Letter of Support for Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi

October 18, 2023

Your Excellency Madam President Von Der Leyen,

In response to accusations against European Commissioner for Neighborhood & Enlargement, Mr Várhelyi, and calls for his resignation, we would like to make the following statement.

Following the horrific and inhumane terror attacks against civilians in Israel on 7 October, which shocked the whole world, Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi posted on social media the decision for urgent review of the entire Palestinian development portfolio, on 9 October 2023. Hundreds of innocent women, children and elderly people were killed in terrifying circumstances or taken as hostages.

The Commissioner is accused of “offense to EU’s institutions and their democratic functioning”, by claiming that his “actions undermine not only the image of our institutions, but the trust that EU citizens put in the Commission”. Whilst, in fact, his actions are the ones defending and protecting both our fundamental values and moral compass, and also vis-a-vis trust by EU citizens.

Antisemitic attacks and calls to harm Jewish people have risen by 1200% here in Europe and both national governments and EU institutions have to take action. These are staggering and deeply distressing numbers.

The announcement by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi was particularly welcomed by all our communities, as he very correctly stated “there can be no business as usual”. “The scale of terror and brutality… is a turning point” and it has to be.

Germany review of Palestinian development aid

On 8 October, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, H.E. Ms Svenja Schulze, announced that the “attacks on Israel mark a terrible fracture”. “We will now review our entire engagement for the Palestinian territories.”

Austria development aid suspended

On the 9th of October, prior to the Commissioner’s post, the Austrian Minister for Foreign

Affairs, H.E. Mr Alexander Schallenberg announced that “We will put all payments of Austrian development cooperation on hold” and sharply criticised states that refuse to classify Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Sweden’s aid to Palestine suspended

On 10 October, Sweden Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, H.E. Mr Johan Forssell, stated, “We have a new situation after the 7th of October”. “Our decision today is that Sweden will … pause development aid to Palestine until further notice.”

Denmark development aid on hold

The same day, Denmark Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, H.E.

Mr Dan Jørgensen, confirmed that Danish development assistance to Palestine will be placed “on hold”. “Unacceptable acts, terrorism and aggression of the worst kind have happened, and we must be naturally be very sure that Danish money is not indirectly supporting that”.

The social media post by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi was made after a truly unprecedented and deadly terrorist massacre. It followed the lead of a number of countries and the strong condemnation of the terror attacks by world leaders. Both national governments and EU institutions share very legitimate concerns as Hamas has turned agricultural and irrigation equipment, which was paid by European funds, into weapons to attack civilians, and used cement that was meant for living quarters to build death tunnels to expand its terror activities.

As Jewish organisations which represent thousands of European citizens, we believe the accusations against Commissioner Várhelyi are politically motivated and display a breathtaking and appalling insensitivity to the horrendous and barbaric loss of human life.

At a truly unprecedented time, when Europe must be united against terrorism, it is nothing less than shameful that there exist those who prefer instead to try and score cheap political points on the graves of the dead and on the hundreds of hostages still in terrorist captivity.

Were a reminder needed of what we are all up against, last night the same type of terrorism struck the heart of Europe in Brussels claiming two utterly innocent lives, this follows, of course, the brutal murder of a teacher in Arras, France.

Commissioner Varheyli enjoys the full and unyielding support of European Jewry for his noble stand, a stand that sadly is possessed by far too few political leaders in the face of atrocity, barbarism and an assault on the very European values that we all hold so dear to our hearts.

Yours sincerely,

Rabbi Menachem Margolin Founder and Chairman European Jewish Association

Joël Mergui Chairman of EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board President of Consistoire of Paris, France President of European Centre of Judaism

Baroness Régine Suchowolski – Sluszny EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairwoman for Holocaust Remembrance and President of Forum of Jewish Organisations, Belgium

Ellen Van Praagh-van Aspert EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairwoman for Equity and Diversity, and President of IPOR Jewish Communities, The Netherlands

Andrew Cohen FCA EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairman for UK President, Federation of Synagogues, UK

Riccardo Pacifici EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairman for Italy and Jewish Heritage

Alexander Benjamin EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Vice-Chairman for Advocacy, European Jewish Association

Gabriel Senderowicz Mold EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Member

EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Member Chairman of Board of The Social & Cultural Association of Jews in Poland (TSKZ) Portugal

Yaron Zeloof EJA Jewish Leaders’ Board Member President of the Jewish Community of Cyprus

 

 

Additional Articles

The Flemish parliament voted Wednesday to ban ritual slaughter of animals without stunning from 2019.

