Meeting at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic

October 4, 2019

Yesterday, on 3 October 2019, the European Jewish Association and our partners from the Action and Protection Foundation /Hungary/ have had a chance to further advance our ongoing promotion activities on the European Curriculum and Textbook Project against Antisemitism – this time in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic.

At the meeting, where the EJA has been represented by Mihails Vorobeičiks-Mellers (Political Affairs Adviser) and the APF by Ferenc Olti (Board Member of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association) and Kálmán Szalai (Secretary), we have met with Jaroslav Faltýn (Director at the Department of Preschool, Basic, Basic Artistic and Special Education), Ladislav Bánovec (Director at the Department for International Relations) and Helena Čermáková (Department for International Relations) of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic.

The conversation, lasting close to 1.5 hours, has touched upon not only the project itself as well as the earlier Hungarian seven-year-ran program it is based on, but also the Czech school curriculum, educational programs and their development, existing system of teacher training, long-time knowledge and expertise exchange initiatives (including those related to the Czech Jewish community, its history and contributions towards beloved homeland) and many other topics.

Following the very informative descriptions provided by both sides and respective opinion exchanges, not only has it been agreed that further contacts on the initiative would be more than welcome and should be strongly encouraged, but also several concrete steps have been identified, which could be shortly implemented. These include designation of contact persons and execution of at least a few possible follow-up meetings (e.g., with Jewish leadership and experts as well as student associations, including those from abroad), which may take place already very soon.

We are most thankful to Mr. Faltýn, Mr. Bánovec, Ms. Čermáková and their colleagues at the Ministry for the reciprocated interest and for being such wonderful hosts, a most interesting and insightful conversation, and very much look forward to further contacts on the present initiative.

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Holland Appoints a National Co-Ordinator to Tackle Antisemitism as Cases Multiply

Move welcomed “with a heavy heart” by representatives of Dutch Jewry and by Chairman of leading Europaen Jewish Association
The Netherlands is to get a new national coordinator to tackle anti-Semitism, Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said on Sunday. Dutch Members of Parliament – following pressure from the Jewish Community – had pressed the government to appoint a special advisor to deal with antisemitism following a marked increase in antisemitic incidents in the Netherlands.  The new national co-ordinator’ primary task will be to advise the government about dealing with anti-Semitism from a legal perspective and on ensuring the safety of the Netherlands’ Jewish community. The move was welcomed by leading figures in Dutch and European Jewry.
Ellen Van Praagh Chair of the Inter Provincial Chief Rabbinate for The Netherlands (IPOR) and European Jewish Association Board Member said in a statement:
“Just this weekend my synagogue and the Liberal synagogue in Utrecht were daubed with swastika symbols. It appears that the attacker had mental health issues, but it is abundantly clear to us that the pandemic has brought out the  worst in people.
“It has seen the resurrecting of old tropes about Jews, which has  fueled a rise in antisemitism and antisemitic acts, the numbers of which are alarming to Jews everywhere in Holland. That the government has decided to step in and tackle the root causes of this is welcome, as is their commitment to safeguard Jewish communities and Institutions in the Neherlands. We at IPOR look forward to working closely with the national co-ordinator to this end.”
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands and founder member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), whose contacts with the Dutch government have directly influenced the moved added:
“It is of course indicative of the predicament facing Dutch Jews that the government has decided to appoint a national co-ordinator to tackle Anti-Semitism. Whilst we welcome such an appointment it is with a heavy heart that this position is even necessary in a country such as the Netherlands, whose very name is associated with tolerance and plurality. Nevertheless, as attacks increase, the national co-ordinator will find their inbox heaving with suggestions from Jews in Holland who want nothing more than to live in peace and practice their faith unhindered.”
The Chairman of the Brussels based European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, whose communities span the length and breadth of the continent, concluded:
“The EJA, as part of our Europe-wide plan to tackle antisemitism, has called for every country in Europe to appoint such a co-ordinator, many heeded our call and did just that. So, we applaud the Dutch Government as the lastest country to make this move. The Netherlands now joins a growing list of European Countries with national co-ordinators whose task is to eradicate the virus of antisemitism that has grown in tandem with the virus of Covid 19. Too many Jewish communities across Europe have been forced to pull the alarm cord and call for help.  That governments are heeding this call is reassuring, yes, but it is also a signal that they do not wish the disgusting stain of antisemitism to spread further on their social fabric. There is much work to do, and the European Jewish Association stands ready to help, offering suggestions and best practice from other parts of Europe that Holland can apply, and that can help make the difference.”  

Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again.

It’s no rare thing for the Israeli prime minister to enrage the Jews of the diaspora. But three years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech that won him near-universal condemnation.

