European Jews face new threat in wake of COVID-related anti-Semitism

November 13, 2020

Top European rabbi tells Israel Hayom a special center to monitor real-time incidents via remote feeds could be established in order to tackle anti-Jewish attacks.
The recent terrorist attacks in Austria and France, as well as the spike in coronavirus cases in Europe, has created a fear among Jews in the continent that anti-Semitic conspiracy theories blaming Jews for the spread of the pandemic could become mainstream.
 
A recent study in Germany showed that one in three Germans has somewhat of a conspiratorial view of the world.
 
Felix Klein, who is the federal commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and the fight against anti-Semitism, told Israel Hayom that the recent protests against the COVID-19 regulations have become fertile ground for anti-Jewish sentiment.
 
"The current protests against corona-related restrictions serve as a rallying point for antisemites, Holocaust deniers, and believers in conspiracy myths. At "hygiene protests", participants downplay the Holocaust by, for example, comparing the current requirement to wear a face mask with the obligation to wear a Star of David during the Nazi regime," he told Israel Hayom. "Portraying themselves as rebels – as do for example the supporters of the new political party Widerstand2020 (Resistance2020) and the Reichsbürger movement – is typical of adherents to anti-Semitic beliefs: Presenting oneself as breaking taboos, as 'finally' bringing the truth to light, as showing at last who is pulling the strings behind the scenes – and, as has been done for thousands of years, pointing their fingers once again at Jews," he added.
 
When asked about the danger posed by such conspiratorial views, he noted that there is a concern verbal statements could eventually morph into action.
 
"Conspiracy myths also prepare the ground for violence, as history has shown. Those who perceive themselves as victims and feel threatened can themselves turn into a threat. Anti-Jewish pogroms throughout history have been the fatal consequence of such obsessive hatred of Jews, as have the antisemitic terrorist attacks worldwide in recent years," he said. "A recent study has shown that radicalization online takes place four times faster than offline. That is what makes it so important to quickly adjust our laws. This is the thrust of the package of measures put forward by the federal government. I am confident we can achieve a lot through a combination of repression and education. After all, what is ultimately at stake is social cohesion in times of crisis."

Meanwhile, Jewish groups have scrambled to deal with the threat of rising anti-Semitism in the age of coronavirus. The group "Concert – Together for Israel" strives to bolster Israel's image and fight modern anti-Semitism, says its job has been made much more difficult in the wake of the pandemic, and many pro-Israel groups are facing potential elimination.
 
"Generally speaking, one can say that small organizations that rely on a small staff expect a slowdown and a long recovery, but the big organizations that need a large operation worry about their long-term viability in light of the added costs," Nava Edelstein, the group's program director says.
 
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association that has led a comprehensive effort to counter anti-Semitism in Europe, told Israel Hayom that he has been overseeing a "virtual command center" that gets daily updates from Jewish communities on online anti-Jewish attacks.
 
"We constantly see how anti-Semitic voices on the web attribute the virus to a Zionist-Jewish conspiracy, on top over other forms of anti-Semitism that involve graffiti and vandalizing of Jewish institutions," he said, adding the largest volume of reports originates in France, Romania and Belgium.
 
"We are considering setting up a center that would monitor events through Jewish communities' video feeds in real time, so that we can alert security forces when such incidents happen," he revealed.
The article was published in Israel Hayaom

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GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL VISITS YAD VASHEM

With a busy schedule ahead of her, Merkel is expected to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, in Jerusalem on Thursday morning.
"Jews in Germany suffered from hatred and violence they had never known before," Merkel somberly noted at Yad Vashem. "Since then, Germany is always responsible for remembering this crime and for fighting violence, xenophobia and hatred in general."
Merkel was additionally given the honor of lighting the Eternal Flame and laying a wreath, part of a ceremony to commemorate those passed in the Holocaust, in the name of the German government.
Merkel landed in Israel on Wednesday evening, beginning a two-day visit to Israel. The government-to-government visit was delayed by a year and a half due to disagreements regarding Israel's settlement policies and approach to the Palestinians.
With a busy schedule ahead of her, Merkel is expected to visit the Israel Museum, visit President Reuven Rivlin and receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa.
The article was published on JPost

