In this Swedish city, a rabbi and an imam are working to overcome integration troubles

July 4, 2018

An Israeli rabbi explains why he swapped the West Bank settlement of Tekoa for strengthening cross-community ties in Malmö
“We, the Jews and Muslims in Malmö, have only one thing to say to one another: Salaam, Shalom.”
Those were the words chosen by the Jewish and Muslim communities for their public declaration in the southern Swedish city of Malmö last month, inspired by an earlier advertisement in the Daily Telegraph in the UK.
In previous years, the integration problems faced by Malmö’s large, mainly Muslim migrant population have earned it a reputation as a “problematic city”, with frequent reports of antisemitic attacks against people and property.
But the advert, published in the Swedish daily Sydsvenskan on a Friday last month to mark the end of Eid, was part of an effort to project a different image for the city.
“We, the Jews and Muslims living in Malmö, are uniting against any display of discrimination, hatred, prejudice and xenophobia,” the advertisement read.
“Jews and Muslims in Malmö stand together in the fight against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any form of racism and discrimination against minorities.
“We believe meeting and getting to know one another and our traditions will help us better appreciate and respect one another.
“We are convinced this is the only way forward for a shared, better and safer future in the city of Malmö. Shabbat Shalom, Eid Mubarak.”
It was signed by Malmö’s Jewish and Muslim communities as well as Amanah, a project aimed at building trust and better relations between the two.
Such an advertisement would not have been possible even a year ago, Amanah’s Israeli co-director Moshe David Hacohen said.
Rabbi Hacohen, 38, started the organisation with local prominent imam Salahuddin Barakat after moving to Malmö from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa with his family in the spring of 2017.
His explicit mandate was to both serve as the city’s rabbi and to foster dialogue with the Muslim community.
Since then, he and Imam Barakat have visited dozens of schools and organised text-based learning nights covering topics relevant to both faiths — such as the binding of Isaac (or Ishmael, according to the Muslim tradition); circumcision; and rules relating to food.
According to the rabbi, the advertisement shows that the work to build trust between the two communities and to change the conversation about them is bearing fruits.
“We didn’t want people to think that our initiative was carried out by individuals without the backing of the larger communities,” he said.
“For this reason, after Salahuddin and I came up with the idea of an ad similar to the one published in the UK, we brought it before the boards of the Jewish Community of Malmö, and the Malmö Muslim Network.
“After all the work we have done together, they approved it without thinking twice.”
He also attended an iftar, the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast of every evening, with the representatives of ten different Muslim communities.
But not everything has gone smoothly.
Rabbi Hacohen had been invited to speak at a major Eid celebration attended by over 10,000 people, but the invitation was rescinded by organisers after some protests.
“Some people call me naïve and think that I should be more demanding,” the rabbi said.
“I believe it is crucial to understand how difficult it is for many Muslims to accept someone like me, not only a rabbi, but an Israeli, a settler even,” he explained.
“However, at the same event, before the same audience, the mayor of Malmö Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh mentioned the ad and the importance of our work and for me this is already a step forward.”
“We still have a long way to cover, but it is important to acknowledge the progress we are making.”
The article was published on The JC

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MUNICH AUCTION HOUSE UNDER FIRE AGAIN BY EUROPEAN JEWISH HEAD FOR ANOTHER AUCTION OF “DISGUSTING LOTS” OF NAZI MEMORABILIA

 Rabbi Menachem Margolin said with German antisemitism on the rise, the auction “defies logic, decency and humanity” and helps legitimise “a culture of Hitler enthusiasts”, calls on people to not participate in “this unethical auction”.
 
(Brussels 19 October 2020) Less than a month since the head of Germany’s domestic security agency has warned that Jews in Germany are facing increasing levels of anti-Semitism, a Munich auction house is under fire, again, for selling Nazi memorabilia, this time including various speaking notes from Adolf Hitler.
 
The Head of the European Jewish Association (EJA) Rabbi Menachem Margolin said he couldn’t get his “head around the sheer irresponsibility and insensitivity” of selling such items to the highest bidder.
 
Hermann Historica, a Munich based auction house came under fire in November 2019 for a similar auction, whose lots ended up being bought by a Lebanese businessman, Abdallah Chatila, who then donated them to Yad Vashem to do with as they saw fit.
 
Following the fallout of the last auction, the EJA have been pushing European lawmakers to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia as part of an overall plan to tackle antisemitism across the continent.
 
In a statement Rabbi Margolin said,
 
“The head of the domestic security agency in Germany sounded the alarm less than a month ago about the alarming rise of antisemitism in Germany, we have had a gun attack at a synagogue in Hamburg and the far right are on the march.
 
“It defies logic, decency and humanity for the very same auction house that came under fire less than a year ago for selling disgusting lots of Nazi memorabilia that they should do so again.
 
“I cannot get my head around the sheer irresponsibility and insensitivity, in such a febrile climate, of selling items such as the ramblings of the world’s biggest killer of Jews to the highest bidder. What auctions like this do help legitimise Hitler enthusiasts who thrive on this sort of stuff.
 
“Last year a miracle in the form of Mr Abdallah Chatila stepped in. But we cannot rely on miracles going forwards. We understand that Covid 19 is rightly occupying the thoughts of governments and parliaments, but we cannot allow the virus of antisemitism to grow unchecked. This auction must be stopped and we urge the government to step in. We also ask our supporters not to engage or participate in any way with this unethical auction. The message must be sent that the further development of this ‘market’ is taboo and beyond the norms of acceptability.”

Chief rabbi says Dutch Labour Party opposed an anti-Semitism definition to woo Muslims

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs said he was “shocked” that the Labour Party rejected a motion calling for the adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism, saying its vote aimed to curry favor with some Muslim voters.
On Tuesday, a majority of lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, the  Tweede Kamer, passed a nonbinding motion calling on the government to adopt the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. But Labour, along with all the other left-wing parties, voted against it.
The definition has been adopted as official policy by the United Kingdom, Germany and five others in the European Union, as well as the EU as a whole.
Some pro-Palestinian activists have opposed the definition because it says that some forms of vitriol against Israel are anti-Semitic.
Jacobs, a member of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, rarely comments on political votes. He made an exception here.
The lawmakers who voted against the motion, he said, “did so out of political considerations.” Asked whether he meant that Labour opposed the motion to woo some Muslim voters, he said “Yes.”
Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher declined to say why his party voted against the motion, Ernst Lissauer, a prominent freelance journalist, wrote on Twitter.
‏Bram van Ojik of Green Left told Lissauer: “Anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel should be kept separate.”
On Wednesday, Jacobs and Rabbi Izak Vorst, the co-heads of Chabad’s team of emissaries to the Netherlands, attended an early Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Khadija Arib, the chairwoman of the Tweede Kamer, also attended along with Ankie Broekers-Knol, chairwoman of the Eerste Kamer, or Senate.
Despite Labour’s vote, Jacobs said, “There is real determination in the Dutch political establishment to fight anti-Semitism, and the chairwomen’s remarks at the event reflected that.”
The article was published on JTA

#LightingEurope

We hope you all had the chance to light the candles yesterday with your loved ones and maybe have a Sufganiya or two…
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Detectives investigate Nazi salutes at the Dachau concentration camp

Local police in Bavaria, Germany, say two men allegedly filmed themselves in Dachau giving the Nazi salute in front of Jourhaus, the entrance to the concentration camp. While there were allegedly three visitors with them, it was two who gave the salute.
The alleged perpetrators recorded themselves displaying the offensive sign. a witness also apparently recorded the event. The perpetrators said they were drunk, and they gave the salute “as a joke.”
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