to hit the Belgrade Jewish community. The Jewish Community told The Algemeiner of repeated antisemitic harassment against a prominent Jewish epidemiologist, including graffiti that compared him to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, as well as demonstrations outside the epidemiologist’s home in which demonstrators wore yellow Stars of David.
Threats of a second Holocaust have also been received at the Community’s Facebook page, as well as Nazi symbols, antisemitic emails, and other threats.

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel


 

Red Lines Follow-Up: Meeting with Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the EU

Earlier today, the EJA’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Alex Benjamin, and its Political Affairs Advisor, Mr. Mihails Vorobeičiks-Mellers, have had the honour of once again meeting with Mr. Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the EU. With the function itself created only in May 2016, Mr. Figeľ, former EU Commissioner and Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia, became the first person to hold the position. The policy framework for the Special Envoy’s mandate is regulated by the “EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief”, which have been approved by the EU Member States back in 2013.

With the nearing European Parliament elections coming in May this year, the meeting took place at a time of notable significance, both to the EU – and wider Europe – as a whole and its Jewish community in particular. A number of topics have been touched upon, including the continuing rise in popularity of the more radical political ideologies on both ends of the political spectrum, possible – and, regrettably, nowadays observable – legal limitations to the freedom of religion, the European Commission’s role in promoting and protecting the respective rights of the EU’s inhabitants as well as the 5 red lines, which have been recently adopted during our conference back in November 2018.

Since Mr. Figeľ’s mandate encompasses the entirety of the world outside the Union, and the EJA is active throughout Europe, this meeting has been particularly important to us. Thus, during the discussion special attention has also been given to the EU candidate countries and other European states neighbouring the Union. Along with the present and future lives of the local Jewish communities, such topical issues as the legality of ritual slaughter and circumcision have been specifically raised. 

We very much look forward to a continued dialogue and cooperation with Mr. Figeľ on issues of mutual interest and concern.

Coronovirus Lockdown

As Belgium joins the latest countries to go into lockdown due to the coronovirus, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all well, that your families and loved ones may remain safe and healthy and that the outbreak will be over quickly. In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom and stay positive and strong.

AALST CARNIVAL IS NOW BEYOND THE PALE AND UNESCO MUST ACT NOW, SAYS CHAIRMAN OF EJA

Organisers of the Carnival of Aalst are under fire again after they released carnival ribbons making fun of UNESCO and Jews for the 2020 edition of the Carnival, after they were condemned for anti-Semitism in 2019.
European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said it was now clear that UNESCO – who are due to make a decision in December on whether to keep the carnival on the world heritage list – must remove any association or sponsorship of the carnival.
The Mayor of the city was already summoned to UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September 2019, where they had to argue that their previous carnival procession was not anti-Semitic after it depicted caricatures of orthodox Jews with hooked noses standing on chests of money surrounded by rats.
The Carnival ribbons for the 2020 edition might cause a new problem as it depicts stereotypical anti-semitic caricatures of Jews. The ribbon makers say this is the spirit of the carnival and they make fun of everyone.
Rabbi Margolin said in a statement,
“A one off is a one off and we hoped that this was the case with the disgusting images at last year’s carnival. Instead these ribbons represent a wilful desire to offend.
“The thing about a joke is that it is supposed to make everyone laugh. And we Jews have a fantastic sense of humour. But no Jew anywhere in Europe is laughing.
“Instead we recoil in disgust at the grotesque way that carnival seeks to portray us, money grabbing, greedy and big nosed. Why? Because it is straight out of the Nazi playbook. It is dangerous. It seeks to set apart Jews from mainstream Belgian society. And its offensive. Full stop.
“I will be writing to UNESCO to demand it ceases to fund or associate in anyway with this carnival from now on. The Carnival itself is now beyond the pale and we expect nothing from people who get their humour kicks from kicking Jews. This is supposed to be 2019 not 1939.”

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