Israeli parliament speaker urges 'sincere' EU action against anti-Semitism

Yuli Edelsetin speaks at EU on International Holocaust Memorial Day
Israeli parliament speaker Yuli Edelstein addressed a special session of European parliament marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, and accused EU leaders of contradictory approaches to fighting anti-Semitism in Europe while repeatedly condemning Israel.
Edelstein praised efforts to combat anti-Semitism but said that public rebuke for Israel contradicted messages coming from many elected officials.

“The efforts to combat anti-Semitism and protect the Jews of Europe are sincerely appreciated,” Edelstein said at the Brussels ceremony. "But what is the message when elected officials march with the Jewish community one day, and against Israel the next?"
The speaker declared that when leaders embrace the Jewish leaders "in solidarity after a hate-crime and then treat Hamas as a legitimate voice. When an attack is condemned as anti-Semitic and then condemns Israel for fabricated war crimes."
"These contradictory messages do not build trust. Instead they prevent us from meeting our joint obligations,” he said.
Edelstein also chided an EU delegation that recently traveled to Tehran for failing to condemn a Holocaust denial cartoon contest hosted in Tehran.
"I'm sure, and correct me if I'm wrong, that during that visit no one protested the international cartoon contest taking place in Tehran for the best caricature denying the Holocaust," Edelstein said, brandishing the contest's first prize winner -- an old fashioned cash register with a sketch of Auschwitz at the top.
"It's about Jews exploiting the Holocaust to get money," he said, noting that the illustrator came from France.
"For 'Never Again' to really mean 'Never Again', consistent and sincere actions are necessary," Edelstein said. "Anti-Semitism, wherever it rears its ugly head, for whatever reason, is wrong and must be fought at every turn. Writing off such acts as mere opposition to Israel is absurd."
"Anti-Semitism has no excuse. not religion, not poverty, not lack of education, and not political disagreements," he said.
Edelstein also thanked the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
"In Jerusalem the Jewish people made their mark on the world, therefore it was meaningful to us, that last month, one country, the United States, chose to recognize the capital of Israel after 70 years of independence," said Edelstein."Acknowledging both our ancient heritage and our modern history, I welcome all of you to do the same."
Edeltsein told the story of his own father who survived the Holocaust and asserted that though memorials are being constructed across the world, anti-Semitism still runs rampant.
"Yet, for all the work that has been done I feel that the post war sense and mission has faded, leaving the real issues unaddressed," said Edelstein.
Edelsetin asked the European parliament "what has been learned from all the memorials if synagogues across Europe need round the clock protection?"
"Is Holocaust education effective if Jews on this continent don't wear a kippah or a Star of David necklace for fear of attack?" said the speaker.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day will be commemorated on January 27. Israel memorializes its national tragedy separately, in memory of the six million Jews who were slaughtered under Nazi rule.
 
The article was published on I24news

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


 

ANNUAL KADDISH FOR JEWS BURIED IN ARAB COUNTRIES

In 2014, the State of Israel passed a law to officially make November 30th a Day to Commemorate the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from Arab Countries and Iran, a date now marked by Jewish communities around the world. In 2017, a Canadian man of Iraqi Jewish origin, having discovered his own grandfather’s grave in Sadr City, Baghdad, began a process which led to a global moment of unity and remembrance, by jointly reciting annually Kaddish (the mourners’ prayer) and an Azkara (a memorial prayer) together with synagogues across the world, as a testament to Jews buried in no longer accessible cemeteries in Arab countries.
This year, we are calling on synagogues and other Jewish institutions of all backgrounds to join us and say these prayers on the closest Shabbat to the Day of Commemoration, in remembrance of and solidarity with the Jews from the Middle East and North Africa who can not say them in the presence of their departed family members because many of the cemeteries are inaccessible.
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