Statement from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

November 9, 2020

Our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) statement after the main group of protestant churches in holland made a statement apologising for their treatment of jews through the ages and during the war. 
 
On Sunday 8 November, the PKN, the union of Protestant Churches in the Netherlands, put forward an official apology for antisemitism throughout the ages and especially for their position during the Shoah (Holocaust).
 
In a live interview on Dutch Television last night, EJA Advisory Board Member, Rabbinical Centre of Europe Director of interfaith relations and Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands Binyomin Jacobs gave his response.
 
Extracts of his comments are below:
 
“It is commendable that the current church leadership admit wholeheartedly and in no uncertain terms that the Church as an institution could and should have done more. I am grateful for that recognition, that statement is important. But I want to make it clear for my part that I don’t blame the current Church leaders, because they have done nothing wrong.
 
They are from after the war, nothing can be blamed for them. They did not send my family to the gas-chambers, they did not even watch.
 
When I was asked by the PKN to attend the official celebration of 500 years of the Reformation on October 31, 2017, I initially refused to accept that invitation. I declined to attend a meeting where a notorious anti-Semite would be honoured.
 
Of course, the scribe today cannot help the fact that his great-great-grandfather held Luther’s erroneous theology towards the Jews of paramount importance as a Christian. In fact, he completely disagreed with the anti-Semitic statements of the great Christian master.
 
But how can I, as a Jew, join the celebration? “Show that you renounce his anti-Semitic statements, exclaim that you find that unacceptable,” I said to my friend Rev. de Reuver. He agreed wholeheartedly. Twice at that meeting, in the presence of our Lord, they publicly distanced themselves from the anti-Semitic writings and statements.
 
Fifty years after the war, I was confronted with a tidal wave of monuments commemorating murdered Jews. Disclosure after disclosure. I remember asking a young mayor at the beginning of that period: why only now? Had it not been noted earlier that fellow Jewish citizens had not returned? And his answer has always stayed with me: “My predecessor did not want to be reminded of 1940 -45.That period did not suit him, those years had to be covered up as much as possible.
 
Within that framework I see this statement. I am deeply grateful to the heroes who saved the lives of my mother and many others without any form of profit, free of charge, at great risk to their own lives. I think of Rev. Overduin, Rev. Slomp, Rev. Koopmans, Rev. Buskes, and I also think of Mgr. de Jong.
 
And I am certainly thinking of resistance fighters who were arrested by cowardly betrayal before they could have done anything. No one has heard of them, they were brutally eliminated for refusing to watch. Above all, let us never forget them and keep commemorating them, despite their anonymity.
But at the same time we know that far too little was done in the war, that the churches certainly also kept silent too much and that “over the centuries the church helped prepare the breeding ground on which the seeds of anti-Semitism and hatred could grow”, as was reflected in the statement. For centuries Jews were dismissed as G-d killers who would receive their just deserts.
 
And it was good that the period after the war was also mentioned. My grandparents made every effort to take in their nieces and nephews whose parents had been murdered. To keep them for Judaism, as their parents would have liked. Driven by their faith, these ‘parents’, who had saved their lives completely selflessly, refused to return their Jewish children in hiding to where they should be. Many of these orphans are still suffering from the identity crisis afflicted them, the result of an unhealthy and unacceptable urge to convert.
 
The Christian Churches have put a line behind the past with their confession and recognition. But, more importantly to me, it has been clearly stated that they intend to fight with us against contemporary anti-Semitism.
 
In the time of the Crusades we had the wrong faith and entire Jewish congregations were exterminated by the crusaders. In the Middle Ages we were the virus that caused the plague and so we had to be exterminated, my dear parents were of the wrong race. And I am a Zionist! Of course there can be criticism of Israel’s government policy, half Israel is against Netanyahu, just as not every Dutchman is for Rutte (I am!). But anti-Zionism is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel, the extermination of the Jewish people. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
 
Daily through the ages, we offer our prayers towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem, where today all religions in the world are allowed to live their religion in freedom, is inextricably linked with the Jewish people, with the survivors of 1940-45, with me.
 
Churches: leave politics to politicians. Recognize the mutated virus that has destroyed millions and millions of my people over the centuries and is now called anti-Zionism.
 
The PKN of today should not have had to explain the mea-culpa for me, the past is over. But the link so clearly drawn from the persecution of the Jews through the ages and the passive attitude of the majority of the churches when my family was taken away never to return, that link to the now and to the future, the intention to develop Judeo-Christian relations into a deep friendship, in which everyone can remain himself and therefore no attempts are made to convert, to want to be connected in the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism, that purpose, that statement makes me deeply grateful. The words of the statement, of the Christian churches, were good. I have hope yes, but expectation too.”
 

Additional Articles

Which European countries are best for Jews? A new study offers unexpected answers.

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Antisemitic sentiment is especially prevalent in Italy and Hungary, according to multiple surveys. But a first-of-its-kind index combining different measures of Jewish experience found that they are also the best countries in Europe for Jews to live in.

The index, unveiled Monday, is based on a study that combines polling data and policy information to create a single quality-of-life metric for Jews in the 12 European Union countries with sizable Jewish communities, according to Daniel Staetsky, a statistician with the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research who wrote the report for the European Jewish Association in Brussels.