In the aftermath of several deadly attacks in European cities like Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu called on Jews to leave Europe. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country. But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home,” he said, echoing comments he had made more subtly the month before at Paris’s Grand Synagogue.

Mr. Netanyahu’s suggestion of “mass immigration” was “unacceptable,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association. Abraham Foxman, then head of the Anti-Defamation League, suggested such a policy would “grant Hitler a posthumous victory.” Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said he was “disappointed.” Smadar Bar-Akiva, the executive director of JCC Global, said “the calls for French Jews to pack their bags” and move were “disturbing and self-defeating.”

François Hollande, then president, echoing a chorus of European leaders, pushed back hard, appealing to his country’s Jews: “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

Is it?

This is a question worth seriously asking following the barbaric murder last week of Mireille Knoll.

Ms. Knoll, 85, believed Mr. Hollande. France was her place, her home, her country. And Paris was her city.

She believed this despite the fact that it was also the city where, when she was 9 years old, the police rounded up 13,000 of the city’s Jews, 4,000 of them children, and crammed them into Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium, before shipping them to their deaths at Auschwitz. Ms. Knoll narrowly escaped this largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust and fled to Portugal with her mother.

After the war, she married a man who had survived Auschwitz. She returned to her native land where she built a home and raised a family. French to her core, she stayed in Paris even as her grandchildren moved to Israel.

She remained in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement when, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she was stabbed 11 times. Her apartment was then set on fire. Firefighters found the burned body on Friday night.

Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler.

Two suspects, a 29-year-old and a 21-year-old, have been arrested. The older man is a neighbor Ms. Knoll has known since he was a child. The younger, according to reports, is homeless. One of the suspects told the investigators that the other had shouted “Allahu Akbar” while killing Ms. Knoll, according to Le Monde. (A lawyer for the Knoll family, Gilles-William Goldnadel, confirmed that in a phone call.) On Tuesday, Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, told Parliament that one of the attackers had told the other: “She’s a Jew. She must have money.”

In fact, Ms. Knoll was “poor,” according to her son, Daniel. She’d lived most of her life in the same apartment in the subsidized housing project where she was killed.

It’s a neighborhood that has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a 65-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Mr. Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Ms. Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below.

It took months for Ms. Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. “It was scandalous,” said Mr. Goldnadel, the lawyer, who also represented the Halimi family.

This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “I would like to express my shock at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism.” On Wednesday, he said that she was murdered “because she was Jewish” at a tribute to a police officer killed in an Islamist attack. Mr. Macron has been widely praised by the country’s Jewish community for his moral clarity in describing anti-Zionism as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Semitism was supposed to be a disease of the far right. But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists.

“The major crimes against the Jewish community — Ilan Halimi, the Toulouse killings, the Hyper Cacher killings, Sarah Halimi — all of them have all been carried out by radicalized Muslims,” Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups, told me in a call from Paris. “These young people have French identity cards, but they hate what France stands for. This is the nature of the problem we are facing. And it’s very hard to talk about.”

Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims, conducted by the AJC Paris and the French think tank Fondapol, found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. The rest of the survey is just as devastating.

For years now, France has deployed armed troops to protect Jewish synagogues and schools. But the violence on the streets — a 15-year-old girl wearing the uniform of her Jewish school slashed in the face; an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah assaulted; teenage siblings called “dirty Jews” before being beaten — hasn’t abated. On Wednesday, hours before a march in honor of Mireille Knoll, the office of the Union of French Jewish Students at the Sorbonne was ransacked and defaced with graffiti like “Viva Arafat” and “death to Israel.”

Whatever else the investigation of Ms. Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: The men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which sensitivity toward cultural differences have driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.

In the wake of Ms. Knoll’s murder, all of the usual lines are being repeated. Anti-Semitism is the hatred that never dies. Violence that begins with the Jews never ends with them.

All of this is true. What’s also true is that anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred in the world because individual people have sustained it in every generation. It cannot be defeated until we look these people and their ideologies in the face.

Every French Jew — like millions of Jews throughout history — will have to make their own choice about whether to leave their homes for safer shores or to stay and fight for their rightful place in a country that prides itself on being a beacon of liberty and fraternity. But perhaps the better part of wisdom is with one of Mireille Knoll’s granddaughters, Noa Goldfarb. Following her grandmother’s murder, she wrote in a Facebook post from Israel: “Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there.”

