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.”
In response to the European Commission’s publication of a Communication on “No place for hate: a Europe united against hatred”
In response to the European Commission’s publication of a Communication on “No place for hate: a Europe united against hatred”, Rabbi Menachem Margolin Chairman of the European Jewish Association, which represents hundreds of Jewish Communities across the continent, said:
“We welcome the seriousness and diligence with which the European Commission have approached this communication. It is a serious document.
“In particular, we welcome the bringing forward of the call for proposals under the Internal Security Fund, initially scheduled for 2024, forward to 2023, which puts a focus on Jewish places of worship, with an increased budget. However, as I personally expressed to the Commission in meetings, the process must be expedited as soon as possible. With a clear and present danger to Jewish Communities everywhere in Europe right now, our communities don’t have the time for lengthy form-filling and procedures, we need help with security yesterday, not in months from now on completion of a process.
“Perhaps the biggest part of this communication is the proposal to extend the list of Treaty crimes to include hate speech and hate crime. If this is directly linked with the IHRA definition of antisemitism as it should be, it could be a game changer.
This communication has a lot of good in it. We are still working through the detail, but it is a very welcome communication.”
EUROPEAN COMMISSION VICE-PRESIDENT PROMISE TO EXPEDITE SECURITY TO JEWISH COMMUNITIES WELCOMED AFTER MEETING WITH EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION
“They are tracking flights from Israel and knocking on doors to identify Jewish homes”, “I must wear a bullet proof vest to take my children to school”, “Jew hate that I haven’t witnessed since the Holocaust”, just some of the comments relayed to Commission Vice-President Schinas and the EU Co-ordinator for combatting for antisemitism Katharina Von Schnurbein today.
(Brussels, 8 November) A delegation of Senior Jewish Leaders affiliated to the European Jewish Association (EJA) that represents hundreds of Jewish Communities across the continent held an emergency meeting with the European Commission Vice-President responsible for the portfolio of Combatting antisemitism, Mr Margaritis Schinas in his offices in Brussels today along with the EU’s Co-ordinator for Combatting antisemitism and fostering Jewish life Katharina Von Schnurbein.
At the meeting with Vice-President Schinas and Co-ordinator Von Schnurbein, Mr Schinas gave a commitment to expedite the process of providing emergency security to Jewish Communities left reeling by an unprecedented surge in antisemitism across the continent.
Ms Ellen Van Praagh, Vice-Chaiir of the EJA and Chair of Holland’s interprovincial Rabbinate (IPOR) told the Commission Vice-President,
“We are facing an unbelievable tide of hatred and there is genuine fear for our lives. We have in Holland a situation where some Palestinian supporters are actively tracking flights coming into Schiphol to identify Jews, we have the same people knocking on doors of houses to identify Jewish Households. Our buildings are being vandalised and defaced. This is pure intimidation, and we fear the worst is coming.”
Baroness Regina Suchowolski-Sluszny, Vice-Chair of the EJA and Chair of Forum of Jewish organisations of Antwerp (FJO), who survived the Holocaust as a ‘hidden child’, said
“Vice-President, the levels on antisemitism, in the media, on social media and in the public domain are levels I haven’t seen since I was a child. We are in a very dangerous place right now, and it feels like a tipping point. Jews are once again in the crosshairs of those who hate us, and this time they think they can get away with it using the conflict as cover.”
Mr Gabriel Senderowicz, Member of the Jewish Leader’s board of the EJA, and President of the Jewish Community of Porto gave his personal assessment,
“I am here today only because I received permission from the security services to travel. I have been warned that my life is in danger, and today, in the Europe of the 21st Century, I must wear a bullet proof vest to take my child to school and go about my daily life. My crime? I’m a Jew.”
The delegation was led by Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chairman of the European Jewish Association who said in a statement after the meeting,
“In the meeting I made it clear to the Vice-President that communities did not have the luxury of time for form-filing and EU bureaucracy to better secure themselves when their very lives are under threat.
“Our communities need support, they need security, and they need it yesterday. We welcome the commitment given by Vice-President Schinas to expedite the process of emergency provisions to secure Jewish communities across the continent.”
EJA Managing Director Georgios Papadakis added,
“We understand that the European Commission must help provide urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza, but surely it is incumbent upon them to provide protection and security for their own citizens who are facing a veritable tidal wave of the oldest hatred – that of antisemitism.” Ends
Joint Statement of Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism
The barbaric attack of Hamas terrorists on Israel on 7th October, resulted in the most lethal assault against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. More than 1400 Jews – women, children, men, and the elderly, including Holocaust survivors – were tortured, raped, and murdered. Over two hundred were taken hostage. These events have an immense impact on Jewish communities worldwide.
Many national leaders and heads of international organizations across the globe have condemned these acts in the strongest terms and expressed their full support and solidarity with the State of Israel. At the same time, there have also been demonstrations in many countries – including in some countries and regions which we represent – in which individuals praised these heinous actions of Hamas, “celebrated” the murder of Jews, and even called for more antisemitic assaults.
Jewish communities are fearful and are being threatened. Synagogues and other Jewish sites have been attacked. Schools have closed since they can no longer guarantee the safety of their students. Shabbat gatherings require the presence of armed guards for protection. In some cities, Jews are being harassed and accosted on the streets. Posters of the captive hostages are defaced and torn down. Antisemitism online has surged in an unprecedented way.
We, the undersigned Special Envoys and Coordinators, have a shared mandate to combat antisemitism and to safeguard Jewish life. We commend the resolute action of many national authorities to protect Jewish communities, as Jews around the world have not faced such challenges since the Holocaust. Mindful of those darkest days, we stand with the Jewish people. We will do everything in our power to see that hatred against Jews is rebuked and that Jewish life flourishes in peace. Antisemitism and all forms of hate are incredibly harmful and unacceptable.