BRUSSELS (EJP)—The Flemish parliament voted Wednesday to ban ritual slaughter of animals without stunning from 2019. The animals will be slaughtered after being irreversibly stunned, for example via an electrical anesthesia, the parliament decided. The Jewish community denounced an attack on freedom of religion which is protected by Constitution and by EU rules. 

An exception remains for cattle and calves. Pending a more developed technique, post-cut stunning will remain in effect, a stunning immediately after the slaughter.
Slaughterhouses now have a year and a half to adapt their infrastructure and train their staff in these new practices. Flemish Minister of Animal Welfare Ben Weyts said he is pleased with the vote and called Flanders ”a leader in animal welfare in Europe.”
Another Belgian region, Wallonia, has also voted a similar legislation.
Shechita, the Jewish ritual slaughter, requires that butchers swiftly slaughter the animal by slitting its throat and draining the blood.
The Jewish community in Belgium has slammed the Flemish and Walloon regions given their clear repercussions for the community.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association (EJA), a Brussels-based group representing Jewish communitiers across Europe, has accused lawmakers of targeting Jews and said the decisions ”have a strong stench of populism.” 
”This is a direct attack on Jews and our practice when it comes to slaughtering. When it comes to the mass market slaughterhouses, where mistakes frequently affect up to 10% of all animals, meaning they die in an awful painful death, compared to shechita, the kosher slaughter,  where the suffering of the animal is kept to the most minimum levels possible,” he said. ”It  quickly becomes apparent that this decision is not about health or animal welfare. It simplly represents the politics of division,” Rabbi Margolin added, stressing that ”we will fight this latest decision wih all legal and political means at our disposal.” 
CCOJB, the representative body of Belgian Jewish organisations, regretted the Flemish parliament vote and its consequences on Jewish ritual slaughter. ‘’Wallonia and Flanders are sending a wrong political message to the citizens of our country because these laws do not respect the European rules on this matter,’’ said CCOJB President Yohan Benizri in a statement.  ”This vote intervenes despite numerous juridical and moral objections that have been put forward these last months as this measure indirectly bans ritual slaughter.”

יהדות ועידת חירום נגד האנטישמיות באירופה התכנסה בפורטוגל

מנהיגי הקהילות היהודיות באירופה התכנסו אתמול בעיר פורטו שבפורטוגל ביוזמת איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה (EJA) לכינוס חירום נגד האנטישמיות הגואה ביבשת, בהשתתפות נציגים מממשלות אירופה הממונים על המלחמה באנטישמיות. המשתתפים קיבלו החלטה המקדמת בברכה את תוכניות הממשלות השונות למלחמה באנטישמיות, אך הביעו דאגה עזה על הנטייה לקשר את הפעילות נגד האנטישמיות לזו נגד
הגזענות בכלל וצורות אחרות של אפליה.

לטענתם, האנטישמיות היא ייחודית. המנהיגים יצאו נגד עקרון ה”אינטרסקציונליות” הפופולרי היום וקבעו שיש מעט מאוד אמפטיה לקהילות היהודיות מצד קבוצות מותקפות אחרות, בגלל תמיכתן של אותן קהילות יהודיות בישראל. המנהיגים קראו למסודות האיחוד האירופי לקדם החלטה שתאסור על בעלי עמדות אנטישמיות לכהן בתפקידים רשמיים במוסדות האיחוד.

“אנו מחויבים למדינת ישראל תחת כל ממשלה נבחרת ומתפללים להגברת הלכידות החברתית בארץ. קוראים לפוליטיקאים הישראלים לזכור שלהחלטות אפילו להצהרות על אפליית מיעוטים בישראל השלכות חמורות על חיי יהודים באירופה”, ציינו המנהיגים. יו”ר איגוד הארגונים היהודיים, הרב מנחם מרגולין, אמר כי מנהיגי הקהילות הפועלים נגד האנטישמיות אינם זוכים לשיתוף פעולה מצד הפוליטיקאים במדינות השונות ועליהם להתאחד בפעילותם. המנהיגים דורשים מהאיחוד גם פעילות מתואמת למלחמה בהכחשת השואה.