The article was published on The New York Times

Israeli minister, UN chief agree to combat antisemitism online

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres met in New York on Friday and agreed to join forces to combat hate speech, incitement and antisemitism online.
Hendel, who arrived in New York after a three-day visit to Washington DC, shared with Guterres news of the committee that he has decided to establish to review the status of social media networks in Israel and whether they can be defined as media organizations, thereby giving the courts the ability to hold them accountable for content that they publish.
“We are in a war for the truth and in stopping incitement and hate speech,” Hendel said. “Israel will be a pioneer in this battle.”
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הרב מנחם מרגולין: ״האיחוד האירופי מתעלם מפגיעה בחופש הדת של יהודים באירופה״

אנחנו מברכים כל יוזמה שמטרתה לעשות משהו חיובי למען המאבק באנטישמיות״, אמר הרב מרגולין בתחילת הכנס השנתי של מנהיגי הקהילות היהודיות באירופה, הנערך בבריסל. ״אבל, נראה שהנציבות בחרה לעסוק במשימות הקלות ביותר, ולהימנע מעימות עם מדינות שאינן מתאמצות להיאבק באנטישמיות.

“אנחנו מאשימים פוליטיקאים שמעדיפים להנציח את האנטישמיות לצרכים פוליטיים. אנחנו מאשימים מנהיגים, שמסתפקים בנאומים ובהשתתפות בטקסי זיכרון, אבל מתעלמים מהבעיות האמיתיות של יהודים כיום״. הרב מרגולין התייחס ליוזמות גוברות ברחבי האיחוד האירופי לאסור שחיטה כשרה ומילת ילדים.
איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה מפרסם היום מצידו תוכנית, עם הצעות מעשיות לאיחוד האירופי להגברת המאבק באנטישמיות ובאנטי-ציונות, בהתאם להגדרת האנטישמיות הבינלאומית. האיגוד פרסם במטהו בבריסל מסמך המכונה ״עשרת הדיברות למאבק באנטישמיות״, הכולל המלצות מפורטות לצעדים מעשיים שלא ננקטו עד כה למאבק באנטישמיות.
המסמך קורא לאיחוד האירופי להטיל עונשים וקנסות כספיים כבדים על חברות המפעילות רשתות חברתיות, שאינן מסירות במהירות תכנים אנטישמיים ברורים, כמוגדר בהגדרת האנטישמיות הבינלאומית. הגדרה זו כוללת גם כללים ברורים להתייחסויות אנטישמיות כלפי ישראל. המסמך קורא לאיחוד האירופי גם לסגור חשבונות ברשתות חברתיות של פרטים וגורמים שבאופן קבוע מקדמים תכנים אנטישמיים.
המסמך של איגוד הארגונים היהודיים קורא לאיחוד האירופי לעודד מדינות-חברות לאסור פעילות של ארגונים לא ממשלתיים, וקבוצות הפועלות משטחן, לקדם, לתמוך או לגלות סובלנות כלפי אנטישמיות – בכלל זה אנטישמיות אנטי-ישראלית. כמו כן, נקראות חברות האיחוד האירופי ללכת בעקבות הממשל האמריקני ומדינות נוספות, ולהעביר חקיקה שאוסרת איסוף תרומות או תמיכה בארגונים הפועלים לקידום חרמות על ישראל.
האיחוד האירופי נקרא מצידו לגבש הנחיות ברורות למדינות ושטחים שמקבלים מימון מהאיחוד כדי לייצר התניה שתחייב מאבק בגזענות, אנטישמיות והפליה.
ג׳ואל מרגי, נשיא הקונסיסטואר היהודי בצרפת, הדגיש בתחילת הכנס שבכמה ממדינות האיחוד האירופי יש עדיין בעיה גדולה לדבר על האנטישמיות של האסלאם הרדיקלי. ״זו האנטישמיות שרוצחת היום באירופה. הרציחות באות מהאסלאם הקיצוני. יש הסכמה במדינות שונות בין מוסלמים ויהודים, שחווים יחדיו הטלת מגבלות על המסורות הדתיות שלהם, ויש מוסלמים שנלחמים באסלאם הקיצוני.

“התחזקות הימין הקיצוני בגלל המאבק שלו באסלאם הקיצוני לא צריכה להוות פיתוי עבור הקהילות היהודיות״. מרגי תקף בהקשר זה את העיתונאי והסופר היהודי-צרפתי, אריק זמור, ששוקל להתמודד על נשיאות צרפת. זמור, בעל הדעות הביקורתיות ביותר כלפי האסלאם וההגירה המוסלמית לצרפת ואירופה, שהואשם ע״י כמה בתי משפט בצרפת בהסתה לגזענות, הוא לדברי מרגי ״איש ימין קיצוני, שאינו מייצג את ערכי היהדות.
״בתקופה שבה האסלאם הקיצוני מתחזק, לא צריך לנצל את הקהילה היהודית כדי לחזק את הימין הקיצוני. צריך להיאבק בכל סוגי האנטישמיות והשנאה״.

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