· We call on governments to assess the needs and provide the necessary security assistance that Jewish communities require at this time of crisis.
· We urge police and law enforcement to be vigilant of threats against Jews and to be aware that Jewish people around the world should not be held responsible for the words and actions of the Israeli or any other government, as illustrated by the non-legally binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism.
· We denounce antisemitic acts taking place on some campuses and urge university administrators to condemn them and ensure that their Jewish students, like all other students, have the safety and support needed in these difficult times, to enjoy their right to education.
· We urge civil society – including sports federations, religious communities, the cultural sector and academic circles – not to stand by or stay silent, but rather use their influence to effectively counter antisemitism and promote public acts of solidarity.
· We are distressed about the online upsurge of antisemitic messages, disinformation, hate speech, and terrorist content, which instigate real world hate crimes and threaten the very social cohesion that binds our democratic societies together. We decry the social media platforms that amplify and multiply this content and call on them to act in line with the law and their own terms of service.
History has taught us that at times like these, we must speak up and cannot be indifferent.
“Never again” is now!
Ambassador, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Combatting Anti-Semitism and for the Protection of Holocaust Remembrance, Greece
Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism
Head of Delegation to IHRA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Portugal
Ambassador at Large for Human Rights responsible for inter-national issues relating to the Holocaust, looted property and remembrance, France
Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism
Lithuania’s Ambassador-at-Large for the Holocaust remembrance issues
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and National Coordinator on combating antisemitism
David FERNANDEZ PUYANA
Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the UN University for Peace to the UN Office & intl. organizations in Geneva & Permanent Delegate of UPEACE to UNESCO
Ambassador, Head of Peace and Human Rights Division,
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland
Special Representative of the Secretary General on antisemitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes, Council of Europe
Interministerial Delegate in charge of the coordination of policies to combat racism, anti-Semitism and anti-LGBTIQ+ hatred, Luxembourg
Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism
Former Minister, French national Delegate against racism, antisemitism and LGBTI-phobia
Ambassador, Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organisations, Issues relating to Antisemitism, International Sinti and Roma Affairs, Holocaust Remembrance
Maria Fabiana LOGUZZO
Ambassador, Argentina’s Special Representative for the fight against Antisemitism and Head of Delegation to IHRA
Fernando K. LOTTENBERG
Commissioner to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, Organization of American States
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Croatia for Holocaust Issues and Combating Antisemitism
Ambassador, US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism
Ambassador, Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism
Lord John MANN
UK Government Advisor on Antisemitism
Director, Department for Fostering Austrian-Jewish Cultural Heritage and Combating Antisemitism, Federal Chancellery, Austria
Ambassador, Special Representative of the Government of Romania for the remembrance policies and for the fight against antisemitism and xenophobia
Director, International law and Human rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
Coordinator of the Spanish National Plan against Antisemitism and Head of Delegation to IHRA
Italian Coordinator on Combating antisemitism, Italian Government
Rt Hon the Lord Eric PICKLES
UK Special Envoy on Post Holocaust Issues
Czech Republic’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Interfaith Dialogue and FoRB
Estonia’s National coordinator of measures against anti-Semitism
Deputy State Secretary, Civil and Social Affairs. Prime Minister’s Office, Hungary
Special Envoy to the OIC, Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue of Sweden
National Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, The Netherlands
Katharina VON SCHNURBEIN
European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life
Press Release concerning the latest antisemitic attacks in Croatia and Greece
The European Jewish Association (EJA) is appalled by the latest Antisemitism
incidents that took place in Croatia and in Greece, only a few days after the
unspeakable massacre against innocent civilians committed by Hamas in Israel. In
Split, Croatia’s 2nd largest city, a graffiti “Juden Raus” adorned with the “U” from the
WW2 fascist Ustasa regime that killed and deported thousands of Jews made its
appearance. In Thessaloniki, Greece’s 2nd largest city as well, the Holocaust memorial
mural at the main train station was desecrated with the inscriptions “Jews=Nazi” and
“Free Gaza”. Furthermore, a Jewish store was attacked, causing luckily only material
Commenting on the incidents in Croatia, EJA Managing Director Jorgos Papadakis
said: “It is hard to comprehend these acts of hatred against Jews in Europe. We have
been in Croatia two weeks ago, organized an international conference in Zagreb and
paid tribute to the thousands who perished at the notorious Jasenovac Death Camp.
We praised the country’s IHRA Chairmanship and the efforts made to eradicate
antisemitism. This is why it is surprising that we heard no words of condemnation from
the government. Using the exact same words the Nazis used before eventually leading
millions of Jews to their death cannot be perceived even as a bad joke.”, Papadakis
On Greece, Papadakis added: “As a Greek, I cannot even begin to comprehend such
acts of violence and hate in a city that lost almost its entire Jewish population, more
than 50 thousand souls, during the Holocaust. The authorities must send a strong
message by condemning this barbarism and bringing the culprits in front of justice.
Anything else would not be acceptable.”
EU Jewish leader calls on european governments to immediately grant citizenship to remaining hostages after hamas set to release 50 dual-nationals
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EJA Chairman: “Don’t Force Jews to once again go through a selection.”
(Brussels 23 October 2023) Responding to news that Hamas will release 50 hostages of dual nationality, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who heads the organisation that represents hundreds of communities across the continent, called on European governents to immediately grant citizenship to the remaining hostages, urging them not to put Jews through another selection process.
In a statement today, the EJA Chairman said
“If Hamas are now releasing hostages with dual nationalities the answer is clear. Every European government should immediately grant citizenship to the remaining hostages.
“I urge European governments most sincerely, please don’t force Jews to once again go through a selection.”