Meeting with Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU, H.E. Madam Emina Merdan, and the Mission’s Minister-Counselor, Ms. Miranda Sidran

October 11, 2019

Yesterday, the European Jewish Association has had the honour of welcoming at its headquarters the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union, H.E. Madam Emina Merdan, and the Mission’s Minister-Counselor, Ms. Miranda Sidran.

Her Excellency has presented the EJA’s Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the original of the Rosh Hashanah congratulatory letter received earlier from H.E. Dr. Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. H.E. Madam Ambassador has also expressed and conveyed H.E. Mr. Chairman’s condolences regarding the Wednesday shooting near a synagogue in the German city of Halle, resulting in the tragic deaths of two people nearby.

During the meeting, we have in particular discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina: the country’s tragic recent past, its modern European aspirations, the multicultural and multi-religious nature of its society as well as the local Jewish community, having its roots in the Sephardic Jews fleeing from Spain more than five centuries ago.

The Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially if compared to many others throughout Europe, is quite special – there have never been any ghettos here, with the Jews always having been considered an integral part of the local society, with no inherent Antisemitism carried by their neighbours and compatriots. While the modern Bosnian Jewish community is much smaller than it used to be, it is very active, while the heritage of Ladino is carefully preserved. In turn, established in 1997, the Interreligious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina unites representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews – working together to build a better future.

Potential cooperation between the Mission and the EJA has also been discussed – both sides have expressed sincere interest in further dialogue and carefully exploring such possibilities of collaboration on topics of common interest and concern. We are very grateful to Her Excellency for this visit and wish H.E. Ambassador Merdan the best of luck and much energy in her important work.

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CHIEF RABBI OF ARGENTINA VIOLENTLY BEATEN IN HIS HOME

The rabbi reportedly suffered serious injury in the attack and remains hospitalized.

 The chief rabbi of Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, was severely beaten at his Buenos Aires home in the early hours of Monday morning, and has been hospitalized with “serious injuries” according to the capital’s Jewish Community Center (AMIA).
AMIA issued a statement on Monday saying that Davidovich, Argentina’s chief rabbi since 2013, was “beaten and savagely attacked by a group of strangers who entered his house,” at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Davidovich’s wife was tied up during the break-in and the assailants stole money and other possessions from the home, while telling him: “We know that you are the AMIA Rabbi,” according to AMIA’s statement.
The rabbi reportedly remains hospitalized. AMIA described the attack as “alarming” and called on the authorities to quickly investigate the assault against Davidovich and his wife.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international community must act against antisemitic incidents in wake of the attack.
“I send wishes for a speedy recovery to the chief rabbi of Argentina, Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich, and his wife, who were brutally attacked,” he said in a statement. “We must not allow antisemitism to raise its head. I strongly condemn recent antisemitic incidents and call on the international community to act against [antisemitism].”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett sent his wishes to Davidovich for a speedy recovery and called on world leaders to stand up against antisemitism, emphasizing in particular the need for Argentina’s government to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
“Today, the leaders of the world in Europe, in South America [and] all over are failing in their responsibility to learn the lessons of the past,” Bennett said. “But unlike the past, today we have Israel, and every Jew around the world must know they have a home here: we are waiting. But for Jews who want to live in Argentina, or France, or England, or the US or anywhere, we are also here. We will stand up against antisemitism. A strong Israel is the only answer – our enemies should know [that] Jewish blood is not cheap.”
His words were echoed by other Israeli politicians across the political spectrum.
“We are together with you in the struggle against antisemitism: in Argentina, in France, or anywhere else where the darkness tries to hurt us,” Labor leader Avi Gabbay said in response to the attack.
Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White Party, said; “we will fight the antisemitism that raises its head firmly in the world.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said he was “shocked” by the attack.
“Last week, I met with Latin American ambassadors and asked them to convey a message that the Jewish state will not be silent in the face of antisemitic attacks and the duty of local governments to uproot them,” he added in a statement.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamilel (Likud) said the attack was a “hate crime… the result of antisemitism that is rising around the world.”
“We pray for the safety of Rabbi Davidovich and his rapid recovery,” she added. “Argentina Jewry – the State of Israel is on your side.”
Amir Peretz (Labor) also consoled the community and urged Argentinean authorities to take action.
“The government should demand that the authorities in Argentina act quickly and decisively,” Peretz said. “We must do everything to ensure the welfare of Jews everywhere in the world.”
Ayman Odeh, chairman of Hadash-Ta’al, remarked in a statement that he was, “shocked by Rabbi Davidovich’s attack in Argentina.”
“Racism is racism and racism is racism, and should be condemned everywhere,” the Arab MK added.
Jewish leaders, too, were robust in their condemnation of the attack.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog condemned the attack and said that “we must fight to the end the human garbage whose source and motives are the hatred of Jews,” and said that the Jewish Agency would help lead the fight against global antisemitism.
“The World Jewish Congress is shocked and incensed by the brutal attack against the chief rabbi of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, who was savagely beaten by robbers inside his own home,” WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said late Monday.
Argentinian officials and security forces are investigating the violent incident to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

