In response to the European Commission’s publication of a Communication on “No place for hate: a Europe united against hatred”

December 7, 2023

In response to the European Commission’s publication of a Communication on “No place for hate: a Europe united against hatred”, Rabbi Menachem Margolin Chairman of the European Jewish Association, which represents hundreds of Jewish Communities across the continent, said:

“We welcome the seriousness and diligence with which the European Commission have approached this communication. It is a serious document.

“In particular, we welcome the bringing forward of the call for proposals under the Internal Security Fund, initially scheduled for 2024, forward to 2023, which puts a focus on Jewish places of worship, with an increased budget. However, as I personally expressed to the Commission in meetings, the process must be expedited as soon as possible. With a clear and present danger to Jewish Communities everywhere in Europe right now, our communities don’t have the time for lengthy form-filling and procedures, we need help with security yesterday, not in months from now on completion of a process.

“Perhaps the biggest part of this communication is the proposal to extend the list of Treaty crimes to include hate speech and hate crime. If this is directly linked with the IHRA definition of antisemitism as it should be, it could be a game changer.

This communication has a lot of good in it. We are still working through the detail, but it is a very welcome communication.”

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With war in Gaza and Europe-wide Antisemitism peak, Jews bring president Von der Leyen and other friends in Brussels to ‘shine together’ on Channukah

“Defiant and hopeful, just as we have always been,” says organisers of EU event after traumatic few months. Chanukah is first significant Jewish holiday since events on October 7th.

(Brussels 7 December 2023) European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and other European Dignitaries will be at EuroChannukah 2023, taking place between the European Council and Commission buildings at Schuman in Brussels, Belgium on Sunday evening. The Commission President will light a giant Menorah marking the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah – the festival of light.

The theme of EuroChannukah this year, which takes place in the heart of the European Quarter, is ‘Shining Together’.

Chanukkah this year takes place against the backdrop of huge spikes in antisemitism and is the first major Jewish holiday following the Hamas Massacre in Israel and subsequent war in Gaza. The organisers, the European Jewish Community Center , say that it is a showcase for unity and resilience in difficult times.

Avi Tawil, Director of the European Jewish Community Centre, speaking ahead of the event said,

“We were concerned that this year, we would hear from communities across Europe that they were scaling down Chanukah celebrations, hiding away, keeping their heads down. In fact, the opposite is true, now more than ever, the desire is to come out and celebrate the holiday. To Shine together.

“Chanukah, at its core, is a holiday about light overcoming darkness, that good can and will always prevail. Our friends, like Commission President Vpn Der Leyen, are standing with us in solidarity, in a common bond, and in this spirit of unity and resilience.

“It’s been an awful few months. But Jews are defiant in the face of darkness, and always hopeful in the light, just as we have always been, and especially during Chanukkah.”


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European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin asked Mr Musk to come to Auschwitz “to walk there, to feel it, to understand it”.

In a wide ranging live discussion with key Jewish leaders and figures across the world this evening on his X platform, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin asked Mr Musk to come to Auschwitz “to walk there, to feel it, to understand it”. Mr Musk, reflecting on the question posed by the Rabbi gave a tentative yes to the proposal.

The EJA, one of Europe’s largest Jewish organisations representing hundreds of communities across the continent regularly brings European leaders for combined symposiums and remembrance visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau, to remember but also to find ways of combatting antisemitism and ensuring that its lessons are learned.

In a statement this evening, Rabbi Margolin welcomed Mr Musk’s tentative commitment to join the EJA delegation, which includes many European Leaders.

“It is one thing to read a history book or see pictures. But to really understand what the end station of antisemitism looks like, to really understand the depths to which the freedom of the Jewish people was denied and obliterated, to fully understand why we Jews are so worried about antisemitism, a visit to Auschwitz is a necessary and life-changing experience.

“We have brought many European Leaders to Auschwitz-Birkenau, many of whom have never been, and it changes them. It drives them to fight the hate.

“Mr Musk has said he supports the Jewish people, and he supports Israel. I believe that him visiting our ground zero will not only help him understand better the battle ahead against antisemitism and what is at stake, but will reassure Jews everywhere that he is taking the battle seriously.

“We are very much looking forward to turning the tentative to a firm yes in the weeks ahead.”

President Von der Leyen at Chanukah celebration in Brussels warns of "old evil resurfacing in Europe," announces new Jewish heritage award because Jewish culture is a 'blessing to Europe".

An old evil is resurfacing in Europe,’’ said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a speech before lighting  the fourth candle of a Chanukah menorah on Sunday evening in front of the European Commission and European Council buildings. 

The EuroChanukah event organized by the European Jewish Community Center (EJCC) together with the European Jewish Association (EJA). Brussels Mayor Philippe Close also addressed the participants who lit candles to remember the hostages still detained in Gaza.

“There should be no place for this hatred, especially here in Europe. And there is no justification to the rise in anti-Semitism. No war, no political argument, can excuse it,” she added.

‘’Freedom of speech and opinion, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear – that must be a reality at all times, in all circumstances, and for all human beings,’’ she said.

She continued, ‘’Chanukah is also the story of the Jewish people regaining their freedom of worship after times of persecution. This moment of celebration must also be one to say that never again will we tolerate hate against the Jewish people. Never again this is now.’’

The president of the European Commission recalled that ‘’for centuries, European Jews have shaped our common heritage. Think of Marc Chagall and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Rahel Hirsch and Hannah Arendt. And you still do shape our common heritage.’’

She announced that the European Commission will create a new award to celebrate Jewish cultural heritage.’’ Because Jewish culture is a blessing to Europe, and we should all know more about it,’’ she said.

EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, in a speech at the event said:

“The huge antisemitic demonstrations across Europe that used the war against a terrorist organization as an excuse to spread hate and violence and caused hundreds of thousands of Jews to be wary of showing their Jewishness outside was entirely predictable. But we don’t give up. And we won’t give up. 

“Millions of Jews around the world are busy spreading good: developing technologies and medicines, we are pioneers in science and agriculture, in the arts, in economics and entertainment  so that the world, as a whole, will be a better world. Indeed, year by year, more and more people in the world live better. This is the Jewish spirit that won the Chanukah holiday. This is what we celebrate today.” 

EJCC Director Avi Tawil, the co-organiser of the event, also addressed the packed event added:

“As we light the Chanukah candles, let us remember that the true miracle lies in our strength not to succumb to fear, and give in to grievances, but quite on the contrary, in our ability to keep the flame of humanity alive.

This year more than ever, as we find ourselves in difficult times, let Chanukah not only be a celebration of a historical miracle but a rekindling of our eternal flame as the light of our unity shines brighter and longer than ever before, a beacon of hope and strength for generations to come.”


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