“The goal with this report is to take the excellent data we already have about how Jews feel, about how prevalent antisemitism is, and combine it with government policy measurables,” Staetsky said during a conference held by the European Jewish Association in Budapest.

He said the results may challenge preconceptions about which EU countries are most hospitable to Jews. For example, Germany scored high when it came to government policies relating to Jews. But Jews there report a weak sense of security, leading to an overall middling score.

The index is primarily a tool “to demand concrete action from European leaders,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association. “We welcome statements against antisemitism by European leaders. But more than statements is needed.”

The European Jewish Association will make individual recommendations to each country surveyed, Margolin added at the press event. It was part of a two-day event sponsored by multiple Jewish organizations, including the Consistoire in France, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government, about how European Jewish communities can aid the one in Ukraine.

Titled “Europe and Jews, a country index of respect and tolerance towards Jews,” the study gives Belgium, Poland and France the lowest scores with 60, 66, and 68 points out of 100, respectively. The three top countries have 79, 76 and 75 points, followed by Britain and Austria (75), the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Spain (74, 73, 72, 70.)

To come up with the ranking, Staetsky gave each surveyed country grades on multiple subjects, including the Jewish sense of security, public attitudes to Jews and the number of Jews who said they’d expereinced antisemitism. The grades were based on major opinion polls in recent years, including those conducted by the Action and Protection League, a group that monitors hate crimes against Jews in several European countries, and the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency.

The study combined those scores with scores the author gave to countries’ government policies, including their funding for Jewish communities, whether they had adopted a definition of antisemitism, and the status of Holocaust education and freedom of worship.

Under that scoring system, Germany received an overall score of 72 despite having the best score (89) on government performance on issues related to Jews and a solid 92 when it came to the prevalence of antisemitism. But a relatively low score on Jewish sense of security (46) hurt its overall score, among other factors.

In the case of Hungary, “the score it received reflects the reality on the ground,” according to Shlomo Koves, the head of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH umbrella group of Jewish communities in Hungary. “Jews can walk around here, go to synagogue, without the slightest fear of harassment,” he said.

But the prevalence of antisemitic sentiments in Hungarian society — an Anti-Defamation League survey from 2015 found that about 30% of the population hold them — “shows there is work to be done here, too, in education and outreach,” Koves said.

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

European Jewish Association to petition Holocaust bill at Polish court

Report: Swedish cities use public money to find anti-Semitism

Research published by Gatestone Institute concludes various municipalities use money to endorse anti-Semitic groups such as Group 194, arrange school lectures by pro-Palestinian movements.
Sweden’s municipalities and government are directly and indirectly funding anti-Semitic organizations, according to a research conducted by Gatestone Institute for International Relations.
The research was published by Nima Gholam Ali Pour, a member of the board of education in the Swedish city of Malmö, as well as a participant of several Swedish Middle East teams.
In addition, he is the editor for the social conservative website “Situation Malmö,” and has published books.
The research report also concluded that Malmö’s municipality is using tax payers’ money to endorse Group 194—an organization that posts anti-Semitic content on its Facebook page, such as a caricature of a Jew drinking blood and feeding on a child.
The research argued that anti-Semitism originating in the Middle East is also funded by Swedish public money.
Therefore, when anti-Semitic scandals occur in the Scandinavian country, those tasked with addressing them are often the same officials responsible for distributing the offensive material that led to them.
Moreover, no effective action is currently being taken against the spread of anti-Semitism in Sweden.
Ali Pour concluded that the direct and indirect governmental funding of anti-Semitic organization should be scrutinized and immediately halted.
He adds that as long as the funding continues, Sweden’s Jews will continue living in a perpetual state of fear and insecurity.
Big Swedish cities such as Malmö have become known as places in which Jews feel threatened, and the country’s increasingly prevalent anti-Semitism has drawn international attention.
In December of 2017, Muslims demonstrated in front of a synagogue in Malmö and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a prayer room in a Jewish cemetery following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“We want our freedom back and we’ll shoot the Jews,” the anti-Semitic demonstrators shouted in front of the synagogue.
Molotov cocktails were also hurled at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
Furthermore, representatives of the Youth Against Settlements (YAS) organization based in Hebron are visiting and lecturing in Swedish high schools against Hebron’s Jewish residents.
One of the high school students who attended YAS’s lectures in February 2018 said that the anti-Semitic organization had argued that there are checkpoints all across Israel and that Arabs are routinely beaten and killed.
It was also said the Palestinians are living in concentration camps similar to those set up by the Nazis in in WWII.
“They talked a lot of nonsense and made us to take pictures with their flag,” one of the high school student said.
“The most controversial thing they said was that the Jews control the United States and the media,” another student added.
Zelika El Motsev and Anas Amro, YAS’s representatives across Sweden, were described in the media as “peace activists,” while they praised stabbing attacks, Shahids (martyrs) and Arab uprising on their Facebook pages.
Yes’s spokespersons were invited to speak before public institutions in Sweden and country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Margot Wallstrom met with them during her visit to Ramallah in December 2016.

The article was published on Ynet

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.”

Ends.

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