UEFA probes antisemitism at Maccabi Haifa game in Germany

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced on Tuesday it will open an investigation into the antisemitic abuse hurled at Maccabi Haifa fans during a match against Union Berlin on Thursday.
During the UEFA Conference League match, in which Haifa lost 3-0, Union Berlin supporters made antisemitic gestures and slurs towards fans and even attempted to set fire to the Israeli flag.
In addition, Berlin Police are also investigating one Union Berlin supporter who shouted “sieg heil” several times during the match, according to Firstpost.
Read More :
https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/uefa-announces-probe-into-antisemitism-at-maccabi-haifa-game-in-germany-681147

An important statement re Mr. Schuster′s Statement

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Center of Europe, has denounced Mr. Schuster’s Statement and emphesized that: “This is a dangarous statement that was better left unsaid. The call for Jews to hide their identity instead of calling upon European Governments to provide all the necesary resources in order to battle Anti-Semitism is irresponsible.  If this statement was maid by a non Jew, he would be considered an Anti-Semite. We hope and expect that Mr. Schuster Will clarify or take back his unproductive and hurtfull statement.

It’s sad that Holocaust denial needs to be criminalized.

Chief Rabbi Jacobs:
Last Thursday was a special day. I was in Leeuwarden, a city in the north of The Netherlands, for the unveiling of a monument with 544 names of Jews who were murdered, 80% of what used to be a flourishing Jewish Community. It was not only an impressive ceremony, but a full day filling program. First a reception in the former Jewish School, then a tour of the former Jewish quarter where in front of the various houses and shops large photos of the former Jewish residents were placed: all murdered! And then: the unveiling wasn’t supposed to start till 4pm and it was only 2pm? After the tour of the Jewish neighbourhood, we were directed to a nearby hall. Just before the occupation, in 1939, the wedding reception of Barend Boers and Mimi Dwinger, had taken place in this hall. More than a hundred guests were present. And in that same hall, we set now, awaiting the unveiling of the monument. And then, quite unexpectedly, it started. We were in the middle of a play. The chuppah took place around us, we were the guests, and the lives of the bride and groom were acted. But it was not all festive. The Nazis occupied The Netherlands. Jews were arrested. The young couple decided to escape. Their flight from the Netherlands, their trek across the Pyrenees, we saw it all happen. The various people whose houses we had just passed by, performed and talked about their lives and their deaths in Sobibor, Auschwitz or elsewhere. I actually would have preferred not to experience this performance because it hit me hard. It was a tough confrontation.
And then, after the confrontational play, we left the hall in silence and walked to the unveiling of the monument. And there, at that ceremony, 6 students pretended to be former residents of the Jewish Community of Leeuwarden: my name is x and in 1943 I was murdered in Sobibor. The mayor of Leeuwarden talked about his Jewish grandmother and the secret surrounding her Jewishness. When the mayor’s aunt passed away, of natural causes, not so long ago, a briefcase was found and her Jewishness, her carefully hidden identity, was revealed. Because my ancestors originated from Leeuwarden, I had this personal feeling: how nice that my ancestors finally, after more then 75 years, got a gravestone, a matsewa! But a gravestone without a grave. A memorial prayer was recited followed by an intensive silence.
How could a large Jewish Congregation be massacred, gassed, exterminated? It was not just the fault of the small percentage of collaborators. The problem lay with the large silent mob that showed herd behaviour and chose the path that yielded them the most at the time: Fl.7.50 money per head for every betrayed Jew. And in better times even Fl. 40 pp!
Because of that herd mentality, which drove society in the completely wrong direction during the occupation, there was something like a collective guilt among the average Dutchman after the war. A few months ago, when 18 Orthodox Jewish girls were expelled from a KLM flight, I spoke to a former Minister and told him that thanks to my network I was able to arrange for them not to have to stay at Amsterdam Airport on Shabbat. And, I went on, whether it was right or wrong for the girls to be kicked off the plane, I don’t know, because they might have misbehaved themselves. But I was corrected fairly brutally by the former statesman with the words: As a Dutch society we must always stand up for the Jew, because during the Holocaust we, the Dutch, failed miserably. I fully agree with that failure, but to go so far that it is no longer allowed to check whether straight is crooked and crooked straight is a bit too far for me.
I agree that it is justified that also in the Netherlands it is being considered nowadays to criminalize denial of the Holocaust. But the fact that this needs consideration, is sad, because apparently it is no longer felt how radically, inhumane and criminally the Nazi regime acted, supported by the majority of the Dutch population. Result: 544 names of murdered Jews. The monument is impressive, but the history unacceptable.

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