סגן הנשיא לענייני קידום חיי האזרחים באירופה של נציבות האיחוד האירופי, מרגריטיס שינאס, אמר כי יישום תוכנית הפעולה האירופית מתקדם, אך עדיין 38% מהיהודים ביבשת הודיעו על רצונם לעזוב אותה. הנציבות מטילה על כל הממשלות את האחריות ליישום תוכנית המלחמה באנטישמיות לצד בנייתם של החיים היהודיים באירופה. 19 מדינות באירופה פרסמו עד כה תוכנית למלחמה באנטישמיות.

במהלך הכינוס הוקרנה הודעת וידיאו מוקלטת של עמיחי שיקלי, שר התפוצות והמאבק באנטישמיות והשר לשוויון חברתי, שבה התייחס שיקלי לחשיבות המלחמה באנטישמיות. הכינוס נערך גם כמחווה של הזדהות עם קהילת יהודי פורטו, שנמצאת במשבר קשה ביחסיה עם השלטון הפורטוגלי מאז מרץ בשנה שעברה, כאשר הואשמה בהנפקה בלתי חוקית של אישורים לצורך קבלת אזרחות פורטוגלית לישראלים רבים, ובין
היתר לאוליגרך הרוסי רומן אברמוביץ’.

נשיא הקהילה בפורטו, גבריאל סנדרוביץ’, אמר ל”מעריב” כי הנתק עם השלטונות נמשך עד היום.תומר אלדובי, מייסד הפורום למאבק
נגד אנטישמיות ברשת, מסר כי בתקופת מגפת הקורונה ומאז תחילת המלחמה שפרצה באוקראינה, בעקבות הפלישה שלהצבא הרוסי, יש עלייה ניכרת בפוסטים אנטישמיים.

Read more https://www.maariv.co.il/amp/jewishism/Article-1007159

The EJA is delighted to announce the official conclusion of our 2024 delegation to Auschwitz

Over two days, we hosted diverse speakers addressing the rise in antisemitism, communal encounters, and improved security measures. This assembly held paramount importance as we united to confront this unsettling pattern. One of the key moments we included was a thought-provoking debate between Elon Musk and Ben Shapiro.

The latter part of our delegation focused on a visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A memorial ceremony and the recital of the Kaddish prayer marked this solemn trip.

These poignant moments underscored the European Jewish Association’s unwavering dedication to commemorating the profound tragedy of the Holocaust and battle against antisemitism.

#NeverAgainWasNow #NotOnMyWatch #EJAAuschwitz2024

Anti-Zionist group demands colleges reveal staff ties to Israel

An anti-Zionist group in the Netherlands is using a freedom of information request pressure Dutch universities into revealing whether any of their staff members have ties to Israel.
The freedom of information request was filed by “The Rights Forum” group, and also seeks to identify what ties and staff relations exist with Jewish communities and organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
The Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi (NL), who also heads up the European Jewish Association’s Committee for Combatting Antisemitism, condemned the The Rights Forum, saying the information request “reeks of antisemitism”.
“The Rights Forum is well known to me. Let us be clear, they want to know any Israeli, any Israeli link and any Jewish people in universities in Holland. The clear inference is that some shadowy Zionist or Jewish cabal is operating in the Dutch university system. This reeks of antisemitism, but it comes as no surprise to me given this group’s reputation.”
“No. What really concerns me is the number of universities that were so compliant with such a transparently antisemitic request. It reminds us that most mayors cooperated during the occupation to pass on the names of their Jewish citizens to the Germans.”
“The difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is now wafer thin. In all my many years in Holland I can seldom remember such a toxic environment for Jews. This is an appalling submission to the base instincts of an openly hostile group towards Israel, the world’s only Jewish State.”

Additional Communities
United Kingdom
Ukraine
Turkey
Schweiz
Switzerland
Sweden
Spain
Slovenia
Slovakia
Serbia
Russia